with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

What is ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis)? – An Idea for ABA Parent Training Curriculum

Not only is the question, “What is autism spectrum disorder?”, often overlooked in ABA parent training services, but the question, “What is applied behavior analysis (ABA)?” is also sometimes overlooked in ABA parent training. Consider addressing this topic in your ABA parent training curriculum to help parents understand what the service is that their child is receiving.

What is applied behavior analysis?

ABA can be used for all types of people, in all settings, and for many different purposes. ABA...

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? – Idea for ABA Parent Training Curriculum

Need a topic to cover in your ABA parent training services? Consider addressing the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Help parents understand what this diagnosis means for their child.


Autism spectrum disorder (also referred to as “autism”) has a set of symptoms or behaviors that capture what someone with this disorder is likely to experience or what behaviors they may display. However, the disorder is referred to as a spectrum for a reason. The definition of the word spectrum is “used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.” This definition of the word spectrum relates to the identified symptoms or behaviors seen in individuals with autism.

12 ABA Parent Training Goal Ideas

Are you an ABA service provider (a BCBA, BCaBA, or other clinician providing ABA services)? Does part of your job include creating goals for applied behavior analysis parent training services? We have created a list of ideas that you may consider using for the purpose of ABA parent training goals. Be sure to reference your employer’s requirements and the funding source requirements for individualizing each goal to the client you are working with.


How do you encourage parents to engage in their child’s ABA treatment?

As with any behavior that we as behavior analysts want to change, we need to look at reinforcement and motivation. We can also use concepts from acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) approaches to help parents become more engaged in their child’s ABA treatment.


What will a parent get as a consequence of participating in ABA services? How can you individualize your response to the parent and help provide reinforcing consequences to the parent when they do participate...

More Ideas of Skills to Teach in the Natural Environment (At the Grocery Store & On a Sidewalk)

Teaching skills in the natural environment is a great way to help children of all abilities learn and develop. In ABA services, whether in direct one-on-one services or in ABA parent training, you can use natural environment training to help children learn new skills and improve behaviors.

The natural environment is the setting in which a person encounters in everyday life. The natural environment includes general locations like the home and the community or a school setting. It also includes more specific contexts like a classroom, a grocery store, a table during mealtime, a gas station, a play area, the family’s yard, a sidewalk, and much more. The natural environment contrasts with teaching in a contrived, structured environment which is typical of teaching in discrete trial training.


Importance of Classroom Skills in ABA

Children benefit greatly when service providers, parents, or teachers help them to develop behaviors and skills that are relevant to the classroom setting. There are many skills that are not explicitly taught in a typical classroom environment but that would help the child greatly in their current and future learning opportunities.

Children with autism spectrum disorder, with ADHD, dyslexia, or with any other learning difficulties oftentimes have difficulties in at least some behaviors related to learning or related to how to learn.

As a service provider, whether you are a teacher, a BCBA, or a therapist, evaluating children for behaviors related to the classroom and learning experiences that they encounter can help that child be more successful in learning and in life.


Ideas for Skills that Can be Taught in the Natural Environment

Using natural environment training to help kids with autism and other learning and behavioral challenges is an excellent mode of teaching to help them develop new skills and improve their behavioral repertoire.

The natural environment refers to the settings which are common to day to day life. This includes the home, the community, a classroom, a store, the backyard, and much more. The natural environment is in contrast to teaching in a contrived, structured environment.

Ten skills that can be taught in the natural environment of a rural backyard of a family home:


Using Socially Significant Behaviors in ABA Parent Training

Applied behavior analysis focuses on socially significant behaviors. In ABA services, whether you're working one on one with children with autism, working in a school setting or working with parents through ABA parent training, you should address socially significant behaviors.

What socially significant behaviors refers to is that the behaviors or the skills that you target in treatment should be important for the client they should also be relevant for social relationships and generally seen as an...