We never planned for this! You may have found yourself home with your children, attending school through distance learning, navigating a TeleHealth therapy schedule, and managing without consistent in person ABA services. There are a few things you can do, right now, to set up your child for success and create an environment to maintain skills they have worked so hard to achieve.

Decrease demands

Everyone is having to adjust to changes in routines, new schedules, and different ways of living. During this chaotic time, and possibly decreased access to services, monitor how many demands you are placing or tasks you are giving your child. Keep the average number of demands or tasks at a level where they can be successful, and connect reinforcement. This will mean something different for each individual, and you know your children best. Maybe this means that you help them with getting dressed in the morning, or reduce the number of math problems they need to complete, or modify the length of requests you are prompting. Manage their environment so that the things you are asking them to do and complete are within their ability.

Increase Reinforcement

For all the things they are doing throughout the day and during this strange time, provide reinforcement at an increased level or rate. We refer to matching reinforcement with effort, to ensure the maximum effect of reinforcement. Right now, completing simple tasks may be taking more of an effort – and so we want to match that effort with increased reinforcement. More quality social praise, a little bigger snack, a little longer with a preferred activity, more access to the things they enjoy.

Prompt Functional Language

Even though demands may be lowered, keep prompting functional language. Use every opportunity throughout your day to prompt and reinforce language. This can be a request for a favorite snack, gaining your attention, labeling a toy, describing an action during play, asking routine questions, or talking about their day. The most important skill to maintain during this time is functional language!

Honor Communication

For anyone, it is so important to be heard. Right now, it is important that we hear our children when they are trying to communicate and honor, at least in some small way, what they have to say. Honor requests, when you can. Acknowledge bids for attention, as much as possible. Accept refusal statements, if appropriate. And when you can’t honor the communication – at the very least, acknowledge the appropriate language by stating “Thank you for telling me,” or “You did a great job asking.”

Throughout all of this, and at the end of the day, you are not your child’s therapist. It is okay if they don’t show the same progress that they had been making when receiving consistent services. The main goal right now is to maintain as many skills as possible, so that your therapy team can pick back up and hit the ground running when we are back in the swing of things.

Forbes Behavioral Services is committed to providing evidence-based ABA therapy to children and their families. They provide individualized, consistent high quality services, while striving to increase communication, social skills, functional living skills and overall quality of life for each child. Visit their website at fbsaba.com or call 352-720-5194.