Hello, my name is Zak Reineke, and I am one of the BCBAs at TEAM 4 Kids working at the Peoria clinic and in the home setting. I have been working with children with Autism and related disorders for the past 10 years, and have worked in a variety of settings ranging from schools, residential settings, in home, and in the clinical setting. I have been a BCBA now for three years working predominantly with early intervention services and challenging behavior more generally.
Parent training is the process by which parents are taught strategies related to the therapy that they are then able to implement separately and independently of the RBT and with consultation from the BCBA. Skills that are taught in contrived settings are often intimidating for parents to implement on their own, as there are sometimes certain procedures that are seen as specific to the RBT. This, however, doesn’t need to be the case. Skills can be taught in any setting and across caregivers. This is in fact one of the main characteristics or traits of applied behavior analysis (ABA).
Parent training can be challenging to implement with their own children because parents tend to see a higher rate of behaviors compared with an RBT or other therapist that may be implementing the same programs, and that is ok. This is a natural component of the teaching process by which children have been reinforced for extended periods of time and have mostly expected response. Parents likewise are reinforced by their children when they ask them to follow directions and complete other tasks that are needed to be done around the house.
One of the key challenges that arise as a result of parent training are communication deficits between the BCBA who supervises and oversees the program, parents, and the RBT who is implementing the program. The BCBA’s thoughts on what the parents can implement and the parents own perspectives on what they can do often are contradictory. A parent’s default behaviors, their parenting philosophies, are crucial to buying into the programs and strategies that are suggested. Communication challenges take place every day amongst members of the therapy team, which is what each individual is part of. Conflicts that take place should come from the understanding that everyone is working in the best interests of the individual receiving services and ensuring that those boundaries are in place as therapy begins, providing the best opportunities for constructive relationships amongst the team.