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Is my child really making progress in his ABA classroom?



What are some things that I can look for in my child's out of district ABA program that he is actually making progress? I don't see generalization, if he is making progress in school I would not call it ambitious progress, the prompts may decrease, but his independence decreases, he is still not able to access his school environment after a few years there own his own, and so much more.  Sadly, his last three IEPs look very similar.  

Is there concrete visual tree so to speak for parents to follow to help determine progress in ABA?

Concerned mom of a teen.

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IEP goals are where the team feels the student can get to in a year.  Does this mean this will happen?  Heck no!  There are things that can get in the way of a student reaching a goal.  Endrew F vs Douglas County changed the perspective on goals.  They need to be ambitious.  A wee bit of progress isn't enough.  Students should be getting close to goals - surpassing them is a real bonus.  If the IEP goals are the same from year to year, this isn't happening.  Keeping services the same - especially if the student is making progress - is OK.  If you found what works, you want to keep that going.  If you're not seeing progress, it's possible that the IEP team got things wrong and the goal wasn't realistic.  Perhaps the service/intervention isn't a good match for what a student needs.  Doctors don't continue the same medication if their patient isn't responding - they order more tests and/or try something different.  It sounds like this is what your child needs.

Did the school get the issue identified accurately?  Did they pick the right thing from the menu of interventions out there?  My friend's son had difficulty reading.  The school used an evidence/research based program (Wilson Reading which is O-G based) and progress didn't happen.  She advocated for change (asked for & got Lindamood-Bell which has more multimodal components than Wilson) and reading clicked for her son.  It's possible that your child needs to have a radical change made to the interventions in the IEP so progress can happen.  I would think that since he's been getting similar intervention for a while, a small tweak or 2 has already been done and didn't work.

There are other things out there besides ABA.  Floortime is another intervention.  If the school doesn't have staff trained to do this, they might not be able to offer this.  A different placement might be the answer.  Ross Greene has a protocol that works across many diagnoses.  It could be that this is the answer for your teen.  (My personal feeling is that ABA gets done because there are providers who know how to do this & it tends to be covered by insurance.  This was never suggested for my child.  We saw progress with other methods.)  If ABA isn't working, a different approach should be looked into.  More info out there about Ross Greene on Livesinthebalance.org.

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Progress reports and good data collection would be another way you can gauge progress towards goals. If the goals are well written they would be SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, use Action Words, Realistic and Time Limited). They should also have a baseline where the student is starting from and where they are expected to be at the end of the IEP cycle. From there you should even be able to plot those numbers on a graph with where he is every month to see if he is on target to meet the goals. If he's not on track then I would request an IEP meeting to discuss revising the goals. I've attached a sample progress monitoring data sheet that may help you visualize what I mean and you can also use it to evaluate. This was from my state parent training and information center but is general enough to be used anywhere.

Monthly Progress Monitoring.pdf

Michigan mother of two with IEPs, and owner of MI Student Advocacy Services. Trying to change the world one IEP at a time. 





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