What to expect at your first ABA therapy session
After finding an ABA therapist and having a consultation about your child’s needs, it’s common to experience “first day of school” nerves when getting ready for your therapy session. Your child, depending on their age, probably feels similarly nervous. Preparing them can also help to prepare you!
During the consultation, your ABA therapist most likely put together a detailed behavior plan that outlines the milestones you’d like to see your child reach, behaviors you’d like reduced, and how your child’s strengths can help achieve those goals.
During your first session, and each session after that, the therapist will outline which goals your child is working on that day and have a list of goals in order of priority.
If you observe your therapist closely, you’ll walk away from the session with different techniques you can try at home. Feel free to ask the therapist about other strategies you see them use with your child or tips for implementing them at home or school. They’ll have all sorts of ideas for you on things that you can try to help your child practice their goals at home with you!
Start with an easy task, then progress to the harder ones.
One ABA technique you’ll witness frequently is starting with an easy task, one your therapist is confident that your child can do successfully, and then gradually building up the difficulty level of the tasks. Giving your child an easier task to start gives your child a better chance to succeed, which will provide them with the confidence to try a slightly more complex task.
The power of letting your child choose
Another technique used frequently during ABA therapy is simply giving the child a choice within your boundaries. If you want your child to practice tying their shoes, you don’t want to provide them with the option of saying no by asking, “Do you want to practice tying your shoes?”.
If you think your child will resist the practice of a task you’d like them to complete, try giving them the option between two choices that you’ll be happy with.
Example: “Would you like to practice tying your left shoe or your right?” or “Would you like to practice tying your running shoes or your soccer cleats?”.
No matter which choice they choose, they are still practicing tying shoes, which is what you want. Giving your child choices is one of the most empowering actions you can give them as a parent.
Children are humans, and humans always prefer to have autonomy. When you give your child a choice, you effectively give them power over their own life, body, time, energy, etc. That is a compelling feeling versus being told what to do all the time and expected to comply in obedience.
Task, reinforcement. Task, reinforcement.
While the therapy session continues, your child will work to complete various social, emotional, communication skills, etc., and then earn positive reinforcements such as a small treat, a sensory break, or playing a game. This routine of completing a task and then experiencing the joy of reinforcement will help to cement the positive behavior in your child’s brain in the future.
During each of these task sessions, your therapist will be taking notes regarding behavior, triggers, and even which reinforcements seem to be most motivating to your child.
As a parent who knows your child best, this is where you can be exceptionally helpful. You most likely already know which reinforcements motivate your child the most. It can even be beneficial to bring some familiar items from home if your child has particular attachments. Perhaps it’s a favorite board game, a special food reward, or something else your child especially likes to play with.
At the end of the session, the therapist will use a graph to plot their data and remind you to do the same for your child’s behaviors after the session.
One thing to keep in mind for your first few sessions:
“As your child’s therapist builds a relationship with him, in the beginning, sessions, it may be best for you to take a step back and just observe, as it can be hard for us to compete with you for your child’s attention, but as we build that rapport, active involvement is always encouraged and leads to greater success for your child.” (Source)
If you can come to therapy ready to be an active participant, your child’s therapy will be even more effective. Wherever you can help your therapist by simply being familiar with your child’s likes and dislikes means less time for the therapist to figure that out on their own and more time for your child to receive the help they need to become their best selves.
Find a highly qualified ABA therapist today with us at: www.brightachievements.com