One of my favorite activities to do with my clients are community outings. It creates the perfect opportunity for clients to practice and help generalize many of the skills that they learn in their ABA sessions. For young learners, it is an opportunity for them to experience a variety of settings (grocery stores, parks, the mall) with their therapist to help facilitate positive learning experiences. They also learn the various expectations of each environment. For example, while at the grocery store, a child learns that they must stay near their parents, help find and put items into the cart, and wait appropriately while checking out. While they are at the park, they learn that they can run around, play with other children, and engage with the playground equipment – all while practicing staying within the vision of their parents.
For more advanced learners, community outings provide an opportunity to engage in the activities that they will one day do on their own, such as locate items in a store, order for themselves at a fast food restaurant, or pick out clothes and navigate a dressing room.
Although parents can practice each of these skills with their children, having a therapist with you on your first few community outings will not only provide an extra set of hands, but will also give parents the information they need for the very best ways to teach their children these skills and help create a successful outing so that future outings will become easier. If parents are having a difficult time taking their children to various places in the community due to the potential for problem behavior or lack of social skills, then it’s time to let your BCBA know! Your ABA team is happy to help where ever they are needed. Remember, a big part of our job is to help each family be successful across all environments!