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Using Visual Supports to Prepare for a Successful Trick-or-Treating Event

35 blog avatar Using Visual Supports to Prepare for a Successful Trick-or-Treating Event
Expert Name: Karen Chung
Expert Title: Founder and CEO
Company Name:  Special Learning, Inc.
Company URL: www.special-learning.com
Short Bio: Karen is the CEO and Founder of Special Learning. She graduated from Kellog and was introduced to the ABA field and ancillary therapies over a decade ago.

It became her life’s passion to share knowledge of these evidence-based therapies to the global community who either work or have a child/adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or a related disorder. She has become one of the thought-leaders in this space and is achieving her goal through the works of Special Learning, Inc.

Using Visual Supports to Prepare for a Successful Trick-or-Treating Event

Visual supports are strategies used in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to help teach kids with autism and other special needs. It utilizes the strengths (or preferences) of visual learners to process information in order to acquire new skills using pictures, drawings, objects or even printed words. Visual Schedules, one of the most common forms of visual supports, is a highly effective instructional tool to teach sequencing. Breaking a sequence down into individual targets (or skills) allows the child to learn the steps one at a time in order to master the full sequence at a pace that is appropriate for him/her.

To ensure a successful Trick-or-Treating event, you may want to “over-prepare” your child. Preparation can take many forms, but using priming strategies to “show” your child what to expect, including practicing the steps involved in going Trick-or-Treating, will give them the confidence they need to approach the day with excitement, not apprehension.

You can use a visual schedule to break down the sequence of the Trick-or-Treating process and review it with your child as many times as necessary for him/her to achieve mastery.

Steps in a simple Trick-or-Treating visual schedule may include:

1.     Walk to door

2.     Knock on door

3.     Wait for answer

4.     Say “Trick-or-Treat”

5.     Receive candy

6.     Say “Thank you”

7.     Walk away

Once the child is familiar with the sequence, you can contrive scenarios in which he/she can practice the newly-acquired skill in a safe environment by getting your neighbors or friends to participate. During this process, you may want to incorporate some “rules” about when and how much candy your child will be able to eat after Trick-or-treating. You can use a token economy system as a delayed reinforcement tool to keep their motivation level high in the days leading up to the actual event.

(See previous articles on how to use Priming and Token Economy systems to prepare for Trick-of-treating)

You can purchase our Getting Ready for Trick-or-Treating Holiday Learning Kit in our store.

Sign-up for our Level 1 ABA Online Training Course (Autism Basics) to learn additional ABA strategies and techniques.  

Copyright © 2017. Special Learning Inc. All right reserved.

No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission. For information, email contact@special-learning.com.


Teaching Numbers: Building Early Language with Flashcards


Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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