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  • Writer's pictureNicole Eugenio

What Does An ABA Therapy Session Look Like?

Every Therapy Session Will Look Different


Each child has different strengths and abilities as well as different goals to work toward. They will respond best to different teaching methods and prompting strategies. They also have different interests and preferred activities. Additionally, even the same child’s therapy sessions may look different each day in order to keep the child interested and engaged and to be able to target a variety of skills.


It is important that ABA programming is individualized to the child and that all of the above-mentioned factors are considered. If a child has a special interest, that interest should be incorporated into the session. Engaging in preferred activities together will help the child and therapist develop a good rapport or relationship. For example, if a child loves Mickey Mouse, activities may be done with a Mickey Mouse doll or figurine or games that involve Mickey Mouse may be incorporated. If a child loves jumping on the trampoline, this should be incorporated into the session.


Additionally, each session will vary as different goals may be targeted on different days depending on the location of the session, time of the session, individuals who are able to participate in the session that day, as well as the client’s interest and engagement on that particular day. Also, as the child masters goals, new goals and activities will be added to target different skills.


Sessions may be of different lengths in order to incorporate different routines into session time. For example, a child who displays difficulty completing their evening or nighttime routine may have sessions that run later a few nights per week in order to target activities that naturally occur during the evening.



Session Structure


Each session should begin with a brief period of pairing- this involves the therapist engaging in play with the child without putting demands on them in order to build rapport. The therapist will then begin to prepare materials that will be used during the session. Materials may involve toys, games, flash cards, and other objects. They will also log onto Rethink, our online data collection platform, to set up their data sheet for the day. They may run a brief preference assessment to determine which items or activities will be most motivating to this child at that particular moment as they will want to incorporate those items or activities into the session as motivators or reinforcers.


Throughout the session, the therapist will run a number of programs with the child that are designed to help the child meet their goals. Some goals will require more structured instruction while other goals may be completed more naturally through play activities. A combination of Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT) and Natural Environment Training (NET) will be used based on the child’s needs. A variety of activities will be completed that will target the child’s goals. We aim to make the therapy session fun and engaging so that the child wants to participate and enjoys learning. Throughout this time, the therapist will take data electronically. The data will be graphed and will help to determine the child’s progress toward each goal.



At the end of the session, the therapist will engage in another brief pairing activity with the child. They will then clean up any materials used during the session and finish recording their data. The therapist will then write a session note describing what occurred during the session. The data collected for each goal will be included in the session note. They will sign the note when they are finished and will give the caregiver the opportunity to sign the note as well.

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