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ABA Course for Parents Review by Jodi Galland

Coby Lund, PhD and Janet Lund, PhD
Garrett and Christy Butch
Maximum Potential Kids
5020 Mill Creek Ave
Alpharetta, GA 30022

When we received our son’s autism diagnosis last year, we felt lost with no idea what to do next. It was difficult navigating the sea of paperwork and new faces this information brought into our lives. One thing I insisted on, as we began the search for his case manager, was that I would also be trained to help him. I felt that consistency was of the utmost importance. I was so excited to learn about Maximum Potential Kids.

Maximum Potential provides training to parents, professionals, and school districts in ABA therapy. ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is a system of observing and recording behaviors over time and training children to respond in an appropriate way, whether that is to teach a new behavior or reduce an inappropriate behavior. Their ABA Course for Parents is a three month plan which includes streaming videos of 17 modules, along with supplemental materials. These supplements are all available as multiple PDF downloads. The files comprise of guided notes for the videos, picture cards that line up with the ABLLS®-R (an assessment tool used to help children with autism and other developmental delays), and an All About Me booklet. The cost is $147 for the initial three months. Additional access can be purchased for $25/month.

The ABA approach taught in these lessons involves the use of:

  • Discrete Trial Teaching (highly structured and scripted with lots of reinforcement).
  • Natural Environment Teaching (less structure and used in the child’s everyday world).
  • Task Analysis Teaching (complex behaviors broken into easier to master components).

This course is perfect for training parents, grandparents, babysitters—basically anyone who is involved in the life of an autistic child. Most of the video modules are between six and twenty minutes. The topics covered are overviews of autism and Applied Behavior Analysis, verbal behavior analysis, prompting, fading, shaping, errorless teaching, reinforcement, discrete trial teaching (DTT), the therapy checklist, behavior momentum, graphing and data, setup, behavior management, natural environment teaching, and social skills programming. While there is a separate video for each lesson, they are also all interconnected. The training is used as a whole.

The ABA Course for Parents mostly features younger children and the techniques work best as early intervention, even so I was assured that the program was developed for all ages and abilities. The skills taught are intended for the caregivers to bring into their own homes and to work them into their lifestyle with each individual child.

I really found the video on reinforcement, which actually is much longer than the other lessons, incredibly helpful in our situation. Reinforcers work best when selected by the child. It’s difficult to motivate someone with a reinforcer they don’t feel somewhat enticed by. This module also covered the differences between bribery and reinforcement, and explained how the reinforcer eventually must become unnecessary.

It’s important to understand also, that success by one person or in one situation is not success. Success for the child must be able to be carried over to other caregivers and environments. This was actually why I wanted to be trained in the techniques to help my son. If his case manager is seeing positive results with him and I am not able to reinforce that throughout the week, I am doing him no favors and he is not learning to become independent, which is our ultimate long term goal for him.

Some of the information in the training course is a bit technical for a non-professional; especially for someone new to many of the terms and techniques. Applied Behavioral Analysis, as it had once been explained to me, seemed detached and impersonal. I was really unsure how I would feel about this parent training course. As my husband and I listened to the videos in the quiet evenings, we often found ourselves in agreement with the descriptions of the autistic traits we were seeing at home, the explanations for the techniques used in ABA, and even the potential applications of the approach. I will be continuing to refer back to individual video modules as we make progress.

Regardless of resources, Maximum Potential believes that every family should be able to provide the best care for their children. If you do not live near a therapist or cannot afford other resources, the ABA Course for Parents can be a viable alternative or can be used alongside your current case manager.

—Product review by Jodi Galland, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2016