Daily Living Skills

How Is Naturalistic Teaching Used in ABA?

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ABA therapy is an intensive therapy that typically has weekly dosages of 10-40 hours per week. When recommending hours and different types of treatment plans many factors will impact that number. Primarily, the research has shown that more hours of therapy is directly related to positive outcomes. So how can we accomplish 30-40 hours of therapy for a young child without it feeling like they are working a full time job? By utilizing naturalistic teaching.

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Social Stories Explained!

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Social Stories or Social Narratives are a common tool used to teach individuals about a large variety of topics. Social stories are a way to present information to individuals in a familiar and easy to understand format. Pairing social stories with other evidence based practices like behavior skills training, positive reinforcement, modeling and NET can be a meaningful approach to therapy. 

What are social stories?

These are often made specifically for an individual to discuss a topic that is particularly difficult or challenging or sometimes a topic that is brand new. Creating the social story allows the author to individualize the story to fit the needs of the person. They often cover topics related to specific social skills or social situations. The story aims at teaching the individuals what to do when a certain situation arises. 

How can we use them?

Social stories can be used in therapy as a way to introduce a topic and as a visual for what steps to follow in certain social situations. The social narrative is presented to the individual ideally immediately before the social situation typically occurs. Presenting the social story immediately before the social situation increases the likelihood of the learner implementing the skills discussed. Your BCI team may read the social story and then set up opportunities to practice the social situation in direct therapy sessions or they may develop the story and train you on how to implement. If your child is able to read, they can read the social story independently prior to the social situation. After reading the story it may be beneficial to review some simple comprehension questions to ensure your child understood the concept in the story. When practicing the skill your child may still need prompts to engage in the correct behaviors and reinforcement for completing the steps correctly. Your BCI clinician will include this in their programming. 

Who should develop a social story for your child?

Your BCI clinician will know the best way to set up a social story for your child. Once they have developed how the story will supplement their programming, they will create the story and our BCI materials department will print and laminate the story for use in sessions. When creating the story there are key elements that must be included in order to be effective. Your BCI clinician will know these components and be able to include them.

Build a Morning Routine

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It’s no secret that the morning can be a stressful time for families! Developing independent living skills and skills to follow a schedule can be meaningful to reducing stress in the morning. Daily living routines should be an important part of your therapy treatment plan. Children as young as 2 should be able to help with dressing and undressing themselves and completing simple chores. While children with special needs may need extra time to master these skills they should still be introduced early. Discuss with your BCI clinician which daily living skills would be most meaningful for your family. Your clinician can support you with teaching these skills or introduce them during sessions. Mastering these routines in session is a great first step even if sessions happen later in the day. Once the skills are mastered we can work on generalizing them to the correct time of day. School breaks are great times to adjust session schedule to target different times of the day as well!

Morning Routine Supports

  1. Visual or Written Schedules
  2. Reinforcement Schedule for Progress Toward Independence
  3. Practicing routine in session

Morning Routine Quick Fixes

  1. Get into a schedule, wake up around the same time throughout the week
  2. Set expectations that are consistent everyday
  3. Prepare the night before (set out clothes, pack their lunch)
  4. Plan for extra time 

Daily Living Skills by Age


  • Undressing: pulls off hats, pulls off socks, takes off coat, pulls down pants
  • Grooming: helps with brushing teeth, helps with wiping nose and face, helps with washing hands
  • Feeding: eats fingers foods, uses a straw, uses a spoon
  • Chores: puts toys in a toy box

24-30 months

  • Dressing: pulls up pants, matches socks, matches shoes, removes shirt, unfastens velcro.
  • Grooming; brushes hair with help, wipes face.
  • Feeding: uses a fork, carries plate, uses a napkin.
  • Chores: puts dirty clothes in a hamper, take clothes from washer and put into the dryer (front loading), help feeding pets.


    • Dressing should be mostly independent.
    • Grooming: hand washing and combing hair should be mostly independent, brushing teeth may need some monitoring.
    • Chores: makes their bed, sets the table, waters plants.