What is ABA?
ABA therapy is Applied Behavioral Analysis.
It is usually a type of therapy that helps Autistic children and adults in some cases learn appropriate behaviors and life skills.
The autism speaks website gives this definition:
Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment.
Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.
Is it worth it?
For us, it has been an amazing blessing. C was diagnosed at 6 years old and he is 9 now. You can read our full story here.
He has been doing ABA therapy for these 3 years. He has learned so much and I am so happy about the life skills that he has learned.
From personal experience, ABA is not something you can force on a child. That would be wrong. You need to find a vendor and a therapist or tutor that works well with your child and lets your child lead. And by lead I mean find what your child’s passions are and reward them with what drives them. Learn what they are struggling with and work on that. They will want to work hard knowing they will be rewarded with something they love.
How to start ABA
You can learn more about ABA from your child’s pediatrician or a local vendor. You can search my resource page for resource centers in your state and they can help you find a vendor.
Activities to work on in ABA
If you already have ABA sometimes it can be hard to come up with what your child should be learning, practicing. Maybe you don’t even know you can ask for specific things?
I came up with 20 activities that you can ask your therapist to work on with your child.
1. Social Groups – ask your ABA vendor if they have social groups. Social groups are when kids of the same social skill levels come together and have therapy where they learn appropriate social skills with peers.
2. Play dates – this can be an extension of a social group. You can have a “play date” with your child’s therapist and another child and their therapist. They can practice social skills and play skills. This can take place in a home. playground or another setting.
4. Turn Taking – this skill can be learned in different ways. Playing games, playing with other kids/siblings.
5. Waiting/ patience – this one can be practiced while playing a game or using a stopwatch.
6. Conversation/ question skills – practicing appropriate question and answer during conversations.
7. Facial expressions – looking at peoples faces and recognizing their emotions.
Self Care Skills
8. Eating – if your child has issues with food ABA can work on it.
9. Appropriate clothing/ attire – what type of clothing is appropriate to wear during different weather conditions.
10. Hygiene – learning to take care of yourself.
11. Cooking – how to cook or prep simple things in the kitchen, age appropriate.
13. Chores – this can be a system that is set up in ABA session and practiced at home the rest of the time.
14. Address and phone – your child needs to learn where they live and the phone number to use in case of emergency.
15. Homework – you can ask your therapist to work on homework. This can be a practice for patience, voice level, etc.
16. Reading – if your child struggles in reading you can ask for your child to practice reading during ABA.
17. Reading comprehension – reading a book/story and practicing summarizing and asking and answering questions about what was just read. Great practice for conversation and memory.
18. Appropriate behavior – during different situations in different places in the community.
19. Appropriate responses to different settings – what to do when… (x,y,z, happens).
20. Appropriate volume – appropriate voice levels to use in different settings.
ABA, Applied Behavioral Analysis can be an amazing tool for your child to expand and learn what they are capable of. There are so many things, activities, lessons, and skills that can be practiced and worked on.
I hope my list of 20 gives you a little bit of an idea of what kind of skills ABA can help with.
You got this mama!
Let the wise listen and add to their learning – Proverbs 1:5
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