The Best Way You Can Improve ABA Outcomes is Collaboration
By Nicole Doyle, M.S.Ed., BCBA, LBS & Jodie Littwin, Co-Founder, Director of Advocacy
Effective collaboration happens when providers and caregivers work with each other. Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is a package of evidence-based treatment and services for individuals with autism. The three primary components of this package include direct therapy by a behavior technician, supervision by a BCBA, and parent training.
At Connect Plus Therapy, we believe in developing collaborative partnerships with families and supporting their needs. Although parent training is an accepted industry term, we prefer seeing it as Caregiver Collaboration.
Caregiver Collaboration is an essential component of treatment, equally as important as direct therapy and supervision. It focuses on providing the tools and techniques caregivers need to ensure continuous, daily progress toward treatment goals. Furthermore, when we consider this process as collaborative, it becomes an opportunity for caregivers and treatment providers to work together on the necessary skills needed to help caregivers feel successful with their child.
Research has shown that the most effective collaboration model entails creating an equal partnership between the caregiver and the provider, where both parties discuss the current strengths and needs of the child, determine the goals, collaborate on interventions, and analyze progress as a team (Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2010).
Caregivers and providers should primarily collaborate to:
- Identify and define behaviors that interfere with the child’s success
- Identify and define caregiver goals
- Prioritize which two to three caregiver goals would be most relevant across six months
- Discuss the provider’s recommendations for interventions, and weigh the pros and cons of each one while considering which would be most efficient and feasible for the caregiver’s successful implementation in their everyday natural environment
- Revisit caregiver goals and review progress to determine if changes are needed
ABA is constantly evolving as we continue to conduct research, analyze our interventions, and learn how to improve as treatment providers. An article in Behavior Analysis in Practice presents the topic of Compassionate Care in our services when working with families, to ensure we are learning our strengths and weaknesses as behavior analysts through our training and delivery of services (Taylor et al., 2019). An essential element of this is to practice empathy within our caregiver collaboration, and this tool is equally emphasized in Conjoint Behavioral Consultation: Promoting Family-School Connections and Interventions (Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2010).
When collaborating with caregivers on their success and barriers, it is important to consider where we can display more empathy in the partnership. Equally important is the caregiver’s commitment to and involvement in participating in Caregiver Collaboration (parent training), and collaborating with their BCBA on learning the tools and tricks of the trade. When both parties come together with an equal commitment to learning and training, the child will benefit from long-term skill development (Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2010).
If you would like to strengthen your parent-partnership with a compassionate care skillset, Marchese and Weiss (2023) provide an analysis of the Parent Partnership Questionnaire (PPQ) through Behavior Analysis in Practice.
Marchese, N.V., Weiss, M.J. Supporting Behavior Analysts in Providing Compassionate Care: The Development of the Parent Partnership Questionnaire (PPQ). Behav Analysis Practice (2023).
Sheridan, S. M., & Kratochwill, T. R. (2010). Conjoint Behavioral Consultation: Promoting Family-School Connections and Interventions (2nd ed.). Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
Taylor, B. A., LeBlanc, L. A., & Nosik, M. R. (2019). Compassionate Care in Behavior Analytic Treatment: Can Outcomes be Enhanced by Attending to Relationships with Caregivers? Behavior Analysis in Practice, 12(3), 654-666.