Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Suggestions for Parenting a Child with Autism During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As most classrooms and curricula are built around children without autism, at-home learning can be an opportunity for your child with autism to excel. While not every parent has the time to tackle home learning full time, you may want to utilize as much time as possible to make sure your child is staying occupied and entertained in way that fits with their learning patterns.

We encourage you to keep the following tips in mind while parenting during COVID-19:

  •  Create a schedule.​ Your child will respond well when they understand what to expect each day. From learning to playing, everything can be put on the schedule so that your child knows exactly what to expect minute to minute.
  •  Establish a routine.​ A predictable routine will give your child a sense of consistency, which is especially important when their past routines have been disrupted by the pandemic.
  •  Build activities around their interests​. Most children with autism have special interests and have the ability to place intense focus on those interests. Building fun and learning around these interests can keep them happy and satisfied.
  •   Create rewards for positive behaviors​. COVID-19 has likely disrupted your entire household, not just your child’s life. Keeping things positive and rewarding good behavior is always a good idea.
  •   Take time to assess how they’re doing​. All children can become overwhelmed, but children with autism may express this differently. As the parent, you’re likely an expert at interpreting their mood. Be sure to make the time to assess how they’re doing.As the threat of COVID-19 continues to impact the way we live, keep in mind that nothing is set in stone, and you are the person who knows your child best. We encourage you to use these tips as a jumping off point for creating a good at-home environment for your child. And remember to give yourself room and don’t expect things to be perfect.

    If you need help, don’t forget that The SEED Center of Stamford is here to provide Applied Behavior Analysis therapy (ABA therapy) and other autism services you need. We can provide these services at our state-of-the-art autism treatment center or in the comfort and safety of your own home throughout Fairfield County.

Call today to learn more about what we do and how we’re continuing to assist children with autism and their parents during the time of COVID-19 and beyond!


Benefits of Home-Based Services

As our office starts to fill again with center-based clients, we at The SEED Center are encouraging and promoting our home-based services! To ensure social distancing, we are limiting one therapist and one client per room at the center, so while we would love to have you at the center, right now we are trying our best to ensure we practice our ABA therapy safely and cleanly. We understand this is an uncertain time, but you and your child’s health, safety, and peace of mind are our number one priority. The SEED Center is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of clients and staff, both home- and center-based, during the COVID-19 pandemic, including requiring wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, conducting staff meetings remotely, and conducting daily temperature checks for clients and staff! We also provide employees with rubber gloves, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, and disposable face masks.

Benefits of home-based services

You may be wondering, if my child has been doing center-based ABA services, will switching to home-based services hurt the progress they have made so far? The answer is no! Home-based services allows for a different but familiar environment to receive ABA therapy, and allows different skills and situations to be practiced and targeted more effectively.

  1. Adaptive Skills

By choosing home-based ABA services, there is an added emphasis and focus on practical, everyday skills. It allows behaviors more likely to be exhibited in a natural environment to be targeted, such as toileting, mealtime, bedtime routines, getting dressed, or brushing teeth. Therapists are also better able to address behavioral issues that may arise, as they unfold.

  1. Undivided attention

While a center may have social skills groups and other clients at the same time as your child, home-based services allow ABA to be administered with your child’s undivided attention. ABA therapy in the home allows for more focus and one-on-one time to devote to working on skills and programs. Undivided attention can be used to focus on important skills such as pre-academic skills, play skills, and other skills that may lead to more independence.

  1. Generalization

By learning and building skills in a natural environment, children are more likely to continue these encouraged behaviors elsewhere. Home-based ABA services will help your child develop and practice necessary skills on a daily basis. Teaching skills in the space the child will use every day can speed up learning, and these skills can be generalized to other environments, like school or daycare.

  1. Family Training

Children typically feel most comfortable in the presence of their parents and caregivers. Inclusion of family members and caregivers has been found to play a vital role in ABA treatment. Parents and caregivers are actively able to participate in home sessions, keep track of their child’s progress more effectively, as well as observe the therapist and see how they execute ABA programs. It allows the whole family to get involved and learn how different techniques can improve behavior. While observing parent behavior, the therapist can give data-based feedback to them on how they are progressing when working with their child. Home-based services also foster more open communication between therapists and caregivers.

  1. Natural Reinforcers

The most effective reinforcers in ABA therapy are those that motivate the learner. Toys and activities already in the home that the child like playing with or doing are great tools that can be used to increase motivation and reinforce desired behavior.

  1. Convenience

Since ABA therapy can take a few months to start showing proper results, it may be difficult or become difficult for parents to take their child to a center for sessions. Home-based ABA services make it convenient for families to integrate therapy into their busy schedule, while also letting parents actively engage and take part in their child’s therapy.


Have Any Questions About Our Services During the Pandemic?

SEED Center of Stamford is currently open and providing services at the center, direct. We are essential providers and we will be here for all of your needs during this difficult time. We are doing some telehealth, but we have begun seeing more and more families in person at their home or at our center. In this blog post we will detail a few of the autism services we provide for families across the Stamford, CT; Greenwich, CT; and Norwalk, CT areas and the precautions we are taking to make sure everyone in your family stays healthy and safe.

Our Services

As stated above, we are open and providing all of our essential therapeutic services to children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Whether you come and visit us at our conveniently located center in Stamford, CT or you would like us to come to your home, we will work with your loved one using applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.

ABA therapy is an evidence-based treatment that is recognized as the most effective way to treat individuals with ASD. ABA therapy is endorsed as an effective intervention for autism by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Surgeon General. We are accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence and we continue to improve our ABA services.

Keeping Employees Safe

At SEED Center of Stamford, we aim to protect our workforce by enacting all appropriate prevention efforts. We are constantly monitoring guidance from local, state and federal health
officials and making modifications where appropriate.

Some of the modifications that we have already made at our facility include routine cleanings and disinfection (especially of common areas); avoiding the use of phones, desks, offices and other work equipment when possible; enforcing the frequent washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; wearing of masks that completely cover the nose and mouth; and more. Our goal is to keep those we care for as safe as possible and that starts with ensuring our workers are all following proper guidelines.

Keeping You Safe

Whether you come to visit us at our center, or we come to your home, there are several things that we do to ensure you and your loved ones are safe. We will always follow the guidelines that we have listed above that include the use of hand sanitizer, masks and proper social distancing, and we have taken even further precautions to ensure your health won’t be negatively affected when seeing us.

We now schedule sessions with no more than one client and one therapist per therapy room at a time. The waiting room is now structured in a way to ensure that visitors can maintain social distancing, and we require visitors to wear face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth (unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to medical conditions). Please note, if you do not have a mask when visiting, you will be provided one if available. If none are available, you will not be allowed to enter the facility until you can procure a mask.

Should you have any further questions about our services or what we can do for you during this difficult time, we ask that you reach out to our team at your earliest convenience; we look forward to working with you and your family member soon.


Discover New Apps for ABA Therapy

Applied Behavioral Analysis is just one way that you can help adolescents on the autism spectrum make leaps and bounds in their communication, social, focus, memory, and other associated skills. Below, we have compiled a list of apps that can help build up positive behaviors.

Cosmo Training: Cosmo Training uses interactive and multisensory controllers to help users develop their motor, cognitive, and communication skills through games, play, and music.

Special Words-(Android, iPhone, iPad): Special Words is designed to help teach word recognition, spoken language, attention and listening skills, and hand-eye coordination. There are 96 words/pictures included that are common for early language development.

Autism Education (AutEdu): This app focuses on communication, specifically between families and educators. Through this app, both parties work to understand autism and promote positive behaviors inside the home and at school functions.

Visual Reading – Special Education (Android): In this app, young learners can receive support for reading, helping to better develop this skill.

Match & Find (iPhone and iPad): Match & Find is best suited for young children, as it works to develop their memory through matching, searching, and sequencing activities.

Social Detective (Android and Apple): Through this app, children can learn more about expected and unexpected behaviors they may experience throughout everyday life. Videos in the app feature real children, so the idea is for the child to identify with those kids and apply those visuals and tips to their lifestyle.

The Social Express (Apple): With The Social Express, children learn how to identify their peers’ feelings, develop strategies to deal with these feelings, about the importance of eye contact, and many other important social functions.

Otsimo (Android and iOS): Otismo is an award-winning app that focuses on language, numbers, emotions, colors, animals, vehicles, and much more. With the app, children can engage in matching, drawing, choosing, and ordering activities. 

Brili Routines – Visual Timer (Android and iOS): Through gamification methods like daily tasks listing, countdown timers, and a good performance reward system, Brili helps children to stay on track with their positive behaviors and learn to commit to a schedule.

Calm Counter (iPad and iPhone): Calm Counter can be used to help children identify times when they may “need a break” from certain situations. The app helps them practice to balance these emotions and practice calming down.


Great Apps To Help With ABA Therapy

Great Apps To Help With ABA Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is designed to help improve communication skills, attention, focus, memory, and social skills while limiting “problem” behaviors in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are many resources available for your computer or smartphone to help your child gain and improve on their positive behaviors and limit those that could be harmful or impede on their learning.

Autism Education (AutEdu)
This app focuses on communication, specifically between families and educators. Through this app, both parties work to understand autism and promote positive behaviors inside the home and at school functions.

Autism iHelp – Sounds
With this app, auditory and visual stimuli are connected. This allows the child to learn these associations, discover more of the world around them, and become familiar with these sounds.

Proloquo2Go – Symbol-based AAC
Those with autism who are non-verbal can greatly benefit from this app. Essentially, the goal here is to help foster language development and improve upon communication skills. The app can be personalized through different settings and vocabulary choices and is easy for anyone from a parent to a therapist to use.

Daniel Tiger for Parents
This app is designed to help children learn additional life skills. Behaviors like sharing, trying new foods, and working through emotions are emphasized.

I Create… Social Skills Stories
This is a fun application that focuses on social skills. Like an interactive storybook, this app allows users to create storylines.

Autism Solutions
Designed more for parents, this app can be a useful tool for booking appointments and gaining access to new research. There is also a library of videos, websites, and articles.

At SEED, our mission is to provide therapeutic services that positively impact the lives of individuals with autism. Our site has many resources that you can turn to, as well parent training and school consulting services.


If You’re A New Parent with an Autistic Child, We Have A Few Tips

If you’re raising an autistic child for the first time, it may feel like an overwhelming experience. Of course, you want what’s best for your child, and here we will go over several key pieces of information that other families similar to yours have found helpful.

Have A Set Schedule
For children with autism it is important to have a structured schedule that will give them a regular routine to be comfortable with. Children with autism need consistency in their life and this is a great way to provide it. Whether it is eating meals at the same time every day, going to therapy sessions at set intervals or going to bed at the same time each night, doing things in the same manner will give them a sense of calm and allow their days to be completed incident-free.
It is important to keep disruptions to the routine at a minimum, but as there are obviously unexpected things that come up, you should make sure to warn your child when the routine needs to be broken.

Reward Them for Good Behavior
We suggest positive reinforcement as an effective way to show your child they are acting appropriately or have learned a new, important skill. It is suggested to be very specific about the good thing they have done so they will ultimately look to repeat the behavior in the future. Rewarding your child with a toy or favorite food may be a good way to have the behavior stick in their memory.

Let Them Have Fun
After all, they are still children. They want to play, laugh and have a good time just like any other kid. Although they need to be treated differently in certain ways, it is important that you find ways to have fun with your child and have them come out of their shell a bit.
It is suggested that these fun moments don’t appear to be a part of therapy or a learning moment. Just spending quality time with your child can do wonders, but when you let them play it will help them tremendously.

At SEED Center, we aim to provide comprehensive services and therapies to those living with Autism in Greenwich, Norwalk, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport, CT and beyond. We also offer training and educational opportunities for the families of those on the spectrum to better understand how they can communicate with their loved ones.
Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide.


How to Approach the Holidays With Your Child

The holidays can be a stressful time and an overwhelming time for everyone. For adults, it can be planning parties, going to events, and keeping children entertained. For children, the holidays can be challenging from an overwhelming amount of stimuli. Instead of being stressed and anxious during the holidays, we want to help you provide a fun and relaxed atmosphere for your child.

1) Planning and explaining.

A great way to help a child feel a better sense of control over their situation during the holidays is to explain to your child in advance. This could be explaining or planning out how their days might go or letting them know what kind of events they will be attending. Be sure to give thorough explanations of what the event is, who is going, what it will be like, and so on. This will help your child understand what to expect so they can feel prepared when the time comes.

2) Communicate with your family and friends.

For those who don’t know your child as well as you do, it is important to let them know about your situation ahead of time. This way they can do everything they can to be as supportive as possible.

3) Create a space for your child to have some extra downtime.

If possible, arrange for a place that your child can go when things start to get overwhelming. When your child has a place they can go to that promotes a calm environment, it can help them thrive and relax.

4) Support your child’s nutrition as much as possible.

The holidays are a tough time for everyone’s diet, but it is usually a time where people make exceptions. In this case, however, we need to be more strict. It can be very tempting to let your child eat these sugary foods, but it will be worth it to keep your child’s autism diet in check.

5) Celebrate with positive reinforcement.

It can be easy to focus on the bad and reprimand your child when they are misbehaving, but it is very important to focus on their good behaviors and celebrate those with them. Cheer for them when they flexible, gentle, and well behaved. This way they can feel a sense of success and have a boost in confidence that they are doing the right things.

Again, the holidays are a very hectic time despite them being a time where friends and family gather. In your child’s best interest, plan ahead, reinforce positive behavior, create space for them, and bring others up to speed on the situation. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that your child can have a great experience that they remember for years and years.


How Much ABA?

Written by Luis Vera

 

At The SEED Center, our mission is to provide positively impact the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder, ​therapeutic services that both across the spectrum and across their lifespan.

Whether this is your first time researching an ABA provider or your fourth or fifth time (we hope and believe this we’ll be your last stop), a frequent question that comes to mind for a lot of caregivers is “how much ABA is enough? How many hours of ABA does my child need?” The answer to that, as with many things in life, is: it depends. What I can tell you though, without hesitation, is that in the majority of cases, anything less than 10 hours a week of ABA treatment, say 1 hour a week, could/should be considered glorified babysitting.

Why do I say that? Well, think about it, if your child has multiple goals that need to be worked on across various developmental domain​s and​ for just ​one ​of those goals it could honestly take hundreds of learning trials for your child to achieve true mastery of that skill. It is very unrealistic that 1 hour a week of ABA could achieve that level of progress. Essentially, determining the ideal treatment dosage of ABA therapy for your child is a complex decision, composed of many factors that have to be considered.

Per the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), “ABA treatment programs for ASD incorporate findings from hundreds of applied studies focused on understanding and treating ASD published in peer-reviewed journals over 50 years. Treatment may vary in terms of intensity and duration, the complexity and range of treatment goals, and the extent of direct treatment provided. Many variables, including the number, complexity, and intensity of behavioral targets and the client’s response to treatment help determine which model is most appropriate. Although existing on a continuum, these differences can be generally categorized as one of two treatment models: Focused or Comprehensive ABA Treatment.”

According to the guide ‘​Applied Behavior Analysis Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder​’ published by the BACB, the attempt to answer how many hours of ABA therapy is described as “an analysis of multiple variables, such as the intensity of treatment goals, client needs & severity of deficits, and client response to treatment. A range of 10-25 hours/week for focused treatment and 30-40 hours/week for comprehensive treatment is recommended.” In other words, treatment dosage is based on medical necessity.

What’s the difference between Focused and Comprehensive Treatment, besides how many hours my child is being serviced?

According to the BACB, determinations as to whether ABA treatment should be focused or comprehensive and the intensity of treatment should be based on the ​medical necessity​ of the treatment for each learner rather than the individual’s chronological age, duration or nature of previous ABA services.

The following is an excerpt from an update to the guide published in February 2019 by the BACB that highlights the distinction between Focused and Comprehensive treatment.

 

INTENSITY OF TREATMENT

The Guidelines note that treatment intensity (sometimes referred to as dosage) typically comprises both the number of hours of direct treatment per week and the total duration of treatment. The comments that follow focus primarily on the number of hours of treatment per week.

Focused ABA Treatment is described in the Guidelines as”…treatment provided directly to the client for a limited number of behavioral targets[functional skills, problem behaviors].” Intensity levels in a range of 10-25 hours per week are mentioned, with the caveat that the intensity may need to be higher depending on the nature of the target behaviors and other considerations, individualized to each client. For instance, behaviors that put the client and/or others at risk of harm may well warrant high-intensity focused ABA treatment for some period of time. Those may include maladaptive behaviors to be reduced and/or adaptive behaviors that need to be developed or strengthened in order to enhance the client’s health, safety, and overall functioning.

Comprehensive ABA Treatment  is described as “…treatment of the multiple affected developmental domains, such as cognitive, communicative, social, emotional, and adaptive functioning” as well as maladaptive behaviors. The Guidelines state that intensity levels of 30-40 hours per week are common and necessary to achieve meaningful improvements in a large number of treatment targets. The Guidelines emphasize, however, that the intensity of comprehensive treatment must be individualized to the client’s characteristics and other factors. To expand on those points, we note that analyses of data from multiple studies of comprehensive ABA treatment for children with ASD show that

Whether ABA treatment is focused or comprehensive, the guidelines make it clear that treatment is comprised of services delivered directly to the child based on medical necessity which is pinpointed to the needs of every individual. In circling back to the original questions of “how much ABA is enough? How many hours of therapy does my child need?” the answer is not that simple, it depends…..on the medical necessity of your child.

 

References:

BACB Guidelines


Westport, CT

Westport, CT

Westport is one of the best places to live in the state of Connecticut. Our town got its start in agriculture, primarily structured around the onion growing industry. In the early years of the 20th century, Westport began to experience a cultural expansion. Artists, musicians, authors, and others began migrating to Westport to be free from commuting demands. F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the Great Gatsby, settled right here in Westport!

Today, Westport has developed into a center for insurance, finance, scientific, and technical services. Our proximity to New York City, our excellent cultural opportunities, and affluent neighborhoods make Westport, CT an excellent place to live and raise a family.

Autism Services in Westport

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental condition that affects social interaction, speech, communication, and behavior. The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms vary with each individual person. Because some of the more obvious signs of ASD present at around 2-3 years old, many families with young children find themselves dealing with a new diagnosis.

two young boys playing at a playground

The SEED Center is here to help. We work with members of the Westport community to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art treatment and services for individuals diagnosed with autism, including Applied Behavior Analysis, social skills training and parent training.  In addition, we are in network with several major insurance companies.  We proudly work with clients of all ages throughout the Westport area; including our home-based services and center based services in our state-of-the-art center in Stamford.


Reinforcing Behavior

            Photo by Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash

Reinforcing Positive Behavior

Always try to reinforce appropriate behavior especially if your child is working on his communication skills. Reinforcing behavior will encourage your child to repeat the behavior. For example, your child could be working on instigating conversation, so when he instigates conversation, you want to positively reinforce.

Avoid Missing Opportunities  

Not surprisingly, it is easy to neglect reinforcing behavior. Have you ever been having a conversation on the phone and your child comes up and says, “Mommy, I want to play outside!” and you say, “Shh, I’m on the phone”? For a child working on instigating conversation, this could discourage him to start a conversation in the future. It can be easy to miss opportunities to reinforce.

Prioritize your Child’s Goals

 Always be mindful of your child’s goals. Prioritize their goals, whether it is to start conversations or speak without prompts. Although you may be frustrated when your child interrupts your conversation, remember that you are focusing on the bigger picture: for your child to improve his communication skills. Have you family and friends onboard and help them understand the language skill your child is working on. This way, everyone can help ensure your child’s positive behavior is reinforced as often as possible. Plan ahead and be ready to reinforce your child!