As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you know that finding the right “recipe” of therapeutic methods can be life-changing. When you find strategies that work well with your child, it can also be helpful to remain consistent with therapy by regularly practicing applied behavior analysis (ABA) strategies. Your child will work on building cognition, communication, and social skills throughout the school day with their support team, and it can be helpful to continue reinforcing these strategies at home.
While it’s unlikely that parents of children with autism will have formal training in applied behavior analysis, there are easy ways to informally implement ABA strategies at home.
Structure: For children on the autism spectrum, structure can provide comfort at home and at school. This might include eating breakfast and dinner at the same times every day, setting aside the same block of time each night to do homework, or picking up your child from school at the same time each day.
Full family involvement: Keeping all family members involved in ABA therapy can help to provide consistency and reinforcement. For example, if the child is working on keeping eye contact during conversation, it will be helpful for all family members to practice this at home.
Positive reinforcement: One of the most important pieces of building positive behaviors is reinforcement. If a child is working on asking for permission before using the iPad, for example, the parents can say “Great job!” or “Thank you!” each time their child asks before grabbing for the iPad.
Quiet relaxation space: After spending a long day at school with many different stimuli and transitions, children can be very overwhelmed when they get home. It can also be normal for children to become overstimulated or begin to melt down at home. By creating a quiet space for your child who is on the spectrum, you can provide a safe place for them to relax. This might include a corner with pillows and sensory toys (e.g. fidgets or water beads) where they can go to relax and self-regulate.
Reduce screen time: In today’s society, children are using technology extremely early, and iPads and phones are a normal part of daily life. Studies have shown that being in front of a screen for too many hours during the day can reduce a child’s ability to read human emotions and interact with others. Because this is true for even children who are not on the autism spectrum, it is especially important for children on the autism spectrum (or with a sensory processing disorder) to spend a limited time in front of a screen to avoid overstimulation.
Are you interested in ABA services for your child in the Chicago area? Contact us to learn more about the range of services we provide for children who are on the autism spectrum at Chicago ABA Therapy, including applied behavior analysis therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.