Posted:
October 10, 2022

The Importance of Caregiver Training

The Importance of Caregiver Training
Guide
Courtney Keleher, M.Ed., BCBA, LABA, LBA
Author

Allie Sheehan, BCBA

Specializes in: Verbal behavior, functional communication, behavior support planning, ABA insurance funding, Early Intervention, organizational behavior management, strategic planning.

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Allie, our Clinical Director, has been working with children with autism for over 10 years. 

"I became a BCBA in 2015, and I started with in-home and in-school support. Throughout my career, I’ve become much more involved in the support of clinicians and their practicum experiences. I joined AnswersNow as Clinical Director in 2021, because I was very passionate about the effectiveness of our approach, and how our digital platform allows us to serve families that otherwise wouldn't be able to get quality care. I love seeing all of the progress that is happening with our families!"

Caregivers and parents of children with autism are often under a lot of stress and are frequently bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information. At AnswersNow, we know you have a lot on your plate, and we know the importance of providing you with the tools and resources to more easily navigate your child’s daily life, and their path to treatment.

Caregiver Training is one of the main pillars of our telehealth model, because we see these regular check-ins with clinical experts as a critical resource for you, a time for you to express some of your concerns or feelings, learn new strategies for supporting your child, and feel comfortable asking questions specific to your child's needs or progress. 

In Caregiver Training, BCBA’s can teach you routines to improve your child’s communication and daily life skills, problem-solving and self-care skills to build your child’s confidence and overall well being, and new ways to support your child that can help reduce your stress. 

Recent research reinforces the importance of Caregiver Training in autism therapy with a new meta-analysis from BYU showing that parent-led interventions benefit autistic children, their behavior, and their language and communication skills. 

Today, we want to talk about Caregiver Training and why we make it such a focus in our approach.

Caregivers are the front lines for their children.  

We, as your clinicians, see your children and work closely with them, but we typically only interact with them for a couple of hours per week. You, as the caregivers and parents, are with your children 24/7, and therefore have the ability to make the biggest impact on their overall progress and skills development. 

What we’re aiming to do through Caregiver Training is to empower you with the tools and strategies to confidently navigate your child’s care, as well as any issues or setbacks you may experience. What we’re not doing is telling you how to parent your child. We know that you know your child best.  

We will often recommend goals for your child, but ultimately, we want caregivers to be working directly with us to establish the goals and milestones that they want for their child. Caregiver Training is a time for us to check in and collaborate on those goals and milestones.

What’s involved in Caregiver Training?

Caregiver Training is a model that can be used both independently and also in conjunction with ABA therapy. At AnswersNow, we offer both options delivered by one of our incredible Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). 

While most of our families receive Caregiver Training in conjunction with ABA therapy, we do have instances in which our BCBAs are solely supporting caregivers, and do not work directly with the child. 

For these families, we can offer either:

  • Focused Caregiver Training: For example, if your child is only having an issue with toilet training, we can develop a specific plan to improve your child’s training progress.

or

  • Broad Caregiver Training: If your child is facing a number of hurdles that are impacting their daily life, we can work through a more comprehensive training curriculum for you that ranges from behavior changes to communication and language skills . 

If your child is receiving ongoing ABA therapy with us, then our Caregiver Training is directly correlated with the goals laid out in the therapy program, and usually focuses on one to two topics or issues to address throughout the six-month period that we’re working with your child. 

Overall, it’s important to note that Caregiver Training is extremely flexible. What is covered can change based upon the needs of your child. It’s a time for you to sit down and chat with your child’s dedicated BCBA and tell us what’s on your mind.

One day you may have a concern about a problem behavior like hitting, and two weeks later, you might say, this behavior has disappeared but something else has come up. We're here to listen and to support you.

Caregiver Training Benefits the Whole Family

Similar to ABA therapy, Caregiver Training has the ability to benefit the entire family. BCBAs can work with families on things like addressing problem behaviors, improving sibling interactions, or helping a child more clearly communicate. Each adjustment of these skills can impact the child’s relationship with the entire family unit. 

An example of something we’ve done for improving sibling interactions is to write a social story for the sibling of the child with autism. The social story is meant to help them better understand their sibling’s needs and how to better support and communicate with them. Pairing a social story with direct teaching, as well as providing opportunities to practice the skills outlined in the story with the family in this instance, led to increased appropriate interactions and play with the siblings. Our BCBAs have also run joint activities, so if a child with autism is learning how to roll a ball, we’ll invite their sibling to come over to the computer and go through the exercises as well. 

Questions to Ask Your BCBA

It can be intimidating to show up to a Caregiver Training session if you don’t have a specific topic or issue in mind. Here are few questions that can be helpful to get started:

  • Can you explain to me why you did ____?
  • How do you recommend I respond when X happens?
  • What is going well and not so well in sessions?
  • I’d love to learn more about the science of ABA.
  • What’s one quick, easy, thing I can try at home that may make an impact on my child?
  • Do you have any resources for _____?

The Benefits of Our Approach

The traditional model of ABA therapy utilizes BCBAs, who often oversee the progress of therapy programs, and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs), who have a high school diploma and have completed a 40-hour training program, to deliver the majority of the therapy sessions to the child. The RBT runs all sessions and the BCBA comes to observe RBT implementation and explore new programs.

AnswersNow differs from the traditional ABA therapy model in several ways. When it comes to care delivery, we work only with Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) who must have a Master’s Degree or PhD and over 1,000 hours of training. 

Our Caregiver Training is more hands-on.

A lot of times, in the traditional model’s Caregiver Training, the BCBA works with the parent or caregiver, and together they observe the interactions of their child who is working with the RBT. 

With our direct remote ABA therapy, we require more hands-on involvement from both BCBAs and parents, especially for early learners. This level of involvement often leads to more learning and improved confidence for the caregivers. We highly encourage caregivers to be directly involved in every session that takes place. By being directly involved in each session, you will have a more hands on approach instead of observing and checking in occasionally  with the BCBA or RBT.

We provide greater flexibility with scheduling.

In a traditional in-home model, the RBT is scheduled to be at your home for a fixed amount of time. 

Because we use a digital platform, we do have a set schedule, but we can be a bit more flexible. For example, your child might be scheduled for direct ABA therapy from 1:00 to 2:30 PM. However, you might decide to have your child receive therapy for one hour and then jump in for Caregiver Training for the last half hour. 

We’re able to better observe your family in your natural environment.

There can be a lot of reactivity when BCBAs physically come into your home or when the child is taken out of their everyday environment and goes to a therapy center. The physical presence of a new person or change of environment can cause children to behave differently, and as a result, they may never present the target or problem behaviors that your BCBA is hoping to address. 

When we dial in over our digital platform on a computer screen, we’re able to see you and your child in their natural environment, and oftentimes, we can get a sense of their 

If you’re interested in learning more about our approach, make sure to fill out the form here, and someone from our intake team will be in touch with you. 

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