Advice to parents in preparing for starting an ABA
Parents, when your child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, it can seem like the entire world is changing. As your child develops or fails to develop, you may find it hard to engage in social situations with your child and find yourself frantically seeking help. The most commonly recommended method for helping to treat autism is what is known as ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA is a highly successful method of teaching children with autism spectrum disorders, and when applied intensively can help put many children on the same learning level as their peers. While ABA is not a cure for autism disorders, it does give children the capability to learn at their maximum potential. Most of us already know this and now because of the PDD Waiver and Ryanâ€™s Law, more families are getting ABA here in SC. After speaking at the Family Connection Conference this past Saturday, I realized the need to once again express to those of you that are about to begin ABA through the PDD Waiver/Ryanâ€™s Law or are on the waiting list for the PDD Waiver that parents must be aware of the challenge and commitment that awaits them once they begin an ABA program for their child. The methodology of ABA is most effective when applied intensively, sometimes upwards of forty hours per week. It is crucial to always complete each task properly and fully to achieve the maximum benefit of Applied Behavior Analysis. Parents should also know that most children with an ASD are resistant to change and may exhibit an unwillingness to participate in ABA. This is not a reason to give up, and most children will not only come to accept the program, but most will find it highly enjoyable. This huge commitment means that you will lose some of the family intimacy and privacy that many of you have grown to cherish. You must be willing to allow your program provider to make changes in your childâ€™s daily routines and habits. Our therapist have even changed our sons room around. At times it will seem like they are intruding into your life and home. In some ways they are but you have to remember that your goal is to give your child the capability to learn and live at their maximum potential and accepting change is a part of life for all of us, autism or not. And that movement of furniture and toys meant the difference from having total chaos in our sonâ€™s room to a more organized and less stimmy child and even helped decrease the head banging that was occurring at the time. ABA is not just a question of having therapists coming into your home, working with your child, leaving and then everything goes back the way it was before they walked into the door. Therapy can and must continue after they leave, this also applies to the clinic setting. The methods they use during therapy sessions are easy to learn and can be used at the dinner table, during family time and in preparing to go to bed. Every member of your family should participate so that when that meltdown occurs or the stemming gets bad, they will all learn from the therapist how to redirect your child to succeed. This participation by all does not have to be during every single therapy session but once or twice a week. The continuation of what the therapist is doing with your child has to continue with you and your family and even at school. This requires dedication and commitment and trust me, it is not always easy to balance the family unit between ABA, brother/sisters soccer matches and work schedules. While in the beginning it can be stressful and you may feel like you are no longer in control, the results make those moments worth the sacrifice because ABA is a sacrifice for families in so many ways. If you prepare yourself for this before your program starts, it will make that change much easier for both you and your child. In the end, ABA can be a very effective method for any child with an ASD, as long as it is properly taught. Teaching your child with autism will require a great deal of patience, work, and time and is not a decision to be taken lightly, but can be highly successful for the entire family. Applied Behavior Analysis has the potential to help your child function as normally as possible. If you are on the waiting list for ABA through the PDD Waiver or are about to begin through private pay or Ryanâ€™s Law, please prepare yourselves for things will change and has to change in your lifestyle in order to have a successful ABA program. If you prepare yourself and your family ahead of time, you will find it much easier to adjust.