Won't there be too many demands placed on my child during ABA therapy? Should I be worried?
The congruence of ABA therapy and autism has been a controversial subject. Parents have often felt that placing too many demands on their child could strain their relationship. It is very true that an ABA program places many demands on your child. And it is also true that, parents have to put the same demands on their kids too for the applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy to be effective. For example : If all your child's teachers and therapists make him ask for his own food, but you don't like to see him struggle to find the right words and instead jump in and offer food before he asks for it, then he may not generalize that communication skill as quickly as he otherwise would.
This is a simple example; there are other things you may need to ask of your child as a part of the ABA therapy program. These are things that s/he will find much harder and because s/he is not used to you as a parent placing a demand on them. Initially, they may even react more strongly to the ABA therapy program by crying, yelling, hitting, running away. Understandably, it is hard as a parent not to give in and just do whatever seems necessary "at the moment" to make things easier for your child. However, ABA providers always recommend that the parents control this instinct to do so.
ABA therapists suggest that in the long run, it would probably be easier for both of you to maintain the demands and make learning happen during the ABA therapy program, than to adapt yourself to his/her (unconscious) desire not to change. This is very common while teaching even ‘neurotypicals’. All parents learn that it is better even for their child in the long run, if they insist that their children clean up their toys, observe table manners, stay close in stores, even if it takes some amount of stress to enforce those rules. However, does this affect your loving, trusting relationship?
The trust and love that you and your child feel for each other is built on thousands and thousands of positive, successful, joyful interactions. Being firm when it is appropriate is the quickest path away from unwanted behaviors and situations, the best route to positive, happy experiences. You will have to place more demands on your child as he/she grows older so that they don't develop extreme behaviors. It is best if you can help your child to be successful, independent.
Since every child with autism is different, ABA Therapy program is also customized differently for every child. The role of the ABA therapist plays a key role here. It is highly emphasized to thoroughly discuss the particular strengths and needs of the child, parent’s specific objectives and other strategies for teaching before developing an intervention for the child. Even so, sometimes children may not be able to adapt or improve under therapy. Such cases may be more common in high functioning autism. In that scenario, switching to play or development therapy is suggested.
Refer to our Worldwide Directory to start ABA therapy for your autistic child, from an ABA Therapist closest to you.