Whether therapy is conducted in or out of the home, curating a safe and comfortable environment is an essential prerequisite to running a successful therapy session.
Think about where you work most effectively. If your office is cluttered, you are less likely to have a productive workday. The same logic applies when it comes to conducting an effective therapy session. The more unnecessary distractions, the higher the likelihood of being distracted. This is why it is important to take the first few minutes of your session to clean up an area around the kitchen table or living room, or wherever you are working out of to prepare for the session.
From the parents perspective, there are a lot of factors to consider to ensure that your child receives consistent engaging sessions. Hunger and sleep are two of our strongest human drives and these two factors alone often mediate the effectiveness of a session. That is why it is important to make sure that when heading into the week, your kids are well rested and ready to get back into learning-mode. Unless it may pose as a distraction, having snack available during therapy may be helpful. Oftentimes, ABA therapists have their sessions scheduled right in that sweet spot between lunch and dinner when kids are growing hungry and antsy. Having some fruit or a protein-filled snack to hold them over might serve them well.
A fundamental element of therapy, and especially ABA, is interpersonal engagement. You want to be able to communicate comfortably with the person you are working with. Creating a comfortable space for learning is an external variable you have to do your best to control. But what also needs to be considered is the way that you compose yourself. Kids are especially attuned to noticing affect. If you are not fully present and engaged, it is likely that the child you are working with will not be either. This is why it is important to mentally compose yourself before each lesson. As you are walking over to your case-kid’s home, take a few moments to allow yourself to get into the therapy mindset, letting go of your other life concerns and distractions. Doing this will help you enter the session with a clear mind, and a purposeful direction, allowing you to properly assess what needs to be worked on, and how to organize your time.
At the end of the day, a well run session really just comes down to being aware. If you are a therapist, it is important to take into consideration all the environmental variables that could possibly effect the lesson. A clear head, clean work-space, and composed body are all essential elements in creating a productive learning environment. If you are a parent, it is important that you take note of the habits that are happening outside the scheduled therapy session. Informing the instructor that your child didn’t sleep well the previous night, or that he only nibbled at his lunch earlier in the day will allow the therapist to properly adapt the session in accordance to your child’s needs.
So if I were to sum this all up into two words, the advice I would give is to “Be Aware.”
I wish you the best of luck in your future sessions.
Have a wonderful day!