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A Child’s Typical Day in ABA Therapy – Everything You Should Know

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A child's diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impacts the whole family. Autism does not have a cure; thus, treatment is a family only way to learn how to live a happy life with their circumstances.

Children dealing with autism usually have behavioral problems that are damaging to their well-being and everyday life, as well as to the people around them.

ABA therapy is one of the most effective techniques to reroute children with autism to adapt to new situations and learn important skills. Therapists do this using positive reinforcement.

It is the objective of all ABA therapists to assist your child get the confidence and independence they need to deal with daily interactions and tasks.

A Child’s Typical Day in ABA Therapy

The initial days of ABA therapy is all fun and games. Before a therapist starts to work on a child's specific therapy objective, they have to ensure that the child feels comfortable and safe in the new environment. Thus, the first few ABA therapy sessions involve "pairing" – developing a rapport, learning about a child's favorite games and toys, snacks, treats, laughs, and tickles.

Once a strong relationship between the therapist and child is established, that's when the actual therapy can start. In a child's typical day in ABA therapy, every child works through therapy sessions in a block rotation schedule with various therapists – every session lasting 2 to 3 hours – to keep things fresh and allow the child to generalize across therapy styles. The progress can be tracked on online software programs. Physicians and parents can stay updated with progress reports and graphs that showcase daily success rates along with therapy objectives. Once the child has mastered a specific goal, they can move on to take up new challenges.

ABA is divided into two methods: Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Natural Environment Training (NET).

Discrete Trial Training

DTT is what regular school lessons usually look like. Children are going to work on a particular task on a one-on-one basis with a therapist, sometimes across a table with games, books, and iPads. Therapists use this method to develop skills such as pointing to items, matching pictures, keeping eye contact, imitating, and learning how to say words and make sounds, etc.

In this technique, instead of teaching an entire skill at once, the skill is broken down and then "built up" using discrete trials that teach every step one at a time. It involves showing an antecedent, the child's response, and the therapist offering reinforcement for a right answer or a correction for a mistake.

The trials might be presented in blocks of ten or twenty consecutively, allowing the learner to get more opportunities to practice the skills. This is a very effective method to teach new skills quickly.

Natural Environment Training (NET)

NET is more of a play-based, naturalistic approach where children play on their own while being encouraged by their therapists or socialize and interact with others to learn the skills required to work in a real-world environment.

A lot of the skills taught in DTT are also incorporated into NET sessions to make sure the skills get transferred organically. For instance, during DTT, you might teach a student to expressively and receptively label the colors of items present at the table. Then, during the NET, the student would get to practice the skills by labeling the colors of pencils that you are coloring with or asking for colors of Playdoh that you are playing with.

NET is also quite helpful in teaching social skills and play skills to a learner while encouraging the generalization of newly learned skills.

Things to Know About ABA Therapy Sessions

ABA is an effective therapy for children dealing with autism. Nevertheless, it even covers a number of everyday living skills such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, holding cutlery pieces, potty training, managing emotions, and a lot more. The right way to look at ABA is as an all-inclusive approach to develop skills in the areas required to live a fulfilling and valuable life – language, cognition, play skills, motor skills, social skills, self-care, and executive functioning.

1. ABA is Tailored to Your Child

Each child has their own preferences, needs, and strengths, and so their treatment schedule and plan will be completely unique. ABA sessions tend to be individualized to their distinct traits, and no two children will experience the same ABA session.

2. ABA Involves Recurring Evaluations

An extremely important element of ABA therapy involves the therapist evaluating the child and tracking their progress and regression.

During these assessments, the therapist can identify which methods are successful and which interventions require adjustments.

Such evaluations are done quite regularly and are crucial for ensuring the program is suited to the needs and requirements of your child.

3. ABA Sessions Can Be Different Every Time

The ABA sessions can be different every time. For example, one day, your child might work primarily in a one-on-one setting, and then the next day, they might have a social skills group that they attend as part of their session. Another ABA session might involve working on behavior or communication skills.  

In addition, as your child acquires new skills and behaviors and challenging behaviors get less severe and frequent, your child's ABA sessions might get changed again.

4. Length of an ABA Session Might Vary

An ABA therapy session varies in length from one child to another. Some children might have an hour-long session, whereas others might have a four-hour long session. Despite the length of the session, children undergoing this therapy are given a number of activities to help them learn new things and generalize their behaviors and skills in ways that help them keep up their progress.

Last Few Words

If your child has ASD, make sure to get in touch with Accel Therapies. We create a new paradigm based on hyper-individualized care, evidence-based research, and a focus on results for your child. Our sole focus is to leverage our expertise to help your child meet their developmental goals.


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