ABA Therapy from a Parent’s Perspective: Part 2
By Cassandra (Cassey) Wally, a Kadiant Clinical Supervisor
I am a parent of a child with autism and I am also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) working in the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA therapy) field. I did not begin my journey knowing I was going to become a BCBA or work with children on the spectrum, but it was my experiences, successes, and challenges raising my son Andrew, now 25, that inspired me to become a Behavior Analyst.
ABA Services: I Wish I Knew then What I Know Now
I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of ABA services in my time as a BCBA working with children and their families. Those times when a parent hears their child say, “I love you” or “mamma” for the first time is the most precious thing that any parent could hear: it’s the most rewarding thing to witness as well. I’ve seen my son’s struggle and growth without ABA services and I question every day where would he be now had ABA services been made available to us sooner. Would things be a little easier for him? Would he have struggled less? Given my years of experience in the ABA field, I am confident the answer is yes.
I wish there was insurance coverage for ABA therapy back then like there is today; an ABA program could have helped Andrew foster friendships and develop appropriate social interactions with others. He really struggled with this aspect and he still does to this day. I wish I knew that ABA therapy could help him with organization and flexibility, as Andrew remains very black and white in his thinking. Structure and stated expectations would have gone a long way in helping him succeed.
ABA services would have benefited both Andrew and my family given the consistency of a team of clinicians that would have worked with us to meet my family’s goals. Together, we could have collaborated to implement an individualized behavior plan tailored to his unique needs and interests.
ABA Services are Empowering for Both the Family and the Child
Even though we did not have the opportunity to offer Andrew ABA services, I am still immensely proud of the progress Andrew has seen in his 25 years. I continue to be an advocate for him and, because of his strength, have also been inspired to be an advocate for other clients and families through ABA services.
ABA therapy has changed the lives of so many clients and families—not to mention my own. I watched as children made friends and learned adaptive skills, like toileting and expanding their eating, through ongoing ABA services. I have worked with children for weeks so that they could play games at the table with their families for the first time, when paying attention and sitting patiently had previously been too much of a challenge to make this possible. I witnessed families take their children out to a restaurant for the first time and had them sit at the table and order a meal without any tantrums or difficulties. One of my families shared a story with me when I was a behavior technician; they were so happy that they were finally able to take their 4 year old son out to dinner. This not only allowed experiences for their son, but also opened up their world as a family, to their community. Before, they could only imagine how it could possibly be; they were finally able to experience it. I marveled as families became a part of their various communities with their child with autism and be comfortable.
My Advice: From One Autism Parent with a Child Diagnosed with ASD to Another
The journey with a child with special needs will inevitably have obstacles, but it’s not one that you have to travel on your own! If I can offer any advice based on my experience, it would be this:
At the end of the day, all I want as a parent is for Andrew to live his absolute best life; as a BCBA, I want the same for my clients.
Know that you are an inspiration and are doing the best you can for you and your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—there are so many resources out there (an ABA therapy team, your IEP team, family, friends, and allies) that are cheering you on!
To learn more about ABA services or about the Kadiant team and how we can help you, contact us below and a Kadiant team member will reach out to answer your questions.