You have done the behind the scenes work and established your support network – now you are ready to get started with your home programme. Our guest writer, Paula Cowan who is an ABA therapist living and working in Ottawa, Canada, provides some insight about what to expect when inviting a professional into your home to work with your child. For those of you that are new to programming, an ABA therapist is the individual who comes into your home to implement programmes directly with your child. The programmes should be created and supervised by a consultant.
You can check out more of her writing at http://therapistfootprints.weebly.com
Some Tips When Starting an in Home Therapy Program.
“How do I hire a good therapist”
Because after-all first things first. (If you’ve gone with a centre that provides therapists for you, then skip to the next point) I caution you against a full blown case of “credentialism” as many aspects of a good therapist are more instinctive than academic. Here’s a tie breaker if it comes down to a toss up between two good candidates. Do the standard reference checks and interview questions of course. Then at the end of each interview, give the candidate an empty shoe box and say “Do therapy with that”. Hire the ones who do the best improvisation. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve prepped something that I was sure was a good idea, only to have it fall flat once presented to the child. When this happens you need someone who can think on their feet and come up with another method on the spot. With ASD children the best laid plans going awry is the rule rather than the exception. You need therapists who can just get on with it.
Younger children will be curious even jealous that they are not included.
Many even ask why they don’t have a special friend coming to play with them. It is very hard for young children to understand. You will have to repeatedly explain this to them AND keep them busy during therapy or they will keep going back into the therapy room (yes even when you tell them not to). While we do like to accommodate the siblings for brief periods to teach play/social skills, this cannot be done for the entire session. We are there to give your ASD child our undivided attention. This cannot be done if one or several siblings keep providing distractions. It often best to make sure the siblings time is occupied during therapy with either lessons, play-dates or outings with a favourite friend or relative.
Designate a room or corner for therapy and let the materials be kept near by.
This allows the therapist to enter, quickly set up and get started. Yes this will probably not be pleasing to the eye so it is better not to have it in the living room or high traffic area where you will be asking the therapist to put away the materials in case there’s company. It is also a good idea to have a cabinet (i.e. cheap IKEA cupboard) with a latch/lock to keep all the materials organized and away from little hands. Or to install shelves well out of reach of ALL children in your house.
“Should I offer coffee/tea?”
This is certainly a very nice thing to have but not a requirement. Sometimes there isn’t enough space to set a coffee down out of reach of the child. Or the program is so fast paced that the coffee is forgotten after 2 sips. However if the therapy is being done in a high traffic area, where you can smell the coffee brewing, a coffee lover appreciates the offer. Otherwise don’t worry about it. We’re a self-sufficient bunch that carry our own lunches, snacks and beverages to get us through a day of multiple client visits.