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ABA Therapy

10 Tips To Be More Involved In Your Child’s ABA Therapy Progress

The Importance of Family and ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a widely recognized and effective approach for helping children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder reach their full potential.

While regular therapy sessions are crucial, parents play a vital role in supporting their child’s progress. By incorporating ABA therapy tactics at home, you can create an environment that fosters continued growth and development and reinforces lessons taught in regular therapy.

A study done by The Family Institute at Northwestern University related treating autism to a three-legged stool, saying: “The first leg represents traditional therapies like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The second leg represents biomedical interventions like the Autism Research Institute (ARI) approach. The third leg represents emotional support from the family. Without attention to any one of these three legs, the child with autism becomes, or remains, out of balance.”

Tips for Implementing ABA Therapy Tactics At-Home

Incorporating ABA therapy at home as a parent can be daunting, but there are things that you can do to make it easier.

1. Understand the Basics of ABA:

It’s essential for parents to grasp the fundamental principles and have an understanding of lessons being taught and their purpose. Familiarize yourself with concepts like positive reinforcement, prompting, and shaping. Talk with your child’s therapist to gain a comprehensive understanding and learn how to apply these principles in different contexts.

2. Collaborate With Your Child’s Therapist:

Maintain open communication and collaboration with your child’s ABA therapist. Discuss your child’s progress, share observations, and seek guidance on implementing therapy techniques at home. Your therapist can provide valuable insights, tailor strategies to your child’s needs, and suggest specific activities for skill-building.

3. Attend Parent Training Sessions

Many ABA therapy centers will hold parent/caregiver training sessions with the goal of teaching the best ways to implement ABA teachings at home. By attending these training sessions, you’ll get first-hand tips on how to support your child outside of the clinic in a variety of settings.

4. Assess Your Environment

Before incorporating your child’s ABA therapy at home, take the time to evaluate your environment and determine how to modify it to best accommodate your child’s needs. This includes considering distractions, furniture placements, lighting, and noise level. You also want to ensure there is a safe space if your child needs to take a moment to calm down if they have a negative reaction.

5. Establish a Clear and Consistent Routine:

Structure and predictability are vital for children with autism. Develop a daily routine that incorporates structured activities, such as designated learning times, playtime, meals, and rest periods. Consistency in scheduling helps children feel secure, reduces anxiety, and helps lessons stick.

6. Create a Visual Schedule:

Visual schedules are powerful tools that provide a clear sequence of activities that help individuals with ASD understand expectations and can be useful to ease into any changes in routine. Create a visual schedule like a calendar or a to-do list using pictures, icons, or written words to represent each task or activity throughout the day. Update it every day and keep it somewhere that it is looked at every day. Involve your child in creating the schedule, making it more engaging and empowering to their wants and needs too.

A study conducted by California State University revealed that in just 12 weeks of using visual calendars, six out of eight participants reduced their inappropriate behaviors, and that five out of eight students were able to increase single-word usage after using the visual schedule.

7. Break Tasks Into Manageable Steps:

Complex tasks can be overwhelming for children with ASD. To facilitate learning and success, break tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This technique, known as task analysis, helps your child understand the sequence of actions required and can be helpful in combination with visual aids. Gradually fade prompts as your child becomes more independent and understands the steps to complete the task.

8. Utilize Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is a cornerstone of ABA. It’s as simple as identifying your child’s preferred reinforcers, such as praise, tokens, or small rewards like stickers, snacks, or extra playtime. Then using these reinforcers to encourage desired behaviors and motivate your child during learning activities.

9. Implement Natural Environment Teaching (NET):

As the name suggests, natural environment teaching (NET) takes place in a natural setting, such as a classroom or a store, when a more complex, less structured approach is required. It’s taking daily experiences and turning them into learning experiences used to help children with autism understand, develop, and hone their skills.

For instance, during mealtimes, encourage your child to request items verbally or through gestures, reinforcing communication skills. In NET, therapists capitalize on naturally occurring opportunities to teach and reinforce desired behaviors, making learning more meaningful.

10. Prioritize Self-Care:

Taking care of yourself is essential when supporting your child’s progress. According to three professors at Texas Tech University, “Raising a child with autism takes a toll; parents of children with autism have higher stress levels than parents of typically developing children.”

Balancing your own well-being ensures you have the energy, patience, and positivity needed to effectively incorporate ABA therapy tactics at home. Practice self-care activities regularly, seek support from loved ones, and remember that small breaks are necessary and beneficial.

Conclusion

As a parent of a child diagnosed with autism, you have the power to be actively involved in your child’s ABA therapy progress, and you should!

It’s important to remind yourself that the more you apply ABA therapy at home, the easier it will get.

Remember, your dedication and involvement are crucial for your child’s success, and by implementing these tips, you can continue to support their development and well-being both inside and outside of therapy sessions.

Sources Cited:
Chung, B., & Solomon, A. Understanding autism: how family therapists can support parents of children with autism spectrum disorders

Perez, E. The Effects of Using Visual Scedules with Preschool Students with Autism Who Demonstrate Challenging Behaviors and Language Delays

Brobst, J., Clopton, J., & Hendrick, S. Parenting Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

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