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ABA Strategies for Challenging Behaviors During Routine Changes

Applied Behavioral Analysis uses consistent data and conditioning to help create behavioral change in children with autism. Like many modern therapies, it is focused on enhancing targeted social skills that a patient might need development in. Often, these targets will be challenging behaviors, such as disruptions, sensitivity reactions, or aggression. Though there are no finite parameters for recommending ABA Therapy for children, we can typically use some more common ABA strategies for pertinent issues.

Read below to get a sense of whether ABA for challenging behaviors might help your child’s routine going forward.

The Challenges of Routine Change

Children with autism do well with structure and routine. ABA can be best implemented to achieve success in routine change, without being disruptive to the household or learning environment of a child with autism.

Success in this regard is just as much about avoiding common pitfalls in what is deemed as acceptable behavior as the proactive strategies to change them. Children may respond with tantrums or regress in their behavioral skills as an initial response to certain treatments. This is where the consistency of ABA is important, as well as that of the key techniques.

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For example, a naturalistic teaching approach is a component of ABA that can be used to generalize changes in routine across multiple settings. This allows for a child to adopt the positive learned behavior at home, school, in therapy, and in everyday life.

Mostly, the greatest challenge that a child might face in routine change is not having each member of their support group understand how important consistency is. This is why parents, teachers, and clinicians must be on the same page about the treatment plan and being positive advocates of the proper practices.

ABA Strategies for Challenging Behaviors

Once you have worked with a therapist or clinician to determine which behaviors your family and support group are looking to change, the next step is implementing ABA  routines. The following strategies are a few we’ve found to be very successful in creating positive changes.

Calendars and Schedules

Children with autism often struggle with inconsistencies throughout their day and on the fly schedule changes. Keeping things consistent and preparing for changes will greatly help your child in their coping skills as well as the strategies you can take to help them adjust. Using calendars or schedules throughout your day or your week will help keep your child in the loop for what is planned.

Pivotal Response Treatment 

Also known as PRT, this therapy focuses on targeting specific core skills such as motivation or self-regulation, and uses the child’s natural reinforcer to create language opportunities. Focusing on natural motivation will help keep the child engaged and yield more opportunities for language development.

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One of the most important definitions of ABA teaching techniques is the use of reinforcement. This means rewarding the desired behavior or creating an outcome that deters an undesired action.


This technique is implemented in ABA treatment to encourage students to improve at certain real-time skills such as listening or responding to social cues. Prompts can include gestures, verbal prompts, or visual prompts, and the focus will generally be on a prompt-to-response basis. One key element of prompting is not to overload the student; a good therapist or clinician will only use as many prompts as necessary to accommodate a student’s behavioral needs.

Being able to work with your therapists, teachers, and child to have these techniques be applied at home is critical as well. One of the best ways to reinforce good therapy is to have an entire family engage in practices taught by ABA.

Remaining Consistent

Ultimately, consistency and routine will be the most positive thing for a child with autism. ABA strategies from quality therapists will outline how to remain consistent across multiple environments. From school, to home, to common social settings, these teachings can be amplified if you work to keep a proper routine.

If you aren’t sure how to be consistent at home or how to properly address teachers about the subject, please be sure to consult your clinic or therapist for solutions. While we can’t always control schedules and the environment our children will be in, planning as much as possible to provide comfort and consistency will pay off long term.

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ABA Strategies at Ally Pediatric Therapy

At Ally Pediatric Therapy, we pride ourselves on being an industry leader in ABA therapy strategies. Our goal is to provide the best pathways for children with autism to have allies in their lives and learn from them.

If you are interested in a consultation or conversation about how you can enroll your child in ABA therapy, please reach out today — we’d love to help.