I like to think of myself as a DIY-er at heart. I think it comes from how I was raised and how I needed to be resourceful to get what I wanted. My mother will tell you otherwise, but I never got quite what I asked for. My toys were off-brand whatchamacallits, but it wasn't a big deal most of the time. (One of these days I'll get a Skip-It. Did you know you could "skip it" just the same with a hula hoop?)
So what does DIY have to do with ABA? Quite a bit, actually. If you know where to look, you can create your own ABA resources without breaking the bank.
In my favorite social media follows post, I mentioned Pinterest and Instagram as powerful resources for information. They are highly visual platforms, inspiring many to do-it-themselves at home. I actually use it as a search engine for quick recipes and specific projects for work or home. What I particularly like about Pinterest are the infographics, breaking up a task into simple steps or segmenting information that can be processed more easily. For example, how to create a kid size fooseball table out of a shoebox or figuring out my daughter's sleep schedule.
Here are some examples from Paradigm:
It wasn't too long ago when we didn't have inspiration from social media, though. When I started working in-home, I made picture (or “tact”) cards from magazine cut outs. Then I upgraded to printing out pictures from Google images. A box of pre-made cards cost over $100, but by using a search engine and my printer, I could make my own as I went for a lot less money. As it turns out, you can get a box of 100 cards for less than $5, too. The only catch is time.
Nowadays, there are plenty of accessible products out there. You just have to figure out which ones offer a service that suits your needs. For example, I subscribe to Groovebook, which prints out 100 4x6 pictures every month, straight from my phone, for $2.99. When I was pregnant, I thought that this service was brilliant because I was sure I'd be snapping pictures non-stop when baby girl arrived. Sure enough, my books started to come in the mail every month, and I loved them. But it wasn’t until I went back to work that I had an epiphany: Parents can purchase a book 100 pictures for $2.99, laminate them, and voila! Materials for ABA! Yes, it requires waiting a month, and yes, you'll have to laminate the pictures. But it's still a great deal, and the only catch is time.
As far as other materials, they are already in your home. Doing ABA in-home, we find matching blocks, shoes, toothbrushes, etc. For receptive and expressive language, the whole house is already there to label in the natural environment. The "big ticket" items are laminating supplies, a cutter, velcro (sticky back), and lots of printer paper, items that you can find for affordable prices at Amazon.com.
And those DIY crafts and experiments? I used to frequent Half Price Books and Borders to get those books on “100 silly science experiments” for kids to practice following directions. Now, I simply use Pinterest, which is a great resource for both adults and kids. There are a ton of science experiments to discover cause and effect, and which also teach how to gather materials and follow instructions.
Like I said, I'm a DIY-er at heart and start many, many projects. They don't always turn out like the pictures, or get finished at all. (Check out my almost awesome dining table. There are many imperfections, but I'm proud of it. Just don't spill anything on the bench. I've been meaning to seal it for 2 years now. Ha!) But there are plenty of simple DIY projects out there that you can use for ABA, and, most importantly, a lot of them can be done using materials you already have in your home.
If you’re ever feeling handy, I’d also recommend checking out Ana White or Shanty2chic. They have great woodworking projects for kids such as this handy dandy travel kit. It's on my long to-do list. To be honest, I'd rather just buy the items or add the items to my wish list, but if I am ever feeling adventurous and have time to fill, I may start a new project.
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