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Social Emotional Support: Where? How?

Note: This segment is Part 2 of a Series on Social Emotional Support by a Behavior Analyst


Social Emotional Support can be provided in the home and in the community, wherever it fits in to a child’s and family’s life. Often we identify, with the family, that there are a few especially challenging environments or places. We educate and collaborate. By using modeling and supportive feedback directly in those places, a team can support a family planning to re-enter environments and situations they have been avoiding due to difficulties coping with challenging behavior, social, or communication needs. Sometimes we educate in the grocery store, we practice going to story time at the library, or we meet a family in a gym. We go where the difficulties are, so that the teaching is effective and the family learns to implement the strategies when therapists are NOT there. We also teach in the family’s home, at times of day that the family needs support. Some families benefit from a weekly afternoon play session, while others benefit from sessions that target particular routines or tasks. Sometimes we provide support during a meal, or during a specific self help routine.

Why do it in the community?

Generalization can mean a child learns to do things s/he first practiced at home, in other places, with other caregivers, and in other situations. Generalization will not always happen by itself. Planning for generalization is important, and is almost always a big part of what the behavior analyst does.

Some places we have provided Social Emotional Support:

  • family’s home
  • church daycare
  • community daycare
  • community gyms
  • community children’s museums
  • a local library
  • local parks
  • schools
  • doctor’s offices
  • dentist office waiting room

How is Social Emotional Support funded?

In Colorado, families whose children qualify for Early Intervention services could receive Social Emotional support at no cost until their child is 3 years old, by Board Certified Behavior Analysts or other specialists authorized to be providers. In situations when the child does not qualify by the state definition but still has needs in this areas, some families choose to private pay and contract with an agency or provider who can meet their needs, or to enroll in parent education or training that can help. Grants may be options for some children on waiting lists for specific autism waivers through Medicaid, or for children with significant needs. Grants can fund co-pays for children whose insurance reimburses ABA coverage. Some providers offer sliding scales for families without insurance, and some agencies offer payment plans.

Note: Cusp Emergence offers Dr. Kolu’s Preventative Environments Training to the community, and provides social emotional education programs to preschools, churches, and other community businesses. We also offer a sliding scale to families in need, and can train family members or friends to act as therapists. University students, caring family members, and babysitters can all be trained to be excellent therapists who supplement a child’s program.