Blog Category : Autism

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!


Holiday Tips

blue chair with holiday decorationsThe holidays are a fun time, usually filled with family and friends! However, the holidays can mean stress and anxiety. For a child with autism, the holidays mean a disruption to their daily routine, which can become overwhelming. To help, we have created some tips to ensure your family can have a fun holiday with little stress!

1. Try a Practice Run: Anticipate the holiday gathering by practicing for a large family dinner, greeting of friends and family, loud music and crowded spaces. Practice this type of environment at home and give your child tips so when they are at a large gathering, they feel more prepared!
2. Create a Method to Ask for a Break: If you do not already have one, help your child find a way to communicate that they need a break from the environment. If this method works well, use it all year!
3. Ask for Help: Talk to a close friend or family member ahead of time and ask them for assistance. Need help engaging your child while you help clean up dinner? Need help when you receive a rude question about your child’s autism diagnosis? Have your friend or family member be ready to be your assistant throughout the event!
4. Update Schedules and Calendars: If your child uses any visual schedules or boards, be sure to update these with appropriate symbols to help prepare your child for the events related to the holidays.
5. Create a List of the Unexpected: Create a list of everything new and different that could occur over the holidays. Brainstorm a method to address the unexpected events and avoid any conflicts before they happen.
6. Reflect on the Success: Recognize how much you and your child have accomplished in the past year. Relatives may especially recognize your child’s growth because they do not see your child everyday, embrace their positivity. Remember to be proud of your child and all the challenges they overcame in the past year!

Rely On Us For Autism Treatment

After this holiday season, contact the SEED Autism Center for more information on our autism treatment and therapy services. We are dedicated to seeing your child excel in life!

 Photo by Elena Ferrer on Unsplash

Ten Things to Know About ASD

little girl sitting outside in the sun1. Autism is a spectrum disorder. This means that the spectrum varies from person to person. There is a range of skills and abilities among individuals with autism. As a result, some individuals with autism are completely unable to verbally communicate and have little social skills, while other individuals may have little trouble communicating and interacting socially.
2. Autism is diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. The DSM-5 is used for treatment recommendations and to diagnose. The diagnostic criteria includes deficits in social communication, difficulty interacting with others, and repetitive interests or behaviors.
3. Asperger’s syndrome (AS) is no longer a diagnosis. AS typically refers to a person with autism who has difficulties with social interactions and communication. Asperger’s syndrome used to have a separate diagnosis from autism. However, in the DSM-5 Asperger’s syndrome falls under autism spectrum disorder.
4.Each individual with autism is unique. Although there are criteria for an autism diagnosis, individuals with autism express different characteristics and function at different levels.
5. Shows on TV usually depict individuals with high functioning autism. In many TV shows, a character with autism is depicted as high functioning. However, the reality is that the majorities of those with autism have more severe difficulties and require much more support than the characters on TV. TV does not accurately represent the autism population.
6.There is no cure for autism, it is treatable. Since there is a range or deficits in individuals with autism, no two treatments are the same. Treatment for autism is customized by the needs of the individual, their family and caregivers.
7.Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most supported treatment for autism. The U.S. Surgeon General endorsed ABA as the treatment of choice for autism. There are over 30 years of research supporting the positive effects of ABA therapy on decreasing inappropriate behaviors and increasing communication and social behavior.
8.Autism treatment is covered by insurance. In 2014, current procedural terminology (CPT) codes were established by the American Medical Association to be used to bill insurance companies for ABA treatment.
9.Early treatment yields better results. Autism can be detected early in life. It is recommended that individuals with autism receive treatment services as early as possible.
10. 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with autism. This is an increase of the prevalence of autism. It is important to be knowledgeable in order to best support individuals with autism.

What You Can Do For Your Child

Visit our site to learn more about how we can help your child with autism. We are dedicated to providing a variety of treatments and therapies to help your child excel in their life!

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Tips to Prevent Bolting

Young girl running down sidewalkPhoto by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Running and Bolting

Having a child that runs or bolts can be terrifying for a parent. When a child takes off it can be nerve-racking to think of the outcomes of their ‘bolting’ and ‘running’ behavior. Are they going to run into the street? Will they run out of the building? Are they going to take off with a stranger? The child may be ‘bolting’ for multiple reasons, she may want attention, she may want to avoid an activity, or she may seek a more stimulating environment. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, we must understand how to appropriately react to a child that runs. The best strategy is to avoid situations that permit the child to runoff, however, if this is not possible, we must minimize the amount of attention the child receives. If we give a child attention for undesirable behaviors, like running off, we are encouraging and rewarding the behavior. This means the child is likely to continue their habit of running off.

Prevent the Situation

The best way to stop running and bolting is to prevent the situation. Do whatever you can to keep the child in the classroom, house, car, etc. Once the child steps out of the safe space the chances of her bolting and running off will increase. When she runs off, it is likely that your instincts will be to chase after her. However, chasing after the child will only reinforce the behavior and increase the chances of her running off again. Although at times, it will be impossible to not chase after a child, especially if her safety is at risk. If she does end up bolting, try not to give her a lot of attention. Once you are able to reach her, calmly walk her back to the room. Also, avoid talking or lecturing her, as this will give her the desired attention, and avoid eye contact. Have the child return to the activity that she was working on before bolting.
 
If you are in a school environment, be familiar with all the building exits and have a plan with fellow staff members and security guards to prepare for a bolting situation. Again, hopefully, the bolting situation will be avoided, but if it occurs you are much better off to prepare to appropriately handle it.
 
For more resources on how to help handle different situations with your child, view our resources.


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!


The Positive Features of Autism

It is important to embrace differences and the power of the autistic mind. Here are some positive characteristics!

  • Creativity
    • Unique Imagination
    • Expression of Ideas
  • Integrity
    • Honesty
    • Loyalty
    • Commitment
  • Excellent long term memory
    • Absorb and recollect information
  • Attention to Detail
    • Accuracy
    • Thoroughness
  • Analytical
    • Observing patterns and repetition
  • Deep Focus
    • Strong concentration
    • Not easily distracted
  • Observant
    • Identify facts
    • Listen, look, learn approach
  • Visual Skills
    • Visual learning and recollection
    • Detail-oriented
  • Expertise
    • In-depth knowledge
    • High level of knowledge skills
  • Unique thought process
    • Innovative solutions
  • Determination
    • Resilience and persistence
    • Challenge opinions
  • Accepting of Difference
    • Less likely to pass judgment
    • May question norms