Starting Our Home ABA Program

We are currently in a block of ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) service for Maggie.  For each 10 week block the family can set one goal to work on, and we chose to work on setting up an independent work program for Maggie to work on at home.  From the time that she was 2 and we first began working with therapists Maggie always worked better away from our home.  Even if it was a therapist that she normally worked well with, it was game over here.  Too much food and pillows here I guess.  And places to hide, and distracting sisters.  And screens.  The almighty screens that call Maggie’s name.

So when she is home we find that all she wants to do is tear through the cupboards for food, play video games, and watch movies.  We don’t mind this when she just has a couple of hours of downtime because we feel like she has earned time to chill, and her house should be a comfortable place since being out in the world is highly demanding.  But when she has more time than that, and now that she is getting older as well, we feel like we can expect a little more from her, and from ourselves.

Maggie uses a bin system at school, so transferring the concept over should be fairly easy.  Although she hates her independent work bins.  She uses a visual schedule, and her EAs tell me that she has become a pro at scanning for that picture card, tearing it off the strip and hiding it.  I don’t blame her – I would do that if someone put a “Clean toilets” picture on my schedule every day.  So we were expecting some resistance.

But she has done so well!  She chooses a reinforcement to work for – chips and popcorn are her top choices – and puts it on the strip.

Right now we are on a 3-drawer system, but we plan to increase it this week.  She follows the strip along, getting each activity out one at a time, and putting it away when completed.  Some activities we have to teach her, but a lot of them she is amazing at figuring out.  3 years of IBI has made her very familiar with the concepts behind a lot of the tasks.  Sometimes we have to mix things up a bit because Maggie is really good at memorizing the order of things – like she knows the picture with 5 cars goes with the first page of the book, so she sticks it on, but she isn’t really counting to 5, so pages have to be reordered and pieces switched around.  Or the same materials used for a different expectation, so that she has to pay attention.

I love the new system that our therapist has set up for us, and that she comes to the house to work with us.  It makes it really convenient and comfortable for the whole family.  And the therapist can see the challenges that we need help with more clearly than if we were in an office.  One of the biggest bonuses for this particular goal session is that we get a lot of new materials made for us.  Our therapist makes one activity each week, and we make one as well, so that we are adding two new activities to the mix each week.

When our block is over we need to keep up the momentum with creating activities.  SetBC.org and tasksgalore.com are a couple of sources that have been suggested to us as resources.  We need to get a new colour printer too since ours decided it was time for an early retirement.  We’re thinking of a colour laser since we seem to chew through ink so quickly, but we’re still weighing the costs.  I picked up a laminator at Costco for something like $40 that works well for most laminating jobs we have.

Stay tuned and I will share some of the activities that we make.  Please share your favourite resources for activity ideas and/or schedules and visuals in the comments.


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