How To Maintain ABA Therapy During The Holidays

By: Elanor Neff, M.S., BCBA

It’s that time of the year again and while most are making plans for the holidays, as a parent with a child with special needs, you find yourself worrying…worrying about the lack of routine, worrying about the time away from therapy or school. In this blog I am going to outline a few basic ways that you can continue to incorporate ABA strategies into your daily routine even during vacation time!

  1. Create learning opportunities: A lack of structure results in an increase in downtime which can also result in an increase in disruptive behavior. You can remedy this problem by engaging the following: 

    a.       First, carve time out of the day where you specifically work with your child on their learning goals. These goals can either be found within their IEP or within the treatment plan put together by their therapists. Ask their teacher or therapists for items you can work on at home with them. Continued practice helps to maintain skills!

    b.       Provide structured “downtime”. This means, if you have to cook a large meal or plan a family event, set your child up with activities to complete (e.g., completing a puzzle, playing with Play-Doh, engaging in a preferred activity). Ensure that your child is still having to transition between activities (it can be fun activities that they transition between). 

  2.  Use visual supports:

    a.       Social stories can be good for explaining how certain events will unfold.

    b.       Picture schedules can be good for transitions and preparing for upcoming events.

    c.       Token charts can be good for encouraging positive behaviors.

  3.  Finally, make special accommodations if you need to.  If you know they have a hard time being in noisy or crowded environments, then be sure to seek out a quiet spot they can retreat to if needed. If disruptive behavior happens (and it’s probably going to happen at some point), then stay calm, follow the behavior plan set forth by the school or therapists, model the correct behavior, and remind yourself that the disruptive behavior will soon pass!

    A good way to minimize the impacts of the holidays is to add telehealth therapy services into your care plan. One of the many benefits to receiving ABA therapy via telehealth is the flexibility in scheduling. Whether you or the clinician is traveling for the holidays, therapy is always right at your fingertips regardless of where you are located. All you need is internet access and you are ready for therapy, any time, anywhere.   This is a good way to reduce any gaps in services during the holidays.

    For more information on how to obtain ABA therapy through videoconferencing please contact us at