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Importance of Consent and Assent

When it comes to any kind of therapy services like ABA, gaining consent and assent from clients & their families is super important. First thing people think about is the difference between consent and assent. What is the difference?

Consent is about expressing willingness or giving permission to do an activity or have services. This occurs most often from a parent/guardian for the client/individual, since it's only obtained from those who are of legal age.

Assent is about giving approval from neurodivergent clients who are not of legal age to give consent to participate in a particular activity. In the ABA field, we strive for this because we want clients to be active participants with their services as applicable.

Don't you think they are both important in regards to services like ABA therapy? The answer is YES!

In order to gain consent and assent from clients and their families, there are many approaches:

  1. Explain in concise and understandable terms about the services being provided, whether it be ABA, speech, etc.

  2. Establish a positive relationship from the start even before services are provided. This means getting to know clients and their families as individuals and a team.

  3. Once sessions occur, continue to ask for consent and assent daily. It helps let clients and their families know of their rights throughout the time of services.

  4. Even when changes of practices and procedures occur throughout services, its important to ask for consent and assent from clients and their families.

  5. Most importantly, constant communication and collaboration that’s individualized to the clients and their families abilities are key for gaining consent and assent.

Want to know ways to teach neurodivergent clients about consent and assent during therapy sessions like ABA? Here's how:

  1. Teach self advocacy skills!

  2. Teach communication methods that work best for clients based on individualized needs! For example, a client can learn ASL signs if they feel not comfortable in social interactions, even though they have expressive language.

  3. Teach feelings and emotions! It is important they learn emotions and feelings because it can help let others know how they feel in any situation.

Any thoughts and questions about the importance of consent and assent? Share in the comments section!


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