Yes. Therapeutic Pathways believes that getting parents on board with therapy and reinforcing positive behaviors is an especially effective way to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) succeed. Parents and caregivers are invaluable life long advocates that offer support for their children, though our extensive program is effective with or without direct participation from caregivers. Though the participation of parents offer help children learn to navigate their environment and achieve greater independence.
Children look to their parents for guidance and structure. Our extensive programs can be about 25-35 hours per week with visits to the therapist and time with school counselors. Parents are there the rest of the time, and they have the opportunity to make a most profound impact on their child’s progress.
More importantly, parents are almost always the best observers when it comes to documenting challenges in the child’s natural environment that directly affect their quality of life.
With this in mind, we offer parents training on general support of their child’s therapy, invite feedback based on observations from everyday settings, and can provide parents with training on specific techniques and exercises based on their child’s individualized goals and needs.
Becoming a Part of Your Child’s Growth and Success Through Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy
At Therapeutic Pathways, we always focus on the needs of the child over all else. However, children, and especially young children, are only able to provide a limited view of the challenges they face, the goals they want to achieve, and how therapy has impacted their life so far.
We invite open discussion and input from children during therapy, but we also include observations and input from caregivers in their life. Most notably, we look to parents and teachers to help us determine where the child may be encountering difficulties that prevent them from thriving.
As such, caregivers meet with the clinical staff at Therapeutic Pathways at least monthly, if not more frequently. These meetings are designed to invite input from caregivers, garner feedback on goal progress, and touch upon priority areas that can form the basis of recommendations for parents and the child alike. Also, caregivers are kept up-to-date on all active treatment targets, including current data and mastered skills.
When designing evidence-based autism treatment plans based on the child’s individualized needs and focus areas, parent participation goals are always a major component. Caregivers are given homework activities to support active treatment targets and generalize mastered skills in the home and community settings.
We know that participating in therapy can be an intimidating prospect for some parents, which is why we aim to provide as many supports and resources as needed. We introduce general principles of behavior and ASD’s effect upon it during “mini-training.” These give parents a foundational understanding that allows them to pursue goals realistically and empathetically.
These training sessions are designed to help caregivers understand concepts such as reinforcement, shaping, and extinction. They will help set the child and their caregivers up for success when they are implementing behavior management systems, programming, and other techniques in natural environments.
Individualized Care Targeted to Goals and Behavior Centers
One of the most important roles of clinician/parent coordination is in establishing individualized therapy and care plans. ASD is a spectrum, meaning that no two client cases at Therapeutic Pathways are alike. Further, every child is an individual, so they might have different needs when it comes to setting goals and optimizing strategies in light of those goals.
Specific reinforcement systems and behavior management systems are created for individual clients based on conversations with caregivers and identified needs in the home and community settings. Many arrangements are even phrased in contract form, firmly establishing expectations, goals, and conditions for success.
All of these tools are tailored to not just the child but the entirety of their experience. For example, caregivers might express a need based on a specific instance or pattern of behavior that draws concern. Clinicians and caregivers can then collaborate to create systems that are workable for that particular family.
Our clinicians always support the caregivers by modeling implementation, coaching the caregiver on implementation, and adjusting the systems as needed based on ongoing feedback.
The central objective is to always consider the child’s best interests and to adjust the therapeutic approach based on ongoing feedback and evolving environmental conditions.
For example, families that were concerned about their child’s anxiety in public environments no doubt had countless unexpected variables introduced when the outbreak of COVID-19 occurred. Our clinicians always want to stay current and reflect real-world, real-time conditions the child faces at the given moment of therapy.
Some examples of areas that can be addressed include, but are not limited to:
- Foundational engagement and interactive play activities
- Spontaneous language opportunities
- Potty training
- Food expansion
- Sleeping independently
- Peer interactions/play
- Behavior management (e.g., decreasing aggression, increasing instruction following, decreasing stereotypy or self-injury, etc.)
- Visits to the doctor, dentist, hair stylist
- Car safety, community safety
- Health and safety protocols (e.g., mask-wearing, hygiene routines, etc.)
- Independence with daily living skills (e.g., showering, bathing, dressing, making a snack, following a schedule at home, etc.)
Meet Your Child’s Needs Through Collaborative ABA Therapy
Taking a therapeutic approach to managing a child with autism’s quality of life is rarely an easy choice, but it is always the best choice. With their limited maturity and experience, children can only meet clinicians’ recommendations part of the way. It is up to parents and caregivers to bridge the gap and ensure that therapeutic strategies are implemented in the natural setting. Parents and caregivers can also help customize goals and techniques based on their observations.
We invite everyone in the child’s life to do what they can to make a positive impact. Parents are in the best position to do so, and as such, they offer major structural support in the framework of their child’s therapeutic strategies.
Learn more about how we can help your child succeed and thrive together by viewing our resources for families of children with autism, and then contact us with any requests for services, questions, or concerns.