Discovering that your child has autism can be an emotional journey. You will want the best possible interventions for your child, and, in many cases, this means beginning with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. While ABA therapists play an indispensable role, did you know your involvement is as critical as a parent? Let’s delve into the importance of your role and how you can best support your child beyond the therapy room.

A Quick Primer

For many toddlers with autism, ABA therapy has become a cornerstone of their developmental journey. At its core, ABA is about understanding and modifying behaviors. It breaks down large tasks into smaller steps, making learning more manageable and achievable. Focusing on positive and negative reinforcement promotes desirable behaviors and diminishes less favorable ones.

The Integral Role of Parents

Therapists bring expertise, but you have intimate knowledge of your child— their likes, dislikes, habits, and routines. By being actively involved, you ensure the therapy is tailored to fit your child and becomes more effective. So, how can you effectively extend ABA principles at home?

Here are 12 quick things you can do to help:

  1. Consistency: Ensure that all family members are consistent in their approach to behaviors, using the same prompts, consequences, and reinforcement systems recommended by your child’s therapist.
  2. Daily Routines: Incorporate ABA strategies into everyday routines such as mealtime, bedtime, and playtime. This helps your child generalize the skills learned in therapy to other everyday life.
  3. Data Collection: Keep track of your child’s behaviors or specific targets as recommended by his or her BCBA in a diary or log. It’s important for tracking progress and making adjustments to strategies if needed.
  4. Positive Reinforcement: Recognize and praise desired behaviors immediately when they occur. For example, use your child’s favorite toys or activities as rewards for their efforts.
  5. Communication: Maintain open and frequent communication with your child’s BCBA and therapy team. Share observations, ask questions, and report any significant changes in the home environment or in your child’s behavior.
  6. Active Participation: Attend your child’s therapy sessions whenever possible so you can observe and learn the strategies being employed. This allows for a better understanding and replication of the techniques at home.
  7. Setting Clear Expectations: Use simple, clear language to set expectations for your child. Make sure the instructions are age-appropriate and easily understood.
  8. Visual Supports: Utilize visual schedules, social stories, or visual cues as recommended by your child’s therapist. Visual aids can help children understand and predict daily routines and transitions.
  9. Practice: Dedicate time each day for practicing skills or behaviors that are targeted in therapy. Repetition and practice are essential for skill acquisition and mastery.
  10. Educate Yourself: The more you know, the more empowered you’ll be. Attend workshops, read resources, or join parent groups. Familiarizing yourself with ABA techniques allows you to apply them effectively.
  11. Involve the Whole Family: ABA therapy isn’t just for parents! Brothers, sisters grandparents, aunts, and uncles – the whole extended family play an important role in a child’s life. By getting them involved in the training, you’re building a cohesive support system for your child.
  12. Self-Care for Caregivers: Remember to take time to take care of your own well-being as well. ABA therapy can be intense and demanding. Make sure you’re getting the support you need, whether it’s from a support group, friends, family, or professionals.


Your role as a parent in your child’s ABA therapy is empowering and vital. While the journey might have its challenges, remember that your active involvement paves the way for your child’s success. You are not just a spectator but a pivotal part of your child’s support system. Together, with professional guidance and a supportive community, you and your child will navigate this journey with resilience and hope.


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