Help! When your child tantrums during home-based ABA therapy
In some states, and counties, insurance pays for home-based ABA therapy. This means that you may suddenly have an influx of strangers in your house. This is huge change for you AND your whole family.
The people who will be spending a LOT of time working with your child are the ABA therapists.
When an ABA therapist first meets your autistic child, she spends a few weeks or so getting to know your child.
During this time, the therapist builds a rapport with your child and learns what your child likes to play with and what motivates As a result, your child may be very excited when his ABA therapist arrives, and even run to the door to greet her. After all, here is a fun person who has come, with new toys, just to play with your child!
However, after a few weeks, the therapist will begin to make demands on your child.
These demands are basically instructions or requests the therapist gives the child.For example, your therapist may ask a child to ‘touch his head’ or point to a desired object. This is the basis of ABA therapy; this is how the therapist shapes behaviors to help your child communicate, play, and maybe speak.
The therapist may also encourage your child to it at a table and complete tasks before he is rewarded with play or a certain toy. At this point, your child may begin to cry or tantrum. After all, all fun and games is one thing, but being asked to work is another!
FOR MOST AUTISTIC CHILDREN, A BIT OF CRYING OR TANTRUMMING IS INEVITABLE AFTER YOUR CHILD HAS BEEN IN ABA THERAPY FOR A FEW WEEKS.
However, this is VERY hard for you, the parent:
- You may still be reeling from a new diagnosis of autism.
- Your whole life seems like it is in upheaval; suddenly all these strangers are coming into your house!
- Not only that… these strangers are making your child cry!
- It is very hard to watch your child cry, as up to this point it has been up to you to comfort your child when he cries.
- How can anyone expect a two-year old to sit at a table, on the floor, or in a high chair for that long?
Try NOT to interfere when your autistic child has a temper tantrum during ABA therapy. Do not attempt to comfort your child or stop him from tantruming. Let the ABA therapist handle it! It is important to remember that an ABA therapist is an expert at changing behavior AND she has seen many, many tantrums during her career as an ABA therapist. She is pushing your child beyond his comfort zone to help him learn new behaviors.
You do NOT want your child to learn that if he cries during an ABA session, a parent will interfere.
It is important for you to realize that this tantruming is normal and that it WILL decrease.
The first time this happens, you may feel guilty…panicky… or even cry yourself. This is natural for many people. (At this point, try not to cry in front of your child.)
Even after the tantrum ends, and your child is happily playing with his therapist, YOU may still feel bad!If you are worried or upset after a tantrum, ask your child’s ABA therapist any questions you may have, such as is this normal, what should I do during a tantrum and so forth. The therapist should be able to offer advice and reassurance, or she may have her coordinator speak with you.
It is important that you be comfortable with your therapist and her methods, even if you do find the experience disconcerting. Never hesitate to ask, in a polite manner, to speak with the therapist’s supervisor if you have questions.
During a tantrum, you need to be very kind to yourself. If you have a relaxation CD, now is a good time to listen to it. Maybe you can spare two minutes to watch this:
Positive self talk is also important.
During a tantrum, try telling yourself:
- This tantrum is temporary.
- This tantrum is NOT harming my child.
- The best way I can help my child RIGHT NOW is to remain calm and let the professional (the ABA therapist) handle this situation.
- My child will NOT always cry during ABA therapy.
- Most children tantrum at different points during ABA therapy.
- ABA therapy is based on years and years of research… and is very effective at helping autistic children.
- Even though this is very difficult at the moment, this is the best way you I can help my child.
- ABA therapists love children.
In time, all of this will get easier. But for now…. Good for your for helping your child by setting up ABA therapy. Good for you for taking the time to read this article. It WILL get easier.