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Parents often ask us how to help support therapy goals in between therapy sessions. The most important thing that you can do as a parent is to create learning opportunities for your child so your child can practice the skills they are learning.
Being a parent means juggling many balls in the air at the same time (particularly if you have more than one child). However there are simple steps that you can take and can weave in during the day that will help your child progress in the therapy.
Create Opportunities to Practice Therapy Skills
For those of you currently accessing services from the ABACAS Team, you may have heard them talk about Natural Environment Training (NET). NET is using the principles of ABA to teach in the “real world”, in other words outside of therapy sessions.
For example, let’s imagine that a therapy goal for your child is manding (or making requests of others). There are so many things that children can request of others during the day. As a parent though you might choose to set some time aside to help your child practice this skill.
In this example, knowing that your child loves cookies, you might bring out a plate of them and sit them out of reach. First establish motivation (make sure your child see the cookies and wants them.). Prompt your child to ask for the cookies either using one word or use a full sentence (depending on his/her therapy goal). Don’t give your child a whole cookie! If you give a whole cookie, your child will satiated from the cookie quickly hence no more learning opportunities. Instead, you might give a bit of the cookie so that your child asks for more. Most importantly, only give your child the cookie when he/she mands properly (single word or full sentence).
During NET practice with parents, your child not only is practising generalising the skill (i.e. manding) from a therapist to parent, but also expanding the skill to another setting (i.e. therapy session to kitchen). This is also a great time for parents to gain instructional control from the child. And of course, it is great bonding time with your child as practice can also be fun.
What else can you do to help with therapy goals?
What should you do next? Ask your therapist or Program Manager what are the skills that can be generalized and how you can practice with your child at home.