Parents of preschoolers with Autism know how important it is to include ABA therapy in a child’s treatment program. A behavioral therapist can help Autistic preschoolers accomplish many goals. However, without additional practice at home, skills can quickly regress. ABA Therapy can be fun!
What is ABA Therapy?
ABA, or Applied Behavioral Analysis, Therapy, teaches children with Autism functional skills, communication skills, and social skills. It is also used to reinforce positive behaviors while negating destructive ones. The backbone of ABA Therapy is DTT or Discrete Trial Training. Each skill or behavior is broken down into small pieces of information and practiced with prompts and rewards for short trials. After a set number of trials are completed with 80% correct behavioral response, the skill is considered mastered. Other components of ABA Therapy are Pivotal Response Training, which teaches social communication and language through play, and Reciprocal Imitation Training, which teaches imitation and pretend play.
Ways to have fun at home with ABA Therapy
There are fun ways to supplement ABA Therapeutic techniques with Autistic preschoolers at home. The key is to remember that the data collection is necessary for the behavioral therapist, but not for you. You can do discrete trials without a timer and without keeping score. Here are some activities to consider when supplementing ABA at home.
- ‘Sit in chair’ is a common starting point for ABA Therapy. Sit facing your child and tell him to sit in his chair. Direct him if needed and offer lots of praise when he does sit. Engage in a bit of tickling and laughing. This does not sound like much fun, but any time you can connect with your preschooler while training is a bonus. Sitting in a chair is a necessary functional skill.
- 'Look at me’ is another basic skill in ABA Therapy. Blow bubbles, hold a special toy, or wear silly glasses while you prompt your preschooler to look at you. Hold his gaze for one second, then five seconds.
- Teaching body parts is fun with a body parts song you make up as you go. For example, “Touch your eyes, eyes, eyes. Touch your nose, nose, nose. Touch your mouth, mouth, mouth. Touch your toes, toes, toes." Teach everyone in the family to sing it and sing it often. Work up to prompting him to ‘touch head’ or ‘touch eyes’.
- Teach colors using favorite toys. Is your child’s special bear red? Start with red. Have him touch the bear while you say red. Move to asking him to touch red bear, then to touch red. Next, add another color toy and a red card. Have him match the card to his red bear.
- Shapes can be taught using color and shape cards (red square), large beads, pattern blocks, or by drawing and tracing shapes on paper. Remember to limit it to one color and shape at a time.
Making ABA a part of life
You do not need special therapy tools or expensive equipment to supplement ABA Therapy at home. You can teach your preschooler with Autism by using what you have around the house. Every object and every toy contains a learning experience, and every family member can be involved.