Pediatric ABA Therapy Techniques You Can Practice at Home
Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) techniques can help guide youths to a positive relationship with social situations, responsibilities and interactions. Working with your child at home to create a strong bond between learned behaviors and reward systems can make it easier for them to learn beneficial skills. With the help of ABA therapy techniques for children, your child will be able to perform essential functions that help them thrive in social situations.
Keep reading to learn how to do ABA therapy exercises at home with techniques to help your child adopt positive behavior skills.
Four ABA Techniques to Practice at Home
As you embrace ABA therapy exercises at home, teaching and rewarding positive behaviors can become an ongoing learning process for you and your child. The methods below can guide your child in learning new skills.
Practice these ABA therapy techniques for children at home. As your child learns and grows accustomed to these skills, you can see an improvement in their satisfaction with new interactions and behaviors.
1. Sitting in a Chair
Although sitting still may not seem like a skill you need to practice, building patience is an excellent first step to developing a child’s behavior in public. Appointments, going out to restaurants, taking public transportation and many other daily occurrences require sitting for an extended period. Using ABA therapy techniques to teach this skill can help make these experiences more pleasant for you and your child.
Many children with autism experience the urge to wander, which can make sitting down for extended periods challenging. Luckily, sitting patiently can become a regular occurrence when you practice these steps at home:
- Find comfortable seats: To practice sitting in a chair at home, start by finding comfortable seats in a relaxing area where you and your child can sit together. Place your chair close to theirs to demonstrate how proper sitting should look.
- Direct your child to sit down: Encourage your child to sit next to you without getting up frequently. By sitting nearby, you’ll be able to redirect them if they feel the urge to get up. If they start to become restless, reaffirm that sitting in the chair for a little longer is the goal of this exercise. After sitting without getting up, reward your child with comforting words and a break to move around as they please.
- Keep them interested: Sitting without talking or moving can be challenging for anyone, but especially so for children with autism. Boredom often leads to distraction, which will likely make them even more eager to get up and move around. Incorporating sensory aids or special interest can help them stay focused.
- Use a positive reward system: A positive reward system makes ABA techniques successful with children on the spectrum since they can recognize enthusiastic reactions to their behavior. Remember that this process can take some time before your child masters the skill of sitting in a chair — rewarding them for any progress is key to creating a positive learning environment for both of you!
2. Making Eye Contact
Eye contact is a skill that most of us adapt to naturally with age. However, children on the spectrum can find this ability more challenging and might feel the urge to look away from someone’s attention more often. This tendency is so common that tracking eye movements is one of the early stages of detecting autism.
Practicing eye contact can benefit a child’s social interactions and help them make a good impression on future employers. Maintaining this behavior can also make their conversations more meaningful as they grow older, as eye contact helps create a stronger bond with others. Sincerity through eye contact goes a long way when learning this skill over time.
You can practice this beneficial skill at home with the help of ABA techniques and a bit of patience through the following steps:
- Using visual stimulations: The first step to developing a positive relationship with eye contact is to find a visually stimulating object, such as a bottle of bubbles, sensory tubes or light-up toys. Place this item close to your face so your child can still view your eyes and mouth.
- Practice eye contact: Encourage them to maintain eye contact with you, using the object to direct their attention toward your facial features. If they can make eye contact with you for an extended period without looking away, reward them with the object. Regardless of their success, be sure to praise their willingness to try this skill for the first time!
- Reward them and keep practicing: As they practice eye contact over time, start incorporating conversation into your child’s skill set. Maintaining eye contact throughout an interaction is an essential social skill that can significantly benefit your child’s future and relationships. Remember to remain patient during these steps and keep the reward system in mind to make the most of at-home ABA techniques.
3. Using Modeling
Children use observation to learn how to react to specific social interactions. Even when you think they’re not paying attention to certain behaviors and reactions, their brains are constantly picking up on the emotional and physical responses of those around them.
Observation is an excellent tool for developing positive behaviors in public and at home. You can use yourself, other family members or objects as role models to demonstrate what actions are appropriate for specific situations.
Parents can also use video modeling for many teaching scenarios. In video modeling, the video’s subject teaches children with autism how to adopt basic physical and emotional skills, such as:
- Motor skills
- Positive social interactions
- Emotional regulation
- Proper communication
- Thriving in academics
- Play and athletic skills
Viewing someone in a video performing actions after demonstrating their desire to complete a task lets children understand the object of the exercise and practice mirroring the person’s actions. Over time, with more modeling practice, your child will be able to understand instructions and learn how to finish these requests all on their own.
When your child learns a new skill through modeling, reward them with praise and one of their favorite activities so they feel encouraged to continue this learning opportunity at home!
4. Identifying Emotions
Demonstrating emotions can convey your point without saying a word. While this ability is natural for many, some children on the spectrum might not understand certain emotions, limiting their reactions to events or behaviors. Luckily, a little practice with at-home ABA techniques can go a long way to help children identify feelings and react to them appropriately.
Children can practice identifying emotions and recognizing them in other people with simple pictures that can display physical reactions. Emojis are excellent illustrations for children because they most likely recognize these faces and see others use them to converse with friends and family.
Spread the illustrations or printed emojis across a flat surface so your child can easily access each one. Go down the line of faces and name the emotion that each face’s features represent. For example, you can point out the smile on a happy face and explain how it represents joy or glee, while the frown on a sad face means that the person is upset. Identifying each emotion that pairs with a facial feature will help your child start identifying feelings with each face.
After learning the physical signs of emotions, make different faces and encourage your child to identify how they think you’re feeling. When they name the correct emotion for your expression, reward them with praise or their favorite toy to continue this learning opportunity as much as possible.
Adopt More ABA Techniques With Us
Our talented team of Board Certified Behavioral Analysts offers a wide range of services that fit your child’s needs, including at-home interventions, family training and consultations, clinic-based ABA, and community interventions. We prioritize the use of science-based ABA therapy techniques and positive reward systems to encourage new behaviors and skills for children with autism.
Contact us today to get started on ABA therapy for your child!