The new year can be about setting goals, making plans and trying something different. If you have a child with autism spectrum disorder, 2021 may be the time to try ABA Behavioral Therapy.
While we know trying new things isn’t easy for children with ASD, Juli Augustin, the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst supervisor at ABA Behavioral Specialists, outlines a few key components to make 2021 a year full of successes.
“A huge part of the reason ABA therapy is so effective is that it involves breaking skills down into very small steps,” Augustin says. “When it comes to setting new goals in 2021, it is important to make sure they are achievable and in line with what the child is able to accomplish.”
For example, if potty training is a goal for 2021, parents and therapists must both approach the process by breaking it down into easier steps. For example, a child may need to master directing themselves to the bathroom first. Augustin said it’s important to acknowledge where your child is currently at in the process, meet them there and then decide what steps to take next.
“For example, If a child cannot sit still for two minutes, then they are not going to master potty training right away. First, you can help your child focus on sitting still for 5 seconds, then next week practice 10 seconds. Build on this exercise and then you will start to see progress and success,” Augustin explained.
Consistency is a huge factor when it comes to reaching goals. While 2020 was a hard year to practice consistency, staying on a set schedule with specific tasks is important for children learning with ASD.
Utilizing ABA Tools
You should set goals and learn about ABA strategies from a skilled professional, of course. These tools have proven successful in assisting children with achieving their goals. Visual schedules help children understand processes and what to expect. It helps them learn what is expected in their day and know when each activity ends.
Token boards and other incentive-based systems are other great tools to incorporate in the new year. Sticker charts are also helpful. Anytime a child completes a task successfully, they are rewarded with a sticker,” Augustin says. “When they reach a certain number of stickers, then they get a reward. Any kind of tool that can be used to reward a child makes that skill more likely to grow.”
Helping Parents in 2021
Parenting a child with ASD can be difficult. In the new year, Augustin wants parents to feel comfortable and confident with their parenting skills while creating an overall positive life.
“I definitely tell my clients to make sure they’re doing something throughout the day or once a week for themselves, that is important,” she says.
For some parents, the only time they get a break is when a therapist is in the home working with the child. Augustin suggests finding other times to take a break if possible and encourages parents to walk away from a situation if necessary, as long as safety isn’t in question. If a parent is agitated, the child can then become agitated too. It is okay to stop for a moment and try again later.
For more information about ABA Behavioral Specialists, visit https://ababehavioralspecialists.com.