Parents always want the best for their children, and for parents of children with ASD, the pursuit of the best is often more complex and tricky. Today, many parents choose to engage a therapist to work with their children for many different reasons. However, the process of deciding when to stop therapy often puts parents in a difficult spot, as they are then faced with the fear of the unknown. Thus, this article aims to break down things to consider, for parents to make better-informed decisions on whether or not to stop their children’s therapy sessions.
Progress on treatment and assessment
The first thing that you should consider is the progress that your child has made, or the outcomes of their therapy so far. At Healis, we provide the option of having a consultant create a personal Individual Education Progress (IEP) report that will have learning goals for your child that will be effective every 6 months. Therapists will also keep parents updated on your child’s progress on the treatment goals that were worked on regularly while utilizing some regularly administered assessment tools.
If parents find that their child is regularly not making progress on his or her treatment goals, this might be the time to consider changing ABA therapists or seek additional resources to supplement their ongoing therapy. On the contrary, if you see that your child is progressing very quickly and steadily and that they are mastering their set treatment goals, this might also be a time to consider reducing the frequency of therapy sessions.
Socially significant progress
After considering the progress that your child has shown and measured by your ABA therapy provider, you can move on to consider the progress measured by the family. This is often referred to as social significance. To consider the social significance of therapy, ask yourself, what was the original reason that you reached out for support? Has your family’s life significantly improved as a result of the progress your child has made with therapy? One of the biggest signals that suggest it may be time to move on is if you have met your goals. For example, you have requested ABA therapy because your child had trouble with emotional regulation. Maybe it was a challenge to keep his or her aggressive outbursts under control. Ask yourself - Is that still an issue? If your child has made progress in those goals then you might be ready to move on. But if they haven’t, your child might just need more time for progress to be shown, or there could be an issue in the treatment plan itself and you might need to consult with your therapist about program modifications to better support these goals. However, we will recommend having a conversation about whether there are additional skills that should be worked on within the context of ABA therapy, or if it is a natural time to discontinue or start to decrease the number of therapy hours, even after you have met the goals you have set out to accomplish to better support your child through his or her development.
It is crucial to understand ABA therapy is unlike taking paracetamol to deal with a fever; it takes a lot of time and energy from both the parents and the child. One of the considerations to determine how many hours of ABA your child should have or to stop therapy is thinking about what other things they would be doing with that time if they weren’t in therapy. Some parents may choose to prioritize other kinds of opportunities such as camps or music lessons that may be important for their child’s development. If your child needs the support that ABA can provide, then it is definitely worth it to invest the time and money to work on the skills that they will learn in ABA. However, the parent and the therapist need to communicate and identify clear goals and priorities to ensure that time is being spent to work towards those goals.
Support system and resources
When considering any discontinuation of treatment, it is important to first consider what additional support and resources are available to pick up where the therapy left off. Although your child may have made significant progress on his or her treatment goals and assessments, and your family now has a better quality of life as a result of your child’s improved behavior, it is important to take a step back and consider what might be left behind. It is important that parents consider the following before terminating therapy for their child:
Does your family have adequate training to implement the techniques that were successful in getting your child to this point?
Are there any major changes coming up that might result in the continued need for therapy? Example: change in schools, moving to a new town, puberty, etc.
It is crucial that parents discuss these points with their therapist so that they can support you through this transition for your child to continue on the path to success.
On that note, parents should know how to contact their ABA provider to resume services should the need arise, or if they need any additional support throughout the transition.
In essence, the purpose of therapy is to teach skills that can help to improve the quality of life. This means that there is always room to make adjustments that you need so that ABA works for you and your family. Before stopping therapy, parents will have to decide if the progress that their child has made is socially significant and adequate while ensuring that they are confident that the improvements their child has made will persist and that he or she will do fine without therapy.
Written by: Clarissa
When Should My Child Stop ABA Therapy? | Attentive Behavior Care. (2019). Retrieved 30 June 2021, from https://www.attentivebehavior.com/when-should-my-child-stop-aba-therapy/