How I Maintain a Successful Relationship With My Children's Tutor
Posted on 08/17/19 in Parent and Caregiver by Nicole Crews
As a parents of twins on the autism spectrum, it is important that my family has the necessary supports at home to address our children’s needs. My husband and I tried to do it all ourselves, but that did not work. We needed help managing their behavior, with homework, and building structure into our everyday routine. To help us with all of this, we solicited the help of an ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Tutor.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the leading, evidence/research-based methodology proven to bring about positive, meaningful change in behavior in individuals with autism. ABA has been endorsed by state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General. There are many other therapy options for individuals with autism, but we chose ABA for our kids. You have to research and determine what is best for your child.
Now that we knew what type of tutor we were looking for, we had to figure out how to find one that would meet our family’s needs. Where do we start looking? We started by checking with the tutors that were working with our kids at school to see if they wanted to work additional hours for additional income. This approach allowed us to identify our first tutor, who ended up serving as our lead tutor. She creates all the programming for our son’s home program and partners with the school teachers to ensure that it is aligned with the school curriculum.
We also wanted to have a second tutor in place, so that the boys had an opportunity to work with a variety of people, which would also help to provide back-up coverage when our lead tutor was unavailable. We identified the back-up tutor by asking for referrals from our lead tutor. She knew our boys very well and was able to match us up with additional tutors with the right skill set. We have had a number of back-up tutors along our journey, but we have had the same lead tutor for the last 6 years and counting. It is hard to find someone that gels with your family and has the right skill set. So, how have we kept our current tutor for so long? Here are a few tips that will help you build a relationship with the right tutor for your child.
Outline expectations early on. Discuss what will be expected of your tutor when you start working with them. Let the tutor know the time commitment, effort commitment, and the results that you are looking for because of their involvement. Ask the tutor what their expectations are of you, which leads to the next tip…
Make sure that you are involved. Your involvement as a parent plays a pivotal role in your child’s success in ABA therapy or any other intervention program. It will help your child generalize skills across different environments and increase developmental skills and progress.
Set clear expectations for what’s required weekly. Aside from the general expectations, outline weekly expectations. This will help prevent any confusion and create alignment with what you expect and your tutor’s expectations. This increased level of communication ensures you receive the information you need to prepare your child for their sessions every week.
Engage tutor in goal setting and curriculum planning with your school team. It’s crucial for you and all your child’s providers to work as a team for the success of your child and their overall well-being. Planning together and setting realistic goals can make the process more manageable and create the necessary alignment and consistency that your child needs, as well as keep the tutor engaged, hopefully for the long-term.
Ensure that your tutor is collecting data. Collecting data will help the tutor show you how your child is doing and how he/she is improving. Goal setting is a powerful method of holding your tutor accountable and will help you to have a better understanding of what techniques work well with your child.
Ensure that your tutor and child engage in activities that allow them to build a good relationship. Make sure that fun is built into the programming. This will help to create a warm and welcoming environment so that your child feels comfortable and wants to work with the tutor. I am happy to say that my son looks forward to working with his tutor. It is also important that you build a good relationship with the tutor as well. Remembering birthdays and the holidays that they celebrate is important.
Celebrate milestones. By celebrating little victories, you are demonstrating to your tutor how their involvement is truly making a difference, and it keeps everyone more engaged in the process. Nothing is too small to celebrate. Remember, “the small things are never small, and every milestone is a celebration.”
Ensuring that our children are provided with the right resources and exposed to the right experiences, so that they can reach their full potential is the number one priority as a parent to a child of any ability, but as a parent to a child on the autism spectrum it is extremely important. When therapy is performed in the home, it is much easier for you to see and hear your child and tutor interacting which leads to natural teaching opportunities. Performing therapy services in the home also offers the child and family services in a comfortable environment and allows your child to receive interventions which can be generalized to other settings over time. Therefore, finding the right home tutor can be a key resource to aid you and your family along this autism journey.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Nicole Crews is the proud mother of twin boys with autism. She currently serves as Board Chair and Diversity Task Force Chair of Milestones Autism Resources, where her passion for community involvement and family interests align. Nicole balances her role as a mom of twins with autism, with being a stepparent of a son and a daughter and working full-time as the Global Diversity and Engagement Manager at Swagelok in Cleveland, Ohio. Nicole also serves on the Board of ERC (Employers Resource Council) and the Advisory Board of the Northeast Ohio Diversity Council.
Photo by New Image Photography