As a parent of autistic children we know how frustrating it can be when your child is unable to participate. It’s difficult to understand why your child won’t respond to simple instructions or phrases; especially when it benefits them. But it’s a good thing to remember, an autistic child doesn’t experience the same re-enforcement factors that a ‘neurologically normal’ child would.
When a ‘normal child’ responds to the instruction “do you want to play?” they receive plenty of praise, play and are excited by this. The autistic child struggles to say yes, leading to no playtime and are developmentally left behind. From the time they are born, they miss this life lesson and it’s heartbreaking for any parent to see.
So how can ABA therapy teach your child this valuable tool when they struggle to respond in the first place? There are two different ways a therapist can achieve this. The first is an approach where help starts strong and ends light. The second is an approach where help is not offered then slowly integrated; both are fun and engaging games to help your child see the world as other children do.
The Encouraging Approach
If the therapist asks your child to raise their hands, in a fun game of Simon says, they may not respond. Your child is struggling to engage and cannot enjoy this fun activity that all young children play.
In this approach the therapist will say the command and then hold the child’s arms up while cheering and praising. If the child manages this with no negative response, next time they will lightly touch their arms and help them complete the action and so on, until the child can do it without assistance.
This fun engagement will teach your child that positive things happen when they respond.
The Slowly Helping Approach
If the therapist see’s a behavior in the past such as ‘the raising of the arms’, they will only help if the child doesn’t respond now. When they do step in, they will help in the least intrusive way first and slowly build up from here if needed.
It’s important for an autistic child to indulge in the same life lessons all children should have, whether autistic or not. We experience positive re-enforcement every day and it teaches us great things about life. ABA therapy manufactures this, to give your child a rich, happy learning experience.