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ABA Therapy at Home: All You Need to Know

March 12, 2024

If you’re navigating the world of autism with a child, you’re likely familiar with ABA Therapy. One common question that arises is whether it’s possible to conduct ABA therapy at home. The good news is, yes, it can.

ABA, rooted in Operant Conditioning, emphasizes Positive and Negative Reinforcement. Understanding Operant Conditioning makes ABA accessible even for at-home implementation. For a clearer understanding, this guide is here to help you grasp the basic concepts of ABA therapy at home.

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ABA Therapy for Autism

How to do ABA therapy at home

ABA therapy, and autism therapy in general, can be expensive, which is why some families choose to take a free ABA therapy at-home approach.

ABA therapy doesn’t require a ton of skill to perform. It is breaking a behavior down and then rebuilding it with blocks that help it stand strong. You do not need years of schooling, just general knowledge, time, effort, and, to be honest, a ton of patience.

If you are to try some techniques from home I would encourage you to explore and educate yourself with the different approaches, ideas, and teachings that are used in performing ABA therapy. Focus on:

Using positive and negative reinforcement

The main area of focus for ABA is Reinforcement. Positive Reinforcement and Negative Reinforcement are both concepts that can be used with your child at home.

Positive reinforcers are something that you like or want which is given to you after you present a specific desired behavior. Negative reinforcers are something you don’t like or want which is taken away to reinforce a behavior.

ABA is performed by using the acronym ABC, otherwise known as the ABCs of ABA:

  • A (Antecedent): What is to be done, what is causing the behavior
  • B (Behavior): What is done because of the Antecedent, what they do
  • C (Consequence): What is causing the behavior to continue, what reinforces it

If you look at the Antecedent and the Behavior (A and B), they are usually linked. Changing the Consequence should change the way the Behavior is linked to the Antecedent.

Focusing on one behavior at a time

ABA Therapy is for working on one specific skill set. You take one thing, one behavior, or skill you wish to see changed or learned, and that is your focus for your therapy.

Yes, you can work on more than one skill or behavior at a time, but each behavior or skill will have its own plan/treatment. It’s important to bear this in mind when trying home-based ABA therapy.

A mother talking to her daughter 
https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/parents-aba-therapy-home/

When dealing with a situation where one school-age child with autism hits another, for example, we can use the ABCs of ABA therapy:

  • A – Identify why the behavior occurred, whether it was for attention or due to anger/anxiety. Let’s say it was due to anger/anxiety.
  • B – Decide what behavior you want to change. In this case, we want to address the hitting by teaching the child a calming strategy like counting to ten and taking deep breaths.
  • C – Choose a reinforcement method. We’ll use positive reinforcement by adding the calming strategy as a way to de-escalate situations.

Implementing your ABA strategies at home

With a game plan set, you need to implement your strategies and collect your data. ABA therapy is a scientific method for understanding behavior. It uses data to decide if the therapy is working, and adjustments can be made for better results.

In simple terms, the process should look like this:

  • Step 1: Implementing interventions
  • Step 2: Collecting data
  • Step 3: Analyzing data

This helps you figure out what’s working and what needs to change to help the person improve.

You might also hear about BCBA, which stands for Board Certified Behavioral Analyst, or find facilities that offer ABA programs for individuals with autism. These professionals or facilities can support you in providing ABA therapy, both at home and elsewhere.

Benefits of in-home ABA therapy

ABA therapy at home offers numerous benefits for individuals with autism. Firstly, it provides a familiar and comfortable environment where the child feels secure, which can enhance their ability to learn and engage in therapy activities.

Additionally, therapy sessions at home allow for greater flexibility in scheduling, making it easier to integrate therapy into daily routines without disrupting other activities. Family involvement is also maximized, enabling parents and caregivers to actively participate in the therapy process and reinforce skills learned during sessions.

Furthermore, by receiving therapy at home, children with autism have the opportunity to generalize newly acquired skills more effectively to real-life situations and settings. ABA therapy at home promotes a personalized and holistic approach to treatment, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the child and their family.

Integrating ABA therapy into home life

However you decide to perform ABA, it is likely to work its way into your home. The main goal of most autism parents is to teach self-sufficiency and independent living. Life skills become so important, if you’re doing ABA, it has to follow you home.

How to do ABA therapy is a choice that can only be made by your individual family. There are many differing life factors from family to family. It is whatever works for you. However, you will find you probably already perform ABA therapy to some point as it is already.


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FAQs

Q: Can I do ABA therapy myself?

A: Yes, individuals can implement some aspects of ABA therapy at home, especially with appropriate guidance and resources. However, for a comprehensive and effective approach, it is advisable to involve a qualified professional or seek assistance from a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA).

Q: How does ABA in the home work?

A: ABA in the home involves implementing behavior analysis strategies to teach and reinforce desired behaviors in a familiar environment. It focuses on personalized interventions involving family members and aims to enhance skills for daily living and independence.

Q: What is an example of ABA treatment?

A: An example of ABA treatment could involve breaking down a complex skill, such as brushing teeth, into smaller steps and using positive reinforcement to encourage each step. For instance, rewarding the individual for picking up the toothbrush, applying toothpaste, and brushing teeth independently.

Q: What do parents do during ABA therapy?

A: Parents actively participate in ABA therapy by observing sessions, implementing strategies learned from therapists, and reinforcing skills at home. They also collaborate with therapists to set goals and track progress toward the individual’s development.

References: 

Antill, K. (2020). Family-Centered Applied Behavior Analysis for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Intervention in School and Clinic, 55(3), 185-191. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053451219842240 

The Role of Professional Training Experiences and Manualized Programs in ABA Providers’ Use of Parent Training With Children With Autism https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005789419301145 

Vikki Parker & Carrie Childs (2019) Stresses, challenges, and rewards of home-based applied behaviour analysis intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder, Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 6:2, 154-163, DOI: 10.1080/23297018.2019.1601590

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