Many parents and soon to be parents worry about their children developing autism spectrum disorders. The concern is that they will not be able to live happy productive lives. It has been estimated that as many as 35% of adults aged 19 through 23 who have been diagnosed with autism are not able to find work or attend college after they complete high school. Parents have some options when it comes to autism treatment centers. Many are turning to applied behavior analysis or ABA to help their children who are struggling with autism.
ABA therapy is more of a process by which the behavior of an individual is examined. When autistic children act out, for instance, the ABA approach is to look at factors in the environment that led to that outburst. This is an approach that focuses on developing social, language, and academic skills. It is also helpful in teaching skills for daily living. The United States Surgeon General’s autism treatment report concluded that this can be effective in treating the disorder and it is used in at least 45% of all autism treatment centers around the country.
There are things you can do to get your child ready for their first ABA session.
- Get them ready with a story. Before you go to one of the autism treatment centers, get your child ready for the experience by using a story. Many parents incorporate the experience of starting ABA therapy into a story. These stories help children get ready for the ABA therapy.
- Talk to the therapist about your child’s personality. Children respond differently to stimuli. You will give your child a much better chance of getting the most from their ABA therapy if you talk to the staff at the autism treatment centers about what your child responds well to. Some children are ok with being touched and others react poorly to that. One way to make the experience better is to let the provider know what works best with your child. The therapist will appreciate this feedback and information as it will help them better prepare for your child’s appointment.
- Have a bathroom plan. No matter where your child is in the potty training process, you should take some time to develop a plan. No child is comfortable if they are in a wet or soiled diaper. If they are potty trained, they still may not be comfortable using restrooms in unfamiliar places like the autism treatment centers. Even the best trained child can have an accident in this situation. It never hurts to have an extra set of clothing for your child if they do have an accident.
- Take something comforting with you. Many children, with autism and without it, have items that they like to bring around to make them feel better. This can be a blanket, a stuffed animal or something else. Make sure you bring that with you to the ABA sessions. This can make them less stressed out and will help them get the most from the session.
- Get them food before you go. Hungry children are not happy children. ABA therapy is often a very active process. Many autism treatment centers have very active ABA programs that get children moving. While that is a good thing, burning all those calories can leave children understandably hungry. Some autism treatment centers do have snacks for children undergoing ABA therapy but if you are concerned, you should ask about that in advance. Also, if your child has any food allergies, you should ask about what they give children. Many parents find it easier to bring something they know their child likes and can eat.
- Participate in your child’s ABA treatment. While the time children spend at autism treatment centers is very valuable in helping them develop the skills they need to succeed in life, the kids who get the most from this kind of treatment receive a lot of reinforcement at home. You can take part in the therapy sessions as well. These can also teach you skills you can use to help your child cope.
These tips can help your child have a good ABA experience.