CLICK TO EXPAND EACH SKILL BELOW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW WE WORK ON THEM WITH OUR KIDDOS
SOCIAL & GROUP SKILLS
There are so many different ways we can work on social skills and group skills with our kiddos! Initiating and maintaining communication, turntaking, problem solving, sportsmanship, following the rules of a game, cooperative play, working towards a common goal, and generalizing their communication skills...all with peers. Kids are grouped with others along the same developmental levels to work on all of these things together.
An example of how we might work on social and group skills:
Some children always have a hard time losing a game. Some might even throw a tantrum when they lose. Jamie is that way. Our clinical team has been working to assess the function of Jamie's tantrums. Does Jamie like the attention brought on by the tantrums? Does Jamie get other preferred items instead? Once the function of the tantrum is identified, the clinical team can work with Jamie to appropriately cope with the situation, and to tolerate the situation in the future. Gradually the clinical team would fade out the level of support they provide in the situation until Jamie can handle it independently! The clinical team will also work with Jamie's caregivers to teach them how to appropriately respond in these situations and decrease the likelihood that they'll continue in the future!
There are many basic, intermediate, and advanced skills that prepare children for participation in an academic environment. Practicing academic readiness with our kiddos could mean learning to attend to instructions, tasks, and materials presented; learning to sit appropriately for tasks and activities; attending to their name, or following directions; initiating and maintaining tasks; responding to group instructions; compliance with non-preferred tasks; identifying and organizing materials for tasks and activities; problem-solving; and other skills. The list is long, and our clinical team will work to identify what specific skills each kiddo needs to work on in their individualized academic readiness plan.
An example of how we work on academic readiness:
Some kiddos have a tough time sitting still to complete a task. Toni really doesnt like to sit still at a desk for very long. Our clinical team will look at the function of Toni getting out of the seat after only a minute or so. Maybe Toni is seeking to access other things, or is attempting to escape the task at hand? Maybe Toni just think its fun and likes the attention? Once the functions are determined the clinical team will work on Toni being able to appropriately ask to get up out of the seat, while also focusing on increasing Toni's motivation to sit still and complete the task. They'll do so while making it a more desireable experience for Toni too, thus increasing the duration that Toni will sit for the task/activity. This can also sometimes happen for Toni at meal times, and our clinical team is also going to work with Toni's caregivers to make meal times less disruptive in a similar way!
We work on teaching desired communication to replace challenging behavior using the child's preferred mode of communication (through words, pictures, gestures, signs, devices, etc). A lot of this is done by focusing on requesting and protesting, and how to appropriately do both of those things. This could be to access desired items or events, or to protest unwanted items or events. We work on these skills to be used across all settings.
An example of how we work on functional communication:
Alex has a really tough time with always screaming or acting out when someone is on the phone. His caregivers are constantly reminding him to stay quiet so they can have your own conversation. Our clinical team is ready to teach Alex to more appropriately seek his caregiver's attention! They're going to teach Alex that the undesired behavior (acting up or screaming out) no-longer results in receiving a reaction or attention while also teaching him that the desired response (maybe a tap on the shoulder or using an appropriate phrase) will successfully get his caregiver's attention in the future. The clinical team is also going to show his caregivers how to successfully work on Alex's specific functional communication plan at home too!
EXPRESSIVE & RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE
Expressive language is outputing some form of communication. Examples may be requesting items, commenting, labeling, conversation skills, or even singing along to a song.
Receptive language is intaking/understanding some form of communication. Examples may be following directions, locating/identifying common items, and being able to understand actions.
An example of how we might work on expressive and receptive language:
Some children are able to identify common objects, but they don't spontaneously do it across the context of their day or throughout interactions with others. Jesse might know what an airplane is if you ask her, but she might not identify one flying in the sky overhead. Our clinical team would set up opportunities for Jesse to practice labeling an airplane across a variety of different context and forms. We would even work on helping her demonstrate the skill with a variety of people and in a variety of environments as well. Of course, the clinical team will also help show Jesse's caregivers how to work on this at home too!
We work on decreasing the behaviors you dont want to see, and increasing the behaviors you do! We start by determining the function of the undesired behaviors, and from there we work on teaching the child functional communication or another appropriate replacement behavior. We would develop an individualized positive reinforcement-based intervention plan specific to your kiddo. Caregiver training is SO important for this to insure consistency across all different types of people and settings. Don't worry, we'll be sure to work with you every step of the way until the behaviors are much more manageable.
Here as an example of how we work on behavior reduction:
Some kiddos have a tough time with hitting others. Joey doesn't like it when another kid takes a toy that he was playing with. He also doesn't have the communication skills to appropriately ask for it back, so he resorts to hitting. Our clinical team would teach Joey that the hitting will no longer result in access to a toy, however appropriately asking his peers to give a toy back will work! This may take some time, and sometimes these behaviors can get worse before they get better, but with patience and persistence you're guaranteed to get results (seriously, that last sentence is evidence-based).
TOILET TRAINING & DAILY LIVING SKILLS
A lot of kiddos have a hard time with potty training, initially. Learning to use the toilet is a big change from wearing diapers, and that can be scary! Maybe they don’t want to sit on the toilet, are reluctant to use the toilet, or just don’t want to go into the bathroom at all. We can help identify the signs that your child is ready for toilet training and help get them comfortable with the process. So how do we work on that? We basically turn the bathroom into a party! We want to show your child how to enjoy the process of using the bathroom appropriately and take the fear out of the unknown using visual supports, social stories, reinforcers and other methods. This same idea applies to hand-washing, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and other daily living and independence skills.
An example of how we might work on toilet training:
Anna does not like to even go into the bathroom, let alone use the toilet when she has to go. First our clinical team would associate the bathroom with some of Anna's favorite toys/activiites without placing any demand on having to sit or use the toilet. At the same time our clinical team would work with Anna's caregivers to identify the patterns of voiding so that they can understand how frequently Anna might need to go. Once Anna becomes more comfortable with going into the bathroom, we would work on gradually increasing the durations she would sit on the toilet. Once she's able to independently sit without concern, then we would begin to teach Anna that she would gain access to her favorite toys and activities following a successful elimination in the toilet. When we put it that way it sounds so easy, huh? Don't worry, we will help guide Anna's caregivers with every step of her individualized toilet training plan so this can be worked on consistently across all settings.
CAREGIVER ABA COACHING
Just as important as the ABA therapy we provide to our kiddos, so too is the hands-on ABA training we provide to our parents. Caregiver ABA coaching is done as frequently as once a week directly with the BCBA. This coaching allows our parents to continue the progress at home and makes for a cohesive and involved growth experience. We have found that children progress more rapidly toward their goals when parents are involved in therapy. We love our families and the connection we can create together!
An example of how we might work on caregiver ABA training:
Riley has a tendency to run away from caregivers when in a public place. Our clinical team can go into the community to work on these situations with everyone. First they would assess the function of Riley's running away. Maybe Riley enjoys the chase! Riley might also like to go and touch the sign across the parking lot, or pet the ducks by the pond. Our clinical team will meet with Riley's caregivers ahead of time to review the individualized intervention plan (like teaching them to hold the caregiver's hand in those situations, or appropriately communicating to go see the ducks). Then the clinical team would go and provide hands-on support in that situation to train Riley's caregivers on how to implement that plan until that behavior is no longer happening anymore and the child is able to independently stay with the caregivers in that situation.