Generalization is an important aspect of autistic children's growth and development as they navigate through ABA therapy. Generalization is when a child is able to take the skills they’ve learned in therapy and apply them in their everyday lives.
Generalization helps ensure that newly learned skills from ABA therapy are maintained over time and promote independence. Parents and caregivers will see the occurrence of generalization when a new behavior is demonstrated in the presence of factors that are outside of a therapy session. Generalization includes applying the skills learned from ABA therapy to other environments, such as home, school, and social settings, as well as across new time frames and people.
To support a child in generalizing their skills and behavior, it’s encouraged that parents recognize various ways their child can successfully generalize learned skills. One of the ways to generalize is using the same object for various scenarios, for example teaching a child that the word cup can be used for water bottles, coffee mugs, and paper cups, so the child can learn to apply ‘cup’ to various drinking vessels other than their specific cup.
Having collaboration from parents, teachers, family members, and ABA technicians can provide great support in teaching a child skills across different environments. For example, once a technician teaches a child how to clap their hands, a parent could help maintain this skill by asking the child to clap their hands in the car or at home.
It’s encouraged that parents help their child with skills generalization by meeting with their child’s BCBA to learn about specific goals for their child, attending parent training offered here at Golden State Autism Centers and being consistent with reinforcing new behaviors and skills.
Remember that generalization occurs in small steps, so take it day by day. Every child’s journey is unique. Be supportive by reminding your child that they’re doing a great job. Learning to incorporate skills may take extra time, consistency, and perseverance, but the end results are worthwhile.