Sustaining Interests in Games

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Remember to keep your child interested and motivated! A child, who is uninterested in a game and becomes urged to play the game by a parent or teacher, may become frustrated and illustrate unwanted behavior.

Here are some signs to determine if your child is interested in the game:
  • Requests to play the game again
  • Make efforts to have other players follow the rules
  • Agrees to follow the rules
  • Happy during the game
  • Able to successfully play the game independently

If after repeated efforts to play the game and your child is still not interested or able to play independently, your child is most likely not motivated and does not have interest in continuing the game. Therefore, you can attempt to modify the game or choose another game. Having your child understand and express interest in a social game will help the development of their social skills. The SEED Center offers social skills groups for all ages. Contact us today to get more information and to schedule a screening.


Tips on Teaching Games to Children with ASD

Are you having difficulty teaching your child with autism how to play games and interact with peers in social games?

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder typically have difficulty creating social relationships and learning appropriate behaviors for play activities. Besides having fun, there are many benefits to play, including teaching your child a lesson, social engagement, creating friendships, learning how to cooperate, and to expand imagination. Teaching games to a child with autism spectrum disorder, can be very challenging because prompting may need involved, it could be difficult to communicate the rules of each game, they may lose motivation, and they may have a hard time learning how to cooperate.

Keep in mind these strategies when helping a child play a game:

  • Positive Reinforcement– Try to use reinforcers as much as possible during games. Exaggerate facial expressions and body posture to make games more interactive and enjoyable. Establish method to keep score and allow the winner to receive a positive reward, like choosing the next game.
  • Chaining– The expected sequence of playing the game should be taught and reviewed so your child knows what to expect. For example, setting up the game, then rolling the dice, then finding your piece, moving your piece, and then cleaning up the game when it’s finished. This way, your child can learn the sequence of events and know what behavior is expected and when.
  • Modeling-Have your child observe others before playing the game, this way they can learn what is expected. That way, they are able to understand what to do before the social play activity so they do not fail socially and lose interest in the activity
  • Scripting- Games offer a good opportunity to help your child develop and increase communication skills. Scripts can be useful to help your child learn appropriate phrases during playtime.
  • Shaping– Encourage your child to try to be as independent in the game as possible. They may need extra help remembering the rules and could need a partner in the game before being independent.
  • Prompting– After observing others plays the game; your child may be ready to play but may need some prompts to remind them of what to do next. You can indirectly give them prompts, “what comes next?” or you can give them direct prompts “it’s time for you to roll the dice.” Prompts can also be non-verbal.

Language Development

How can I tell if my child is behind on language development? This is a question a lot of parents ask themselves when their child is growing up. Each child is different, so there is no definite ‘normal’ language development in young children. If you are worried about your child’s language development, keep in mind these age-related milestones:

Age One Milestones:

  • Respond to others verbally or with facial expressions
  • Attentive to others talking
  • Babbling
  • Can use simple words, “mom,” “dad,” “uh-oh”
  • Attempts to mimic others speech
  • Follow simple commands
  • Pointing
  • Recognizing faces, objects, etc.
  • Respond to verbal questions
  • Repeat words they have heard

 Age Three-Four Milestones:

  • Can understand when things are similar or different
  • Speaks clearly for strangers to understand
  • Can tell stories
  • Can string together a sentence of five to six words

 

Children learn at their own pace, but if you are worried that your child is falling behind on any of these milestones, you may want to seek assistance from one of our professionals to help your child develop and improve their language skills.

 


The Basics of ABA

       Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, consists of individualized interventions. Based on analysis, ABA ensures that all interventions are effective and functional to each individual. There are some useful strategies to note when applying ABA to individuals with autism. We will highlight self-management, reinforcement, structured teaching, and prompts.

  • Self-management is the ability to be independent. Most ABA interventions consist of techniques and goals to help individuals with ASD learn how to be independent throughout daily life.
  • Reinforcement is one of the most common techniques of ABA. Behavior that is followed by a preferable outcome will likely to reoccur in the future. Let’s take a quick moment to differentiate between positive and negative reinforcement.
    • Positive reinforcement-when the outcome is something given (giving your child praise, a reward)
    • Negative reinforcement– when the outcome results in taking something away. (Does not mean punishment, could be taking away a certain chore for good behavior, etc.)
  • Structured Teaching aims to breakdown the teaching of skills like communication, self-care, scholarly, and social skills. This allows the therapist to give as much structure to teaching these skills as needed, depending on the needs of each individual.
  • Prompts are another strategy used in ABA therapy to help individuals with autism follow a sequence of actions. These prompts can help children become more independent and can consist of a set of actions such as, steps to brushing your teeth or folding laundry.

Stay tuned for more information about ABA and how it can be utilized to improve lives. Also, be sure to check out our ‘Resources’ tab to learn more!


Science-based Treatments for Autism

         For many conditions, including autism, scientific evidence and data are used to ensure that the treatment methods are working successfully.  Applied Behavior Analysis is the most scientifically proven method for treating individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

Advice from Friends and Family

          It is not surprising that there are many theories, opinions, and ideas to treat autism that do not involve science-based treatment methods. Friends and family may voice their opinions about a new theory they heard and it’s benefits. They can hear these theories on the news or from an Internet search because journalists continue to publish information on non-scientific treatment methods for ASD. It can be hard to listen to the advice of family members and friends who have your best intentions, when they do not understand that these new theories typically are not science-based. Sometimes you may perceive the advice as critical; perhaps a family member is making you feel as if you’re not doing enough for your child. Hearing the opinions of others while trying to keep your child’s best interest at heart can become very frustrating.

 

Inform and Educate on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

        When hearing the advice and opinions of others leaves you questioning your decisions or doubting yourself…

 

  • Remember that these ‘breakthrough’ treatments for autism are not scientifically proven to be effective.
  • Numerous scientific researches have been published supporting the use of ABA therapy.
  • Autism-treatment is an expensive industry; many claims are made in hopes of helping a company ‘sell’ their product.
  • Be critical and question everything you read on the Internet. Not everything on the Internet is reliable.
  • The vast majority of autism treatments lack scientific support.
  • The most effective treatments for autism usually receive the least amount of attention from the media (news, journals, Internet searches).
  • There is no “quick fix”.

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!


Care for Self, Care for Them

5 Self-Care Tips for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

It’s the nature of parenthood to put your child’s needs before your own. If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this tendency becomes even more pronounced. Many parents will move heaven and earth to make sure that their children get the care and support they need.

As much as you want to smooth the path for your child, however, it’s important to take time to care for yourself. You can only take the best possible care of your child when you’re taking the best possible care of yourself.

We’ve assembled five tips to help you do just that. Have a look at the list below, and remember that you’re never alone in your journey. The community – including SEED Center of Stamford – is always here to help.

 

1. Ask for help when you need it.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” This is every bit as true for children on the spectrum as it is for children not on the spectrum. Don’t be afraid to ask family members and friends for extra help when you need it. You are not in this alone.

 

2. Research community resources.

This goes hand-in-hand with asking for help when you need it. There are many resources available in the community designed to help children with ASD and their parents, from agencies that provide respite care to therapists, school resources, and much more. The more you know about what help is available, the better you’ll be able to access it when you need it.

 

3. Consider joining a support group.

There is no one who understands the unique joys and challenges of parenting a child with ASD like another parent of a child with ASD. By joining a support group, you can air your concerns and discuss the challenges of parenting a child with ASD in a safe, non-judgmental environment. (This doesn’t have to be an in-person support group. There are many online forums and communities where parents of children on the spectrum can gather and support one another.)

 

4. Make modifications to your home.

Children with ASD are very sensitive to their environments, especially light, color, and sound. Learn what stimuli your child responds best to and which stimuli cause your child distress. Then, modify your home to enhance the positive stimuli and downplay the negative. This will help your child stay calm and content at home, which can help the entire family.

 

5. Remember the joy.

Parenting a child with ASD isn’t only a challenge – it’s also a joy. Focus on the positives as much as you can. Take pride in your child’s accomplishments. There’s no one else quite like your child. That’s something to celebrate!


10 Ways to Prevent a Shopping Meltdown

The crowds, sounds, and sights of a shopping mall or center can easily cause a sensory stimulus overload for a child with autism. This can make the task incredibly challenging for a parent. These ten tips are aimed to prevent shopping meltdowns and create a calmer experience.

  1. Let your child know ahead of time

This can help your child cope with the idea of the stressful situation and allow them to know what is expected.

  1. Take a Virtual Tour

Virtually tour the store online or if possible, take photos of the store on your cell phone to share with your child. This will allow your child to become familiar with the new environment before entering it.

  1. Build Tolerance

Start with shorter, less extensive trips to the store that will allow your child to become comfortable with the store. Make these trips happen frequently and always praise good behavior.

  1. Plan a Schedule

Go over the schedule of the day with your child the night before. Tell them a specific time that the shopping will take place and plan one of your child’s favorite activities afterwards.

  1. Be energized

Make sure your child is well rested and energized before the shopping trip. Being tired shortens everyone’s tolerance.

  1. Identify Triggers

Visiting stores ahead of time to search for stimuli that could trigger your child is beneficial.

  1. Prepare for Triggers

If you know the store has particular stimuli that trigger your child, prepare for it. If your child is sensitive to loud sounds, bring along some headphones.

  1. Get ready to shop

Prepare your child with a list, whether verbal or visual, of what you want to accomplish for the day. Make this list as detailed as possible, including finding a parking spot and shopping for specific items. This will help your child mentally prepare.

  1. Establish a signal

Whether this is a verbal signal or a gesture, discuss a signal beforehand that your child can use when they are feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Bring a soothing object

Try to bring a toy, blanket, or object that calms your child down just in case a meltdown begins.


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

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, is scientifically supported to be the most effective treatment for children with autism. ABA interventions focus on using behavioral reinforcement. Behavioral reinforcement teaches your child appropriate behavior for different circumstances that they may encounter.

Remember to keep in mind that every child is unique and there is not one specific ABA treatment that will work well for every child. That is why Behavior Therapists use a variety of interventions to figure out the technique that works effectively for each child. Once the effective technique has been identified, therapists can cater the treatment to suit the child.

What are some examples of ABA Techniques?

  • Discrete Trial Training
    • Aims to train your child on skills they may not otherwise pick up. This is used to increase motivation, attention span, social skills, and verbal behavior.
  • Differential Reinforcement
    • Teaches your child appropriate behaviors for various social environments such as school, home, or recess. This works to help your child realize a behavior might be acceptable in one environment (home) but not in another (school).
  • Extinction
    • This technique encourages parents, therapists, or teachers to avoid reacting to a child who is demonstrating challenging or negative behaviors, such as a tantrum. This technique was discussed in the previous blog and is essential for parents to remember that if you show your child attention when they are illustrating bad behavior, you are giving them the attention they want.
  • Foundational Communication
    • Communication is key to understanding your child’s needs and wants. Some children may have trouble communicating verbally and some may not be able to read body language. It is important to figure out a method, whether verbal or non-verbal, to communicate with your child.