Board-certified behavior analyst and mom of two Monica Piper lives in Frisco with her husband, Jeff, and two boys: Shawn, 16, who has autism, and Aidan, 9. She is the founder of Stepping Stones Consulting Services, which provides in-home ABA therapy to kids with special needs. She stays busy managing Shawn’s singing schedule—he sings in perfect pitch and performs at various charity and sporting events.
7AM Wake up Aidan for school. I make his lunch and make my coffee while he gets ready.
7:20AM Aidan eats breakfast, a protein bar, and we talk about the upcoming day.
7:30AM Drop off Aidan at school. On the way, we listen to a radio station in the morning that plays a fun game. When a song comes on, listeners call in to pick the next song that starts with the last letter of the current song. (Example: The current song is “Shake It Off”; listener calls in and asks for “Forever Young”). We try to see if we can think of a song starting with that letter.
7:45AM Get Shawn ready for school. He gets dressed, and I help him brush his teeth. He has started making his own bed, which has been great! He eats breakfast while we wait for the bus.
8:15AM The bus picks up Shawn from school. He walks on his own to the bus and sits down and waits for the aide to put on his seat belt. The bus driver and aides tell me that Shawn sings the entire bus ride.
8:30AM I spend the morning making phone calls to insurance for authorizations for ABA assessments and services. I interview potential candidates for job opportunities and talk to new parents interested in starting ABA services for their child.
11AM I grab a quick lunch at Zoës Kitchen—one of my favorite places to eat lunch. I have the chicken kabobs with rice and a Greek salad—a regular for me.
12PM Meet with one of my clients and my ABA therapist at the client’s home for supervision. We discuss our client’s current goals, what they have mastered and new goals we want to add.
1:30PM Meet with another client and ABA therapist to review programs and goals.
2:50PM Pick up Aidan from school. Some days, he’s talkative and wants to tell me a few specific things that happened during the day. Other days, he’s quiet and wants to just relax. On those days, I wait and ask questions later when he’s relaxed and rested.
3PM Snack time for Aidan and some down time for him. We talk about school and how his day was. He eats Cheez-Its (his favorite). He relaxes on the iPad watching some videos. He likes videos that kids make.
4PM Aidan starts homework, and I start thinking about what’s for dinner. I decide I will do Mexican tonight.
5PM Shawn comes home on the bus. Every day when he comes in, I ask him, “Shawn, what did you do?” And he tells me simple answers on what he did. He tells me he went to school and calls his teacher “beautiful queen.” His previous teacher taught him to call her “beautiful queen.”
5:15PM Shawn’s ABA therapist arrives, and he does ABA therapy upstairs. They work on reading comprehension and other academic skills using an app. They also spend a lot of time on physical exercises. He does crunches, leg lifts, Superman, pushups and other drills.
5:30PM I put ground meat for soft tacos in the Instant Pot. (I’m obsessed with the Instant Pot.)
6:15PM Shawn comes down from therapy, and he tells me exactly what he did during therapy. He lists the activities in the exact order in which he worked on them.
6:30PM Jeff comes home from work and catches up with us on our days. We eat dinner and play a fun game together around the dinner table—the same game that we hear on the radio each morning, but we change up the categories. Today, we pick the category of sports. So, we go around the table and think of words related to anything about sports starting with the last letter of the previous word that was said. (Example: baseball, Luka Doncic, catcher, running.)
7PM We watch America’s Got Talent together—a favorite show for the whole family. Aidan votes for his favorite acts on the AGT app.
8PM I put Aidan to bed. We always end the day with one quick game that he picks. Tonight, he picks the “sentence game” where one person says a word to start a sentence; we take turns saying words to create a silly sentence. We do this a couple of times then give hugs and kisses.
8:45PM Jeff puts Shawn to bed. Shawn has a full bedtime routine, and he seems to prefer Dad does it over any of us. Shawn goes to the bathroom and changes his clothes all by himself. Once he is in bed, we have a whole list of sayings. First we say, “Mommy loves…” and he says, “Shawnu.” Then we say, “God bless…” and he says, “Shawnu.” Then we say, “Mommy, Daddy and Aidan are…” and he says, “So proud of you.”
9PM Downtime for Jeff and me. We chill on the couch with our phones, talk about our day and watch one of our binge-watching shows. Tonight we watch Stranger Things.
10PM Jeff goes to bed, and I stay up, work a little, and then chill out with my phone. I also do a few crossword puzzles on my phone because that calms me.
11PM Go to bed and start the day again…