10 Lessons from Cars 3 for ABA Therapy

cars3What Cars 3 Teaches Families about Beginning (again) with ABA Therapy

I have watched Cars 1, Cars 2, Cars 3 more times than I will admit.  It’s a thing in my house right now.  Yesterday, I saw my five year old meditating with the mantra from the movie “I am Speed.  I eat losers for dinner”.  I thought to myself…we have watched this movie way too much!  And then I thought how can I apply this movie to my own life.

On Sunday, I emailed our Momentum families our revised family handbook that answers questions that are often unasked.  My sense often times is that families go through different stages of being overwhelmed and seek answers on social media (and I cannot blame them…as I often diagnose myself and friends via WebMD) and the internet.  But I wish I had inserted the lessons from Cars 3.  So here you go

Lesson 1:  You will crash

Going at your current speed.  Trying to adjust, change, fix and…get back on course.  Crashing is going to happen.  This may happen in the grocery store with a tantrum that could win an Emmy Award; when you realize that kindergarten is coming…and your child is not quite ready.  Fortunately, when Lightening McQueen crashed…he had a team around him..

Lesson 2: Being in a Pit is a time to Rebuild and Rebound

In Speed racing, going to a pit is expected.  In life, pits are looked down upon.  Let’s take the Cars3 perspective.  Pits are the time to reboot, rebuild, and happen every few cycles.  They are the norm.  Checking in…how is it going; what do we need; what do we need to do more of; how can we strategize to get around this “bump” on the track without crashing…Pits are the time to reconvene.  Sometimes Pit time is your Parent Training.  Other times, it is a Team Conference.  Pit Time is essential when we think about success in any program including ABA Therapy.

Lesson 3: Allow the Team To Do Their Job

Yes.  Remember the beginning of Cars 3.  Lightening was watching Jackson move so fast and elegantly throughout the track and begin to compare himself to him.  This is like watching someone else’s child and constantly comparing your son or daughter to them.  While it is fine to look and assess, comparing gets you off course.  You then want to hurry the team.  And even when the team cautioned  Lightening McQueen…he didn’t listen…and crashed (back to Lesson 1

Lesson 4: You will need a Trainer and a Team

Why so many people?  Well…there are many parts of the car and each person has a special function.  The BCBA, The Senior BCBA, the Trainer, Program Lead, ABA-RBT Therapist.  We all have a function…and yes the Scheduler, the Biller.  And we are all here for you.  On the Same Team.

Lesson 5: Your Trainer Has Feelings

Cruz was there to help train Lightening.  And his head was in “woe is me pit”.  And  being the energetic Trainer she is, she stayed Focus until she had enough.  Your team is comprised of people who study ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), Speech Pathology, Child Development, Psychology and more.   Cruz didn’t need a special award for being a trainer nor the praise…she needed him to respect the fact that she was there.  Your team needs the same.

Lesson 6: Passing the Baton requires trust and relationship

Your child.  Our job.  We just met.  Trust is hard.  We are new.  It will take time. But you will have to trust us.  And if you trusted before and it didn’t work out…you will have to trust again.  Lightening had to trust Cruz…he had to get back on the track and let go of  the pain of embarrassing crashes and what didn’t work.  As a trainer, Cruz was accustomed to working with people who carried the weight of a painful past.  Having a diagnosis can be a challenge…your team is here.

Lesson 7: Teaching the Trainer about You allows the trainer to do his/her job better

Cruz became a better trainer for him when he opened up to not only her exercises, her new way of thinking..but when he started to share.

Lesson 8:  It Can Get Messy

We disagree.  We miss something.  That doesn’t mean we breakup when things get tough.  We keep talking, we move through with better understanding .

Lesson 9: Transitions happen on the Team

At the end of the movie, Lightening realized that he needed to hand over to a member of his team, Cruz.  She was ready to take this program in for the win.  They wore the same number…and on the same team.  Transitions happen within the team…predicted and unpredicted.  Fortunately, your team has always been in the Pit strategizing, prepping, getting tools together.  So Trust the Team.

Lesson 10: We Are All Focused on the Finish Line

It is happy and joyous day when we cross.  I have been Cruz most of my professional career and now I am in the position of training a team of Cruz’s .  A few months ago I was contacted on LinkedIn by a past client who is in college.  A few weeks ago a mother found me on Facebook and messaged me to tell me who well her son was doing and to thank me for being her Cruz.  It warmed my heart because both children are not only doing remarkably well and yes I remember them.  Therapists remember every child we have ever worked with.  And trust me, every therapist wants a Win.

Let’s Stay Empowered!

~Landria Seals Green, ,MA, CCC-SLP, BCBA

Chief Clinical Officer

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