I am a parent who has a home-based ABA program. I hold monthly meetings with all of the providers that work with my child. I am looking for some ideas on how to make the most of these meetings. Any suggestions?
Answered by Preeti Chojar
ASAT Parent Board Member
It is terrific that your team meets monthly! Collaboration and consistency amongst members of the professional team is the hallmark of a successful home program. I have found that a great way to build teamwork is to have regular meetings to keep my son Ravi’s team on the same page. Here are some suggestions to help you use this time effectively and efficiently. In our particular case, we meet monthly, but keep in mind that some teams may need to meet more frequently (depending on the composition of the team, level of oversight required, and needs of the child).
Ideally a time can be scheduled in which the entire team can be present. This would include any related service providers if feasible such as the family trainer, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, or physical therapist. Assign a meeting chair if possible. Assembling the entire team can be difficult given constraints such as other children on caseload, family responsibilities, school schedules, etc. Try your best!
Develop the agenda
Always create an agenda well before a team meeting. Please note that this agenda should not sidestep any other communication that should be occurring (e.g., the consultant may want to know right away if a new skill-acquisition program is not going well).
- Start by writing down any new behaviors, both positive and challenging. Also note if there is evidence of lost skills or discrepancies in skill levels across settings, situations or people.
- Have data summarized and analyzed before the meeting.
- Add anything that the supervisor or the collective wisdom of the group could help resolve.
- Review last month’s meeting notes paying close attention to any open or unfinished items. This should occur at every meeting.
- If the child is also receiving services in a school or center-based environment, seek input from those providers as well.
- Bring to the table any observations made by people in the community that highlight some skill or skill deficit which might have gone unnoticed.
- Prioritize agenda items and, if necessary, allocate a specified amount of time to discuss each item.
- Finally, make sure the agenda is well balanced and addresses everyone’s concerns.
Circulate the agenda
- Make sure to circulate the agenda to everyone attending the meeting, ideally a few days before the meeting.
- Ask all team members to notify you ahead of time of any other agenda items they might have that were not added yet.
Starting the meeting
- Begin the meeting promptly (and end on time as well).
- Ensure that there is agreement about the agenda items and inquire about whether there are any important items to add.
- Ask members to share a personal good news story. This is a great way to get to know each other and build team morale.
During the meeting
- Stick to the agenda to the extent possible, being flexible to add in any new items of importance.
- Encourage every team member to share their ideas, tips for working with the child, or difficulties.
- Have team members share details about specific reinforcers or strategies with the group.
- Discuss any struggles to teach a particular skill. This will help the group learn about any discrepancies across team members.
- Similarly, they may be struggling to teach a particular skill. This will help them learn about any discrepancies
across team members or general concerns.
- Whenever two members go off on a tangent that doesn’t require the full team’s attention, ask them to discuss it after the meeting. This would include off-topic discussions and other “small talk.”
- Discourage attendees from checking their phones or texting during the meeting.
- Vary the format as warranted.
- Review videos of teaching sessions as a group.
- In some instances, involve the child in the meeting as well. Every team member can work briefly with the child on one or more tasks while the remainder of the team observes. The supervisor will take notes and give feedback afterwards. Consider having the supervisor demonstrate new and important procedures. This will go best if there is a positive, nurturing atmosphere on the team and everyone is committed to one another’s professional development.
Make sure to end on a positive note
- Mention any positive events or achievements of the child.
- Reinforce the efforts of the team or particular individuals’ efforts (be specific about what is being
praised and why).
Take meeting notes
- Take careful notes of any recommendations, ideas or changes to specific programs. Meeting notes should clearly identify any action items along with who is responsible for completing that item (include time frame for completion).
- Any action items not completed from last month’s meeting notes should be continued on the subsequent month’s meeting notes.
- The meeting notes would not preclude the consultant from distributing written recommendations (this would be particularly important if a behavior reduction plan was warranted).
Distribute meeting notes
- Send the meeting notes to everyone attending the meeting and anyone who missed the meeting (we rely heavily on email with the assurance that the email content is privileged and kept confidential). Send copies to any other relevant people, like the child’s teacher or other related service providers.
- In some cases, it may be helpful to have attendees initial a group copy to ensure that the notes were reviewed and understood or respond back via email to indicate such.
Use applied behavior analysis with your team, not just with your child, by assessing the team’s skill at using meeting times productively and efficiently and at taking steps needed to improve both group process and outcomes. It helps if everyone is committed to helping the child realize his or her fullest potential and to investing in the process to become better providers and team members. Best of luck to you with your meetings.
Citation for this article:
Chojar, P. (2016). Clinical Corner: Productive meetings in home ABA programs. Science in Autism Treatment, 13(3), 29-32.