- Posted by Dr. Eric Lund
- On September 11, 2017
- 0 Comments
At the start of every school year, parents must decide what’s best for their child, school full-time or to continue with ABA treatment. This is a difficult decision for parents to make, as they often feel pressure to put their child in school for full days due to the child’s age. How do you as a parent prioritize school education vs. continuing their treatment? This blog will outline my thoughts on when school verses individualized ABA treatment should be the priority.
Understanding Basic Motivations
The first step to making this decision is to understand how your child is motivated. A child can be motivated by a desire to please or controlled by what is happening around them.
A child who is controlled by what is happening around them in the sensory/motor world will be:
- Difficult to keep on task
- Fidgety and often moving
This type of child learns best with one-on-one instruction and often requires an aid to keep them on track.
A child who is motivated by a desire to fit-in and please other people in their life will:
- Inhibit their desire to move and react to what is happening around them in the sensory/motor world
This type of child will inhibit his/her desire to react to an event because of their concern for what others will think. A child with these motivations could benefit from school.
Not sure if your child could be on the Autism Spectrum? Use our screening tool to find out.
Importance of School
Goal: The goal of School/education is to provide academic information to a child.
School is excellent at teaching typically developing children academic skills. In school, academics are usually taught by providing educational information in a mostly verbal format. A child who is verbal and motivated by a high desire to please other people can benefit from school.
A child who is not primarily motivated by a desire to fit in with their peers and please other people, such as a child on the autism spectrum, has a more difficult time learning in a school environment. Due to these different motivations, a child on the autism spectrum would have a more difficult time learning in a group setting at school.
An additional concern is that what is learned in school does not lead a child with significant delays toward independence and self-sufficiency. In my opinion, I would rather see a child get straight F’s in school and be able to function independently in the world than for a child to get straight A’s and never be able to live independently.
Academic success and the building of academic skills are often much less pivotal to a child with developmental delays than a typically developing child.
Importance of ABA Therapy
Goal: The goal of ABA therapy is to move a child from reacting to the world though their senses (feeling, tasting, touching etc. – sensory motor world) to reacting in the world because they are trying to please others and live up to their parents and society’s expectations.
Children with developmental delays benefit most from individual instruction. Individualized treatment focuses on first teaching core competencies to verbally relate to family and peers. When this is established through one-on-one teaching of verbal and social skills, a child is ready for social interactions through peer play. Alternatively, a child with special needs will benefit most from the building of self-help, independent and adaptive skills.
Prioritize ABA therapy
Until a child is mainly controlled by a desire to fit in with peers and please the people they love in the verbal/social world, ABA treatment should be the priority.
School should be the priority when a child demonstrates the ability to control their attention, behavior, and emotions because they are concerned about what other people think about them. The child craves interaction with others and cares enough about others to want to please them so the interaction continues. At this point a child can begin to learn like a typically developing child through staying with and watching their peers.
Looking for more information on ABA therapy? Learn the specific skills ABA therapy addresses.