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  • Writer's pictureKe Min To

ABA Techniques into Daily Routines: Strategies for Parents

As a parent or caregiver of a child with some behavioural challenges, you may have wondered “What are the techniques I can apply at home to support my child?” But, did you know that ABA techniques can be incorporated into everyday routines, making them an integral part of your child's daily life? In this blog, we will discuss ways to incorporate ABA techniques into everyday life to create a more structured and supportive environment for your child.

Set Up Clear Routines: Clear routines can help your child understand what is expected of them. It is important to use simple and clear language or visual aids to explain the expectations. Depending on your child’s needs, visual aids can be pictures, flashcards, objects, written words, and more.

It is important to note that the fewer and clearer the options are, the easier for them to follow and meet the expectations. When you have created a sequence of activities on the schedule, it would be great to “sandwich” some of the activities that your child will enjoy or prefer. For example, including activities in between easy tasks and difficult tasks. This is to keep them motivated and not feel stressed out.

Make the task achievable (AKA task analysis): When teaching your child a new skill, it’s recommended to break the task down into smaller steps. This is because, once they have achieved one simple task, it helps to motivate them to keep going and build their confidence.

Let’s say, you want your child to practise dressing by themselves (eg, socks). This life-independent skill consists of many different components and you might want to help them to break the skills down into several steps. For example, (1). Get socks (2). Holding a sock with two hands (3). Put toes in (4). Pull up the sock with both hands. It’s essential to pinpoint each step so that you can understand where your child is struggling, hence target the area and focus on it more.

Use Positive and Negative Reinforcement: The essence of the reinforcement is to increase the likelihood of the desired behaviour occurring again in the future. Positive reinforcement means adding a desirable stimulus to increase the behaviour, whereas negative reinforcement involves removing an unpleasant stimulus to encourage the desired behaviour to repeat in the future. For example, when you see your child respond correctly (positive behaviour), then reward them instantly (eg, favourite snacks/iPad/tokens). Meanwhile, providing immediate feedback is also important. It can reinforce positive behaviour while correcting negative ones.

Examples of implementing negative reinforcement at home. Suppose that you want your child to learn a new task (challenging one) or master a task. So, if your child would like to get their break time earlier, then they have to complete it nicely to avoid staying on task for a long time. If they perform well, reduce the timer or the number of times they practise the task (unpleasant stimulus). This is to encourage good performance on the task and remove unpleasant stimuli that could also reduce and relieve the child’s anxiety.

Use Positive Punishment: In ABA terms, punishment involves adding or removing a stimulus to decrease the future frequency of the undesired behaviour. Positive punishment means reducing the behaviour by adding a stimulus to decrease the undesirable behaviour. In short, certain behaviours are less likely to occur when a stimulus is added.

For example, positive punishment can be used when you want to reduce the avoidance behaviour of your child (negative behaviour) while s/he is doing her work. If they display such behaviour, you could pause the timer or add time. If this behaviour has decreased, then pausing or adding additional time is served as positive punishment.

Consistent is key: The ultimate goal is to let your child employ the developed behaviour/ routine in everyday life. Therefore, it is critical to remain consistent regardless of what techniques are used. This means responding to the behaviour every time, in the same manner. Consistency helps reinforce positive behaviour.

Using effective ABA techniques to create a routine will not only help your child to have a structured life that makes them feel comfortable and reduce problematic behaviours but can also help anxious parents to be more in control of the environment. Here are just a few examples and by no means an exhaustive list. If you are interested in looking for more details and personalising your own routine for your child, please speak to a trained professional to assist you in implementing the techniques at home.

Written by Kemin To

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