The #1 Mistake I See Autism Professionals and Parents Making


Hi I’m Dr. Mary Barbera, autism mom, board certified behavior analyst, and best-selling author. I’ve been working with kids with autism for almost two decades now, starting off working with my son Lucas who has moderate to severe autism and is now a young adult. I think as a behavior analyst now, hands down the number one mistake I see both autism professionals and parents making with their clients or child with autism, no matter what the age or ability level is, is this – there is simply not enough assessment being done. Teachers may be assessing academic levels, reading ability or even the ability to recognize letters. While the speech pathologist may be looking at language age levels and trying to get the child speaking, the behavior analyst may be looking at problem behaviors. Parents often times are just trying to get through their day listening to all the different professionals giving them advice – often times this advice even contradicting to the advice of the other professionals on the team. The teacher may be telling parents for instance to focus on naming letters while the speech pathologist may be telling the parents focus on letter sound and the parents may not even know where to start in terms of teaching anything to their child because their child resists giving up the ipad or refuses to do any kind of homework. Ninety-nine percent of the time when I get a question that starts with something like “I have a child or client who” and you can fill in the blank with your child or client scenario. But whoever is asking the question usually describe the age of the child and some of the type of problem behaviors they’re seeing like – “I have a three-year-old is out of control. He tantrums constantly at home and I can’t even take him to the grocery store” or “I have a new student in my second-grade autism classroom and all he wants to do is line things up. When it’s time for work he’s really uncooperative.” So no matter what the scenario, the question usually ends with “so what should I do?” And as a behavior analyst, I think the key is to assess the whole child in all areas but especially in the area of language because the child’s inability to use language well will almost always lead to problem behaviors. I have a very special announcement today I just started a brand-new free or part online video workshop where I’ll talk more about assessment and give parents and professional several key proven ABA strategies that will help both toddlers through teens with autism. Sign up right below this video to join us. Also do me a favor and share this video with other parents and professionals and leave me a comment below on my blog and I’ll see you next week.

10 thoughts on “The #1 Mistake I See Autism Professionals and Parents Making

  1. Assessments first? Yes. But not language. First assess should be: reinforcer. You run the program, the child will tell you what to use.

  2. I agree about not enough assessment being done. I went through primary school, secondary school and university only to be diagnosed with Aspergers a year after I graduated. I fully believe if I had the right support earlier, I would have got better grades at school.

  3. My son 2.5 years he’s not started speach yet and also he’s hyper active person please can you help me with this

  4. Thank you for this video.. I am at the moment struggling with my 6yr old son. He has stalled in terms of learning at school, new aggressive behaviour traits coming through. I have taken this up with his teacher and requesting a meeting with the school senco and I want a reassessment in all areas. Thank u AGAIN. Bless you. X

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