During this time when we are forced to stay home, let’s try to make the most of it. This is a great opportunity to get parents involved. Providing telehealth services gives ABA practitioners the opportunity to see the client with his family from a distance. After a remote session has begun, ask the parent to turn the device screen off and mute yourself (with prior consent of course.) Just watch and listen. Note all the potential ways you could help the client be more successful at home with his family. What skills does the client need to remain engaged and acting appropriately? Sometimes we get caught up in the 2-hour session when we are in-person with the client and forget to teach those functional daily skills. They are home with their family most of the time, especially now, so they need to have the skills to appropriately participate in common family activities. One family may value eating meals together while another enjoys family game time. This is the time to really find out what you can teach the client so that he can be a more valued member of his family.
Check if the family has any new goals for their child. Being home all day may spark their motivation to tackle some difficult skills. Or they may identify new skills they want to target or have a new found motivation to teach other ones. When discussing with families about teaching tough skills such as sleeping and toileting, I sometimes get the response “I’ll start teaching that on spring/christmas break.” Well….now this an even longer break with no end in sight! Revisit those discussions and see if they would be more willing to participate in teaching these difficult but necessary life skills.
There is extra time at home together so families may be more willing to try that leisure schedule your ABA team has been tirelessly teaching. They now have more opportunity to see the benefit in such a schedule to structure downtime at home. Suggest a daily schedule to structure the client’s day. This could be a set wake up time, eat breakfast, do school work, play time, lunch, remote ABA session, etc.
Turn the parents into behavior technicians. Have them run some, if not all, of the programs the behavior techs typically run during ABA sessions. This will teach the parents important skills and prevent the client from regressing. This is also a great time to involve siblings since everyone is home together. Teach the learner to initiate to their sibling by asking them to play a game then teach turn taking, and game playing. All you need is a stack of cards and you can teach several card games such as SlapJack, War, and Go Fish. Uno and Connect Four are also great, simple games that the whole family can enjoy together.