Where to Find Support After ABA Care EndsHow to keep your child motivated, engaged and focused

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If your child is in applied behavior analysis (ABA) care, it’s important to understand when they may be discharged from the program and what that process entails. You may also want to start thinking about what life will be like after treatment ends.

Reasons Why Treatment is Ending

The amount of time your child spends in ABA care depends on their goals and milestones. While some individuals benefit from only six months of treatment, others may need considerably more. Members of your child’s care team can give you a better sense of timing based on your child’s unique needs. When you and your child’s care team talk about ending treatment, try to involve your child in those conversations.

Here are some common reasons why your child may no longer need ABA care:

  • They have successfully met their goals and no longer benefit from treatment
  • They haven’t made measurable progress over the last few weeks or months – even with treatment modifications
  • Their problem behaviors have been reduced and your family can manage them without the support of ABA professionals
  • They are no longer able to participate in ABA services due to medical or family reasons
  • The child is 12 years or older and doesn’t want ABA

Transitioning Out of Treatment

To ensure a smooth transition out of treatment, members of your child’s care team will put together a detailed discharge plan. This document will include information about your child’s treatment and progress, the date services will end and next steps such as gradually reducing the number of treatment hours.

The care team will also teach you ABA techniques and strategies that you can use outside of treatment to help your child continue to work on their skills. Plus, you’ll learn how to monitor for symptoms to see if your child needs to restart treatment. Often, major life changes – like moving to a new house or school – can unfortunately cause children to regress.

Identifying New Types of Services and Support

Near the end of your child’s care, consider what other resources and services would help them continue to grow, develop and live a more independent life. If you haven’t done so already, you could work with the professionals at your child’s school to develop an individualized education program (IEP) outlining the support they need to succeed in the classroom. Or you could enroll them in speech or occupational therapy to help enhance their skills.

Another idea is to look for activities like music, sports or an arts program to build on your child’s strengths and keep them focused. Similarly, you could set up playdates with their friends to help them maintain a structured social schedule.

As your child transitions into adulthood and has high long term support needs, you may want to find an adult day health program that teaches daily living skills. Alternatively, you could reach out to one of the many organizations that help people with developmental disabilities find meaningful careers. For young people heading to college, support and accommodation can be accessed through the collage’s disability office.

As your child’s caregiver, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest autism research and treatment. One easy way to do that is by signing up for “The Catalyst” – Catalight’s monthly newsletter. This will give you the helpful information you need all in one place.

Taking Care of Yourself

Being a parent of a child with autism or another developmental disability can be both rewarding and exhausting. Remember to take care of yourself throughout this journey, as well. Consider joining a support group to meet other people who are going through a similar experience or reach out to family and friends when you need an extra hand.