“While children can make great gains with ABA therapy, the children who make the most gains are the ones who have parents who are actively involved in their child’s therapy.” Some parents are immediately intimidated by this by thinking that they must attend every therapy session and replicate each therapy session at home. Being actively involved in your child’s therapy simply means carrying over the skills he or she is learning and practicing these skills at home. Your child is with you more than they are with their therapist so make this time count! Speed up their progress with additional practice and their goals will be met. Parent involvement is not only crucial in skills training but in behavioral management as well. As always, consistency is key and when the behavior plan is carried over to the house, you will see major changes.
Practicing educational skills at home doesn’t require extensive data tracking or attending every therapy session. There are many skills your child is working on that you can incidentally teach as well as by making practice a part of their routine. For example, lets say your child is working on identifying a picture of a cat. As you read them a bedtime story, ask them to point to the cat on the page of the story or if you’re taking a neighborhood walk, point to a cat and say “what’s that?” Another example of working on skills at home is through your child’s routines. If at therapy they are working on washing their hands, buy their favorite scented soap, and allow them to practice washing their hands! Working on their goals at home will speed up the process of them reaching mastery as well as encourage generalization. Teaching your child skills can be done through natural teaching and take up no extra time and require no extra thought. Why not?
Behavior challenges are something that can impact the whole family on a daily basis. If at home your child is engaging in an inappropriate behavior to obtain something and getting a different response then when this same behavior happens at school, positive behavior change will take longer. Consistency is so important when it comes to behavior. Going over your child’s treatment plan with their therapist and following through on this plan at home can create a better learning environment at school as well as a better environment at home. It can seem easier to give in sometimes and make exceptions but this isn’t doing anybody any favors. Carry over your child’s treatment plan at home and see a speedy and positive change in their behavior. Again, why not?
Parent resources are everywhere! Start by talking to your child’s therapist and observing some skills and behavior management techniques that can be practiced at home! Your child’s therapist wants to see positive change and skills mastery just as much as you do! Your child’s school or other community centers may also provide training sessions in ABA that can be beneficial! The more you know, the better! Other resources can be found on the internet through sites such as Autism Speaks. Take advantage of different guides, tips, and checklists that align with your child’s skill level and behavior problems. Another resource that can lead to other resources and connections is other moms and dads! Make connections with parents who are experiencing raising a child with special needs and entangle yourself in a web of resources!
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it! Skills training and behavior management at home can make daily life more fulfilling for the whole family as well as speed up educational goals at school. Get connected and make that positive change!