By Ashley Williams, Ph.D., LABA, BCBA-D
Schedule Transitions Make Sticking to ABA Therapy Even More Important
Anyone in charge of the family calendar knows how important it is to stick to a schedule. It helps keep life on track.
For children on the autism spectrum, a steady schedule is even more important. A daily routine can create a sense of structure and predictability. It can reinforce a sense of stability and allow them to focus better on learning and interacting with others.
When family schedules change — like the transition from summer to back-to-school — it can be anxiety-provoking. The sudden shift from a relaxed summer schedule to a structured school routine can be overwhelming. However, maintaining a consistent daily routine during this transition can help alleviate some of this stress and anxiety.
Back to School and Back to ABA Therapy Services
For children with autism, continuing with applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy when going back to school gives them a big advantage.
It helps to improve social, communication, and learning skills through reinforcement strategies. It also provides them with a set of tools to navigate the complexities of the school environment, helping them to learn how to interact with their peers, follow instructions, and interact in a classroom setting—all of which should be fun.
ABA therapy can be tailored to meet each child’s unique needs and goals, making it an effective way to support their overall development and learning. By incorporating play-based activities and strategies, children not only enjoy themselves but also experience the joy of learning through play.
5 Reasons Why Consistent ABA Services Are Essential
- Skill Maintenance: Consistency in ABA services helps children maintain the skills they have already learned. Without ongoing practice and reinforcement, they may experience skill regression, which can impede their progress. Consistent ABA services reinforce learned skills across different settings.
- Generalization of Skills: ABA services can provide opportunities to practice and generalize their skills in different environments. By working on skills outside the traditional school setting — such as in community settings or during recreational activities — your child can learn to adapt to skills across various real-life situations.
- Individualized Support: Consistent ABA services allow for ongoing individualized support tailored to the specific needs of your child. ABA programs are highly individualized, focusing on the unique goals and interests of each child. Continuity of services allows you and your team to monitor your child’s progress, adjust goals as necessary, and introduce new skills based on your child’s development and needs.
- Behavior Management: Summer break may have introduced changes in routine and increased leisure time, which can sometimes lead to challenging behaviors. As your child goes back to school, consistent ABA services provide behavioral strategies and interventions to address and manage these behaviors effectively. ABA professionals can work closely with you and your child to develop behavior support plans and provide guidance on how to address challenging behaviors as they arise.
- Transition Preparation: For those transitioning to a new school or educational setting in the upcoming academic year, consistent ABA services can facilitate a smoother transition. ABA professionals can focus on specific skills that will support your child’s adjustment to the new environment. That focus can include social skills, communication, and self-help skills. By addressing these areas during times of transition, your child can feel more prepared and confident when starting their new educational journey.
For children with autism, transitioning back to school requires a careful balance between preventing skill regression and having fun. At LEARN, our goal is both. A collaborative relationship between your family and your behavior analyst can help you create a steady schedule that works during this time of transition and sets your child up for ongoing success in school and life.
Ashley Williams is a senior clinical director at LEARN Behavioral.
For more resources about ABA consistency, watch our video “How ABA Therapy Helped Our Children Succeed: Insights from Two BCBA Moms.”