Preparing the Home Environment for Therapy, Part II


See Part I, which is helpful for families needing to know how to prepare the home for ABA services.

I couldn't just leave this topic 1/2 complete. 

Of course, it is important for families to know what to expect of home-based ABA services and general "Do This" & "Don't Do This" guidelines, but it's also important for ABA staff and clinicians to know when home based ABA services are inappropriate, the home setting is unsafe or hazardous, the home setting needs stricter guidelines, or is downright dangerous to staff and/or the client.

I'm not ignoring ABA that occurs in other settings, but for clinic or school based ABA services the environment/facility is typically set up in advance. It is monitored and controlled by management or clinicians, and regularly cleaned and maintained. Certain items are prohibited to be on-site, there may even be security or at the least, janitorial staff. 

The home setting is unique because as the staff going in, we do not have full control over the environment. We don't know what hazards are present unless someone tells us. Sometimes we don't even know how many people (or animals) will be in the home from one session to the next. We may not know what is broken/damaged in the home, or may pose a health concern when we arrive on Day 1, ready to work.

So, this is a pretty big deal. 

To all the company owners and supervisors/BCBAs, this kind of "home safety checklist" needs to be developed with a home inspection occurring before the case starts (during intake/assessment). RBTs should not have to walk blindly into the home of a stranger, with no idea what dangers or challenges may be present.

I recommend that whoever schedules the assessment and makes initial contact with new families explain the company policy related to home safety, make sure to answer any parent questions or address parent concerns, and do a walk-through inspection (this could also occur virtually).

Companies will vary with what is required or expected of the home setting, and sometimes state regulations or funder specifications will apply. 

Unsafe/Inappropriate conditions in the home may negatively affect the client, such as: profuse sweating through the session because sessions occur in the non-ventilated and dusty attic, the parent blaring loud rock music throughout the session, or being unable to let the client play in the backyard due to huge amounts of dog feces.

Unsafe/Inappropriate conditions in the home can also negatively affect staff, such as: excessive and unwanted flirting and sexual jokes from the client's father, having to park in a nearby unsafe area as only street parking is available, or bringing pests into your own home that crawled into your materials bag during the session.

How exactly is learning or teaching supposed to occur under these conditions??

I could fill this post with pages and pages of home-based horror stories, but instead I'll just simply say: Home based ABA won't be possible for every family that wants it, for a variety of reasons. 

And that's ok

Services may need to occur at school, at the clinic or center, or in the community (such as at a library) until issues in the home can be adequately and safely addressed both for the benefit of the client, and staff.


Free checklist download to help set policy/establish minimum requirements for home-based ABA services to occur. 

Home Based Employee Safety

Ensuring Safety during In-Home sessions

Firearms & Home-Based ABA: Considerations for Safe Practice

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