What Parents Should Know
ABA Therapy Activities: What Parents Should Know

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a type of therapy that is used to address the pervasive symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that affect everyday life. It is a highly effective treatment that improves communication, social skills, and behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

ABA therapy is typically delivered in one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist. Still, there are also many activities that parents can do at home to help their child develop essential skills and behaviors.

During an ABA therapy session, the therapist will work with your child to develop new skills and behaviors. The therapist uses several strategies to help your child learn, including positive reinforcement, prompting, and shaping.

The therapist will also work to generalize your child’s new skills and behaviors to other environments, such as the home or school. Your child’s ability to generalize new skills will depend on your ability to support their skill development at home. Some general tips to keep in mind when engaging in activities for skill generalization or home-specific self-help skills:

  • Use visual supports: When conducting ABA treatment in the home, visual aids may prove helpful. They can make it simpler for you to encourage positive behaviors more consistently, which can help your child learn to follow directions. Visual timers are one tool that might help your child in learning to measure and organize periods of time.
  • Play with toys: Using toys is a great way to help your child practice ABA skills at home. For example, playing with dolls or action figures can help your child develop social interaction and communication skills.
  • Read books together: Reading books together and discussing the story can help your child develop language skills, comprehension, and critical thinking.
  • Incorporate special interests: Integrating special interests into learning activities can enhance learning, motivation, reduce stress, and make learning fun!
  • Use positive reinforcement: Using positive reinforcement, such as praise or rewards, can encourage positive behaviors and build self-esteem.
  • Use prompting and shaping techniques: Using prompting and shaping techniques can help your child learn new skills and behaviors and problem-solve. Speak to the ABA team for specific guidance on applying these strategies with your child.
  • Use technology: Educational apps or games can help your child develop cognitive, language, and problem-solving skills.
  • Engage in physical activity: Participating in physical activity, such as playing outside or going for a walk, can improve physical health, reduce stress, and improve mood.

Helping children with ASD learn and practice social skills is a primary focus of ABA treatment. This includes skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and following social cues. Parents can help their child develop these skills by engaging in social activities with them, such as playing games or doing puzzles together. These activities can help children learn to take turns, share, and communicate effectively.

Language development is a key component of ABA therapy for children with autism. Parents can help their child develop these skills by engaging in activities promoting language development, such as reading books or playing with toys that encourage language use. For example, parents can use flashcards to help their child learn new words or play games that involve naming objects or actions.

ABA therapy also emphasizes helping children with autism develop self-help skills, such as dressing themselves or using the bathroom independently. Parents can help their child develop these skills by engaging in activities promoting independence, such as dressing and undressing, or using a visual schedule to help them complete daily tasks.

Here are other specific ABA therapy activities that you can do at home to help your child develop essential skills and abilities:

Activity Skills Benefited
Pretend play with dolls or action figures This is an excellent way for children to develop their social interaction, communication, and imaginative skills. By taking on different roles and characters, children can learn to express themselves, work collaboratively with others, and explore their own creativity.
Community helpers Dress-up, picture books, and creative play with Little People or similar toys are all great ways to introduce your kid to the many people who help keep their city running smoothly. Explain to your child who each of these people are, where they could work, and how to interact with them.
Reading books together and discussing the story This is a fantastic and easy strategy to promote
story language development, comprehension, and critical thinking skills. By engaging in thoughtful conversations about the characters, plot, and themes of a story, children can cultivate an introspective and analytical approach to their surroundings.
Practicing dressing and undressing with supervision These are essential self-help skills that can help children gain independence and confidence. By learning to dress and undress themselves, children can take satisfaction in what they’ve accomplished. This activity also helps to develop fine motor skills, which are important for a wide range of tasks.
Sensory play with sand, water, or play dough Sensory exploration with sand, water, or playdough is a creative and exciting approach for kids to explore different textures and materials. This type of play helps to develop fine motor skills and encourages children to use their imagination and creativity.
Role-playing social situations By practicing scenarios like sharing toys, taking turns, or making friends, children can learn to navigate social situations with confidence and ease.
Sorting and categorizing objects By organizing objects based on different attributes like color, size, or shape, children can learn to think critically and develop essential skills like pattern recognition and classification.
Creating art with different materials Children can express themselves and learn to think outside the box, by exploring different mediums like paint, clay, or paper.
Cooking Talent Have your kid help you in the kitchen to teach them some cooking basics. Instruct your child on the fundamentals of culinary safety, including proper ingredient measurement, knowing when to seek assistance from an adult, and maintaining a safe and clean cooking environment.
Playing with musical instruments Children can develop their musical abilities and learn to express themselves through music by experimenting with different sounds and rhythms.
Practicing yoga or mindfulness exercises Practicing yoga or mindfulness exercises can be a helpful tool for reducing stress and improving focus and attention. Children can develop critical skills for managing their emotions and staying calm in stressful situations. By learning to breathe deeply and engage in relaxation techniques
Engaging in social activities, such as playing board games or doing puzzles together Engaging in social activities like playing board games or doing puzzles together is an excellent way to promote turn-taking, sharing, problem-solving, and social skills. These activities encourage children to work together, communicate effectively, and have fun with others.

Parents should also use prompting and shaping techniques to help their child learn new skills and behaviors. Work closely with your child’s ABA therapist to develop a plan for at-home activities and the best strategy with which to approach. The therapist can provide guidance and support to help parents create appropriate activities for their child’s needs and abilities.

ABA therapy can be an incredibly valuable resource for children with autism spectrum disorder. While it’s common for the therapy to be delivered in one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist, parents also have the power to contribute to their child’s development by engaging in fun and meaningful activities at home.

From socializing with peers to practicing self-help skills, there are many opportunities for parents to help their child build daily skills. Additionally, tools like visual aids, positive reinforcement, and technology can be powerful assets in this journey.

By collaborating closely with their child’s ABA therapist and creating a personalized plan for at-home activities, parents can provide their child with the support and guidance they need to grow and thrive. With patience, love, and dedication, the possibilities are truly limitless.

At Illinois Autism Center – premier ABA therapy center in Chicago – we believe in empowering parents to contribute to their child’s development by engaging in fun and meaningful activities at home. Contact us today to learn more about how our ABA therapy services and parent training can benefit your child and family.