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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

ABA Parent Training Assessment: Using a Combination of Assessment Tools

Assessment in ABA

When working with parents in applied behavior analysis, it is important to complete a thorough assessment. Although assessment can be complex no matter what population you are working with, it can be somewhat tricky when working with parents.

Assessment and ABA Parent Training

Assessment within the context of ABA parent training has to address both the parent and their child as well as the environment of both individuals and the contingencies at play that are influencing the behaviors of the parent and the child (and potentially other relevant individuals, as well).

Formal Assessments

There are a variety of formal assessments that may be completed within the context of applied behavior analysis including when working with parents. There is not one specific standardized assessment that is used in ABA parent training, but most approaches to assessment in this context cover similar concepts.

Assessment in parent training may address child behavior from the parent’s perspective, parental stress, and sometimes self-reports from the child.

Challenge with Many Assessments

One challenge with many assessments used is that they rely on personal report. This can be valuable in certain ways. However, it overlooks the necessity of obtaining an accurate and objective measurement of what is happening which can lead to greater outcomes.

Need for Assessing Family Interactions

They also rarely address the dynamics that exist within family interactions which can play a big part in the behaviors of the child.

Some assessments will give the clinician information about the types of behaviors a child may be exhibiting. However, they don’t dig deeper and give information about the potential reinforcing factors or the antecedents or consequences to these behaviors.

Solution: Use Direct Observation

Direct observation can be a valuable tool to add to standardized assessments. Finding meaningful ways to observe family interactions, whether these are interactions between parent and child or child and sibling, can improve the overall quality of an assessment.

It can also help the clinician in developing a more appropriate treatment plan. Direct observation within an assessment can also support greater outcomes for the family.

Assessment in ABA Parent Training

When working with families, it is important to gather information and data on a variety of factors that influence the child and the parent.

Through the use of standardized assessments that rely on parent (or other important individuals) report or even child report you may obtain useful information.

However, it can also be helpful to incorporate direct observation of the parent and child or child and sibling or child and another relevant individual (like daycare provider or grandmother).

Direct observation provides valuable information about setting events, antecedents, and consequences that could be influencing a child’s behaviors. It provides greater insight into the family dynamics which can be complex and difficult to capture on traditional standardized assessments.


Werth, E. B. (1995). Family Assessment in Behavioral Parent Training for Antisocial Behavior. Family Assessment, 13.

ABA Parent Training Assessment: Using a Combination of Assessment Tools

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 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. (2020). ABA Parent Training Assessment: Using a Combination of Assessment Tools. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from