You’ve received an autism diagnosis for your child and maybe even know that you would like to begin ABA services. Unfortunately, it can be a long road to getting there. Quality agencies often have a waiting list and an assessment process that takes some time. I’m sure you are anxious to jump in to get your child all the help possible. If you are feeling helpless while you’re waiting, here are some things you can do.
Prepare the environment
If you are going to be having therapy services at home, the environment will need to be as conducive to that as possible. If you know who will be providing your services, but you are not on the schedule yet, you can contact them for specifics about things they may want you to have available. For instance, sometimes an agency may want a child-size table for more structured work or specific materials.
- Create a dedicated space for materials.
While times have changed and many agencies are not using as much paper as we used to, we still have a lot of materials and stimuli. Having a place to keep these things, where they will be out of reach of busy hands or curious siblings, can be really helpful.
- Establish a dedicated space for therapy
For the sake of generalization, and working with a child’s natural environment, therapy may take place all over the house, but it is often helpful to have a specific space free from distractions, especially at the beginning. With smaller spaces or siblings in the house, this is often easier said than done. But even if you can clear a corner of a room, that helps.
- Organize toys and materials
I’m sure this is every parent’s goal, but it’s not always easy. While having a variety of toys is wonderful, a lack of organization can have a negative impact on therapy.
- If your child seeks visual stimulation, being surrounded by intriguing toys can be distracting.
- Use of toys for reinforcement is another reason to organize and put some toys away. Reinforcement is a central component of ABA. If using these toys as reinforcers, you do not want your child to be able to access them at all times, as they lose their value that way.
- One of the main ways we work on beginning communication skills is teaching children to ask for what they want. If everything is within a child’s reach, there is no motivation to request.
- In ABA therapy, we often work on teaching a variety of play skills. In order to do this effectively, it’s important to have activities and toys organized.
ABA is a considerable commitment and the more involved you are as a parent, the more success your child can have. Understandably, not every parent can be home for every session. There are still some ways to stay involved. For instance, you can set up a way to have regular communication with your child’s supervisor, ask about watching sessions via video, or make it a point to attend whenever you are able. Research has shown Applied Behavior Analysis to be the most effective form of treatment for autism. While I’m sure it seems overwhelming, especially if your child will be receiving a lot of hours, you are taking a significant step for your child and your family.
You’re already taking action by reading this blog post. Knowing what to expect from therapy is important, but learning about ABA and getting the foundations is crucial. As a parent or caregiver, you will be playing an integral role in your child’s success. You will be asked to practice the skills taught in therapy and, at some point, the teaching will be transferred over to you, so you will want to make the most of this time. Your supervisor or therapists will be conducting some parent training, but often there isn’t enough time to provide context on the principles of ABA, which is foundational to learning how to work with your child. It’s important to understand why you’re doing what you will be asked to do. The more you learn now, the more prepared you will be for when therapy begins.
Groups like Autism Speaks have some good online information on what autism is, as well as some basic tools.
Here, at Behavior In Balance, we offer an online foundational course on Autism and ABA, which guides parents and caregivers through the principles of behavior, how they are operating in a child with autism, as well as actionable strategies for behavior management. This is a great place to start while waiting for services to begin.
While awaiting treatment, you may feel at the mercy of regional centers, insurance companies, and provider schedules. Hopefully, these tips give you some steps to take to ease some feelings of helplessness. If you’ve decided to seek treatment through an ABA provider, you are already doing a lot for your child. If there’s anything Behavior In Balance can do to help, please feel free to contact us through the website.