Practical and proactive tips for running a therapy session
Sunday 6th May 2018
By Roni Dunning, B.A., M.Sc., BCBA of Blossom ABA
Running an ABA Therapy Session, proactive guidelines
Please note that the guidelines below are for sessions that last around 3 hours and this is only a guide that serves as an example of how you could proactively think of strategies whilst running your ABA sessions.
Depending on the profile of the learner you work with, it may not always be possible to implement these guidelines in their entirety so please also bear this in mind. Feel free to use this document to draft your own session guidelines based on your learner's profile!
Preparing for a session
• Please take 15-20 minutes preparing for your session when you first arrive. Keep your learner busy with an activity of high interest whilst you do this if they are with you from the time you walk in for a session.
• Think of game ideas for that first part of session.
• Look through the programme data sheets/check list.
• Look at the team communication book for any updates from the day before or by the parent.
• Make sure you get all materials needed and that they are available.
• Ensure you plan your session based on the recomendations given by your ABA Consultant or Supervisor e.g. am I going to the park today? What will I do outside?
During the session
• Be proactive
• Offer your learner different activity options and think ahead, especially if they only play with items for a short time.
• Variability is your learner's friend! Vary games you play and make your session dynamic.
• Add in times for snack, a short walk (no longer than 20 minutes but this may vary depending on recommendations) and activities outside the house.
• Have treatment integrity sheets in place in case you need to check protocols quickly during the session. Treatment integrity sheets are short summaries of protocols that will help you implement them on the go. They're very helpful for therapists who are always moving around and we tend to file them in display books or have them available on a device e.g. ipad library.
• Keep your learner hydrated! Learners will feel tired and cooperation may drop if they're thirsty.
• If your learner is playing with a preferred item, in free play or in a short break, use that time to look at protocols, fill in data sheets ask questions if you need, make a drink for yourself, prepare the next part of the programme, etc. Tidy as you go or in cases where the learner is already helping, this can also be part of the session (retrieving and putting materials and toys away). However, there must be a balance on how many demands we place to our learners and this varies according to what the focus of their programme is, so please bear this in mind.
• ABC Data needs to be taken very close to the behaviour happening so you don't miss details. So please prioritise these.
• An apron with pockets is ideal for you to store small items that you may need in the moment.
After your session
• Tidy up all toys and resources (you shouldn't have much to do if you are tyding throughout the session).
• Put session materials back in their allocated space.
• Update all data sheets you didn't have time to do in session.
• Update the learner's communication book with a brief paragraph about his session. The data sheets should be measuring all behaviours so this is really a reader friendly account of the session for parents/school and to other therapists.
• Ensure you leave items that do not belong in the session and that you want to keep safe in a separate place e.g. ask the parent where they wants you to leave them, for example, a bits and bobs box.
It is helpful when there is an agreement in place for admin time required after session. If you feel your learner would benefit from additional time, it is a good idea to discuss this with your ABA consultant/Supervisor and they will guide on you on the next steps.
It is also helpful to discuss any specific difficulties you may have with admin and data collection as well as your existing workload.
Feel free to ask Roni if you have any queries about any of the terminology used in this document.
Alongside assessments and implementation of behavioural analytical programmes, Roni has experience helping families and schools with aspects of running a session, data collection and administrative systems. Feel free to contact her via the website!
Learn more about Roni