Social Emotional Learning

Engaging in social activities can be challenging but it is especially challenging for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals with ASD usually have difficulty with social emotional learning (SEL). SEL includes social awareness, understanding perspectives, initiating social interactions, controlling emotions, and engaging in conversations. At The SEED Center, we focus on social emotional learning. We help to prepare our clients for social settings, including school and work places.

Unfortunately, for those lacking SEL skills, it can be difficult to make friends, maintain relationships, instigate conversations, and transition into new environments. SEL skills are essential for children and adults. In the school setting, SEL skills help children engage appropriately with their peers. Also, SEL skills focus on social awareness. For adults, SEL skills play a large role in the ability to get and keep a job. While employers seek a talented applicant, they also look at SEL skills during the interview process to see who could work well with others.

SEL can be taught through targeting behaviors, collecting data to monitor progress, and using positive reinforcement. At The SEED Center, SEL can be improved through one on one ABA therapy sessions, social skills groups, job and life skills trainings. If you believe your child could benefit from social emotional learning, please call The SEED Center today at 203-674-8200.


Back to School Tips for Parents of Children with Autism

The new school year has started, bringing new beginnings and excitement into your child’s life! Daily schedules, routines, and expectations have changed. Also, your child is meeting new people, has a new classroom and a new teacher! For children with autism spectrum disorder, going back to school can be overwhelming and stressful. To help, we have gathered a list of helpful back to school tips that can be implemented now and for school years yet to come.

How to best support your child:

  • Stay involved and up to date on your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  • Meet with your child’s teacher to discuss any triggers your child may have and the best methods to handle these triggers in the classroom
  • Be sure to familiarize your child with their school by providing them with a map or tour to help them locate the nurse’s office, bathroom, cafeteria, classrooms, etc.
  • Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and will allow them to remain comfortable throughout the duration of the school day
  • Try keep your child’s routine during holidays and breaks close to that of the school year so your child is mentally and physically prepared for school
  • Explain your child’s daily routine and use visuals if necessary so your child knows exactly what to expect each day
  • Always expect the unexpected!

How Our Autism Treatment Center Can Help:

There will be many big moments like this in your child’s life. You can’t be prepared for everything, but you can prepare for different milestones. Different situations are going to cause different questions to arise. The SEED Center helps you and your child prepare for many of life’s curveballs. With various programs and a caring staff, we are dedicated to seeing your child grow and thrive in their everyday lives. Please give us a call or browse our site for more information and useful resources!


Positive Reinforcement Strategies for Bedtime

It’s no surprise that bedtime can be very difficult for children (and parents too!) There are many guesses as to why our children fight us on going to bed on time. It could be because they are not actually tired yet, they are scared of the dark, or they do not want to miss out if older siblings or parents get to stay up later.

 

In an ideal world, our children would be able to complete their bedtime routine (brushing teeth, changing into pajamas, etc.) without many reminders. They would remember to use a quiet voice, ask politely for things, and play or read quietly in their room if they are not tired enough for bed. However, as a parent, you know that’s usually not the case.

 

So what can you do the increase the likelihood that your child will be able to complete their bedtime routine without fussing or needing constant prompts?

  1. Remember to be clear and direct (IF THEN statements)
    1. IF you go brush your teeth THEN we can read a book
  2. Use rewards
    1. Reward your child with a token if they complete their bedtime routine as desired (child brushes teeth, puts on pajamas, and turn on nightlight, etc.) Once your child receives a certain amount of tokens to meet a goal, then they can ‘cash’ in their tokens. For example, 10 tokens can mean extended TV time or a trip to get ice cream.

Whichever technique you find useful, remember to be consistent. Make sure you’re rewarding your child if they demonstrate the proper behaviors and to encourage them to be successful. Be sure to give the reward directly after the desired behavior. With your encouragement and consistent reward, bedtime should become easier for you and your child!


Distinguishing between kid-behavior and ASD-behavior

older brother playing with younger autistic brotherPhoto by Hisu lee on Unsplash

Autism diagnoses are never easy. It can be overwhelming and tiresome to learn about how to best support your child’s needs. Debatably, one of the most difficult aspects of having a child with autism is learning how to distinguish which behaviors are autism-related and which behaviors are simply related to being a kid.

Children alike enjoy playing games, expressing creativity, and so on. Likewise, children are capable of throwing tantrums, whining when they do not get what they want, and possibly engaging in dangerous behavior.

So how do you know whether or not to worry about certain behaviors? How do you know if your child’s behavior is because of their autism diagnosis or simply a factor of them being a kid?

A few ways to determine this is by answering the following questions:

-How severe is the behavior?

-How frequently does the behavior occur?

-How long does the behavior occur?

-How does the behavior of your child compare to their peers?

-Is the behavior preventing your child from learning?

-Is the behavior preventing your child from interacting with others?

Call Our Autism Treatment Center For More Help!

            Addressing these questions can help you determine whether or not your child’s behavior is due to them simply being a kid or an aspect of their autism diagnosis. If you believe that your child’s behavior is more severe and occurs more frequently than your child’s peers, you may need to address your concerns with your child’s BCBAs in order to target that particular behavior. It is important to remember that children with autism are still just kids! If you have any additional questions about your child’s behavior, please reach out to our healthcare professionals at The SEED Center.

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Tips to Get Your Child Ready for the New School Year

School supplies on a deskPhoto by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Is your child starting kindergarten soon? Are you worried that your child is not prepared for the transition? Do you worry that they may fall behind their classmates? As summer winds down and the new school year approaches, keep these tips in mind. You will help prepare your child for a new setting and give yourself ease at mind as you drop them off for their first day! Our Autism Treatment Center is proud to provide you with the information you need to enhance the life of your child! Start out with these steps:

  1. Practice being independent

In a school setting, your child will not be able to turn to you for help. Make sure your child can use the restroom, follow directions, eat lunch, tie their shoes, etc. independently.

 

  1. Go on adventures

Take an adventure to a children’s museum, to the aquarium, a fair, etc. Having your child experience different settings will help them to become knowledgeable of different environments.

 

  1. Incorporate learning into play

While engaging in a play activity, think of creative ways to incorporate numbers, colors, concepts, etc.

 

  1. Work on gross and fine motor skills

Help your child practice their fine motor skills that will come in handy during class time, such as, drawing a line, cutting a piece of paper, etc. Help them practice their gross motor skills by working on balance and coordination (hop, skip, jump).

 

  1. Encourage socialization

Help your child become more social by scheduling play dates. Interacting with other children will help them learn sharing, listening, and how to cooperate with others.

 

  1. Talk a lot!

The more words your child knows, the better! Be chatty and engage in conversation in various environments to help increase your child’s vocabulary.

 

  1. Mimic the school day

Help prepare your child for school by showing them what to expect. Take them to tour the school, setup a play date with some of their classmates so they can recognize familiar faces and explain the pickup and drop-off routine for the school days.

 

  1. Teach numbers, colors, and letters

To help your child start off on the right foot, make sure they can recognize basic shapes, colors, numbers, and letters!

 

  1. Read to your child

Reading to your child everyday has many benefits. It will teach your child new words, how to read left to right, how to engage in a plot line, etc.

 

  1. Sync bedtime routine

As summer ends and the school year approaches, start framing bedtimes and mornings to mimic the schedule of the school year. It is best to do this about a month before the first day of school to give your child plenty of time to adjust!

 

For more information on autism therapy for your child, please visit our services.


Benefits of an Early Autism Diagnosis

father reading to his childLuckily, the age children are receiving autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses is becoming younger and younger. Some children are getting diagnosed as early as 18 months. The earlier a child receives an autism diagnosis, the better. Once a child receives a diagnosis, she can start receiving autism treatment by getting Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (Early Intervention) and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention programs entail just that, early intervention that is intensive. Early intervention programs are commonly referred to as ‘birth to three’ programs because they service children that have a ASD diagnosis that are three years of age or younger. These programs are intensive and can range from 25-40 hours a week. Research supports that receiving 25-40 hours of services a week is the most effective treatment for children with ASD. Early intervention programs usually include ABA principles, such as, shaping, prompting, and reinforcement.  In addition, The SEED Center also offers intensive ABA therapy to supplement or in lieu of early intervention services at our state of the art autism treatment center.

25-40 hours a week for an 18-month year old child? Doesn’t that seem excessive?

That is not an uncommon or unfair question for parents to ask once they are recommended to enroll their child in Early Intervention programs. However, these intensive programs are very important to help bridge the gap between a child with ASD and one of their peers without ASD. Having your child learn skills early on will benefit her in the long run.

Autism is a life-long prognosis. The earlier a child begins autism treatment, the better the outcome. Nobody regrets helping his or her child earlier rather than later. Please email us at info@nullseedautismcenter.com if you have any questions about autism diagnosis or intensive ABA therapy.   Our skilled professionals are here to help you and your child!

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

How You Can Help Your Child Become More Independent

two children standing out side for a picturePhoto by Emma Goldsmith on Unsplash

“Are there any parenting tips to help make my child more independent? How can I help my child do day-to-day tasks without my direct help?”

 

        These questions are not uncommon for parents, especially parents of children with autism. Ideally, parents want their child to be able to do tasks consistently and without constant reminder. So how can you make this possible?

 

  • Make the task as simple as possible: Is the task easy? Are the items needed for the task easily accessible?
  • Decrease the amount of effort needed to complete the task: Is the task extensive? Could you do anything to make the task easier for your child to complete?

 

Let’s say the day-to-day task that you want your child to do independently is brushing her teeth. And right now, there is a stepping stool that she needs to access the medicine cabinet where her toothpaste is located. She has to move the stepping stool in front of the sink every time. Then, she has to reach up and grab the toothpaste to put it on her toothbrush and so on.

 

So what if you permanently keep the stepping stool in front of the sink so she doesn’t have to move it each time? What if you keep the toothpaste on the counter right by her toothbrush so she doesn’t have to reach for it?

 

Changing the physical location of the items that your daughter needs to access to complete the task will make it easier for her.

 

“What if moving the items still does not help your child do the tasks independently?”

 

            Try positive reinforcement! Think to yourself, does your daughter get anything in return for brushing her teeth independently? If she is not completely the task independently and decreasing the difficulty of the task did not work, perhaps you need to reconsider the ‘reward’ she receives for brushing her teeth by herself. Find a reward that motivates her. Will she respond best to a verbal praise? Do you need to reward her with her favorite toy or activity? Finding a positive reinforcement will increase the likelihood of her completing the task independently.

 

Positive reinforcement is one of the many tactics of ABA therapy. This is one of many strategies utilized by SEED Center employees.

 


Functional-Unique-Natural, FUN!

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

Why is ABA FUN?

  1. Functional

ABA focuses on creating goals that are functional to the child. In other words, this means that goals focus on aspects of the child’s day-to-day life that are important to them. So a functional goal for a child who frequently goes to the grocery store with his mother, may be to have him work towards learning how to act appropriately in a store setting.

 

  1. Unique

In addition to functional goals, ABA therapy considers that each child has unique interests. Children all have their preference of food, toys, activities, etc. Therefore, if you find out your child loves watermelon, you maybe able to use this as a reward for good behavior. If you tell your child that they will receive watermelon after completing a homework assignment, they will most likely be motivated to complete the task.

 

  1. Natural

Finally, ABA therapy aims to have children be able to apply learned skills to their natural environment. How is this done? Therapists teach behavior skills in a controlled environment, such as The SEED Center, and they teach the children how to generalize these behavior skills in their natural environment. The ultimate goal is to have children be able to use these skills in all types of environments, such as, home, school, playground, etc.

 


Do Not Let “NRs” Doubt Your Skills

father holding his sonWhat is “NR”?

“NR” is short for ‘no response’. In terms of ABA, when a therapist is collecting data after a trial and the client does not responds at all, their score would be considered a ‘no response’ or “NR.”

Some learners can be prompted to do physical activities like playing games, completing schoolwork, and singing songs, but once they are requested to respond to a question or demand, they go blank. Typically, eye contact dissolves, and a blank stare occurs. Remember, it is impossible to force out a verbal response from someone else.

It is not uncommon to become nervous or doubt your skills as a professional when ‘no response’ occurs. However, it is important to keep in mind that you should:

  • Continue trying to connect with the client
  • Avoid ‘waiting out’ the client until they respond
  • Do not try raising your voice, this will not help with receiving a response
  • Prevent repeating your clients name; if they are not giving a verbal response to demands then they definitely will not respond to their name being called
  • Do not continue teaching and giving new information, this is not going to help your client learn if they are unable to respond to the initial request

Focus on Yourself

The best piece of advice to remember is to avoid blaming the client. Focus on how you can change your actions in order to motivate the client. Are you able to make your materials more engaging? Can you reinforce differently? Can the client sense your frustration? Are you teaching too quickly or too slowly? How can you make yourself more fun?

Continue trying new tactics to see what motivates the client to give you a verbal response. Even if something fails, at least you know it does not work and you’ve made progress in determining how to receive a response from the client. For any additional information, please reach out to The SEED Center. Our team of highly trained professionals is eager to help!

 Photo by ALP STUDIO on Unsplash
 
 
 
 
 
 

ABA Communication Techniques Elaborated

children reading together outside

As previously discussed, echoics, intraverbals, mands, and tacts are all common ABA techniques to teach communication! Remember, the ultimate goal is not only to have your child be able to communicate with you, but with peers, teachers, and other people your child may interact with.

Echoics

Echoics are the fundamentals of language and allow your child to learn by repeating what they hear. These demonstrate basic communication and as your child learns, you will be able to increase the conversation length and have more in-depth communication.

Intraverbals

As mentioned before, these demonstrate your child’s ability to respond to questions involving something that is not physically there. This will allow your child to answer questions, such as, their parents names, phone number, etc.

Mands

By learning mands, a child will be able to request a need or a want. This will teach them how to communicate that they are hunger, thirsty, hurt, tired, etc. Also, mands teach a child how to appropriately ask for things or to communicate desires.

Tacts

Tacts, or labels, teach your child how to identify objects in their environment. This allows your child to identify things they want. Also, tacts give you the ability to understand their requests.

 

These techniques focus on teaching communication in a way that works best for the learner. The goal is to have your child be able to communicate their wants, needs, and ideas and how that goal is achieved should be individualized in a way that best suits the learner.

 

For more information, please contact The SEED Center.

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash