Has your child mastered a skill during ABA therapy that they simply can’t or won’t do at home? You may need to take a look at how you structure his or her day.
Reena Naami, the owner and director of Spark Center for Autism in Farmington Hills, says that scheduling and consistency – or a lack thereof – could be the difference between success and failure for your child.
“It’s important a child has a well-rounded skillset, and that no matter where they are or whom they are with, they have those same skills,” she explains. “A child who only becomes successful under certain conditions is not what we want.”
To help keep things consistent – and ultimately successful – for your child, Naami offers advice for families.
Finding the right fit
To curb inconsistences, Naami says that parents can start by being critical when looking for an ABA company. She recommends choosing one who is accredited and takes time with your child.
“Every company does things a bit differently, but what’s important is seeing how much time a technician or therapist has, face-to-face, with that child while they are being supervised,” she says.
In addition, parents should look for technicians who encourage parental involvement and advocacy.
“Everything that we do and services we provide can be difficult. If a parent is not involved, it can be hard for them to understand what we’re doing,” she adds. “If the company is not involving parents, that’s a red flag.”
Keep it consistent
Once you find a technician that fits these requirements, and works well for your family, Naami suggests that parents should work to set up a consistent schedule with them and then strive to stick to it.
Kids who don’t have a schedule, or who stray away from their schedule too often, could see a delay in progress or, in some cases, regression.
“The more consistent you are with your scheduling, the more we can work on those skills, so you should make sure you’re actually keeping up your child’s attendance,” she explains.
“Oftentimes when we’re working on behaviors, we see that behaviors will spike where the therapy is not being done and we don’t want parents dealing with more difficult behaviors.”
When creating an ABA therapy schedule, parents should also keep in mind their child’s other obligations.
“At the end of the day, it is hard work. A child doing eight hours of school and three hours of ABA after that, is tough,” Naami adds.
“Consider what is worth putting your child through and make sure you are having those conversations with your service provider. Also make sure that providers are not pushing too many hours because when a child is so exhausted or bombarded with so much you won’t get anything out of it.”
And in order to get the most out of the scheduled ABA therapy, parents should also be working at home with the skills.
“With behavior in general, it’s important that everyone is treating things consistently. If we are working on skills that aren’t being done outside of therapy it will be harder for the child to master the skill and the child will only be able to do things in one environment,” she says.
“You want to treat ABA therapy like a medical service: When you are prescribed medicine by a doctor, you’re not just taking the medicine in the doctor’s office, you’re also going to take those meds at home.”
For more information about ABA Therapy or the importance of consistency for kids with autism, visit Spark Center for Autism online at sparkcenterforautism.com.