When going into a family’s home for the first time, I talk to the parents about what they are currently having challenges with and what they would like for their child to learn. Sometimes if I am able to, I try to observe these behaviors to help me gain a better understanding of what is occurring at home. Once parents have discussed what they would like to achieve through parent training/NET, I create appropriate goals for home. If the child does not possess a specific skill required for the behaviors that parents would like them to learn, I focus on teaching those prerequisite skills first. If the child displays negative behaviors that interfere with acquiring language or other appropriate skills, then I focus on decreasing those behaviors as well. I make sure that the goals created for home are in conjunction with what is important and meaningful to improving the client and family’s home life.
Once the goals are created, I then explain how to work on that goal (increasing a positive behavior or decreasing a negative behavior), model the steps, role-play the procedure with the parent, allow the parent to practice with their child if there is an opportunity, and then provide feedback on their performance. If necessary, I also train the parent on how to collect data.
Sometimes parents are not able to implement the recommendations that are given, maybe because of time constraints, level of complexity, other siblings, or any other barrier that may prevent parents from implementing a recommendation. If this occurs, we try to pinpoint the specific barrier and try to come up with an alternative solution that is doable by the parents. The most important thing to remember is that the recommendations should be something that is manageable by parents.
I’ve also encountered siblings who may be resentful towards parents or their brother/sister due to receiving less attention from parents. When I observe this, I try to pair myself with the siblings as well and show them how they can help me help their brother or sister. When they see how they can help, it makes them feel important and many times they enjoy seeing how they can “teach” their sibling!
Written by Parini Shah, M.A., BCBA – Parent Training Coordinator