Collaboration with clients, parents, caregivers, teachers, and other professionals is critical to the success of ABA therapy. ABA professionals should take a team approach to individualized care to ensure the best possible outcomes for each learner. Collaboration stretches across all aspects of therapy, from intake and assessment to intervention and re-evaluation. Digital assessments can help bridge the gap, allowing caregivers and other stakeholders to actively participate in their child’s therapeutic care.
Incorporate Clients, Caregivers, and Professionals into the Assessment Process
One of the greatest benefits of digital assessments is the increased ability to include everyone on a child’s care team in the assessment process. Allowing clients, caregivers, and other professionals to participate in assessing a child’s skills creates more insight into what a child can and cannot yet do. This is particularly beneficial for identifying whether your learner has skills in different settings than the setting(s) therapy occurs.
Prioritize Skills to Target as a Team
Behavior analysts are tasked with identifying the skills and behaviors to target with their learners. Target skills should be developed as part of a collaborative approach. Assessments identify areas of skill strength as well as skill deficits. However, behavior analysts should not target skills solely because an assessment determines that the learner does not yet have that skill. Instead, the client, caregivers, and other members of a child’s care team should be encouraged to provide insight regarding the most essential skills to the individual and the family unit.
• Teach useful skills
Through collaboration with caregivers, behavior analysts can identify which skills would have social significance to the learner. Behavior analysts should ask the family to consider which skills would help the child participate in the family’s activities. Consider the family’s values. For example, if a family values independence, teaching functional living skills may be of high importance to them.
• Incorporate family into teaching
Getting everyone involved and on the same page is vital for long-term success. The goals we target in ABA should maintain post-intervention as the learner continues to engage in the skills and contact natural reinforcement. To achieve this, it’s crucial to incorporate the family into the teaching procedures. This encourages generalization and allows the family to observe the new skills that the child has and continue to require the child to use those skills after the intervention is discontinued.
Common Errors in Collaboration
Well-meaning behavior analysts may unintentionally make errors in collaborating with parents and stakeholders. One of the most common errors in collaboration is attempting to train parents to be behavior technicians (BTs) and treating them as such. While caregiver training is vital to teach parents ABA strategies and guide them in the continuity of their child’s care, it’s necessary to recognize that they’re parents first and foremost. There will always be contingencies at play for parents outside of therapy sessions that are absent during more controlled sessions with BTs. The goal of caregiver collaboration is to increase parent involvement in a natural manner.
Another common error in collaboration is when behavior analysts act as the expert and fail to recognize parents and caregivers as the expert of their own child. Caregivers have a wealth of knowledge about their child’s learning history and what does and does not work for them. It’s important to allow caregivers to have a say in assessments, goals, and subsequent interventions used in therapy.
Fostering Collaboration with Digital Assessments
Collaboration with clients and stakeholders is essential for the efficacy of ABA therapy. The digitization of assessments is bridging the gap to allow for higher-quality collaboration for the best possible outcomes.
In our webinar, Utilizing Digital Assessments to Foster Collaboration, Dr. James Partington, Ph.D., BCBA-D, the author of the ABLLS-R and AFLS, along with Dr. Nissa Van Etten, Ph.D., BCBA-D and Autumn Bailey, M.Ed., discuss in more depth how behavior analysts can leverage digital assessments to foster collaboration with clients and their families.