Once you have completed the enrollment process, there will be a short period of waiting time while reporting and service authorization are completed. This waiting period can be an excellent time to prepare your child, your family, and your home for the journey ahead:
Starting an ABA program can be a lot like learning a foreign language initially - so many new terms, acronyms, and procedures. Take this time to learn everything you can about autism and applied behavior analysis. See our Research page for a variety of suggested books and articles. For example, many families have found reading Catherine Maurice's Let Me Hear Your Voice: A Family's Triumph over Autism to be not only inspirational, but a very enlightening overview of the realities of implementing a home-based behavior intervention program. Then visit our Autism Spectrum Disorders & ABA page in the Resources section for an assortment of links to informative websites. Some helpful places to start include the Association for Science in Autism Treatment and the National Standards Project, which provide overviews of the research supporting the various autism services available, as well as the Autism Special Interest Group of the Association for Behavior Analysis and the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies for both behavior analytic terminology and consumer guidelines in selecting and working with service providers.
Build your community.
Don't travel this road alone. Families who have gone before you are available to listen, advise, and support. Visit our Support, Education, and Treatment Partners pages within our Local Resources for links to local support groups in your area that offer websites, discussion groups, monthly meetings, and parent education presentations.
Get a clear baseline.
Take advantage of this time to get a very clear picture of your child's current levels via completing baseline testing (if not completed during the diagnostic process). Pre-treatment cognitive / psychological, speech and language, and adaptive behavior assessments will be an important snapshot for measuring progress once services are initiated. See our Local Resources page for providers in your area.
Set the stage for learning.
Take this time to help your child break any old habits that might interfere with learning, while establishing new ones that will ease the transition into an early intervention program. If your child still uses a pacifier or bottle, now is a great time to start fading it out - communication training will be more effective. And once your child's program is up and running, he will need plenty of rest and good nutrition to be ready for learning each day, so try to regulate your child's sleep schedule by setting a consistent bedtime and routine.
Plan for making learning fun.
Begin gathering your child's most preferred toys and other items that may be used as reinforcers (i.e., items that motivate your child while learning new skills). In the early stages of treatment, it is often useful to identify a room or location in your home for therapy to take place. It may be beneficial to have this area free of unnecessary distractions, and include space for both structured learning (such as a small table and chairs) and more naturalistic activities (play mat), as well as a variety of toys / reinforcers in bins and on shelves. Finally, complete a Reinforcer Inventory (sent to you by your Intake Coordinator), adding all of the fun items and activities we may use to individualize your child's learning experience.
Interact with your child.
You know your child best, and your Program Director will rely on your knowledge when designing his or her program. So while playing and interacting with your child, start noting information on her current skills, and what you would like him or her to learn in the immediate future. Record all words or sounds your child uses and whether they are independent or imitated from a model. What actions does your child imitate? What toys does he or she play with appropriately? In addition, be cognizant of what challenging behaviors your child exhibits, how often these behaviors occur, and in what particular circumstances. Record the frequency of each behavior of concern (does it occur hourly? daily? weekly?), as well as what triggers the behavior and how you manage it. These notes will be an invaluable tool once treatment starts.
For further information on resources and pre-treatment recommendations, please contact your Intake Coordinator... we are here to help!