Have you ever wondered about in-home ABA?
Keep reading to learn why we love this option for kids with autism.
A few years ago our Regional Clinical Director, Valerie Jaramillo, BCBA, was working with one of our kiddos. He was a young child who struggled with communication. His parents were deeply concerned about his ability in the future to advocate for his own needs. They worried how he would answer questions, make friends, and have relationships. How would he tell people what he needed? How would his behaviors reflect the frustration that came from his delay in communication? It wasn’t that he didn’t understand what he wanted. Instead, it was an issue of how to communicate in the way the adults and peers around him understood.
The family had tried an ABA program once before for a short time but hadn’t yet found the right fit. Valerie created a team for him in his home and started the process of creating programs. The long-term goal was to teach him how to communicate in a much more effective way. His ABA program was designed specifically to meet his needs. First, his therapists worked to use visual prompts to teach him responses to simple questions and greetings. When his communication skills started to grow, so did his treatment programs. His team included the community in his programming to allow for natural environment training, NET for short. Sessions started to fade out of the home and move into the community. They would walk to the corner store and practice making purchasing decisions. Then they practiced how to pay for it. The child and his team also enjoyed daily trips to local parks to meet with family friends and other peers. Step by step, therapists facilitated as this young child practiced his new skills. He learned to make friends and play with others. He worked hard, extremely hard, and his therapists supported him the entire way.
Each child is different and what they work on varies. Valerie explains that there are certain moments that emphasize just how beneficial in-home ABA programs are. It is one thing to practice a skill in a therapy room. It’s entirely different to join in the activities right there when the skill is needed. For example, when a child is approached at the park by a new peer, his therapists can help him practice his communication skills. Sometimes, they can even support the development of a new friendship. At Key Autism Services, our teams have witnessed hundreds of inspirational moments like this as our kiddos grow up in front of our eyes.
After experiencing stories that showed us how incredible in-home ABA is, we put together a list of benefits. There are many different services for kids with have autism. Each child is different so the variety of programs is exactly what we need. The benefits below are some of the reasons we love in-home ABA.
The unique benefits of in-home ABA:
A familiar environment
It isn’t uncommon for our kids to go through a period of resistance when they start a new program. Conducting therapy in a familiar environment reduces the time it takes to adjust. Home-based ABA eliminates the need for the child to spend time adapting to a new an unfamiliar environment. New environments are often scary or take added time to get used to.
Eliminate a transition
Transitions can be a challenge for many of the children we work with. In fact, transitions themselves are often a goal we are working on during ABA Programs. Home-based ABA eliminates any need for getting ready to leave the home, transportation, or entering a new facility. This means we can spend the entire time practicing skills instead of overcoming resistance to attend each session.
Home-Based ABA Saves time
Home-based ABA saves time for the entire family! Parents aren’t tasked with the extra errand of drop off and pick up from yet another appointment. Instead, they have ongoing support throughout the day incorporated into their typical routing. We save valuable time to spend productively with the therapy team versus in the car.
A Comfortable Environment for the Child
When ABA is done in the home, the child has a chance build rapport with new team members in a comfortable and safe space. They can focus just on a new team member and not have to factor in outside variables. It can be both distracting and scary to adapt to new children and unfamiliar spaces. With a therapeutic team in the home, the first step is meeting the therapists and building a strong relationship with them. Then, they can begin working to bring their new skills into other environments, on step at a time.
Reinforcers – Using each child’s favorite toy and activity.
Reinforcers are a key part of behavior analysis. But the best reinforcers are the ones that motivate the child by using what they already love to do. These toys and activities are usually already in the home. Therapy teams can use the access to these reinforcers to spark motivation.
Conducting therapy in the child’s natural environment will allow for practice of skills directly related to family concerns.
For example, many of the kiddos in Key Autism Service’s home-based ABA programs are working on interactions with siblings. Therapy teams can work on this directly in their natural setting. They create programs that are structured around real interactions. Together, they can practice and improve communication with siblings. It doesn’t end with siblings, ABA can address any relationship or daily response.
Another common example is setting boundaries around electronics. At home, it isn’t unusual for a child to prefer to spend time on their iPad, video game, or other electronics. The behavior stops them from engaging with family or doing their homework. ABA teams wan work with the child to set limits with these items. ABA therapists motivate kids and teens to mange their time.
Conducting therapy in the child’s natural environment will help to teach skills where the child needs them every day. When teaching how to brush teeth in a bathroom it may surprise you how important the bathroom setup itself can be. Imagine learning to find the toothpaste in drawers to your right then going home to find that they’re always in cabinets above you! Children may also need to learn how to use their specific appliances. Teaching these skills at home in the space and with the items that they will actually use can speed this up.
Conducting therapy in the home promotes parental and family involvement. Parents are encouraged to sit in or observe sessions when possible. Many family members want to learn the goals and programs their child is working on. They can then incorporate what is learned to better assist with their child’s programming when the therapy team is not there
ABA therapy allows the incorporation of siblings into the therapy session. Time can be used to educate siblings, work on social skills, build a positive sibling relationship etc.
Involvement of other family members
Home-based ABA therapy can incorporate other relatives or caregivers present in the home. Can train nannies, grandparents, etc so that the whole team is on the same page with a consistent treatment plan.