20 ABA Activities for Mom and Dad

We’re definitely proponents of getting your child with ASD the therapy they need (after all, that’s what we do). But the reality is, what a therapist does with your child the occasional times they are with them is NOT enough. All therapies, and especially ABA therapy, are most effective when the behaviors and life skills taught in the therapy session are also practiced at home.

 

Here are 20 activities you can do at home with your child to do exactly that:

 

  1. Community helpers. Introduce your child to various community helpers through dress-up play, books, or imaginative play using Little People or a similar toys. Teach your child about the job of each community helper, where your child might see them, and answer any questions they may have. To bring it up a level, you can even take your child to meet the community helpers, including a fireperson, mailperson, policeperson and more.

 

  1. Play date. Set up a play date with your child’s therapist, and another child and their therapist. Have the children practice the social skills and play skills they’ve learned in therapy. You can set up this special kind of play date in a public setting, such as a playground, or in your home.

 

  1. Taking turns. Have your child play a game with some of their friends or siblings which focuses on turn-taking. The other players can model appropriate turn-taking for your child.

 

  1. Social groups. Speak to your ABA therapist about setting up a social group with your child and some peers who have similar social skills. In a social group, the therapist will teach the children appropriate social skills which they can then practice with the other kids in the group.

 

  1. Facial expressions. Teach your child to identify the way people are feeling by reading their faces. You can do this through pictures of people with various facial expressions, or by modeling them yourself. Have your child name each expression appropriately before proceeding to the next one.

 

  1. Appropriate clothing. Use paper dolls and a large assortment of paper clothing to teach your child about weather-appropriate clothing. You can show your child a picture of a specific season, such as a winter landscape, or just call out “winter,” and show your child how to properly dress the doll for the weather. When you have covered all types of weather, have your child dress the doll for a specific kind of weather on their own.

 

  1. Little chef. Let your child learn the basics of cooking by having them help you out in the kitchen. Teach your child the safety rules of cooking, how to measure out ingredients, when to ask an adult for help, and how to keep food safe and free of germs.

 

  1. Hygiene, self-care and grooming. Show your child a picture of a kid who looks unwashed and unkempt, and another one of a child who is clean and well-groomed. Ask your child why they think the two kids look so different. Next, teach your child about proper hygiene, self-care and grooming. Include basics like showering and washing up several times a day, brushing teeth and more. You can also talk about self-care and grooming, such as using deodorant (if age-appropriate), keeping nails trimmed and clean, and brushing hair daily.

 

  1. Organizing and cleaning. Purchase some fun, colorful bins for your child’s toys and various possessions, label each one clearly (using words for readers, and pictures for non-readers), and help your child organize their stuff. Have your child clean up their rooms on a regular basis using these bins.

  2. Chores. Speak to your child’s ABA therapist about chores you’d like your child to do at home on a regular basis. Your child’s therapist can set up a chore system with your child, which you can implement at home. The therapist will help monitor the system and verify whether it is working or needs adjustments of any kind.

  3. Reading and reading comprehension. If your child knows how to read, ask their ABA therapist to practice reading during therapy sessions. In addition, you can have the therapist ask questions about the books your child reads to see if your child is following along with the book and can remember details about what they’ve read. You can do this at home too, by implementing a daily reading time for your child.

  4. Modulating voices. Teach your child to speak and play at an appropriate volume by playing sounds for them at various volumes and asking which ones sound pleasant and appropriate for different settings. You can teach your child about “outdoor voices” and “indoor voices”, and explain that noises we make when inside have nowhere to go, and sound a lot louder than the same noises we might make outside.

  5. Homework. If your child has difficulty completing their homework, you can ask their ABA therapist to work on this skill with them during a therapy session. Have the therapist practice skills such as establishing a time in the child’s daily schedule for doing homework, preparing supplies the child might need for their work, and how to complete their work in a timely manner.

  6. Basic info. It’s important for every child to know their phone number and home address, in case of an emergency. Share this information with your child and have them practice repeating it until they can say it easily.

  7. Personal space. Some children with ASD struggle with spatial awareness and may act inappropriately around strangers, often making them uncomfortable by being in their personal space. Ask your child’s therapist about helping your child develop an awareness of personal space and practice this skill at home. Model appropriate space-sharing for your child, and have them role-play with you or by using small dolls so they can truly master this crucial skill.

Therapy is an ongoing partnership between a child’s therapist and their parents. By communicating openly with your child’s therapist and practicing skills learned in therapy at home, you’ll help your child’s therapy be more effective so that your child succeed.

However, for the parents of children with ASD, summertime can be especially challenging. The change in the child’s daily schedule, lack of a regular routine, as well as travel to unfamiliar places and spending time with extended family who may not understand autism, can all be triggering for the child.

The good news is that with proper planning, you can still enjoy the summer months with your child. Here are five tips to help you and your child have a calm, relaxing and super-fun summer.

  1. Create a daily schedule

With school out, your child may be at a loss with how to fill their time. For a child who may not be proficient at self-entertainment, the empty days can be a meltdown waiting to happen.

Avoid this and keep your child—and yourself—happy by creating a daily schedule for summer days. You can do this together with your child or work on it alone, being careful to fill time slots from wakeup time until bedtime. Allow for free play in small intervals throughout the day and build daily behaviors, such as brushing teeth and showering, into the schedule as well. If your child will be receiving therapy in the summer, be sure to incorporate these sessions into the schedule as well.

When your schedule is complete, hang it in a prominent place where your child can reference it as needed. You may want to hang more than one copy around the house, such as sticking one up on the fridge, and another on the wall in your child’s bedroom. If your child is too young to read, use pictures to show activities on the schedule instead of written words.

Having a steady, daily routine will make it easier for your child to adjust to the looser schedule of the summer months.

  1. Evaluate the abilities of your child when planning activities and trips

Before you make any definitive summer plans, take an honest assessment of your child’s abilities and threshold of tolerance. It’s likely not a good idea to challenge that tolerance during your annual vacation or at the family reunion weekend. Instead, try to choose activities and trips that your child can easily handle. Consider hobbies and interests that your child would love to explore during the school months. Look for ways your child can build on those interests during their expanded free time in the summer. Finally, when planning activities and trips, avoid those that can cause sensory overload and upset your child.

  1. Prepare carefully for trips

Day trips and longer getaways are a fixture in the American summer. As a family with a child on the autism spectrum, you know that things will be a little different for you and that a change in your child’s surroundings can be triggering. These tips can help keep things calm on trips:

  • Prepare your child in advance. Speak to your child about the trip and let them know what to expect before you set out. If possible, show them pictures of your destination so their new surroundings are not a complete surprise. You can even create a schedule for trip day, or for a multi-day vacation so your child knows what to expect throughout the trip.
  • Call ahead to your destination to see if they can accommodate any sensory concerns. Let them know you have a child with autism and share your child’s specific struggles. Some venues will agree to lower the music for a child with auditory sensitivity. Some airlines allow a child with ASD to board the plane before takeoff so they can explore their new surroundings.
  • Bring comfort. Small comforts from home, such as a favorite blanket, teddy bear, or sensory toy, can go a long way towards making your child into a happy traveler.
  • Have an emergency backup plan. Be sure to plan for any eventuality during your trip. Bring along any calming medication you may use on occasion. Pack a photo of your child in case they get lost. Think of an alternate outing in case your first choice turns out to be a disaster for your child.

With proper planning, you can enjoy a fun getaway with your entire family.

  1. Communicate with family members ahead of time

If your summer plans include visits to or from extended family members you don’t see often, it’s best to communicate with them in advance about your child’s specific needs and behaviors. For example, you can let them know your child is most comfortable seated on their own chair as opposed to squeezing together with their cousins on a bench. You can tell them that your child prefers not to be hugged or kissed and let them know that you will be bringing your own food for your child, if relevant. The more you communicate in advance, the less room you’ll leave for meltdowns and misunderstandings.

  1. Don’t neglect practicing academic, social and behavioral skills

School is out, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to neglect your child’s schoolwork. Make sure to build time into your daily schedule for summer homework, or for practicing schoolwork in another way, such as through an educational app or online game. Similarly, it’s important to incorporate time for any “therapy homework” your child may need to do at home, such as practicing social and behavioral skills they’ve learned in therapy.

Summer with a child on the ASD spectrum may look a bit different than it does for families with neuro-typical children, but with some adjustments to expectations and lots of advanced planning, you can enjoy a fun summer vacation with your entire family.

CONTACT

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What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have been an RBT for over 3 years. I have worked in a clinic, in home, and in a school.

Reese Lytle

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I want to make a life long difference in people’s lives. I want to help give people a voice.

Do you have any special areas of interest?

I am an RBT and love working with kids.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I’m and RBT and have my CPR certification.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about helping children gain their voice and learn how to cope.

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

Watching children grow and learn skills (big and small!)

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love working with a team and watching my coworkers grow in experience and be able to see their kiddos grow their skills too.

sierra

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I chose this career path because ABA truly is changing the lives of many which that inspires me on a daily basis. Getting to see the growth in clients firsthand is such an incredible feeling of success and happiness. Not only does ABA change the lives of clients, but their families & friends as well :)

Do you have any special areas of interest?

I find working on language with clients to be very interesting and fun! I can still remember the excitement I felt when my first nonverbal client became echoic and then began talking independently. I have also become very interested in the admin side of ABA as it is intriguing to see behind the scenes to it all!

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have worked with clients in home settings, school settings and clinic/center settings. I’ve worked with kids anywhere from 2 years old to 13 years old, some being verbal and some being nonverbal. I have even worked with children outside of the autism spectrum, that have ODD.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I am RBT certified as well as QBS certified.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about all aspects of my career in ABA! I have found passion in every direction it has taken me.

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

I enjoy the positive environment that has been cultivated (:

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I saw how life-changing ABA therapy can be for individuals and their families after starting an internship where I received my RBT certification. I then changed by career path from pursuing social work to becoming a BCBA!

Do you have any special areas of interest?

Practical Functional Analysis and Skill-based treatment, toilet training, food toleration, AAC communication

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have experience working in a variety of settings such as in-home, center, and school-based which has taught me how important generalization and adequate parent/caregiver training is. I have used progressive ABA procedures such as toilet training using a moisture-sensing alarm, gradual food toleration, and skill-based treatment I believe my background in social work/therapy allows for a different perspective when conducting parent trainings in meeting them where they are at.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

– Practical Functional Analysis & Skill-based Treatment – Level 2 certification – Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) – Advanced Toilet Training Strategies for Children with Developmental Disabilities

What are you passionate about?

At work: Helping clients and parents achieve new goals, especially ones that increase a client’s independence and reduce stress on their parents/caregivers. Personal life: I love coaching volleyball and helping provide young girls with skills to be not only a good player but also be a good teammate and friend!

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

The support and team mindset everyone shares! I know that I can go to anyone at the company and ask for help and they will make time to ensure I feel supported and prepared to help my clients/families and RBTs. I am also grateful and excited about the new opportunities that I have been given in supervising staff that are pursuing their BCBA license and aftercare program!

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

After completing my Master’s in Counseling Psychology, I always looked for something more. When I encountered the science of applied behavior analysis, while working in a school setting, I found a field of study that made sense and left me wanting to follow that path. It had given me the opportunity to watch my clients learn skills and progress in so many ways. I knew ABA was the right choice for me.

Do you have any special areas of interest?

Functional Communication and Activities of Daily Living

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have worked in field of ABA since 1997 beginning in a school setting with children ages 3-21. I have also worked with adults in their homes and day programs for many years.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

CPR/First Aid, Certified Trainer for Crisis Management: Verbal Intervention, Personal Control, and Defensive Techniques in Crisis Situations

What are you passionate about?

Teaching our learners to advocate for themselves and live as independently as possible.

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

We are given opportunities to practice in an ethical and supportive environment with ongoing professional development. I love that across the company, my colleagues share similar values. It is a privilege to work side by side with our families in their homes to improve the lives of our learners.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I worked in the field of special education for many years and appreciate the targeted support that kids get with ABA to learn the skills they need to be able to navigate the world and enhance their lives.

Do you have any special areas of interest?

Social skills, mental health

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I worked as a education as a special education administrator for over 15 years.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I also hold a Pupil Services Administration license with the Ohio Department of Education

What are you passionate about?

personal growth and meditation

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

I love working with a great team that is always looking to support each other.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?
I am passionate about helping families thrive with their autistic child.
Do you have any special areas of interest?
I enjoy the science behind the development and growth in people.
What varied experience do you have in your field?
running programs.
What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?
I have a bachelors and RBT certification.
What are you passionate about?
enjoying life and being optimistic
What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

Their honesty and integrity.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?
I wanted to work with children with special needs to help improve their quality of life.

Do you have any special areas of interest?
In ABA, I’m very interested in developing language and applying ABA outside of autism (health, fitness, animals, etc.)

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have worked in residential treatment, as a behavior specialist in a school environment, as a case manager for home based cases in ABA, and now in a center operations capacity.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I am a BCBA and COBA. I have been certified in CPI, TCI, and am currently certified in QBS. I’ve also been a TCI trainer. I have taken a variety of CEU courses to learn about SBT, ACT, and ABA in fitness.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about supporting client to meet their needs. I enjoy problem solving and troubleshooting skills that clients are having difficulty with. I always enjoy seeing a troubleshoot have success :)

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