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DiagnosisJuly 31st, 2023
What to Expect the First Few Weeks of ABA Services
FSCNClinical Team

Starting ABA services can be exciting, but also may be a bit of an adjustment, not only for your child but for the whole family. You may be wondering what sessions will look like, how your child will take to someone new coming into their home, and what your role will be while we are there. At First Step Children’s Network, we’re a team dedicated to ensuring you feel at ease as you kick off this exciting ABA journey!

First things first, you will get to meet your ABA clinical team! If you haven’t already met the Program Manager (PM), they will more than likely join the Behavior Technician (BT) on their first day to offer guidance and support. After that, the BT will be conducting the sessions with your child on a regular basis, the PM will oversee the program and provide supervision either on a weekly or biweekly basis. Additionally, the Clinical Manager (CM), a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), will provide supervision to the clinical team, monitor progress and ensure the program is adhering to ethical guidelines and professional standards set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB). The CM supervises sessions approximately once a month. Remember if you have any questions about the schedule or need to cancel, you can reach out to the schedulers. All this information can also be found in your Parent Handbook provided to you during the assessment process. 

Aside from getting to know your clinical team, the first session is the perfect time to let your team know of any important information they need to know. Share your house rules and family dynamics with the team. Let us know if there is a household schedule or routine that your child follows, if you would prefer that everyone removes shoes before entering the home or if there are certain areas of the home that you want to keep off limits for session. If there are other siblings in the home, you can ask your PM if it would be appropriate for them to be a part of session or if it would be preferable to keep them entertained in another room. Are there any parking restrictions in your neighborhood? Do you have pets in the home? These are all examples of important information to share with our staff to ensure that we can plan our sessions while respecting your home. 

The first few sessions, the main focus will revolve around the pairing process which essentially is building rapport by getting your child to associate our staff with fun, fun, fun! This may look like the staff is just playing with your child- and we are! It is so important for us to get to know your child’s likes, dislikes, how they play and their temperament around play. We will start off with little to no demands, follow your child’s lead in play and provide high rewards throughout the session! This will help us in establishing motivation for teaching in later sessions and gain instructional control. We will eventually be increasing demands and presenting more challenging tasks to your child, so we want to maintain a positive relationship with them. This way they will remember that we are still that fun person they enjoy playing with. 

We anticipate that your child may be hesitant about interacting with new people and adapting to the changes in their schedule. This is another reason why we refrain from placing demands right away or trying to change the way they are currently interacting with their environment. We also refrain from providing a lot of corrective feedback and we won’t push the envelope if, for example, they don’t want to share with us. We want to make sure we can foster a trusting and comfortable relationship with your child and skipping the pairing process may harm the relationship between your child and their BT. Of course, we will intervene if there is a safety concern, but if there are other behaviors that you wish to have corrected while we are building rapport, we ask that you are there to intervene if necessary. It should be noted that some children do require more time to adjust to the changes, so the time we spend focusing on building rapport will be at the discretion of the PM. When your child feels at ease with their BT, they are more inclined to embrace learning and engage actively during sessions, which makes it easier to pave the way for implementing teaching strategies and introducing more challenging tasks. 

Establishing a strong rapport with your child and BT will also help foster a relationship that will increase communication with our staff. As BTs spend considerable time with your child, creating an environment where your child feels at ease communicating with them is essential. When your child communicates with staff, we can better understand their wants, needs and what motivates them. Motivation plays a crucial role in learning. Therefore, when your child feels at ease expressing what they are motivated for, it significantly enhances the effectiveness of our sessions.

During the first few sessions it will be important for you to be nearby to provide a sense of comfort for your child. You know your child best, so this may look like you participating in play activities with the staff and your child at first and then gradually stepping back so that your child can engage more with the BT. If you believe your child will be comfortable engaging with staff, you can provide some more distance, but always stay at an earshot of the session just in case the staff requires your assistance or has any questions. We definitely will be picking your brain to help us get to know your child. We might ask you what they enjoy doing, what approaches have worked and not worked for you, we may need you to help facilitate communication or ask for insight to better understand any behaviors we may see. You know your child more than anyone, so your guidance will help our team immensely! 

During the first couple sessions, your PM may set some time apart with you to review the proposed goals and check in to see if you have any updated or additional concerns that may have come up since the assessment was conducted. They will also review the parent goals that they will be working on with you during the reporting period. These individualized goals will help you learn ABA strategies to implement in and outside of sessions. If there’s a skill you’re interested in learning or if you need support with something specific, please communicate this to your PM. They can offer support, provide resources, or even create or modify the current goals to better suit your needs and track your progress. 

You might be curious about when the clinical team will start implementing programs. It varies for each child. Once we’ve established a strong connection and understand what motivates your child, we’ll gradually introduce programs. Often, these programs seamlessly blend into everyday activities and play, so they may be hard to recognize unless you are looking for them. For more structured programs, we might use specific materials and may require an area in your home with fewer distractions to ensure we can capture your child’s attention and get the most out of them. At the end of each session, the BT will provide you with a recap and summarize the progress made toward the goals. If you have any questions about how the programs are carried out, feel free to ask your BT or PM at any time. We’re here to assist and keep you informed throughout the process.

Lastly, you may be eager to see your child make progress towards their goals and want to know how long until you see a noticeable change. As previously mentioned, every child progresses uniquely, making it challenging to predict a specific timeline. What we can say is that having your support in implementing the strategies that you learn from the clinical team, keeping scheduled appointments for consistency and maintaining an open communication with the clinical team will help in your child’s progress tremendously. We are thrilled to embark on this journey with you and your family. Together, our dedicated staff and your family will collaborate as a team, ensuring your child receives the support needed to progress towards their goals.

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DiagnosisJuly 31st, 2023

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