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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Why is it important that parents participate in their child’s ABA services?

Parent training has been used to help parents manage a variety of behavioral issues in kids with autism, ADHD, and other disorders.

Parent training based on behavioral science has been shown to be very beneficial for all children including those with autism spectrum disorder (Matson, Mahan, & Matson, 2009).

Parent training that is based on behavioral principles is highly recommended.

PARENT TRAINING – Supporting Socially Significant Outcomes

Parent participation in applied behavior analysis services has many benefits.

One way that this is helpful is that parents can inform service providers whether socially significant outcomes occur. In order to ensure that meaningful outcomes are achieved, parents can report on progress and changes seen in their child.

When parents participate in their child’s ABA, they can learn effective strategies that are individualized for their child. They can then support their child’s growth and development in by implementing these strategies and helping their child to generalize and maintain skills which can lead to socially significant outcomes for the child, parent, and family.

Positive Outcomes for the Child When Parents Participate in ABA

When parents and their child participate in applied behavior analysis, they can both experience positive outcomes.


When parents participate in their child’s ABA services, whether through one-on-one parent training, group parent training, or being involved in direct ABA sessions, parents can learn how to address the characteristics of autism spectrum disorder that are interfering with their child’s quality of life, such as certain communication skills or social skills that may be having a negative impact on that child’s daily functioning.


When parents participate in ABA and learn individualized ways to help their child, they can be a part of improving that child’s quality of life.


When parents participate in ABA, they can also help to improve their child’s learning in an academic setting. Parents can increase their knowledge of tools that would be beneficial for their child in the child’s education.

Whether the child attends public school, is home schooled, or attends another form of education, learning strategies to help improve the child’s education can be vital to that child’s experience in the education setting.


When parents participate in their child’s ABA, they can help their child generalize skills to new settings. Generalization is essential to learning new skills.

Parents can help generalize their child’s skills to new settings, such as at home or in the community, as well as with new people, such as with relatives, neighbors, and peers.

Parents can help their child maintain skills that they have learned.

Sometimes, children with autism spectrum disorder may lose skills they learn when they don’t have opportunities to practice that skill.

Parents are the ideal support for helping kids to generalize and maintain their skills.


When parents participate in ABA, they may be able to reduce the intensity of services that their child receives.

If parents learn effective strategies to help their child improve skills and reduce maladaptive behaviors, it’s possible that their child will not need intensive services for as long because the parents have the tools to help that child continue to develop (Matson, Mahan, & Matson, 2009).


When parents participate in ABA services, they can learn more about autism spectrum disorder. They can learn about how ASD characteristics are present in their child and how the characteristics of ASD may negatively (or even positively) impact their child’s quality of life.


When parents participate in their child’s ABA, they can learn effective ways of managing their child’s behaviors. When their child’s behaviors are at a reasonable rate, the child may not be as likely to be put on prescription medications (Postorino, et. al., 2017).


When parents participate in their child’s ABA, they may also experience the positive outcome of an improved parent-child relationship. The parent may experience less stress themselves. The family may experience improvements in overall well-being, as well (Koegel, Bimbela, & Schreibman,  1996).


Parent participation in their child’s ABA services has many benefits.

Parent education and training on the topic of autism spectrum disorder and applied behavior analysis when individualized to a particular child, can support great outcomes for the child, the parent, and the family as a whole.


To receive a parent-friendly handout of the content in this post, consider the “One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum” which includes parent training handouts, worksheets to facilitate parent and service provider collaboration, reading material on various topics related to ABA and ASD, and more.



Koegel, R.L., Bimbela, A. & Schreibman, L. J Autism Dev Disord (1996) 26: 347.

Matson, M. L., Mahan, S., & Matson, J. L. (2009). Parent training: A review of methods for children with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 3(4), 868-875.

Postorino, V., Sharp, W.G., McCracken, C.E. et al. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev (2017) 20: 391.

Other Relevant References

Bearss, K., Burrell, T. L., Stewart, L., & Scahill, L. (2015). Parent Training in Autism Spectrum Disorder: What’s in a Name?. Clinical child and family psychology review, 18(2), 170–182. doi:10.1007/s10567-015-0179-5

Brookman-Frazee, L., Stahmer, A., Baker-Ericzén, M. J., & Tsai, K. (2006). Parenting interventions for children with autism spectrum and disruptive behavior disorders: opportunities for cross-fertilization. Clinical child and family psychology review, 9(3-4), 181–200. doi:10.1007/s10567-006-0010-4

Johnson, C. R., Butter, E. M., & Scahill, L. (2019). Parent Training for Autism Spectrum Disorder: Improving the Quality of Life for Children and Their Families. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Kazdin, A. E. (2005). Parent Management Training: Treatment for Oppositional, Aggressive, and Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

Why is it important that parents participate in their child’s ABA services?

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at [email protected] You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Why is it important that parents participate in their child’s ABA services?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from