What does family life with an in-home ABA program look like?
ABA services for children with autism can be provided in centers such as a clinic, medical facility, or a school, or at home, or in a combination of settings. In-home programs allow parents to see exactly what is going on with the child at any time, and to provide input to the therapy team. Parents of children in in-home ABA programs often become very involved with the day to day program objectives, and look for opportunities outside of therapy for the child to use their target skills, such as using a new word learned that day, or answering a conversational statement (instead of only questions). This is an excellent way to help a child generalize skills.
Some parents also report that it is helpful for them to see how much the child is able to do, so that they can also hold the child to that expectation. All families may develop habits of “doing for” a child even when they have learned to do things for themselves. While many typically developing children will learn to insist on doing things themselves, many children with ASD need to learn to use skills independently once they have acquired them. Of course, skills such as tolerating nail trimming, shampooing, toothbrushing, and many more potential behavior triggers must all be generalized so that the child uses these skills with parents at home.
Some children are more receptive to learning in familiar environments such as home. A child who is treated in the home where they spend most of their time is likely to more easily use their new skills in the home. The effects of behavior reduction procedures implemented in the home may also be seen more readily at home than when it is used in a different environment. The parent training component is a crucial element to all OAI in-home programs, and this helps the child to be held to consistent expectations even during times when no therapists are with him. Some in-home programs incorporate community settings during a part of the therapy time to work on social skills with typical peers, or functional/safety skills such as crossing streets, tolerating trips to the dentist, and many others.
The BCBA clinical supervisor and the behavior technicians who come to your home all understand and respect the fact that this is your home. We will do everything we can to make sure that everyone who comes to your home to work with your child is a person you are comfortable with. All families are given an opportunity to meet prospective team members before they are assigned to the child if requested.
Just as autism impacts every member of your family, an in-home program also can affect some of the day to day experiences for your family. Some families feel they must clean up the house or prepare food for the people working with their child. While this is very kind, it is important that parents realize that we are there for the child, and families should never feel obliged to tidy up or “host” us. In any case therapy time is precious, and staff cannot spend therapy time eating and socializing with the family. OAI staff members cannot be left alone in the home with your child. A parent or other responsible adult must be present in the home (but does not need to be in the same room – in fact sometimes peeking in from around a corner can give parents a better idea of what their child can do) during all therapy. We will try to schedule around your obligations as much as we can, but given that programs can take between 10 and 40 hours per week this may require some adjustments.
Effective treatment for autism is time consuming and sometimes difficult, but all of us at OAI and the families who chose to entrust their child’s treatment to us understand the importance of this therapy, and are committed to providing the very best chance for your child to maximize his or her potential.