One-size does not fit all: Let’s talk about parent training


By Holly Bortfeld

When you are pregnant, you read a library full of books to get ready. None of those books tell you to expect a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or how you might have to parent that child differently.

If someone says to you, “Hey, you need parenting classes,” your hackles likely go straight up in righteous indignation. The reality is that children with special needs also need special parenting. These skills do not come naturally to most parents. So please, don’t be offended when we suggest that parents with an ASD child could, in fact, use parenting classes.

Now these are not typical, “don’t leave your kids in a car on a hot day” classes. ASD parenting classes are designed to teach parents behavioral and sensory techniques to avoid and dissipate meltdowns, and to keep your kids safe and engaged without having to spend years learning the hard way – by doing it wrong.

We’re not talking about personalized classes here, which involve taking your child to a trainer, who provokes specific behaviors in order to teach you how to deal with them. That’s what an FBA – Functional Behavioral Analysis – is for.1 A parent training class is a more generalized preparation for the years-long task of parenting a child on the autism spectrum. Our kids are unconventional; a strategy that calms a neurotypical child may have the opposite effect on a child with ASD.

Some of the things a good class will teach you are:

  • Techniques to reduce or eliminate behavioral problems
  • How to use a visual schedule
  • Safety in the home and community
  • How to connect with other parents for support
  • Increasing coping skills – yours and your child’s
  • Building routines
  • Responding to a child’s behavior without making it worse
  • How to use reinforcers appropriately
  • How to use a sensory diet
  • What can be causing behaviors (sensory, medical, pain, etc.) and how to treat them accordingly


Where to find Parenting classes

If one of the above doesn’t offer the classes directly, they may be able to refer you.


Cost for Training

Most ASD Parenting classes range from free to $20 but longer workshops, such as the PECS 2-day workshop is approximately $150.


Funding for Training

Your child’s IEP is first and foremost where you request funding for parent training. If your child has an IEP, you cannot be denied this service.

If your child is not in public school, you may be able to get funding through:

  • Your state Office of Developmental Disabilities
  • State Grants
  • Local support groups, churches or other community groups
  • Ask the seminar organizer about scholarships. Ask early, before they are gone.

We all benefit from some help and support when we first get the ASD diagnosis. Autism Parenting Classes can help you and your child faster and better.

{Bell rings} Class is in session!


Learn more about FBAs and symptoms here: