parents of an autistic kid in Chicago
The Crucial Role of Parents in ABA Therapy: Fostering Collaboration for Success

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy has become an essential tool in many families with young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This evidence-based approach focuses on improving specific behaviors and skills, helping children with autism to reach their full potential. Trained professionals typically deliver ABA therapy, but parents play a crucial role in the success of the treatment. ABA treatment is most effective when the child, their parents, and therapist work together as a well-orchestrated trio.

This article will cover the advantages of powerful parent-therapist collaboration during ABA treatment and how it can assist your child in achieving the most significant growth possible.

Your Role

One of the critical aspects of successful ABA therapy is a clear understanding of each participant’s role. Parents play a vital part in the therapy process, as they are the primary caregivers and spend the most time with their child. Their involvement in the therapy sessions and implementing strategies at home is crucial for the child’s progress. Therapists can contribute their expertise and knowledge of ABA techniques to guide the therapy process.

Establishing and maintaining clear roles for both parents and therapists can help create a strong foundation for collaboration and success in ABA therapy.

Benefits of Parental Involvement in ABA Therapy

The involvement of parents in ABA therapy can have several benefits for both the child and the parents. First and foremost, parental involvement can improve the effectiveness of the treatment. When parents are trained in the principles of ABA and provided with ongoing support, they can reinforce the skills their child is learning in therapy and help to generalize those skills to real-life situations.

The child’s development in therapy may improve because of the more consistent application of therapeutic methods. Additionally, providing parental insight into their child’s needs and behaviors can help strengthen the bonds between them. It can provide parents with more agency by equipping them with the information and understanding they need to foster their child’s growth independently. This can lead to improved family relationships and a better overall quality of life.

The degree of parental involvement in ABA therapy can differ depending on many factors, including the child’s age, the severity of the autism, and the parent’s level of involvement. Research has shown that parents who are actively involved in their child’s ABA therapy tend to have better outcomes than those who are less involved.

The results of some studies suggest that parent training in ABA treatment may have a profound effect on both child behavior and parental satisfaction. Parent training in ABA therapy has also been found to reduce parenting stress and increase parental self-efficacy.

Essential Components of Parental Involvement in ABA Therapy

Perspective-taking and Empathy

Parents bring their unique insights into their child’s needs, strengths, and challenges, while therapists offer their professional expertise in ABA therapy. Parents and therapists can work together to develop a tailored therapy plan that best suits the child’s needs by actively listening to and considering each other’s viewpoints.


Building trust between parents and therapists is critical to successful ABA therapy. Parents need to feel confident in the therapist’s abilities and trust that they have their child’s best interests at heart. Similarly, therapists must trust that parents are committed to the therapy process and will follow through with recommendations and strategies at home. Establishing trust can take time, but it is essential for creating a solid partnership that benefits the child.

Open Communication

Effective communication is the foundation of any fruitful collaboration. Parents and therapists must maintain open lines of communication to discuss the child’s progress, address any concerns, and adjust the therapy plan as needed. Regular meetings, progress reports, and open discussions can help ensure everyone understands the plan and is working toward the same goals.


Consistency is crucial for the success of ABA therapy. Parents and therapists must work together to ensure that the strategies and techniques used in therapy sessions are consistently implemented at home and in other settings with other caregivers. This means that parents need to be trained in the principles of ABA and provided with ongoing support to ensure that they can implement the techniques effectively. This consistency helps the child generalize the skills they learn in therapy to their everyday life, leading to more significant progress and long-term success.

Your role can vary depending on the child’s needs and treatment goals. In some cases, parents may be actively involved in the therapy sessions, working alongside the therapist to teach new skills and reinforce positive behaviors.

In other cases, parents may be asked to observe the therapy sessions and practice the skills at home with their child.

The Parent Experience in ABA Therapy

Parents play a crucial role in the ABA therapy process, as they are often responsible for implementing the therapy techniques outside the therapy sessions. The involvement of parents in ABA therapy can range from attending therapy sessions, observing therapy sessions, practicing therapy techniques at home, and recording data on the child’s progress. The level of parental involvement can depend on the child’s needs, the therapist’s recommendations, and the parents’ availability.

Many parents find the ABA therapy experience beneficial for their children. They report that their children progress significantly in communication, social skills, and behavior management.

However, some parents may also experience challenges implementing the therapy techniques at home. The complexity of the therapy techniques, the demands of daily life, and the child’s behavioral challenges can make it challenging for parents to implement the therapy techniques consistently.

Parents of children with autism often experience a range of emotions, including stress, anxiety, and frustration. The demands of caring for a child with autism can be overwhelming, and adding the demands of ABA therapy can be overwhelming for some parents.

They may struggle to find the time and resources to practice the skills their child is learning in therapy. They may also feel unsure about how to apply the principles of ABA in real-life situations. Additionally, some parents may feel uncomfortable using behavior modification techniques to change their child’s behavior.

Another issue you may experience is the potential for conflict between you and certain therapists. Parents may have different ideas about what is best for their child and may feel frustrated if they perceive that the therapist is not listening to their concerns, or there may simply be a personality clash. If you find yourself in a situation where there is conflict or a personality clash, it may be helpful to seek out resources or guidance on how to collaborate effectively with your child’s therapist.

Overcoming Barriers in Your Role

By strong collaboration and communication, you can help guarantee that your child receives the best possible care and support. You can do a lot as a parent to mitigate the potential problems that may develop during your participation in ABA therapy.:

  • Communicating cooperatively with your therapist and expressing any concerns or issues you may have is essential. Your therapist can help you develop a schedule that works best for both of you, considering your other responsibilities and obligations.
  • Your child’s therapist can provide you with the necessary training and resources to help you implement the therapy techniques effectively. It is crucial to ask questions and seek clarification whenever you are unsure about any aspect of the therapy.
  • It is important to take care of yourself and prioritize your well-being. Parenting children with autism can be difficult, and taking breaks and seeking support from family and friends when needed is crucial. Taking care of yourself will not only benefit you but also your child.
  • Remember that progress in ABA therapy is a gradual process, and setbacks are normal. It is essential to avoid blaming yourself or feeling guilty if your child’s progress is slower than expected. Your therapist can provide you with the necessary advice and support to help you overcome any challenges and continue to make progress.

The parent’s role in ABA therapy is crucial for the child’s success. By actively collaborating with the therapist, parents can help create a tailored therapy plan that best suits their child’s needs, improves their child’s behavior, and enhances their parent-child relationship. Fostering a strong partnership between parents and therapists, built on trust, empathy, open communication, and consistency, can significantly enhance the effectiveness of ABA therapy and improve the lives of children with autism and their families.

At Illinois Autism Center, we believe in fostering a strong partnership between parents and therapists to enhance the effectiveness of ABA therapy. Our compassionate team of board-certified behavior analysts works closely with parents to create a tailored therapy plan that best suits their child’s needs, improves their child’s behavior, and enhances their parent-child relationship.

Contact us today to learn more about how our collaborative approach to ABA therapy can benefit your child and family.