Tips for a Successful Summer ABA Therapy Program: A Guide for Providers 

By: Erin Mayberry
Children laying in field drinking from cups with colorful straws

With summer right around the corner, ABA therapy providers have an exciting opportunity to shake up their usual routines and incorporate a bit of seasonal fun into their practice. However, maintaining the balance between fun and therapeutic progress can be a challenging task. The key to a successful summer ABA therapy program lies in thoughtful planning, flexibility, and innovation.

In this article, we will delve into practical tips and strategies to help design an engaging and effective summer ABA program. 

Keep Consistency 

Consistency is a cornerstone of ABA therapy. A regular and structured routine provides stability and predictability, which is particularly beneficial for children with autism. Although summer often signals a break from the usual routine, it’s crucial to maintain a steady therapy schedule. This continuity helps reinforce learned behaviors, maintain acquired skills, and continue the momentum of progress.

Create a visual schedule of the summer activities for your clients, and make sure to keep the therapy sessions at consistent times when possible. 

Embrace Flexibility 

While it’s important to maintain a level of consistency, summer is synonymous with spontaneity and change. Parents may plan family vacations or day trips, which can disrupt the regular therapy schedule. As a provider, embracing flexibility is key during these months.

Consider offering extended hours or weekend sessions to accommodate these changes. Understand that there will be weeks when the usual therapy hours might need to shift and be ready to adapt your plans accordingly. 

Make it Fun 

One of the best ways to keep children engaged during the summer is to make therapy fun. Consider incorporating summer-themed activities into your sessions that can be therapeutic and enjoyable. Whether it’s a water play activity to improve motor skills or a beach-themed scavenger hunt to enhance observational skills, there are numerous creative ways to integrate ABA principles into summer fun.

Remember, when children enjoy what they’re doing, they’re more likely to participate and engage, leading to better outcomes. 

Set Clear Summer Goals 

Summer should not mean a pause in progress. Like any other time of the year, the summer months should have clearly defined therapy goals. These can be a continuation of goals set during the school year or new ones suited to the summer season.

Involving the child and their parents in goal setting can also be beneficial. This not only gives everyone a clear understanding of what to work towards but also increases motivation and commitment. 

Communication is Key 

Communication between providers, parents, and children is a vital component of a successful ABA program, even more so during the busy summer months. Regularly update parents on their child’s progress and any changes in the therapy schedule. This keeps parents informed and involved and allows them to support their child’s progress at home.

Equally important is listening to the parents. They can provide valuable insights about planned summer activities, which you can incorporate into therapy sessions for real-world practice. 

Use Technology to Your Advantage 

The smart use of technology can greatly streamline your summer ABA therapy program. Utilize a platform like Rethink Behavioral Health to manage scheduling, track data, facilitate communication, and access curriculum resources. Such platforms can greatly reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, giving you more time to focus on providing quality therapy.

Embracing digital tools can also help in creating engaging, interactive sessions that hold the attention of tech-savvy children. 

Prepare for the Heat 

If you’re incorporating outdoor activities in your ABA therapy sessions, keep the summer heat in mind. High temperatures can quickly lead to dehydration or heat exhaustion, especially in active children. Plan for regular water breaks and teach children about the importance of staying hydrated.

Remember to apply sunscreen on the child before heading out and consider scheduling more physically demanding activities during the cooler parts of the day to prevent overheating. 

Include Social Skills Activities 

Summer provides abundant opportunities for children to engage in social interactions and practice their social skills. Organize group activities, playdates, or outings where children can interact with their peers.

These social settings provide a chance for children to use the social skills they’ve been learning in a natural environment. They also provide the therapist with an opportunity to observe and provide guidance in real-time. 

Conclusion 

While summer may bring changes to the usual routine, it also brings opportunities to create a unique, engaging, and effective ABA therapy program. By maintaining a balance between consistency and flexibility, making sessions fun, setting clear goals, communicating effectively, using technology, and preparing for the heat, you can ensure that your clients continue to make progress while also enjoying their summer. 

Start preparing for your summer ABA therapy program today. Use all resources at your disposal, including platforms like Rethink Behavioral Health. Our team is always ready to support you and help ensure your summer program runs smoothly and successfully.

Take the leap and turn this summer into a season of progress and fun with your ABA therapy program. 

About the Author

Headshot of Erin Mayberry, Director of Community Engagement for RethinkBH

Previous Director of Community Engagement

Erin Mayberry is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has been in the field of ABA since 2009. Prior to Rethink, Erin provided clinical consultation to individuals on the autism spectrum and their families in home, clinic, and school settings, as well as staff training in behavioral crisis prevention. Erin was with Rethink 2018-2024 as Rethink’s Director of Community Engagement, working with our customers to create successful and meaningful partnerships, and has worked in professional services and customer success.

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