Managing Behaviors at Home During the Virus Pandemic
Posted on 03/24/20 in Challenging Behaviors by Rachel Avner Torrance, M.Ed, BCBA, COBA
If your child receives ABA, it’s fairly likely their ABA service hours look vastly different today than they did days or weeks ago. They may not be accessing ABA in the typical school environment. They may not be able to go into the clinic for their regular sessions. They may not have their therapist or BCBA at the home as they typically would. Perhaps ABA is now provided via Telehealth, the services are now with Accessing Abilities (our ABA agency). Either way, it’s highly likely that the parents are now implementing many of the supports and strategies at home. The following list highlights key considerations in ensuring your child’s behavioral needs are met to the best extent they can, given the current pandemic situation.
Continue to keep regular communication with the ABA team. Work with them remotely. Remember they are highly experienced practitioners in behavior analysis. They also know your child very well. Use their suggestions. Talk to them about concerns and get feedback on the “what-to-dos”.
Remember to reinforce desirable behaviors. If your child is learning to use language to request wants/needs, then be sure to reinforce the appropriate language so we see more of the desired behaviors while at the same time putting interfering behaviors on extinction.
Think “24/7 ABA”. I’ve always said the ABA plan should occur across settings, staff, people and time. There’s no better time to begin implementing the current plan with everyone. However, also be sure to work within the scope of your skillset. Collaborate with the ABA team remotely to be sure to use the strategies and supports with fidelity while keeping people safe.
Keep the structure and add in predictability. One of my go-to analogies has always been a rollercoaster. Although many of us love rollercoasters, we don’t want to live on a rollercoaster ride daily. Adding in predictability, and with the right amount of forewarning that meets the needs of your child, is an intervention that is highly effective. This can be visually or vocally; whichever works best for your child. However, use what they typically use; now’s not the time to implement a new type of visual support.
Be sure to engage in many types of activities throughout the day: some quiet, some involving gross motor movements, some together, and some alone, too. Some children are great at playing alone. Others are still working on this skill. Be sure to start slow, in small time increments so it is successful.
Add in new things to break up the monotony. Examples include:
- If your little one loves to cook, have them find new recipes based on what they enjoy (and what you have stocked in the house already). Do it with them. Model desirable behaviors and increase opportunities for them to use their language if that’s what they are working on.
- Break out the toys you haven’t had a chance to play with! We all have stored away art projects, old Legos, and games we haven’t used in a while (or ever). Now’s the time to implement more natural environment teaching through play; one of the best ways to learn.
- Begin de-cluttering and prepare items for donations. Since we have more time than we did before, we can start some early spring cleaning. A great opportunity to work on sorting skills, too!
- Start the movie or book series you’ve always wanted to tackle. But just one a day, so you have more to look forward to for future days.
Most importantly, have fun. Look at this time as a “glass is half full” person. You are now given bonus time with your kids; enjoy it, since most days many of us wish for more time with them. Now that we have it, use it; while building skills and reinforcing desirable behaviors!
ABOUT THE WRITER
Rachel Avner Torrance, MEd, BCBA, COBA is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Licensed Intervention Specialist. She is the owner and executive director of Accessing Abilities, LLC, a behavioral and educational service agency in northeast Ohio. The agency specializes in assessment, consultation, training, and direct therapeutic services to meet individualized needs. Implementing positive behavior supports across settings, their team works with others to achieve life outcomes.