The Power of Parent-MediatedParent-mediated ABA offers proven outcomes with flexibility that works for families

Today, more families face the challenges of seeking support and care for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as diagnoses increase and the shortage of qualified applied behavioral analysis (ABA) paraprofessionals continues. Finding treatment in itself can present hurdles. Finding the right type of treatment—one that works for the child and caregivers—adds another layer of complexity.

Practitioner-Led ABA has long been the standard therapy for ASD and other developmental disabilities. While the standard 25-40 per week paraprofessional-led ABA can be effective in the right circumstances, it also can be time-consuming, stressful, expensive and burdensome for families. In addition to this, there is a paucity of empirical evidence supporting traditional high number of hours required of families and individuals, in fact there is no relationship found between number of ABA hours received and treatment outcomes.1

In addition, with more providers entering the market to meet the rising needs, disparity in treatment and outcomes has come into focus.2 The quality of outcomes with ABA may hinge on its correct application, with individualized treatment plans, supplementary programs and therapies prioritized over a one-size-fits-all approach.

One newer approach to ABA shown to drive outcomes is led by parents of the individual with ASD versus a paraprofessional.

The Ultimate ASD Caregiver

Catalight researchers have explored the relationship between Parent-Mediated ABA and outcomes—not only for skill support related to ASD, but for parents in terms of their self-efficacy and stress levels, which in turn has a positive effect on the whole family.

A traditional approach to ABA involves clinicians working directly with the child in a clinic or in-home setting, which generally reduces parental involvement. But parents are uniquely positioned to deliver therapeutic care: they know their child better than anyone, after all.

The goal of Parent-Mediated ABA is to give parents the tools to support and teach their child using ABA skills. By eliminating the need for frequently scheduled sessions with an outside practitioner, families have more flexibility to engage in everyday activities and still benefit from the oversight of an experienced clinical team.

Parents are encouraged to set aside time to work directly with their child. At the same time, the goals also can be targeted across everyday routines and activities because the parent is already familiar with the child’s daily life. Parent-Mediated ABA can be done in the car on the way to soccer practice, sitting in a waiting room or preparing and eating dinner.

Why it Works

Research led by Catalight has found Parent-Mediated ABA improves self-efficacy and parental self-efficacy was found to predict parental stress in statistically significant numbers—that is, there is a close relationship between parents’ sense of their ability to manage parenting in an ASD environment and how involved they are.

Catalight and other researchers have also found and supported the following about Parent-Mediated ABA:

  • It can be as effective as paraprofessional-led ABA.3
  • It improves communication and social skills through early intervention for ASD.4
  • It demonstrates improvement in activities of daily living.5
  • It increases parent efficacy, in turn decreasing parent stress.6
  • Training parents is more effective than educating them when it comes to reducing disruptive behavior.7

“… Reduction in disruptive behavior can lead to improvement in activities of daily living,” wrote Scahill, Bearss, et. al. “By contrast, the expected trajectory for adaptive behavior in children with ASD is often flat and predictably declines in children with intellectual disability. In the parent training group, higher-functioning children achieved significant gains in daily living skills.”

Parent-Mediated ABA represents a proven approach to improving behavioral goals for children with autism spectrum disorders. Combined with specific training, parent-mediated ABA helps deliver individualized care plans.

Quality of life improves too. By eliminating the need for scheduling appointments outside of the home, disciplines can be integrated into normal daily routines with minimal disruption to the family’s schedule. This approach allows the whole family, including siblings to feel confident they can handle everyday challenges of ASD.

Ultimately, partnering the expertise that parents have in their own children with quality training and oversight delivers proven, effective care that improves the lives of both children and their parents.

Learn more about Catalight’s treatment options and trends in behavioral health. You can also download Catalight’s recent research paper here.

[1] A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Effects of Intervention Intensity and Intervention Style on Outcomes for Young Children with Autism

Predicting Outcome of Community-Based Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Children with Autism

Predictors of longitudinal ABA treatment outcomes for children with autism: A growth curve analysis. Research in Developmental Disabilities

[2] Exploring Quality in the Applied Behavior Analysis Service Delivery Industry

[3] A Pilot Study of Family-Based Management of Behavioral Excesses in Young Iranian Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

[4] Parent-Mediated Social Communication Therapy for Young Children with Autism (PACT): Long-Term Follow-Up of a Randomised Controlled Trial

[5] Effect of Parent Training on Adaptive Behavior in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Disruptive Behavior: Results of a Randomized Trial

[6] Effectiveness of Parent-Mediated Applied Behavior Analysis at Improving Outcomes for Parents of Autistic Children

[7] Effect of Parent Training on Adaptive Behavior in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Disruptive Behavior: Results of a Randomized Trial