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ABA Therapy Activities To Do At Home

January 14, 2024

ABA Therapy Activities

Imagine hearing there is a huge waitlist for your child to be enrolled at an ABA center? 

As a parent, you feel defeated and helpless. This article is going to cover ABA therapy activities that parents can easily do at home to help their child with autism. Today, ABA therapy is one of the most common methods for helping to decrease those undesirable behaviors. Parents can learn both content and hands-on techniques for home practice and, in many cases, take back some control over family life.

ABA activities aim to help expand their vocabulary and understand what is expected of them in social interactions, and to help children learn new skills. Although not all parents will be experts about ABA therapy, a parent still can benefit from some useful activities at home, including sorting numbers, sorting colors, sorting different emotions, completing puzzles etc. 

In-home ABA therapy provides a natural environment for children to gain and practice skills. In-home therapy is a great choice for teaching independent living skills, such as personal hygiene, as well as strengthening social skills with family and close friends. 

What activities are done in ABA therapy?

ABA Therapy is an evidence-based approach that is the most common therapy for children with autism.  Strategies and activities for ABA therapy at home:

  • Use of visual supports can be helpful in delivering ABA therapy at home. They can help your child to understand and follow instructions and make it easier for you to provide consistent reinforcement. For example, visual timers can help your child to understand and manage time. 
  • Reinforcement is used to encourage desired behaviors and to discourage the undesirable behaviors. For example, with positive reinforcement, the child is given a reinforcer (something that is highly motivating) after displaying those desired behaviors. With negative reinforcement the child will be relieved from an unpleasant situation, after displaying the undesirable behavior.
  • Use of technology can be used to support ABA therapy at home. For example, Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) apps can help your child communicate. Social skills training apps can be used to teach your child about appropriate social behaviors. 
  • Structured routine heavily relies on a structured routine to be effective. What this means is activities are planned and carried out consistently. It provides a sense of predictability and stability for your child, which can be beneficial for managing anxiety and improving compliance. 

It is essential to tailor activities to your child’s interests to maintain their motivation and engagement. Incorporating their favorite activities into the therapy program or using activities specifically designed to target their areas of need. For example, if your child is working on improving social skills, you could play a game that involves taking turns and following rules. If your child is working on improving transitions, you could make a visual schedule that shows the planned activities for the day. These are just a few strategies and activities that can be delivered at in-home therapy. Parents can implement these techniques in their home and can be highly effective in helping their child’s progress. Seek a professional, like a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) for guidance if you have any questions or concerns. 




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What ABA therapy activities can be done at home?

Can parents do ABA therapy at home? Yes, a parent can apply ABA Therapy activities in their home. Although not all parents are unequivocal about ABA therapy, you can still benefit from useful activities at home. As parents gain more knowledge and experience with ABA therapy, many begin to realize just how big of an impact they can have on the process. Here are some therapy techniques that parents can try out with their children at home.

  1. Sitting in a chair

This skill might seem basic, but can be a difficult task for children with ASD who experience hyperactivity or lack of focus. Helping your child learn how to sit still can lead to improved concentration. 

What to do: 

  • You sit in a chair.
  • Ask your child to sit with you. Next to them may be best so you can easily redirect them to the chair if needed. 
  • Praise your child when he or she completes the task and let him or her get up for a break. 
  • Build up the amount of time your child can sit by praising him or her every few seconds that he or she remains seated and provide breaks further and further apart. Parents can provide an activity of having a snack or completing a fun activity together to further increase sitting time. 
  1. Look at me:

Children with autism can sometimes struggle with consistent eye contact. How a parent can improve eye contact is listed below.

What to do:

  • Use a visually fun, stimulating item to direct your child’s attention to your face or mouth. For example, hold a bottle of bubbles near your face. 
  • Ask your child to look at you.
  • When your child makes eye contact, praise him or her and blow some bubbles right away! The quicker you praise and blow bubbles after eye contact is made, the more likely you will be to reinforce that eye contact! 
  1. Match the colors:

Parents can use different items around their home, including toys, markers, clothes, furniture, or even food to work with their child on matching colors. 

  1. Identify emotions:

Many kids with autism have difficulty in expressing their emotions or understanding the emotions of others. Parents can take photos of themselves making different emotions to show their child what each emotion means. 

  1. Using flashcards:

Flashcards are a great way to target a specific skill or behavior that your child needs to work on. For example, if your child is working on the alphabet, you can display the letters to them. 

  1. Using toys is a great way to help your child practice ABA skills at home. Like with the flashcards, you can target specific skills or behaviors your child needs to work on. There are lots of different types of toys that can be used for this purpose, but some examples include:
    • Building blocks
    • Playdough
    • Puzzles
  2. Watching videos can help your child practice ABA skills. The videos are often called “ABA Therapy tutorials,” and they cover a range of different topics, such as:
  • How to eat with a fork and spoon
  • How to ask for something
  • How to say hello and goodbye
  • Ways they can express emotions correctly

How can these activities help your child with autism? 

As a parent, you want to do everything you can for your child. ABA therapy activities can help develop behavioral skills. It can be used to teach simple and complex skills. Gives parents strategies for teaching children at home. Most importantly, it provides your child with autism skills they are capable of learning. Imagine being a parent to a child with autism and your child never made eye contact with you before. Providing the “look at me” strategies in the home can make it possible. 

Creating a daily routine and a set schedule for practicing ABA skills and behaviors can help you get started on the right foot. Using ABA strategies in the home does not require special tools–you simply use objects and toys that are already lying around your house or create your own do-it-yourself ABA materials. Getting other family members involved is also beneficial, as it can help create a more social, group-oriented environment to practice ABA skills. 

Early intervention is key in a young child’s life, especially a child with autism. A parent can use these activities and strategies if they are waiting for their child to be enrolled at an ABA center, or to help make their life at home easier for all family members involved. 

Parents always plan for success but anticipate challenges. Always remember, you will have good days and bad days providing ABA in the home. There will be times when your child doesn’t want to play along, and that’s okay. Every day is a new adventure, so remember to stay positive and never give up! 

Final thoughts

This article has discussed what activities are done in ABA therapy, ABA therapy activities that can be done in the home, and how these activities can help your child with autism. ABA therapy can help children with autism spectrum disorder learn or improve their communication, social, daily living, and other skills. ABA can help address those unwanted behaviors in the home. In-home ABA therapy provides a natural environment for children to gain and practice skills.

Parents can use items around their home to help provide these activities and strategies. For example, a parent can have different baskets in a row where their child will have to sort different toys matching them with the correct color baskets. It is essential to tailor activities to your child’s interests to maintain their motivation and engagement. Incorporating their favorite activities into the therapy program or using activities specifically designed to target their areas of need.

Parents can use these strategies and activities to respond to their child’s actions and reactions. Naturally, this allows parents to feel empowered. For some parents, this is the first time they’re able to effectively decrease negative or maladaptive behavior from their children. ABA therapy strategies in the home can help encourage parents to reinforce the positive behaviors and skills they would like from their child. The parents will learn how to encourage their children to use more expressive language, to follow parent’s directions and support their learning of daily living tasks. 

It is important for parents to take advantage of using in-home ABA strategies because your child is always learning and developing. Research consistently shows that parental involvement is the one invariable factor and an integral part of the success of early intervention programs for children with autism. Since children spend most of their time with their parents, it is advantageous for parents to understand ABA strategies that they can provide successfully in their home. Parents involved in their child’s in-home ABA programs can help ensure that the behaviors learned generalize not only in the home but elsewhere as well. 

It is vital for parents to understand that not every day will be great. Take breaks. Do not be hard on yourself. Remember you are doing something beneficial for your child’s quality of life! 

References

Elfer, E. (2022). ABA Therapy for Autism. ABA Therapy for Autism – Autism Parenting Magazine

Gallagher, C. (2023). Autism: The ‘Forgotten Kids.’ Autism: The ‘Forgotten Kids’ – Autism Parenting Magazine

Walsh, K. (2021). Can Parents do ABA Therapy at Home? Can Parents do ABA Therapy at Home? – Autism Parenting Magazine

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