December 9, 2020 In-Home ABA Therapy
ABA therapy is an effective treatment method used to improve the independent living and social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). With the care and guidance of trained ABA therapists, your child will be able to see significant improvements. But what exactly does an ABA therapy session consist of? And how do you best prepare for training at home? Below, we tell you what to expect from ABA therapy and how to set up your home to ensure optimal learning conditions for your child with autism.
What Is In-Home ABA Therapy?Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA is a form of behavioral therapy that focuses on changing unwanted behaviors and reinforcing desirable ones. ABA therapy provides targeted treatment based on the child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. Developed by Norwegian-American psychologist Ivar Lovaas, ABA therapy has been successfully used to help children with autism and related developmental disorders since the 1970s. It has been proven highly effective in helping children with autism develop and progress. In fact, research shows that ABA therapy is the most effective form of autism treatment with more than 90% improvement rate.
What is ABA therapy used for?ABA therapy is used to build and improve social and communication skills in addition to daily living skills in children with autism. These skills include:
- Activities of daily living (feeding, dressing, bathing)
- Potty training
- Following directions
- Understanding social cues (facial expressions, body language)
- Social skills (initiating conversations, responding to questions)
- Reducing problematic behaviors like tantrums
- Basic academic and pre-academic skills.
What methods are used in ABA therapy?In general, ABA therapy breaks down each of the essential skills into small, concrete steps. It then builds toward more significant changes in functioning and independence levels. Each ABA therapy session consists of a combination of play, direct instructions, various activities, adaptive skills training, and parent guidance.ABA therapy typically uses positive reinforcement in the form of rewards and other incentives. When a desirable behavior is followed by a motivator, like a special toy or activity, children are more likely to repeat the action. Over time, this method can encourage positive behavioral changes in children with autism.
What are the benefits of in-home ABA therapy?In-home ABA therapy can either supplement or completely replace facility-based care. Having ABA therapy sessions at home has numerous advantages:
- It allows for more flexible scheduling.
- It enables your child to practice and learn new skills in a non-threatening, familiar environment.
- It facilitates parent/caregiver training, which is an essential component of ABA therapy.
What Is In-Home ABA Therapy Like?The in-home ABA therapy has three stages: intake, assessment, and treatment.
IntakeThe Hidden Talents ABA coordination team conducts an initial interview to verify your child’s eligibility for ABA therapy. You can expect them to ask questions about your child’s developmental history, problem behaviors such as aggression and tantrums, any prescribed medications, speech and occupational therapy, and previous ABA treatments.
AssessmentOur Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) will assess your child’s communication along with academic and social skills to develop a detailed individualized treatment plan. Based on this assessment, they will also make a recommendation on how many hours of ABA therapy your child should receive.
TreatmentOnce the treatment plan is developed, your child will be assigned a team consisting of one or more ABA therapists and a BCBA. The composition of the ABA treatment team will depend on the number of therapy hours. Your child can have anywhere from one to four ABA therapists who are regularly supervised by a BCBA. The team will work together to deliver a comprehensive treatment and adapt the plan as needed to ensure continued progress. The therapists will monitor your child’s progress towards set goals by collecting data during each therapy session. Our BCBA experts regularly meet with both therapists and family members to review this information, which allows them to plan ahead and adjust teaching plans, the intensity of therapy, and learning goals as needed.
How Long Is an ABA Session?An ABA therapy session can last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. If your child receives several therapy sessions per day, therapists will be rotated every 2-3 hours to keep things fresh and interesting and hold your child’s attention longer.
Preparing for In-Home ABA TherapyIn-home ABA therapy requires careful preparation. Our professional therapists are trained to provide in-home services and will assist you every step of the way. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Choose a dedicated therapy space. It can be an office, a playroom, or any other location where your child will be able to focus on learning new skills.
- Let the therapist know about your child’s special interests, favorite toys or activities. These can be used as motivation and reinforcement during sessions.
- Show your child any changes you made in the room before starting the therapy to make them feel comfortable and safe.
- Create a consistent schedule and let your child know what to do when the therapist arrives. Make sure to review this routine before each session.
- Prepare your child for the session. He/she should be awake, fed, and have a dry diaper or pull up. Also, make sure that your child is not actively engaged in a favorite activity as it may be used as reinforcement during therapy.
- Make a list of questions to ask your therapist before the start of the first session. The effectiveness of ABA therapy for children with autism is shown to largely depend on parents’ involvement, particularly when it comes to speech and social interactions. Clear communication between parent and therapist is a must.
- At least one adult is required to be at home during ABA therapy. It is important that you or another responsible person don’t leave the house while sessions are taking place and that you are available at all times.
- You should avoid interrupting or joining the session without discussing it with your ABA therapist first. You are free to observe the therapy, however, if a problem behavior occurs, you should let the therapist handle the situation.
- There is no need to offer your therapist food or drinks while they are at your home. It’s also worth keeping in mind that therapists are not allowed to accept gifts.
How Should You Set up Your Home So That It Works Best for the Therapist and the Child?Since in-home ABA treatment requires that your child has therapy sessions at home, it’s essential to provide a comfortable, distraction-free space that stimulates learning. Here’s how to create an environment where your child can concentrate and where therapists can best do their job:
- If you have the possibility, designate a specific room or space in your house that will be used exclusively for therapy sessions. Your child should think of this space as the “therapy room.”
- Keep the therapy room simple, calm, and completely free from distractions. The therapy room should ideally not have a TV, computer, or other electronic devices.
- Prepare a child-sized table and chairs to make the environment as pleasant and secure as possible for your child.
- Have a dedicated therapy box or basket for storing ABA therapy tools such as puzzles, flashcards, stacking toys, reinforcement items, sensory toys, or any other items your therapist may need to use. Your child shouldn’t have free access to these items outside of the sessions so that they remain associated with therapy.
- Be clear about your expectations from the start to make sessions seamless and more efficient. Inform the therapist about any home rules like the “shoes off” policy and let them know if there are certain rooms or parts of your home that are off-limits for your child. Also make sure to take into consideration your therapist's special needs like pet allergies, for example.