Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA therapy, can be effective for anyone. This treatment process is especially helpful for those dealing with life on the autism spectrum. The fundamental principles of ABA therapy help the client to learn new skills, refine current activities, and reduce problem behaviors.
Back to School Challenges
Depending on where your child spent the summer, the process of going back to school may require a big adjustment. If your child has spent the summer with family, they may need to learn to get in the habit of masking. They may need to change their mealtime habits or even their mealtime schedule. Other school challenges may include
- a move to a new home or a new school
- a new teacher
- new classmates
All of these changes can be tough for children of all capacities. If your child is on the autism spectrum, getting effective treatment for children on the spectrum can include many methods of care, including getting professional help within the school system and in-home ABA therapy.
Target the Biggest Challenge
To best prepare your child for all the risks of change in this new setting and this new year, start with a conversation. Reminding your child of their successes from the previous year and the skills that they learned for school in 2019 and 2020. Reinforcement is key to achievement therapy services. This may mean careful observation of your child to catch them in the behavior you want to happen. As you see appropriate action, choose an appropriate reward. If your child is keen on a particular toy or character and anxious about masking, consider hiring a seamstress to create masks of this specific character. Using the power of masking as their portal into the power of their favorite superhero will be a terrific reward for your child.
Check With the Teacher
Your child's teacher will have been given the data on their care plan. In addition, consider scheduling a meeting so you can share
- new data from the summer
- specific concerns for the new year
- unaddressed concerns from the previous year
No therapy plan is perfect. However, if you know of continuing concerns for yourself or your child, you can seek new ways to address these concerns each year. Avoid mentioning any concerns that your child doesn't bring up; they may have been able to either work around previous challenges or lost the focus on former problems.
Seeking Outside Help
If you aren't fully satisfied with the help you're getting from the school, you may need to look for outside help. It is fully possible to find insurance accepted ABA therapy. Pairing this therapy with a plan through the school may take some legwork on your part to make that connection and share information. The therapeutic relationship between your private ABA provider and the caregivers at the school must be consistent to be effective. Setting up a way to share information between the therapists, teachers, yourself and your child will be time-consuming but well worth it. Any inconsistencies between classroom work, occupational therapy, play therapy and talk therapy will be detrimental to your child.
Create A Space for Down Time and Relaxation
As your child moves back into the school system, make sure they have some time to back down from all the connections and enjoy some down time. The risk of burnout and exhaustion
is real and happens to children as well as grown-ups. Make sure your child can take a break both from therapeutic connections and connections with other children. The goal is obviously not isolation or loneliness. You may also need to find a way to let your child open up and share. The process of being seated and quiet for an extended period of time can be very hard on a child. If your little one is most excited by cars, dinosaurs, trains or sharks, be ready to listen to allow them to talk with no restrictions.
Get Some Training
In addition to getting your child professional help and guidance, you will probably need to increase your skills. If you've already undergone observational training to help your child better adjust to schooling changes, becoming aware of their new challenges will take more training for yourself and your family. Each child on the spectrum has their own specific set of challenges to function effectively in the world. Knowing what your child is specifically struggling with will take some observation on your part. However, once you know what to look for and have those lines of communication open, you can transfer your previous skills to this new school year.
Increasing Access to Safe Group Activities
Attending therapy with a private ABA therapist
can allow your child more options. In addition to detailed observation and a carefully tailored adaptation plan, your child may get a lot of benefit from the social skills group training. These groups allow your child to learn to manage their reactions to other children effectively. These social skills can turn a lonely, isolated child into someone who isn't struggling with connection skills. While they may have to work harder to build these skills than a child not on the spectrum, they can learn and group therapies may be more effective than simple classroom exposure.
Back to school Tips
+ Start a morning schedule. + Set aside extra time for dressing and daily living routines + Read stories about back to school + Have your child make choices o Choice of snacks o Clothing choices + Transition objects to help with going to school o Family photo album o Small toy or object to carry + Practice skills that can help your child be independent o Opening snack backs or containers o Drinking from juice boxes o Opening lunch boxes + Stick to a bedtime routine. + Discuss with your BCBA other skills that can be incorporated into sessions to help prepare for school.
The world has changed a great deal in the last 18 months. If your child struggles with new settings, new teachers and new classmates, getting some help early in the year can make a huge difference in your child's chance for social and educational success. The longer they have to wait for ABA therapeutic guidance and care, the longer they may inadvertently stand out from their peers and become even more isolated. Additionally, if your child can't tolerate wearing a mask, they may be in physical danger. Getting the right ABA care can set them up for success this coming school year.