Blog Category : Behavior

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

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.


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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Why Your Child’s Behavior May Get Worse, before it Gets Better

If you’re a parent and your child works with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, (BCBA) you are probably familiar with their recommendations of interventions based off of extensive research and principles.

 

But what if the suggested intervention makes your child’s behavior worse?

 

It could be likely that your child is experiencing what is known as an extinction burst.

 

What is an extinction burst?

 

An extinction burst is “an increase in the rate of responding when reinforcing consequences are withheld after the occurrence of the target behavior.” In other words, things tend to get worse before getting better.

 

How is this possible?

 

Well, the best way to explain is through an example. Say your child yelled and screamed every time she wanted a cookie. Once you give your daughter a cookie, she is quiet.

 

But do you want to reward her with a cookie every time she screams for one?

 

Probably not. Instead, you could teach your child replacement behavior. Instead of giving her a cookie when she yells, only give her a cookie when she asks for it calmly. But your daughter, used to getting a cookie by screaming, will think she just has to scream louder until you eventually cave and reward her with the cookie.

 

Should you cave into the intensified screaming behavior and reward her with a cookie?

 

No, stay strong! If you resist and remain patient through the loud screaming, your daughter will learn that the screaming and yelling will no longer result in a cookie. By stopping the reinforcing behavior (giving your daughter a cookie) she will first scream louder and louder (extinction burst). Then, she will realize that the only way she will get a cookie is if she asks nicely for it. Addressing the problem behavior and replacing it with appropriate behavior, like asking nicely, will be worth it!

 

What if an extinction burst causes my child to become more aggressive?

 

If you feel unsafe or the problem behavior is intolerable, remember to talk to your behavior analyst. Let them know what is and is not working for your family so you can create a successful plan together!