By: Pranali Hoyle, MA, BCBA

How to Create an Appropriate Instructional Environment

In-home ABA therapy is now an approved service that is covered by many insurance companies. Parents, therapists, and BCBAs® each play a role in how an effective session can be conducted. Each person is crucial in carrying out a session that may lead to positive outcomes for the learner. Some standards that have been developed are based on benchmarks of best practices. These can be used as guidelines when a session is conducted within the home.

Setting Up the Environment in Your Home for Success

As behavior analysts, we are trained to work in many different settings including homes, clinics, schools, community, and even employment settings. When providing services in the home, It is important that an area of the home be designated for therapy sessions. This can limit distractions from other family activities and provide a successful interaction between the therapist and the child. When the child is not in a session, materials that are pertinent to therapy can be kept in this space. It is encouraged that the child does not have free access to the space or the materials. This will limit the loss of materials that need to be readily available for the therapist during sessions. Your BCBA® supervisor can be an asset to determining the space. This also does not need to be a large room full of furniture and wall decorations, it can be a simple corner with a desk, chair and perhaps a shelf.

Limiting Attention and Access to Items

When a learner first begins his/her therapy, the session may not look as fluid as what most of us tend to observe in schools or clinics. This could be due to the fact that the child is not accustomed to receiving therapy in home, they have unlimited attention and access to toys without having to engage in specific responses. It is important to build a relationship with both the learner and the family. While parents are present during these sessions, it is best if boundaries are established from the start. This will help the learner establish a rapport with the therapist and limit escape-maintained behaviors that can be inadvertently reinforced. Parents should keep certain items that can be used as reinforcers during session time, this will allow the therapist to easily pair with the learner. It will also help the learner correlate session time with fun rather than work.

Use Your BCBA® as a Resource

Even though BCBAs® are accustomed to different situations, especially when it comes to learners. Each learner and family will bring along their own set of unique characteristics. It is important to communicate with your BCBA® what the expectations are for you and your family. The BCBA® in return should also review the policies and procedures for sessions to avoid any confusion in the future. The BCBA® is also a source of information and should be available to answer questions post session for parents. This will help to clarify what goals may be pertinent and how to achieve them. Parent training time therefore is essential and can be useful in determining aspects of therapy that are crucial for the family on a day to day basis.


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