The Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the lives of everyone. From a health worker to a bus driver, regardless of the nature of the business, everyone is restricted to minimum movement. Social experiences are difficult to accept.
Since the pandemic has gravely affected the domain of education and health service with the introduction of social distancing norms, providing treatment for chronic diseases is extremely challenging. Children who are under treatment for Autism through the technique of Applied Behaviour Therapy will also face significant challenges in getting quality treatment.
In addition to it, students from all over the world have experienced serious difficulty with accessing remote education. Adjusting to new norms of learning is extremely challenging and its potential for dissemination of useful knowledge and provision of quality learning is yet to be observed.
Similar to students, children who had been previously seeking help with ABA therapy are also facing issues. Previously accessing the therapist was easier. It also served as an effective means for treatment as the therapist usually took note of any new behavioral development overtime.
Plus, the therapy in the comfort of a child’s hope was also helpful to encourage playful learning. Encouraging playing games and bringing a positive behavioral change while inducing a positive attitude was easier. However, the previous model of ABA therapy is hardly in practice since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has been argued that even though there are major challenges to ABA therapy during the pandemic, the pandemic has also created several opportunities that contribute to greater accessibility of the therapy.
The pandemic has contributed to the dissemination of behavioral and developmental information at a greater level. According to The Communication Clubhouse Chicago, “behavior analytic services that have been offered by electronic means have reported significant positive outcomes by both the patients and the caregivers. Plus, in recent months, the provision of ABA therapy services has also been approved by several regulatory bodies. ABA therapy can now be delivered through teletherapy as well.”
Therefore, it is critical to know that practitioners in the domain of ABA therapy will surely benefit with their education and experience if they manage to incorporate the communication tools and techniques that are being used by experts in the current ABA teletherapy model.
Opportunities for APA Therapy During the Pandemic
Since there is a high risk of spread of infection, practicing and social distancing among families, clients, and staff workers, and therapists are highly encouraged. Teletherapy could be a useful option to respond to the highly challenging situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
ABA therapy has always been costly. Even though it’s really important among the parents of autistic children, it’s hardly affordable for most of them. Therefore, using teletherapy may help a great deal as families of autistic children could be educated virtually with less cost.
Teletherapy for autistic children may appear to be fruitful given the fact that a structured approach in a time-limited environment may be useful for both the therapist and the family of the child. Plus, the therapist would be better able to communicate with the families and inform them whether a certain skill development that is set as a goal is making progress. Plus, being a low-cost service model, it could be easily accessible to families who are desperate to treat their children diagnosed with autistic disorders but are unable to do so because of impoverished financial conditions or the high cost of this specialized behavioral treatment.
Challenges for ABA Therapy During Covid-19
One of the most critical challenges posed by the Covid-19 to Autism treatment is a structured approach to therapy. Children diagnosed with autistic disorder require a routine to follow and ease the symptoms. Any sort of disruption in the form of a pandemic or unavailability of the therapist could be seriously challenging to make the child comply with the treatment plan. Therefore, it is pertinent that children with Autism are provided with consistent therapy.
No matter what the situation is because of the pandemic, parents must prioritize their child’s therapy. It is highly recommended that parents should focus on building a healthy environment at home. It would be important to consider social-distancing norms.
Another major challenge is following SOPs. Educating autistic children to wash their hands from time to time and wear masks to control the spread of the virus will not be easy. Parents will need to devote more time to their child’s care. Plus, the benefits of wearing a face mask and sanitizing must be communicated fully. The use of images, tutorials, and other illustrative materials may also help to make the children cope with the desired strategies.
Minimizing direct and indirect contact is essential while SOPs for safe practice must be followed at all costs. Strict handwashing and timely monitoring to mitigate against the risk of spread of symptoms are also essential. If any of the patient or staff workers are found to be symptomatic, they must be encouraged to quarantine for at least 14 days.
No matter how challenging the pandemic makes it for the child, parents must not lose hope. It’s highly encouraged that planning is preferred to panicking. Reinforcement therapy may be fruitful to encourage positive behavior in restricted environments. Positive reinforcement theory is highly encouraged.
Making sure that all SOPs related to telehealth, information recording, visits, and patient privacy, and employment staff regulations for telehealth are carefully implemented and closely monitored. Maintaining patient privacy is critical to the provision of effective teletherapy service.
It is critical that challenges related to using technology are identified and responded at the earliest. Moreover, to overcome the potential challenges of inefficacy, therapists must strive to communicate the expected outcomes of the teletherapy at the very start of the program. Minimizing distractions while communicating with parents to maintain a safe and secure environment that is perfect for consistent therapy sessions is also the duty of the therapist undertaking the teletherapy.
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