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.
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.
Happy Spring, BCI Families!
Spring holidays bring many opportunities for fun and learning! Your family may be thinking of attending an Egg Hunt or are planning on having one at home. In preparation for family fun like this, your BCI clinician can help develop programming to support following instructions, waiting their turn, sharing with others, and using common social skills like greetings. Your BCI clinician and RBT can also set up practice opportunities so that your child has a chance to practice these family fun activities before the day of the event.
Common spring activities are wonderful opportunities to teach and generalize skills in a fun and natural way. When planning your spring activities, keep the following skills in mind. If your child would benefit from practicing these skills, then include your BCI team to make the most of the many opportunities Spring presents!
- Following Instructions- 1-step and multi-step
- Impulse Control- waiting to touch, waiting for the eggs to dye
- Daily Living Skills– measuring, stirring, and timing
- Communication– requesting what they want
- Sharing– allowing other kids to have some eggs as well
- Impulse Control– waiting their turn, not grabbing from others
- Fine and Gross Motor Skills– picking up eggs gently, placing in a basket, balancing a basket in one hand and bending over for other eggs
- Gross and Fine motor skills– running, turning the string
- Turn Taking– allowing others to try
- Tolerating Difficult tasks
- Asking for Help
🌸 Sweet Spring Craft Ideas 🌸
When beginning therapy, addressing your child’s social skills is often a perfect place to start. As we teach early social skills and more complex social skills as your child grows, practicing at home can be the perfect environment to learn the basics. As your child’s social skills improve at home, it is important to provide them with opportunities to practice those skills with other kids their age and in different environments. BCI offers telehealth social skill groups weekly and participation in these groups can be very meaningful. If you are interested in participating, speak with your BCI clinician about days and times. If the telehealth groups don’t work for your schedule, or if your child is ready for something more complex, then enrolling them in an extracurricular activity is a great option!
The Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities provide your child with the opportunity to practice the skills they have learned in session in a very natural setting. The skills that they have practiced in therapy or in BCI’s virtual social skills group can be used to facilitate independence in the community. Follow your child’s interests and enroll them in an activity that they will enjoy. Ask the organization if you can attend a few sessions before signing up to ensure that your child will like that activity. Beginning something new may be a challenge, but the benefits of extracurricular activities really are abundant! Your child will be exposed to an increased number of social experiences that are hard to replicate in the home setting. These opportunities not only allow for practice but for opportunities to succeed.
Don’t forget to include your ABA team! We can help prepare your child for participation and even attend some sessions with them.
Social Skills Supported by Extracurricular Activities
- Making and keeping friends
- Conversation skills
- Flexibility with routine
- Tolerance of differing opinions
- Nonverbal communication
- Coping skills
Looking for Extracurricular Activity Ideas?
Sports and Athletics
Math & Science clubs
Regular Play Dates
After School Programs
Boys & Girls Club
Whether it is stringing lights on a Christmas tree, lighting candles on a menorah, or ringing in the new year, many of us celebrate various holidays in the winter months. This typically means lots of new faces and encounters with family members that your child may not regularly see. Teaching them in advance to learn everyone’s name and face can make the holidays even more memorable. If you are interested in teaching your child extended families names ask your BCI clinician to work with you on developing a tacting family program. While you are making memories, someone will definitely be snapping photos! Or you may even have professional family photos taken during this time. Smiling for photos or following an adult’s instructions can sometimes be a skill that is difficult for our clients. Your clinician can help your learner establish these skills and generalize them to other members of the community.
The holidays are also a wonderful time to practice social skills. Holiday parties and gatherings provide ample opportunities to address skills that can sometimes be hard to contrive in the home setting. If there is a skill that your child is still developing, ask your BCI clinician for support. Some things to consider include accepting and giving gifts appropriately, giving compliments (e.g., the dessert was really yummy), and tolerating someone else’s choice in activities. Your clinician and RBT will have wonderful ideas on how to include these skills in your current sessions or may even be able to support your family at some of these events.
Other Skills to Practice Over the Holidays
You can work on these things daily as a family using role-play or modeling!
- Playing board games
- Playing card games
- Conversation skills
- Sharing, and waiting
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Birthday parties can sometimes be a source of anxiety or stress for families when they don’t seem to go as planned. With practice and support, birthday parties can be an enjoyable experience. If your child struggles with their own party or attending others, discuss with your BCI clinician what your goals are for your child. When planning your child’s birthday, your clinician can help you plan activities that are suited to your child’s interests and skills. Perhaps, you forgo the unstructured play time and plan a craft that has clear start and end times. Instead of singing happy birthday, everyone gets a slice of cake and enjoys it while watching a preferred movie.
If your goal is for your child to participate in typical birthday celebrations, discuss that with your clinician. They will develop programming to support these goals. Your RBT will implement the programming in sessions and track their progress. There are many skills that come up in a birthday party setting that will be beneficial to your child not only with making friends but supporting their overall success in their community. For example, greetings and salutations are beneficial for making friends, developing partnerships in a workplace, and working with the public.
Starting these programs early allows when birthday time nears for you to have a great idea on what skills your child can do independently and which you may need to support your child with.
Things You Can Practice at Home!
- Greetings: saying hello, fist bumps, waves, or even a simple nod of the head
- Turn Taking: practicing simple games will support the foundational skills for more complex games
- Trying new things: tolerating a new movie, new game, new snacks
- Watching other’s open gifts: use a gift bag and some common items to practice this skill
- Asking for a break: during unpleasant tasks
Non-Traditional Party Ideas
Sometimes the pressure of multiple people gathering for one person can be very unpleasant. There are lots of ways to celebrate a birthday party that can reduce the amount of social pressure. Follow your child’s lead and allow them to help plan. Some great ideas for non-traditional parties include an online gaming party. You can ask friends and family to log into an online platform and play a game as a group. Till exempel finns det ett brett utbud av bonus utan insättning casino spel tillgängliga för alla. This allows for interaction but reduces some of the stress of interacting with lots of people at once. Plan a zoom party! This allows guests to come and go as they please. Meeting online and having the option to pause the video or audio can be a very helpful tool if the event becomes too overwhelming. Don’t forget to include your RBT and Clinician in planning these events! They will have great ideas on making the event successful and can practice the needed skills in sessions.
We hope your summer vacation has been restful and full of sunshine and warm weather. While we are still enjoying summer vacation it is a good time to begin thinking about going back to school. Transitioning from the relaxed summer schedule to a more structured school schedule can be particularly difficult. Here are BCI’s recommendations for a successful transition back to school.
Meet the Teacher and Visit the Class Before the First Day
If this is your child’s first year in school an actual visit to the school can be very beneficial to help them prepare for starting school. Your BCI clinician can develop programming to target teaching your child his/her teacher’s name, identifying different parts of the school, and help build motivation to attend school. When planning your trip to the classroom ask your child’s teacher if they mind you taking photos of them and the environment. We can use these photos in our sessions to learn names and talk about what we do in these different locations. If you’d like we can plan for your RBT to join the school visit so they can meet the teacher and help your child and them build rapport.
If your child has already started school and is familiar with the process, meeting the teacher beforehand can be helpful in establishing rapport and ensuring everyone starts off on the right foot.
Get into the School Routine and Schedule
1-2 weeks prior to starting back to school begin practicing the routine and schedule you will follow once school resumes. Following the bedtime schedule you will have once school starts and waking up at the time needed to make the bus or bell schedule, will be helpful in making the transition back less abrupt. Your BCI clinician can help you develop a plan to fade in a new bed time and can help establish a clear morning routine. In sessions, we can practice daily living skills that will help build independence in the morning and evening. Complex skills like dressing and brushing teeth can be targeted all summer long and less complex skills like putting a lunchbox or homework folders in a backpack can be started closer to the start of school.
It may also be helpful to begin planning meals and snacks around the same times your child will be eating at school. Avoiding hungry bellies during instructional time can decrease the likelihood of challenging behavior or inattentiveness. Your RBT and BCI clinician can adjust their session schedule to match snack and lunch times to help your child’s body adjust. When deciding on which new skills may be needed be sure to consult your BCI clinician on developing programming to help your child pack a school lunch, open or access their packed lunch, engage in appropriate cafeteria behaviors (e.g., carrying a tray, clearing a tray, etc.), or how to ask for help.
There may be other skills that your child may benefit from practicing before the school year starts. You may consult with your BCI clinician to develop the best plan for your child.
We look forward to supporting you throughout back to school!
Tips for Older Students
- Pack your backpack before the first day of school
- Use a Checklist for needed supplies (ask your clinician for ideas)
- Review your class schedule and map out the path to take to each class
- Review your lunch schedule and pack a snack and drink if needed
- Call/Text a friend to meet up before school starts
Things to Remember for Fall Schedule Changes
- If your summer schedule is different from your fall schedule, remember to plan coordinating schedule changes at least 1-month in advance
- RBT’s sometimes work with multiple families and may be unable to change their schedule to accommodate your new schedule
- A reduction in hours may mean a reduction in treatment goals targeted, BCI is flexible with session days and times. Don’t forget a Saturday session is a great way to increase hours.
A birthday party can pack a lot of stress especially if you’re keeping up with the Pinterest-perfect party. Instead, keep it simple and follow these tips for hosting an Autism-friendly birthday bash that your child can appreciate and enjoy and specific ways your BCI team can support your efforts!
Halloween is an exciting holiday for kids, but for children with autism it may be challenging. If last year’s trick-or-treating adventure left you scared to try it again, this year can be less stressful, even FUN!