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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Parent Training Recommendations for ABA Professionals

Applied behavior analysis professionals often work with children. However, when working with youth it is important to consider how you can help their caregivers be involved in treatment, as well. To help children get the most out of ABA intervention, it is recommended to provide their caregivers with training in the area of ABA individualized to their child.

Training caregivers often refers to training parents, but this could also be a service that is provided to grandparents, teachers, daycare providers, or foster parents. This training can greatly benefit the children you work with by helping their caregivers to implement effective strategies outside of session as well as to help caregivers learn to reinforce and help generalize skills targeted in session.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start when trying to develop plans for parent training in ABA services. Check out for more resources and guidance on this subject.

Following are some recommendations for resources that can be used within your parent training sessions. It is always important to individualize services to clients and caregivers but the following resources can give you some guidance as to what content and methods to use within parent training in ABA services.

Parent Training for Disruptive Behavior: The RUBI Autism Network, Parent Workbook (Programs That Work)

“This Therapist Guide, Parent Training for Disruptive Behavior, is designed for therapists to use with parents of children with ASD and challenging behaviors, such as tantrums, noncompliance, and aggression. Based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and developed over more than a decade of research, the intervention consists of 11 core sessions as well as supplemental sessions, a home visit, and follow-up visits. Each session includes a therapist script, activity sheets, parent handouts, and checklists. Video vignettes are available online to illustrate concepts. The treatment manual is designed to be used in conjunction with the companion Workbook for parents. Each session is delivered individually in weekly outpatient visits. Homework assignments between sessions focus on implementing behavior change strategies collaboratively chosen by the therapist and parent.”

Parent Training for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Improving the Quality of Life for Children and Their Families

“Readers will learn strategies for implementing various assessment and intervention techniques, and for maintaining parental engagement throughout treatment. Individual chapters focus on the most common issues that parents of children with ASD struggle with, including social and communication deficits; disruptive behaviors; sleep disturbances; tendencies to wander off; and key life skills, like feeding and toileting.

Essential First Steps for Parents of Children with Autism: Helping the Littlest Learners (Topics in Autism)

“Drs. Delmolino and Harris, experienced clinicians and ABA therapists, eliminate the confusion and guesswork by outlining the pivotal steps parents can take now to optimize learning and functioning for children age 5 and younger.”

ACT Made Simple: An Easy-To-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (The New Harbinger Made Simple Series)

“If you’re looking for ways to optimize your client sessions, consider joining the many thousands of therapists and life coaches worldwide who are learning acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). With a focus on mindfulness, client values, and a commitment to change, ACT is proven-effective in treating depression, anxiety, stress, addictions, eating disorders, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and myriad other psychological issues. It’s also a revolutionary new way to view the human condition—packed full of exciting new tools, techniques, and strategies for promoting profound behavioral change.” Although this book is not designed specifically for ABA professionals providing parent training, the concepts in this book may be useful when providing this service as the principles of ACT are based on behavioral concepts and help people accept challenges as well as commit to meaningful change.

A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Your Child Roots and Wings (American Academy of Pediatrics)

“Today’s children face a great deal of stress — academic performance, heavy scheduling, high achievement standards, media messages, peer pressures, family tension. Without healthier solutions, they often cope by talking back, giving up, or indulging in unhealthy behaviors. Show your child how to bounce back — and THRIVE — with coping strategies from one of the nation’s foremost experts in adolescent medicine.” This book is another one that was not designed specifically for the ABA field. However, using the idea of the 7 C’s of Resilience discussed in this book provides concrete steps that parents and professionals can use to help children succeed and thrive in life rather than focusing so much on their challenges.

How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s

Use this book to help you in guiding parents in the task of teaching kids and adolescents to develop life skills. Life skills are an essential area that should be focused on in ABA services, especially in parent training.

The Ins and Outs of Poop: A Guide to Treating Childhood Constipation

“These topics include: functional constipation in the first 24 months of life, how toilet training can cause encopresis, how to manage encopresis in the classroom and how temperament-related behavior problems can cause functional constipation. It also includes a self-study Parent-Child Interaction Training (PCIT) course which teaches parents how to “treat” such behavioral problems.” Use this book if you have a client who is having difficulties with bowel movements. You can use this book in your trainings with parents to help them work on these issues outside session time which will be so important to the child’s progress in this area.

The Parent’s Guide to In-Home ABA Programs

This book provides parents with basic information about what ABA provided in an in-home setting may look like. It answers common questions and addresses common concerns. You could recommend this book (as well as other books) to parents or review parts of the book with them.

A Picture’s Worth: Pecs and Other Visual Communication Strategies in Autism (Topics in Autism)

This is a simple yet informative book which could be reviewed or recommended to parents for children who are learning to communicate with PECS or other visual communication strategies.

The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively

“discover how to speak your child’s love language in a way that he or she understands. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell help you:

  • Discover your child’s love language
  • Assist your child in successful learning
  • Use the love languages to correct and discipline more effectively
  • Build a foundation of unconditional love for your child

Plus: Find dozens of tips for practical ways to speak your child’s love language.”

Although this book was not written for the ABA field, the message that the book presents can be translated into behavioral ideas. For instance, the recommendation to speak your child’s love language can be translated into viewing this as a way of using positive reinforcement and building rapport with your child from an ABA lense.

Defiant Children, Third Edition: A Clinician’s Manual for Assessment and Parent Training

“This book provides an effective 10-step program for training parents in child behavior management skills (ages 2 to 12). Professionals get proven tools to help parents understand the causes of noncompliant, defiant, oppositional, or socially hostile behavior at home or in school; take systematic steps to reduce it; and reinforce positive change. Comprehensive assessment guidelines are included.” This book is very useful in teaching parents to manage children with maladaptive behavior and to help them learn to reinforce appropriate skills.

Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Apply the Astonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement, Third Edition

Although this book is written for an organizational audience, the concepts that Aubrey Daniel’s presents can be applied to working with others including parents of the clients you serve. Strategies that he recommends for using positive reinforcement and improving performance can be used in the context of parent training. You may also be able to use the ideas in this book as a way to teach others to improve the quality of their services (namely parent training services).

Handbook of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Children on the Autism Spectrum

“This handbook offers a theoretical foundation for the adaptation of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. The volume examines current treatments for children with ASD and provides a rationale for why PCIT is considered a strong option to address many of the concerns found within this population of children and families.” PCIT can be a very effective behaviorally-based approach to improve child maladaptive behavior and improving parent-child relationship dynamics. Using this manual can help you individualize the structured and evidence-based intervention of PCIT to children with autism and their parents.

Remember to individualize your parent training toward the specific client and family that you are working with. Using one or more of the recommendations above can help you to provide quality parent training services to the caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder.


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Parent Training Recommendations for ABA Professionals

APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Parent Training Recommendations for ABA Professionals. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2019, from