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Family involvement is an essential element of all components of a child’s assessment and ABA program. Success depends on how well skills learned through behavioral interventions are generalized across the settings and people who are a part of the child’s everyday life.
Parents serve as the primary informant during the assessment process, sharing with the behavior analyst information about their child, such as successes, areas of delay, challenging behavior, means of communication, engagement in play, and involvement with others at home and in the community. Parents also share the areas they feel are important to address in the treatment plan in order to increase their child’s inclusion in family activities.
Prior to implementation of the individualized treatment plan, the parents attend an initial workshop conducted by the behavior analyst on the learning characteristics of autism, basic principles of behavior, elements of applied behavior analysis, and strategies for implementing their child’s plan. Parents are encouraged to invite to the initial workshop others involved in the child’s life, such as grandparents, teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, or nannies.
Parents are partners with the behavior analyst in implementing the plan. Through observations and hands-on training under the guidance of the behavior analyst, parents learn how to continue the program with integrity during the times beyond the ABA intervention sessions.
Often the child’s siblings are included in activities during ABA intervention sessions. Their involvement provides opportunities to build on social communication and play skills. When requested by families, a customized workshop is conducted to help the siblings understand how their brother or sister might be impacted by autism.