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How to be a good ABA therapist, lesson 1

August 22, 2012



This is not just any child. He is mine.  He is my reason for getting up in the morning (literally he is usually the first one up).  He chases off bad guys and points out every airplane and helicopter.  How would I notice those train tracks we pass by every time we go to the store if not for this boy? He is the most important first born child we have.  And we have to trust his future to the therapist that we choose to help him.  So listen closely, ABA therapists, because this is what we’ve learned from having 2 VERY different ABA therapists for two months now.


Talking About Your Other Clients


Bad-  Do not tell the mother that your other client’s family set up the time so early that you have to get him out of bed and that is why the therapy will never help him since it was set up to fail in the first place.  Do not tell the mother that one of your clients has been working on the same thing for months and still hasn’t gotten it after my kid got it on the first try. Did you ever think about how the parents feel about that one? And what are you telling everyone else about my kid?  Do not tell me how you lost your biggest client to a grad student charging half as much after you put in a year to that kid.  Yah I’m pretty sure the parents put in a lot more then that and have been broke this whole time waiting for the day when enough progress has been made so that maybe they can finally take a first vacation or their other kid might be able to take dance lessons like she always wanted.  Don’t tell me how one of your moms wants you to help with feeding and having to help this child eat yogurt is just such a huge mess you dread it and its so disgusting.  Those are all bad things.


Good- Don’t mention your other clients.  If you do, be very vague. 


Complaining About Things You Are Expected to Do

Bad- Do not tell the mother how much you hate the VB-MAPP after you make it drag on for two months.  She hates it too.  Just get it over with.  Do not tell the mother how if he can do things for her but not for anyone else they are pointless.  Maybe he just doesn’t like you.  Do not show up five minutes late and leave 10 minutes early everyday.  Do not tell the mother you spent the last 15 minutes inputting things on your own iPAD when she bought one to use for therapy so you now have two but still can’t figure out how to input things during the session so that each week invaluable time is being wasted.  Do not complain about how long your Fridays are when we are one of your Friday clients. 


Good- Do not complain. If you are late, stay late. 


Talking About the Child to their Mother


Bad- Do not call the child stubborn.  Do not say that he just doesn’t care what you want.  Do not dismiss what the mother says he can understand/do/say.  Do not try to make up for all your crappy unbuisnesslike behavior by saying in a very high pitch tone how ‘cute’ he is. We know. We’ve looked at him everyday.  We don’t care about how cute he is when you are his therapist. We care about how he’s doing with therapy.  He would be cute regardless.  Oh… and just to throw it in there, don’t call him baby.  He’s not a baby. 


Good-  Point out how hard he is working and how much progress he’s making.  Point out how you enjoy coming to his sessions because he is likeable, funny and smart.  


To summarize this lesson, if you notice how much there is on the ‘bad’ list compared to the ‘good’ list its because the mother remembers every bad moment in this therapy and the good ones sort of just run together.  So anything you do on the bad list has a tendency to stick out like a sore thumb.  ABA therapist,  I cannot get this time back that I’ve given you with my child.  Use it wisely. If you are burned out, sick of the job or just dislike children, perhaps you should find a new line of work.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 22, 2012 1:54 pm

    I think I’d be firing me an ABA therapist and finding another one if possible… HUGS

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