What Does a Day of ABA Therapy Look Like?

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An RBT playing with a young girl with autism in a sensory room with a ball pit
Published:  June 13, 2023

While ABA day programs share similarities with regular preschool programs, they go beyond traditional preschool settings by focusing on building key functional skills tailored to the unique needs of children with autism and related disorders. By providing a structured and supportive environment, early intervention ABA therapy aims to unlock the potential of preschoolers with autism, enabling them to thrive and reach their developmental milestones.

What Does an ABA Session Look Like for Preschool-Aged Children?

ABA therapy for preschool-aged children is primarily play-based, emphasizing the importance of learning through engaging activities. While it may appear as ordinary playtime, these sessions are carefully designed to model, target and develop critical social skills and communication abilities, as well as gross motor function. Through interactive games, crafts, and group activities, children learn how to take turns, share, and engage in conversation.

Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) utilize positive reinforcement techniques to encourage desired behaviors such as making eye contact, using expressive language, and responding to social cues. By integrating these skills into play scenarios, ABA therapy promotes meaningful social interactions and empowers preschoolers to navigate social situations with confidence.

Gross Motor Play

Gross motor play is an essential component of ABA. During this time, children engage in physical activities that enhance their coordination, balance, and strength. RBTs facilitate games and exercises that encourage large muscle movement, such as running, moving through tunnels, going down a slide, and climbing. Through these activities, children develop motor skills while improving their overall physical fitness.

Circle Time

Circle time is a structured group activity that helps children develop social skills and improve their ability to participate and respond in a group setting. Children gather together to engage in movement-based games, songs, finger plays, and simple conversations. Our RBTs guide the children in taking turns, following instructions, and practicing appropriate social behaviors. Circle time fosters communication, cooperation, and the development of peer relationships.

Individual Learning

Individual learning sessions are tailored to meet each child’s specific needs and goals based on their initial assessment before beginning the program. In these one-on-one sessions, BCBAs and RBTs work closely with the child to target and reinforce desired behaviors. Through the use of visual supports, hands-on activities, and positive reinforcement, the center staff helps children acquire new skills like receptive and expressive language development, self-help abilities like dressing, and academic readiness. Individual learning sessions allow for personalized attention and more intensive skill-building.

Sensory Play

Sensory play is an integral part of ABA therapy. During this time, children have the opportunity to explore a variety of sensory materials such as sand, water, and playdough in a safe and supervised environment. Sensory play promotes sensory integration, fine motor skills, creativity, and self-regulation. Our RBTs observe and encourage children to engage in sensory play, tailoring activities to individual sensory preferences and sensitivities.


Pairing is an important process in ABA therapy that establishes a strong rapport between the child and therapist. At the beginning of each session, BCBAs and RBTs engage in the client’s highly preferred activities, aiming to create a positive and enjoyable start to the day. By pairing themselves with preferred items and activities, the staff becomes a source of fun and reinforcement for the child. This process sets the foundation for effective learning and promotes a trusting relationship between the child and therapist.

ABA Therapy in Nashville at Wellspring Learning Centers

A day of ABA servicesin Nashville at Wellspring offers a comprehensive and individualized approach to supporting preschool-aged children with autism and related disorders. Our programs include all of the above and much more. Our next-level ABA centers feature high-quality furniture and playscapes, fun colors, and age-appropriate toys. By incorporating a diverse range of activities from gross motor play to individual learning sessions and sensory play, our BCBAs and RBTS create an environment where children can thrive and achieve their goals. Contact us to learn more or get started today.

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