Working with your own child and implementing an ‘ABA programme’ can be a rather overwhelming thought. There are many concerns that you and your family may have. These are just a few that I, and other mums, have had run through our minds:
- how will he know when I am mum and when i am ‘teacher’?
- will my head burst with all of the information?
- can I really do this?
- will we look weird when out and about?
- what if i undo all of the good work that other people do?
- do i have to do this for 6 hours a day?Working with your child or, as my husband calls it, “ABA as a way of life”
- it is just not possible for me to take data
- I have SO much else to do
- my marriage just won’t survive this
- will my daughter be jealous?
- will the gains really outweigh the sacrifice?
The most successful way that I have seen parents overcome being a juggler and choosing which balls to have in the air at any one time is to put them all down and make as much of life a ‘way of life’ as possible.
Perhaps Dad can have a ‘goal based session on a Saturday’ where he teaches your child a specific skill. Your way of life teaching will likely be using behavioural procedures all of the time to create specific behaviours such as waiting or labelling and teaching specific language goals wherever you are, such as teaching 100 one word requests an hour at the supermarket, at the swimming pool or at toddler group. I have found the very best way to keep on top of things is to have two short consultant calls a week: one on a Monday to be set up with goals and ideas for the week and then one on a Thursday to provide successes and struggles and to get set up for the weekend.
My biggest recommendation to you if you are married or have a partner is to have one ‘business meeting’ a week and one ‘date night’ a week. We have half an hour on a Sunday evening where we write our weekly timetable up and any bits and bobs which need buying or jobs that need attending to. Doing this on our large whiteboard in the kitchen has reduced our arguments or any confusion significantly. We also write our aims on there, whatever they may be. This may be the reduction of an overdraft by £50 a week, a family holiday or your annual ‘night away’ with your spouse. Whatever it is, keeping these mutual goals visible is very helpful. We also have our ‘goal of the week’ for each of us. This may be an increase in utterance for Zeph, teaching Annabelle to independently do her zipper, me to get to swim twice or Ludo to read a chapter of his book.
I also really recommend a short period of ‘me time’ a day, even if it is just ten minutes of reading a novel at the end of the day. A family date once a week or once a fortnight is a real must. Each Saturday we alternate. My hubby has a date with our little boy once a month and a date with our little girl once a month (we swap). Twice a month we have a family date. Sometimes this has to be an evening ‘movie night’ as we work or study sometimes during the day. Sometimes this is a big day out in to London by train, sometimes a swim at our local pool and sometimes simply a walk in the park. We have three memberships now: one for the national trust, one to a theme park and one for a local pool. This really helps us to budget and also makes us use them! There is always something to keep you at home, such as a renovation or cleaning, but we have found we have a much higher quality of life if we get out together.