Parents want the best possible care for their child. While many may be familiar with the term “informed consent,” which involves you (the parent or caregiver) providing consent for your child’s treatment, many people are less familiar with the definition of “assent.”

Assent-based ABA aims to put the patient in the driver’s seat of their treatment, even if they cannot verbally communicate. Keep reading to learn more about assent ABA and assent withdrawal ABA so you can understand how your child can receive compassionate care without testing their boundaries.

At Carebot ABA, we provide leading behavioral therapy in New Jersey to help empower children with developmental challenges. Our comprehensive children’s therapy in New Jersey offers a broad range of programs from occupational therapy to speech therapy so your child can receive the unique care they need.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child unlock their greatest potential. 

What is Assent? Common Behaviors of Assent 

Assent ABA, or assent applied behavior analysis, is an approach that looks at a person’s behavior for approval of treatment. Because it’s not always possible for a child with developmental challenges to communicate if they approve of the treatment they are going through, assent-based ABA looks at the child’s behavior to determine whether they approve of the treatment.

While children, especially children with developmental challenges, may not be able to verbalize their consent, one research study summarizes that “informed assent” takes into account the protection of the child to ensure they are respected as human beings during treatment. 

As a result, the main objective of assent ABA is to ensure the patient feels taken care of in a respectful manner, without the provider or therapist overstepping any boundaries that may upset them. If a patient shows negative behaviors, they could be conveying that they do not approve of a treatment (ie. frowning, crying, throwing a tantrum). These kinds of behaviors would be considered signs of assent withdrawal ABA, which we’ll touch on later in this article.

Just because a patient cannot verbally communicate doesn’t mean they don’t get a say in their own treatment. There are several positive behaviors a patient can show during treatment that can support their approval of the treatment they are receiving, including:

  • Smiling
  • General eye contact/ looking in the direction of the instructor
  • Active engagement
  • Cooperation
  • Affirmative statements

It’s also important to note that just because a patient may assent at the beginning of their treatment doesn’t mean assent is permanent throughout the entirety of the treatment. If a patient starts showing assent withdrawal behaviors, it’s critical for the therapist to stop treatment and respect the patient’s boundaries. 

What is Assent Withdrawal? Common Behaviors of Assent Withdrawal

Now that you know what assent in ABA is, it’s important to understand what assent withdrawal is. Assent withdrawal ABA is when a patient does not approve of the treatment. The patient will show negative signs or behaviors that will indicate their disapproval. These signs of assent withdrawal ABA may include:

  • Frowning 
  • Crying
  • Turning away
  • Aggression
  • Tantrums
  • Pushing material away

Therefore, the therapist needs to look out for the above assent withdrawal signs, as they are clear indicators that the patient is uncomfortable with the treatment. Failure to respect assent withdrawal is unethical and disrespectful toward the patient, which is why constantly being aware of assent signs or any assent withdrawal behaviors is essential. 

As previously mentioned, a patient may assent at the beginning of their treatment; however, if they start showing the above assent withdrawal signs later in their treatment, it’s important to stop treatment to respect their boundaries. 

Leading Behavioral Therapy in New Jersey 

A patient should never feel like they don’t have a say in their treatment just because they cannot verbally communicate. Assent ABA allows a patient to show behaviors that tell the provider/ therapist they feel comfortable (or uncomfortable) with the treatment, which can ensure the patient is feeling safe, comfortable, and respected throughout their treatment. Our compassionate team at Carebot ABA is here to help foster your child’s self-confidence and develop critical skills to thrive in life. We offer individualized treatment plans to meet your child’s exact needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help empower your child to achieve their fullest potential.