Now more than ever, providing your child with therapeutic techniques at home is essential. As we work towards staying in and schools, daycares, and activities require us to remain at home, it’s essential to carry out practices to ensure your child’s progress. Your child’s team of ABA therapists equip you with the tools and resources you need to continue strategies in your natural environments, so put them to use in creative ways during these times. Our team of professionals has put together several ABA best practices, tips, and strategies to help you implement engaging therapeutic techniques and ABA strategies at home to develop various skills through:
- Outdoor activities
At-Home Therapeutic Techniques: Developmental Progress and Benefits
We know that children are naturally creative, as well as curious. As parents and caregivers, it crucial to provide a safe environment with plenty of opportunities for children to explore this creativity. Doing so fosters essential developmental progress for children across varying abilities. Areas of developmental progress through at-home therapeutic techniques and ABA strategies include:
- Sense of self; boosts in self-confidence
- Emotional and behavioral regulation
- Facial and social cue recognition
- Imagination and symbolic thoughts
- Enhancements in fine motor skill
Continuing your child’s ABA practices at home using everyday items in their natural environment offers an enriching, multisensory experience. With a little imagination, you’ll begin to look at your typical household items as learning tools and opportunities to help your child flourish.
Therapeutic Techniques for Developing Communication
Are you familiar with the “one-up” rule? It’s a helpful method we like to recommend to parents to improve their language skills at their child’s level. For instance, if your child’s typical speech includes communicating with one word, parents should attempt to use two to three words when engaging in ABA-type strategies, such as play routines, with their child. When you keep language at your child’s zone of proximal development, it helps reinforce their attempts at communication while working towards expanding and building upon their vocabulary. This method is particularly helpful during therapeutic techniques involving activities such as cooking or reading, where your child can try to name or label various items. These activities allow parents to model and assist them while increasing their grammar, vocabulary, and overall conversational and social skills.
For children not yet using single words to communicate, parents may still use the “one-up” method by utilizing one to two words during these therapeutic techniques. Rely on your ABA training to model labeling, use repetition, and make use of the familiar objects in their natural environment. Providing positive reinforcements and an abundance of praise will help strengthen your child’s ABA goals during these activities.
While you may understand your child’s communication styles, keep in mind that it may be more difficult for others, including their therapists, educators, or other caregivers. That’s why continuing ongoing ABA strategies at home are crucial. Continuing the development of their communication skills daily is imperative. While it may be easy for you to anticipate your child’s needs, make it a point to incorporate therapeutic techniques into your daily routine to strengthen their communication skills rather than being too quick to supply them with what they want or need. While being at home may create a decrease in structure and routine, it is vital to stay on top of it. Practice ABA strategies and incorporate them into every opportunity.
Therapeutic Techniques for Reading with Your Child
Reading with your children at home is always a fantastic way to bond while strengthening an array of skills from language to auditory. Dialogical reading is an inherently therapeutic technique for children with autism. Dialogical reading is a method that puts more emphasis on language learning opportunities and engagement in children’s books rather than on each individual text. This method of reading opens up more opportunities for conversation and interaction. Parents use books to engage with their child by:
- Talking about and exploring the pictures
- Asking them open-ended questions
- Expanding on their responses
- Creating an exciting way to learn from each story
- Encouraging eye contact
To make the most out of therapeutic techniques at home, use books that make noises, offer sensory pieces your child can manipulate and touch, and pictures with intricate details allowing them to explore rather than just sit and listen as you read to them. Successful strategies to use while reading with your child include the use of ABA strategies with:
- Mimicking sounds
- Descriptive words
- Asking questions
- Making open-ended statements
Here’s an example of simple dialogue you can try with your child using a story of a puppy as an example:
- Point to the image of the puppy on the page while asking, “what is this?”
- If your child can say “puppy,” take the next step by expanding on their answer: “Yes, it’s a tiny puppy.”
- Continue to expand using descriptive words, sounds, pausing for answers they may know, and referencing the images often. “The puppy is white.” “The puppy says woof.”
This method provides a beneficial extension of your child’s ABA strategies and therapeutic techniques by exposing them to additional vocabulary, allowing opportunities to participate in the story actively, and creating a fun, engaging experience with parents and family members. Reading books with your child from an early age also supports their school readiness, sensory skills, and social skills. Reading together using these therapeutic techniques also encourages children to:
- Develop print and letter awareness
- Learn about objects, people, animals, and activities they may not have exposure to
- Develop their memory by recalling what was on a previous page and recalling the ending of books you have previously read together
Therapeutic Techniques for Cooking with Your Child
Cooking is always a fun way to incorporate your child’s ABA strategies at home. Cooking activities offer several opportunities to use therapeutic techniques to develop:
- Language skills
- Fine motor skills
- Help with sensory issues
- Social skills
There are so many creative ways to use cooking as a therapeutic technique with your child. Take advantage of the different textures, tastes, smells, and vocabulary that go along with your cooking activity to make it educational and full of expressive and receptive language. Use vocabulary words that include adjectives and verbs to describe the senses they use and their actions as you move through each step of your recipe. Talk about what each ingredient feels, smells, tastes, and looks like. Continue to discuss what you are doing with each ingredient, modeling along the way. Utilizing all those ABA therapy tools will come in handy. Additional techniques to incorporate include:
- Comparing and contrasting the ingredients you are working with
- Categorize your ingredients
- Use this time to work on prepositions, including behind, on top of, under, in, on, next to, etc.
Cooking also provides an opportunity to work on your child’s cognitive skills and executive functioning, including the sequencing of steps while following recipes. Discuss what the recipe calls for you to do first, second, next, and last. Work on problem-solving skills by making suggestions on ingredients that may have substitutions if you don’t have them or how to go about cleaning up spills and messes along the way. Think of various open-ended questions that will allow your child to hypothesize, such as what the food tastes like or looks like when complete? And don’t forget to include your child in the planning process, from listing, gathering, and shopping for ingredients, to pre-heating the oven and gathering cooking utensils.
Therapeutic Techniques for Art with Your Child
There are many practical tips for keeping your children busy at home while using therapeutic techniques to extend their ABA practices. While Art Therapy is successful at your child’s ABA clinic, it can be just as successful and incredibly rewarding at home.
Art offers a form of expression and language without the need for strong verbal communication skills. It’s a universal language that offers a more stress-free environment for children with autism to explore, create, and thrive. For children who have difficulty with connection, expression, and communication, art may be a powerful tool to use to overcome some of these challenges.
As with your child’s routine ABA strategies, art offers scaffolding opportunities. With the freedom to create and explore through painting, drawing, or molding, children feel less pressure to communicate verbally. This strategy opens the lines of communication through bonding, developing eye contact, and eventually, further social interaction. Using art at home as a therapeutic technique paves the way for developing your child’s communication skills, behavioral expectations, and meeting their ABA goals.
Creating engaging ways to explore art every day at home doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Slice up some fruit and vegetables to create paint stamps, paint with ice cubes, or practice letters in shaving cream. There are endless ways to bring therapeutic techniques from the ABA clinic to your home, using fun and inexpensive ways to provide new, creative experiences. A few of our favorites include:
- Use safe essential oils, powdered drinks, gelatin, or juices to paint. These items add color, scents, and texture for your child to explore. These household items may make great additions to your playdough and slime recipes!
- Explore various sensations through touch using warm and cold temperatures while painting or sprinkling in some rice grains and finger paint with your blends.
- Adding sand to ready-made finger-paints or glue provides additional sensory play with art supplies.
- Paste a collage of wrapping tissue, cotton balls, and other objects you find both inside and out. A quick nature walk in your yard or around the block provides an excellent source for leaves, twigs, and flowers.
- Have fun ripping paper, shaking bottles of varying liquids, or toss together some dried beans in cans and make a musical instrument.
If your art project’s goal is to create a specific end product, only bring out the necessary materials and provide short, precise prompts to help with instructions. Narrate, and model what you and your child are creating and praise often. However, as a successful therapeutic technique tool, art is more about the process of artmaking than the result. Allow your child to scribble, paint outside the lines, and thoroughly enjoy the process.
Therapeutic Techniques for Playing Games with Your Child
Children love games, and it’s a chance for parents to strengthen their bond while enhancing their child’s learning in the process. Make each game a learning opportunity for your child. Our team has put together a list of our favorite suggestions to enhance social, emotional, language, and motor skills right in your home:
Hide and Seek Toys
Using pieces of your child’s favorite toy, hide them throughout the room. The toy could be a train track, puzzle, or a car ramp. Have your child practice asking, “where is it?” then explain to them where pieces may be hiding. Use descriptive words and phrases, such as “behind the couch” or “under the table.” When your child finds a piece, further the conversation by asking, “what did you find?” or “where did you find it?” Be sure to offer praise often and utilize your ABA strategies with these therapeutic techniques.
I Spy Outdoors
Who can resist a little game of I Spy? And this is a wonderful time to spend outside, getting fresh air and exploring nature. Use this time to venture out while enhancing communication through narrating what you spy. Discuss the colors, sizes, shapes, and textures you spy. Have your child do the same.
The Role of the Parent in Implementing At-Home Therapeutic Techniques
When you provide opportunities for your child to experience a multisensory creative experience at home, you are gradually exposing them to what may otherwise be a difficult one for them to process. Bring ABA strategies into your home to offer these experiences and develop critical life skills, including coping and self-regulation.
Your role as the parent offers guidance while promoting confidence and resiliency. The praise and encouragement parents offer is invaluable and can eliminate the anxiety children feel when meeting new people or trying new experiences. When necessary, provide them with additional help, including guiding hands or manipulating materials. Make adjustments to avoid overstimulation and assist in redirecting inappropriate behaviors. They will soon not require the same level of additional help, but it will always be your role to continue the praise and constant conversation.
Make this a special time for your family. Take advantage of the extra time you have together, bonding, interacting, and strengthening skills and behaviors. Providing your child with a low-stress environment full of creative ways to learn will help them form lasting behaviors and skills. Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we offer families the support, services, and resources your family needs to succeed. To learn more about our all-encompassing centers or to find additional tips and strategies, visit us today.