Disclaimer-This is an educational class for parents and does not offer ABA therapy.
If you are a parent of a newly diagnosed child, you may find yourself anxious and excited to start ABA therapy. Besides the long enrollment period there are often other obstacles that may add time and stress to getting started with ABA (waitlists, evaluations, insurance coverage, etc). Don’t let these stressors get the best of you! Getting started with in-home ABA therapy can be done in PJs from the comfort of your own home.
To jumpstart ABA therapy, prepare yourself and your house by setting up an environment conducive to learning. Create a space at home that is similar to what you will encounter in a therapeutic ABA setting. This process will be both informative and foundational for you and your child’s ABA experience, and don’t worry, almost all the tools you will encounter during ABA are most likely already available to you. If you don’t have any of these materials, follow the links below for those necessary tools.
The first step on your ABA journey is eliminating ALL distractions (too many toys, lighting, sounds, electronics like TVs and tablets) and establishing a ‘work’ area. Don’t worry, the ‘work’ area will be a FUN area too! You should have a child size table and chairs, storage space with containers for activities, a visual schedule, and an organizer for special treats.
You will soon learn the importance of DATA! Buy yourself a clipboard, timer, pen, and binder to track this data. Choose colors or themes that you enjoy and are more likely to use. You might want to make materials to use at home and one way to make long lasting materials is lamination. Find a good laminator, lots of lamination paper and don’t forget about Velcro. Velcro can be hard to cut, so if you don’t buy the pre-cut Velcro, you may also need scissors that you don’t mind getting sticky. Some people really like to organize material and a label maker with extra cartridges can come in handy for this task.
After you set up a ‘work’ area, identify a ‘break’ area for your child. This could include a few activities that are less preferred than the activities you select for the ‘work’ area. Your child might want to relax in a bean bag or stretch sack, jump their sillies out on a trampoline, bounce around on a big ball, or just relax on their own couch or in their own tent!
At this point, you have many of the necessities to begin ABA. Your next question might be, “What should I put in my storage space and snack organizer?” This will depend on your child’s preferences and your ABA team can help you determine what those are. It’s a good idea to continue to expose your child to new activities and toys often (at least every 3 months).
Here are a few ideas:
Activities- Play-Doh (watch out for any dietary restrictions your child has), train tracks, LEGOs, race cars, blocks, shape sorters, musical toys, fire trucks and police cars, simple puzzles, and anything that represents something your child really enjoys- Barney, Elmo, Dora, Thomas.
Snacks- Cereal, candy pieces, chips, fruit pieces, crackers, pretzels, and bits of your child’s favorite snacks. Snacks should not include any ‘meal’ items.
Most of all, remember ABA needn’t be daunting. Preparation for ABA therapy can sometimes be as instructive for parents as the therapy itself is for the child. We all do ABA everyday, whether we know it or not.
After all this preparation, you may want to reinforce yourself with a special treat as well to help you relax; after all, you’re on the path to a successful and less stressful ABA journey!
Classes are offered monthly in North Texas. Private classes available. Email email@example.com for more information.
Laura Larson, M.Ed., BCBA
Address: PO Box 191333, Dallas, TX 75219
Laura Larson has an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has worked with families of children with autism since 2007, focusing on parent education and providing direct ABA therapy in home, school and clinical settings. Laura has worked with children with Autism and their families in Sydney, Australia, Los Angeles, CA, Boston, MA, and Dallas, TX.