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ABA Therapy Strategies to Use at Home

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience life a little differently. As a parent, you have an incredible power to bring out their true potential and help them grow into considerate and successful adults. You can use applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy strategies at home to reduce maladaptive behaviors and reinforce helpful ones.

What Is ABA Therapy?

ABA is a type of behavioral therapy commonly used in autism spectrum disorder support. Studies show that children with autism can show significant improvement in target behaviors with ABA intervention.

It uses behavioral analysis to identify maladaptive behaviors. The goal is to increase helpful behaviors by working on various skill areas. The key feature that sets ABA therapy apart is its personalization. It’s never a one-size-fits-all type of program.

Our pediatric ABA therapy services are personalized according to your child’s individual needs. Medical professionals perform a three- to four-hour initial assessment and use those insights to structure each session to help your child build important skills and reach their full potential.

Once the medical professional analyzes the negative behaviors, they draw up a plan to meet treatment objectives. Parents can also talk to therapists about their family goals, such as going out to dinner or developing sanitary toileting behaviors. Treatment goals typically include the following skill areas:

  • Motor
  • Social
  • Play
  • Communication and language
  • Learning
  • Self-care
  • Leisure

Therapists use positive behavior reinforcement to empower children with autism with the tools to make small changes that create big improvements.

What Are the Best ABA Therapy Strategies to Use at Home?

The best ABA therapy strategies to use at home depend on your child’s individual needs. It’s always a good idea to talk to your medical professional about any techniques you may want to try to ensure they align with their treatment plan.

Using techniques for applied behavior analysis at home, such as tracking behavioral changes, can help the therapist better understand your child’s habitual behaviors and triggers. Home-based interventions help your child practice positive behaviors in a comfortable and familiar environment. Here are some of the techniques you can utilize at home to get more involved in your child’s therapy:

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is at the core of effective home-based ABA interventions. All children, not just those with autism, tend to respond best to rewards and praise instead of criticism and punishment. Children with autism especially need positive reinforcement. It fosters a sense of self-worth, improves confidence and helps them believe in their abilities.

One form of positive reinforcement that works particularly well for children with autism is utilizing a token economy. Tokens are tangible items, such as stickers, that you reward your child with for positive behaviors. This reinforces helpful actions with instant gratification.

Practice Speech Therapy Techniques

Studies show that approximately 3 out of every 4 ASD children will have some extent of impaired language abilities by the time they start kindergarten. ABA and speech therapy can help your child gradually improve their speech and give them the confidence to express themselves verbally.

Applying at-home speech therapy techniques allows your child to practice speaking outside of the therapy office. It also promotes a structured learning environment. They may be more comfortable vocalizing at home, and practice will help them gain confidence in their skills.

Here are three simple ways you can encourage your child to practice their speech at home:

  • Read picture books to and with them.
  • Use flashcards to identify objects.
  • Make funny sounds and use exaggerated voices to make it more exciting.

Enforce Rules Effectively

Rules help children to understand that there are consequences for both good and bad behaviors. Be clear about the rules and implement them consistently. Here are some examples of rules you can create for your household:

  • No hurting one another.
  • Wash your dishes when you’re done eating.
  • Do your homework before using your tablet or phone.

Note that discipline should be enforced differently with children with autism. Oftentimes, they display behaviors that society deems as “naughty” when, in reality, the child may be experiencing sensory overload or unable to express their emotions. Understand your child’s physiological needs before labeling a behavior as negative.

Avoid corporal punishment. This can teach children with autism that if they’re upset, it’s OK to harm others. Instead, take away a favorite toy or teach them to rectify their wrong actions.

Rules should not include stimming actions. Children with autism tend to stim more than others. These self-soothing behaviors may include things like finger tapping or rocking. Your aim as a parent isn’t to stop these behaviors but to help them handle the stressors that cause excessive stimming or stereotypy.

Engage mindfulness techniques for reducing anxiety or implement strategies for sensory processing difficulties to help your child feel less overwhelmed, making them less likely to engage in ‘negative’ behaviors. You could also use an emotion chart so they can tell you how they feel in a comfortable way.

Provide Prompts

Providing prompts is a pivotal part of autism therapy techniques. It helps children with autism learn new skills and be mindful of certain rules and rewards. By providing cues, your child will feel more supported, and it shows how much you care about them reaching their full potential.

Here are the different types of prompts and an example of how they’re used:

  • Physical: Physically helping your child wash their face — make it fun!
  • Verbal: Vocalizing the steps to washing the dishes
  • Model: Showing your child how you brush your teeth
  • Gestural: Pointing to a cup that you need them to wash — this should be paired with verbal directions
  • Auditory: Using a Pomodoro timer to help your child stay on track with homework
  • Visual: Creating a visual schedule of your child’s daily tasks and rewards

Find Personalized ABA Therapy at Kids SPOT

There are several ABA therapy strategies to use at home that can reinforce helpful behaviors, but they should be paired with consistent therapy with a medical professional. Our testimonials from Kids SPOT families speak for themselves about the change that ABA therapy creates. We use an evidence-based play model that helps children with autism learn life-changing skills in a fun and interactive environment. We offer a holistic and comprehensive pediatric program. Your child will have access to over 400 qualified therapists from the Kids SPOT Family of Companies working in speech, physical, occupational and ABA therapy.

We’re in-network with the majority of the biggest Medicaid and commercial insurances and offer end-to-end in-house therapy. Feel free to request an appointment with us or find a Kids SPOT location near you and give your child the support they need to thrive.