Summer Activities for Children with Autism

The summer months can provide families with many opportunities to engage in fun activities and time to make memories that will last a lifetime. However, this is a time when students with autism may struggle. Children need routine, especially those with autism.

During the summer months, routine is usually thrown off. Less structure and routine can lead to more tantrums. To reduce these tantrums, parents should try to create a structured, daily routine so their children know what to expect.

Summer is a perfect time to provide children with autism seasonal opportunities to expand their skills. Some activities may even go hand in hand with what they are working on in ABA therapy as they focus on socialization, sensorimotor activities, and more.

Activities for Summer

Going for a Walk – This is a great activity for anyone to take part in. Not only is it a great way to keep you moving, but it gives children with autism a way to improve their social skills as they can talk with their parents, siblings, neighbors, and more. It also helps improve their safety skills, esp with “stranger danger”.

Playing I-Spy – The classic game of I-Spy is a great way to help receptive language. The child must listen to the clue and use complex thinking to figure out the object in mind. This will also help communication skills and encourage patience, instead of a tantrum, if they get the answer wrong.

Playdates – Since they will be out of the school setting, getting children together with their friends is a great way to hone in on those social skills. Encourage opportunities for social interactions.

Play at the Park – Children love going to the park! It gives them more space to run and play and allows for opportunities to work on their social skills as they are interacting with other kids. It may also help them manage unexpected situations as these will arise on the playground.

Swimming – Swimming is a great activity for summer! If your child knows how to swim or they are still learning, swimming provides a great opportunity to learn a new skill and engage in conversation with family and friends.

Arts & Crafts – Crafts are a great project to do any time of the year. These projects help your children follow directions and give them an opportunity to be creative and express themselves in a way that doesn’t require talking.

Movie Night- Watching a movie together provides many learning opportunities for your child. From encouraging social and communication skills to other relationship skills, a movie requires your child to know when it is okay to talk versus when it is not considerate to talk.

Games – Games provide a variety of skills including turn-taking, waiting, language, cognitive, and more. Grab a board game and have a game night!

Contact Us

At The SEED Center, help families and individuals with autism throughout the Stamford, Greenwich, and Norwalk, CT areas. If you are looking for ways to help your child, keep them busy this summer, or for ABA therapy, contact our autism treatment center and we can get you or your child started. We offer a variety of social groups and provide quality parent training to help everyone involved reach their full potential. Don’t stress out this summer. Be sure to have a plan and let our team assist you. Contact us today!


Using Positive Language Alternatives

Positive Languages Alternatives For Children

 

The language you use will always have an effect on the response you receive; this is especially true for children, and even more so for children with autism. Switching to positive language alternatives for requests, opinions, and feedback – even simple changes such as “I like it when…” instead of “please don’t” – can shift your communication in a more positive way and have a profound effect on a child’s development. For children with autism, using these alternatives to encourage and reinforce good behavior has shown to reduce conflict and improve cooperation and optimism. Taking a positive approach as an alternative to saying “no” or “stop” will go farther every time, whether you’re a parent or an autism services professional.

Consider What You Are Trying to Say

Many parents and educators say the word “no” so often that it begins to lose meaning. Repetition and consistency is especially important when communicating with anyone with autism; if you’re saying the word “no” to represent different meanings, your child could end up confused. To convey your meaning more clearly, try to consider what you want to get across:

  • Instead of Saying: Calm down!
  • Say: How can I help you?

 

  • Instead of Saying: No, you can’t have a snack right now.
  • Say: Let’s check your schedule. First we do homework, then we have a snack.

 

  • Instead of Saying: No running!
  • Say: Walk, please.

 

  • Instead of Saying: No yelling! Be quiet!
  • Say: Please use a softer voice to tell me what’s wrong.

 

All children, especially children with autism, can learn to identify what they can do in a situation rather than focusing on the negative; you can help them with this by modeling positive language in your day-to-day interactions.

Remain Calm

Even if you focus on positive language alternatives, you might find yourself dealing with a meltdown at some point if a child is prevented from doing what they want at the moment. It is entirely true that children feed off our emotions; If we treat a child’s meltdown with frustration or anger, you will likely only escalate the situation instead of mitigating it. Try to remain calm and remember that your child is not trying to give you a tough time – they are having a tough time. Clearly and calmly tell them what you expect and be sure to teach them ways to express their own feelings so they learn other ways to communicate their desires.

Consistency

Using positive language alternatives should not be confused with sidestepping an issue or saying “yes” more often – in fact, it’s extremely important to refrain from caving even in the face of a meltdown. For example, if your child melts down while begging for a specific toy, giving them that toy will underline the negative behavior and reinforce it for the next time the situation arises. If your child is consistently denied that toy, it’s possible for them to learn that a meltdown in this situation will not get them what they want. Be clear in your language and confident in your choices – you know what’s best for your child, not vice versa.

 

 


Technology Use In ABA Therapy

Our lives are constantly revolving around smartphones, computers, and the internet. Whenever we want to talk to our best friends, we pick up our phones and send a quick text, but our tablets and phones aren’t just used for messaging and scrolling through social media feeds anymore. Technology can now be used to assist in applied behavior analysis therapy, or ABA therapy, and can help people on the autism spectrum. Here are some ways that ABA therapists are using technology to positively impact the lives of people with special needs.

Teaching and Learning

Downloading computer or phone apps can help the teaching and learning skills of someone on the spectrum. ABA therapists can use gaming apps that can show younger children how to match colors and shapes, count numbers, and match different symbols all while keeping them engaged with the content. These apps can also be used as a reward to promote positive behavior.

Teaching games can be used to show how to perform certain tasks such as chores and morning and night routines. Parents can also download these apps for at-home ABA therapy learning.

Communication Skills

The use of technology can help those who have autism who have trouble with talking or verbalizing their feelings. An ABA therapist can use words or images on a tablet or computer screen that a patient can point to in order to say something or reply to questions. This enhances their communication skills and can be used at home to have discussions.

This practice can be applied to social media. These individuals can talk to friends online without the pressure of a face-to-face conversation. Speaking to others online may help translate these skills to outside sources like school or work.

Task Management

Digital timers and visual schedules can be an easy way to keep special needs individuals on track for different tasks and duties. Digital timers can be used to recognize how much time is allotted for specific activities. Visual schedules on a tablet or computer can be easily decorated to the likeliness of the person so it can keep them interested and informed on what the day entails. The schedule can include either words or pictures and can be simple to understand. This can also help the individual become more independent because as time goes on, they’ll comprehend their schedule and shouldn’t ask for guidance on what to do next.

Overall, technology usage in autism and special needs patients can lead to an enhancement in their lives and become a gateway to becoming more independent in teaching and learning, communication, and management skills – all skills that can be positively applied to other factors in their lives.

 


Becoming a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst in CT

What board certification means and how to get it in Connecticut

In 2018, Connecticut joined Rhode Island to become another New England state requiring board certification for its Board Certified Behavior Analysts, or BCBAs. Behavior analysts work in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, conducting ABA therapy, which is a scientifically backed method to help children with autism adjust behaviors associated with negative outcomes.

On average, postgraduates report satisfaction with a chosen career in ABA therapy. Working with an organization like The SEED Center will guarantee that your hard work in school will be put to immediate use with real children and families navigating autism in Stamford, Greenwich, and Norwalk, as well as other locations in Fairfield County.

Behavior Analyst Qualifications

In order to become a behavior analyst, one has to have extensive education and training. You must earn a graduate degree in the field or in a related field of psychology, gain necessary hands-on experience in different settings, and — of course — get board certification. Certification is handled by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB), which is based in Littleton, CO.

Factors Involved in Certification

Gaining board certification means successfully taking and passing the Behavior Analysis Certification Board’s exam (also called the BACB exam.) But, before you can take the exam, you have to qualify for it by completing the necessary behavior-analytic coursework, faculty teaching and research, or postdoctoral experience. Then you’ll need to maintain your certification by retaking the test every two years, continuing to adhere to ethical codes set forth by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and meeting continued education requirements.

What You Can Do with Board Certification

The psychological knowledge and hands-on experience you gain as a BCBA can take you in any number of directions professionally. The skills of a behavior analyst easily translate into autism services for schools, hospitals, healthcare, social work, or other private work. With the high level of education behavior analysts have likely already attained, a doctoral degree and other academic paths are also open to them.


Benefits of Respite Care for Families Living with Autism

Autism Services Are Available

Parents who are raising a child with autism truly understand the small joys in life and while it can be very rewarding, there are times where a little ‘me-time’ is not selfish but a requirement to live a happy life. Many parents put aside their own physical and mental health, partners, friends, and interests to solely focus on their child. The ‘me-time’ is all but forgotten in large part because there is not someone willing or able to watch or care for your autistic child. That is where respite care comes in.

What is Respite Care?

According to the National Institute of Health, the respite care definition is “short-term relief for primary caregivers. It can be arranged for just an afternoon or for several days or weeks. Care can be provided at home, in a healthcare facility, or at an adult day center.”

Autism services like respite care throughout Stamford, Greenwich, and Norwalk, CT

For a parent with an autistic child, this could be having someone come into your home and play with your son or daughter while you do laundry, pay bills, or just relax. It could also be a weekend getaway camp, where other children on the spectrum can bond and have fun. There are a variety of respite care options for any family.

What are the Benefits of Respite Care for Families with Autism?

Improved Marital Quality – There are few autism services that help a marriage bond like respite care. Having time to spend together focused only on your marriage can alleviate many worries in life.

Less Stress – Having the ability to focus on other tasks that may be causing you stress, or to unwind for a few hours can lower your body’s cortisol levels, relieving many common tensions.

Improved Health – Studies have shown better overall health for those parents and children partaking in respite care services. This includes fewer hospital visits, and those diagnosed with chronic medical conditions.

Relieves Financial Strain – According to the National Respite Coalition, providing planned respite care costs about $10-$12 per hour, less costly than placing children in out-of-home care.

Autism Services for Stamford, Greenwich, & Norwalk, CT

If you are parenting a child with autism, the SEED Center of Stamford is here to help you. There are not enough people seeking out respite care because they are scared or worried—you do not have to be. We have a knowledgeable and friendly staff ready to assist in personalized autism services that are right for you and your family. There are many joys having a child on the spectrum, but there is no denying the daily challenge—it is okay to take a break for yourself. It is needed. If you are interested in respite care services or want to learn about the autism services we offer throughout Stamford, Greenwich, and Norwalk, CT, contact our office today. We look forward to serving the needs of you and your loved ones.


Explore These Educational ABA Resources

Explore These Educational ABA Resources

As our country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 crisis, more and more children are being forced to learn from home. Unfortunately, it can prove quite difficult for kids to make the transition from a dedicated educational environment to their standard living spaces. The same can be said for children engaged in ABA therapy.

Keeping this in mind, our team has develop a handy resource of free ABA materials for families of children with autism. We understand that children on the autism spectrum are visual learners, so the provided worksheets can effectively convey all sorts of concepts and ideas. Be sure to browse the following sections to access an array of ABA materials that are focused on academic, social, and behavioral skills!

Academic Resources

The following websites offer all sorts of printable worksheets and activities. These free resources focus on an array of subjects, including reading, math, and much more!

ABA Therapy Materials

These particular resources have been specifically developed to provide worksheets and activities that improve communication and behavioral skills.

 

As always, you’re more than welcome to contact one of the knowledgeable representatives at the SEED Center of Stamford if you’re interested in learning more about modern ABA therapy. Our certified team offers a full suite of autism services designed to assist families throughout Norwalk, CT and all the surrounding communities.


Helping Individuals with Autism During the Holiday Season

Helping Individuals with Autism During the Holiday Season

The upcoming holiday season is often very much anticipated by people as it brings a lot of joy to their lives as they go shopping for their family and friends and make memories that will last a lifetime. It’s a time for beautiful decorations, cookie baking, parties, and more. While this time of year can be very joyful, it can also be very stressful, especially for those on the autism spectrum. All of the sights and sounds of the season can be overwhelming for these individuals as it over-stimulates them. Changes in familiar routines as you go to family events and parties, or even travel out of town, can be especially stressful for individuals with autism. This joyful time of year can often become too overwhelming.

Unhappy child on Christmas

To help decrease your child’s anxiety during this time and increase your family’s enjoyment consider some of the following tips:

Make it a point to be prepared. Depending on the amount of anxiety certain events bring to your child, it’s important to adjust how many days in advance you’ll need to start getting your child prepared for upcoming festivities. You could use a calendar to show when the event is and create a countdown to the event, so they know it is coming up.

Determine what decoration may be disruptive. Since some individuals with autism have difficulty with change and sensory, it’s important to involve them in the decorating process. Figure out what decorations they like and don’t like by looking at pictures in books. Take your child shopping with you and allow them to pick out decorations. Decorations might not be feasible with some individuals, and that is okay.

Decorate gradually. Too much change at once can be triggering for individuals with autism. Take time to decorate your house and have your child help where they can. Create a decorating schedule or visual so they know what is coming up next. At this point, you may need to take down or move other decorations that you leave up year-round. This might be triggering, so it is important to involve your child in this process.

Talk about the decorations. Some decorations might be disruptive, and others may seem like toys. Make sure you let your child know which can be touched and which should not be touched. Make sure you are direct, specific, and consistent.

Create a book of past holidays. Creating such a book will help your child remember and get ready for your family’s preparations and traditions.

Plan for traveling. Make sure your child’s favorite toys, books, and foods are available as familiar things can help keep them calm during stressful situations. If they are traveling for the first time to an airport, it’s a great idea to visit the airport before traveling so they can get accustomed to the surroundings. Rehearse or read books to your children that show what will happen during their travels either by car or plane.

Create a photo album. Your child may be around friends and family they have never seen before or haven’t seen in months which could be especially stressful to them. By creating a photo album of your relatives, your child can get familiar with them before any event.

Role play gifting etiquette. This is a great opportunity to role play with your child so they learn how to unwrap presents, take turns, give gifts, and react when it’s not really a gift they wanted.

Contact Us

At The SEED Center, serving the Stamford, Greenwich, and Norwalk, CT area, we strive to help families and individuals with autism through our autism services. We help individuals and families who are impacted by ASD by offering intensive ABA therapy. We offer social skills groups for various ages and provide parent training to best help individuals reach their full potential. If the holidays are coming up and you are looking for ways to help your child, contact us and we can help. It is important to know the fears of your child and what triggers them as this will help make the season more enjoyable for them. Don’t stress yourself out, just make sure you plan ahead and let our team help assist through our autism services. Call today!


Everything You Need to Know About Navigating Insurance and ABA Services

On January 1, 2010, Connecticut passed the autism insurance bill entitled Substitute Senate Bill 301/Public Act 09-115, requiring meaningful coverage for autism under state-regulated plans. These services include diagnosis, behavioral therapy, prescription drugs, psychiatric or psychological care, and speech, occupational, or physical therapy. In 2014, the dollar and age caps were removed for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) coverage. The SEED Center is an in-network provider for ABA services with United Healthcare, Aetna, ConnectiCare, Oxford Health Plans, UMR, First Health, and Coventry, with more insurance companies to be added in the near future! As an in-network provider, The SEED Center bills your insurance company directly and the client is only responsible for a co-pay or a payment towards the deductible, depending on the insurance company. Finding an in-network provider for your child’s ABA services makes the process of receiving coverage easier overall.

Below are the 4 distinct, but overlapping services required for ABA therapy, which insurance companies typically cover:

  • Direct (to client) by Behavior Technician: Behavior Technicians provide ABA therapy directly to the client
  • Supervision by BCBA or LMHP: The Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) will supervise the Behavior Technician during services to ensure the behavior interventions are being implemented, and that data is being collected consistently and in line with the behavior program.
  • Direct (to parent/caregiver) by BCBA or LMHP: The BCBA or LMHP provides services directly to the parent or caregiver. Training is provided on the ABA strategies and interventions that have been successful in the client’s sessions and can be carried out when the Behavior Technician is not present.
  • Assessment and Treatment Planning by a BCBA or LMHP: These services include reviewing treatment notes, creating materials, inputting and graphing data, updating data sheets, and modifying treatment plans. (Please note: these additional, non face-to-face services with the client are required for an ABA program and are subject to deductibles, co-pays, and/or co-insurance.)

Insurance Authorization

All insurance companies require a formal autism diagnosis for coverage of ABA services to be considered. A copy of your insurance card must be submitted for verification of benefits.

Once an insurance authorization is received, the appropriate ABA assessment is selected based on the individual client’s needs. An assessment is an essential step of developing an ABA program and is used to guide the clinical rationale for services, as well as determine the number of ABA service hours requested from the insurance company.

ABA assessments typically include:

  • Intake Meeting: 1-hour appointment with the parent/guardian or client to obtain background information
  • Client Assessment: 2-4 hours of assessment with the client, often spread over 2 days
  • Evaluation Processing: 2-4 hours without the client present for scoring, report writing, and developing the treatment plan and ABA programs
  • Feedback Meeting: A 1-hour feedback meeting with the parent/guardian or client to go over assessment results, service recommendations, an on-going service schedule, and start date

Approval of Requested Service Hours

The number of hours an insurance company approves for ABA services varies from individual to individual. Some factors that impact the amount of authorized hours are clinical rationale for services, age, severity of skill deficits, previous ABA progress, and other ABA services being received in school. The hours requested by the BCBA or LMHP in the insurance authorization for ABA services, are based on the level of need reflected in the ABA assessment.

Client Financial Responsibility

Clients are responsible for co-pays, co-insurance, and/or deductibles, which is determined by your insurance company and are due at the time of services. The SEED Center submits invoices to insurance for in-network services. If you have out-of-network coverage with your insurance, you may be able to submit your paid invoices directly to your insurance company for reimbursement. Private pay options are also available at The SEED Center.


Making the Best Out of the Situation

COVID-19 When it Comes to ABA Therapy

Studies have shown that in order for ABA therapy to be effective, treatment must be intensive and consistent. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautions needed to eliminate the spread of the virus, many therapy centers and clinics have been forced to re-evaluate procedures in order to keep both staff and clients safe and healthy. 

During these challenging times, continuing with ABA therapy consistently is essential for your child’s growth and development. At The SEED Center of Stamford, we offer center-based and home-based therapy options for our clients. Our staff is dedicated to working with families to create a plan that best fits your child’s needs, keeping them on schedule, and continuing their ABA therapy. At this time, we have put a hold on all in-person group therapy sessions, as proper protocol does not allow sessions to remain safe and effective.  However, we will continue to offer telehealth options for our families.

Prior to COVID-19, most of our clients attended therapy sessions with us after school and during evening hours; however due to the pandemic your child’s school schedule may have been affected.  At this time, we are able to accommodate most schedule changes and see your child during school day hours for ABA therapy. 

If you have any questions regarding your child’s ABA therapy, please feel free to contact The SEED Center today. We truly care about your child and their development and are dedicated to helping our families during these uncertain times.


Are you worried about what your child’s upcoming school year will look like?

Are you concerned about what your school district’s plan is for the upcoming school year? Have you considered homeschooling your child with autism, but are daunted by the task? The SEED Center is here for you, and we can help you prepare and succeed! There are many different options and factors to take into account when homeschooling a child with autism, but with a little planning and research it can be a successful experience! With a flexible schedule, you can easily fit ABA therapy into your busy day and we’re here to help with that!

Advantages of homeschooling a child with autism

  • Allows parents to orchestrate their child’s environment, education, and social experiences
  • Provides an individualized program tailored to the child’s unique talents, needs, and interests.
  • Permits your child to take breaks, avoid triggers, and limit social frustrations, making it easier to learn.
  • Provides a safe, loving environment to learn in.
  • Parents have a chance to watch their child grow and learn firsthand.
  • Ensures your child is getting the correct resources to provide a sound education.
  • Special education teachers may be generalists and may have little to no experience with autism.

Tips for homeschooling your child with autism

  • Work with high-level interest topics-incorporate them into your child’s lesson plan.
  • Empower your child by getting them involved in educational decisions.
  • Encourage real-world socialization by integrating high-level interest topics into lessons (for example, if your child is interested in dinosaurs or a certain time period, take them on a trip to the museum.)
  • Incorporate physical exercise/movement breaks into your homeschool routine.
  • Stick to a schedule, but build breaks into the daily routine.
  • Know when to ask for help-homeschooling can be an overwhelming task, so make sure to reach out for resources if you need them.
  • Limit outside stimulation if your child is triggered or distracted by them.

Curriculum

There are a wide variety of curriculum options for homeschooling. Parents and caregivers should take into account their child’s learning style and development when considering homeschool curriculum. 

Possible curriculum options include:

  • All-in-one: same grade level and delivery method for all academics
  • Computer-based learning programs
  • School-at-home style textbooks and workbooks
  • Eclectic: parents pick and choose parts of different homeschooling resources
  • Unschooling: driven by student interest and life experiences, not formal lessons

Let The SEED Center be a part of your “school day!” We have availability both in the center and in your home, 7 days a week, between 8am and 8pm! We understand how difficult it is teaching your own child at home-let your child come learn and grow with us…while you take some time for yourself!