The Importance of Parent Participation and Training within a Treatment Program

Parent training is really all about empowering parents to be the primary change agent in the life of their child. The essence of parent training is to support the guardian in understanding key techniques and behaviour modification principles that will in turn have a direct and proportionate effect on a more holistic and improved life at home. Given that parents spend the most amount of time with their children, equipping a parent with important evidence-based strategies to achieve long term improvement in behavior is what leads to an overall improved quality of life for the family.

Parent training techniques built on the foundation of applied behavior analysis have compelling empirical support for reducing problem behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder. The objectives and advantages of parent training include, improving your child’s behavior, teaching new skills that could replace problem behavior and promoting positive behaviors instead of challenging ones.

Key elements of parent training focus on communication, the antecedent-behaviour-consequence (ABC) model, functions of behavior, and behavior modification or management techniques that involve responding to behavior according to function. Critical components include understanding how certain conditions in the environment lead to an increase or decrease in the child’s behavior and what the parent can do to prevent reoccurrence of problem behavior and to create opportunities for learning instead. Once a clinician has identified the way forward in assessing and treating problem behavior, it is imperative that parents are part of the solution and planning around it in order to implement plans that are feasible and practical. Working together in this way increases the likelihood of success, avoids regression and maintains achieved behavior reduction in all settings.

Lasting change in behavior and improving functional living are likely to occur when strategies are applied consistently across all settings and all significant people involved in the life of the child. Disruptive behavior such as tantrums, aggression, self-injurious behavior, non-compliance and so on can significantly erode the family’s quality of life as well as impede functional adaptive living. When a parent is more aware of their child’s unique abilities and the way they function, it allows them to advocate for their child in a more purposeful way.

Observing and attending therapy sessions, trainings and workshops, choosing goals with your clinician and working systematically towards them are some ways to be a part of the program and its progress. Awareness, participation and implementation goes a long way in ensuring that your child is set up for success in all settings. Collaborating with your clinician allows for you (who knows your child the best) and the clinician whose expertise and experience is delivering on treatment outcomes to create an environment and opportunities for your child to thrive outside the clinic or the learning setting.

Lastly, being a part of the process makes way for being a part of the celebration! Celebrating in a child’s successes and milestones provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment. This allows for an improved parent-child relationship which is rewarding and sets the stage for more wholesome living.