As a parent involved in Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA), it’s fantastic to jump in with two feet. At first it can be a scary experience, watching your child tantrum as the therapist waits it out when you’re used to soothing—and let’s be honest, panicking. But there is also a blissful feeling of control that comes with the charts and numbers applied to these things.
Our therapist had us tracking tantrums and your ABA therapist will likely do the same. How long where they lasting for? How many incidents of property destruction, violence, or self harm occurred? How bad was the destruction, violence or self harm? Suddenly this overwhelming experience becomes a numbers game. You detach from that fear and become a detective, getting to the route of the problem.
“Yes, he/she tantrumed for 20 minutes today, but looking back in the chart we can see they also tantrumed for the same amount on this day last week. Perhaps an incident of property destruction has gone down by one or two times in that last week? Perhaps we can identify something different about that day causing more tantrums?” Each reduced number and dash on the page becomes a little ray of hope.
ABA isn’t just a therapeutic experience for the child. Suddenly you’re not alone in this world of crying, screaming or strange and wonderful things your little one does. Here is somebody by your side, battling this world with you and your child, helping you navigate it together. And if you’re anything like me, you begin to miss these moments you share with another human being who understands your child’s nuances as well as you do (and sometimes even more).
Jumping into ABA with two feet is scary, but it can be the most rewarding thing as a parent you could ever do with your Autistic child. Like being handed a magnifying glass to see into the cogs and turns in their mind. Finally you have the tools to conquer the behaviors, understand them, and help your child get to the other side of Autism.