Noise Sensitivity in Autism

Noise Sensitivity in AutismOne concern parents and professionals may have with children who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is that some of these children cannot tolerate listening to certain sounds. Often, parents observe that the children put their hands over their ears, run away from sounds, or sometimes lose control of their behaviors in the presence of certain sounds. These children are often identified as having auditory hypersensitivity or hypersensitive hearing.

One of the most commonly reported challenges for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is hypersensitivity to sound. Some researchers view the strong avoidance reactions exhibited by some individuals with ASDs as emotional regulation, possibly as a result of learned behaviors that are either fear- or annoyance-based.

Two types of treatments have been tried to help children with auditory hypersensitivity.

  1. Listening Methods: The listening method described here uses specially chosen sounds and music, typically classical music. The sounds or music are acoustically modified to lead the child to react less negatively to sounds and, thus, reduce the child’s hypersensitivity.
  2. Systematic Desensitization: The basis of desensitization training, as the name suggests, is to desensitize the emotional and nonclassical auditory systems so that they no longer react negatively to loud and annoying sounds, the things that make the sounds, and the situations in which such sounds may occur.

A critical first step may be to discontinue overuse of ear protection (e.g., earplugs, etc.) that may be counterproductive. Another approach may be to enhance the child’s auditory environment by embedding sound stimuli (e.g., music, noise-making toys, etc) into positive, playful activities. Individualized systematic desensitization protocols, consistently implemented, can make a significant difference.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Bullying Prevention for the Autistic Child

Bullying Prevention for the Autistic ChildChildren with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are typically bullied more than average. Just like any other child who’s different: a very tall child, short child, deaf child or even the gifted child.

There are, however, some steps you can take to try to prevent this bullying or at least address it and cope with it. Forewarned is forearmed.

  1. Be alert to signs your child is being bullied. Since you know bullying is likely to happen sooner or later, then be prepared for it. Watch for telltale signs of distress in your child: changes in behaviors like disturbed sleep or nightmares or regression in toilet habits or other learned skills.
  2. Role play at home. We mention role-playing a lot, but it’s useful here, too. Go over different scenarios and give your child some pat phrases and stock responses to use if he or she is being bullied. For example, your child can learn to say, “whatever,” and turn away. Or the child can learn how not to melt down if accosted. Very often children get bullied because of how they react. If the child can react differently, the bullying may stop.
  3. Teach bullying avoidance. Work with the child and the school so that the child is not alone for bathroom breaks or mealtimes. Bullies are great at going after the isolated child. That means helping your child not to be isolated.
  4. Be aware of all of the school’s and school board’s rules and procedures. If you suspect your child is being bullied, then take appropriate action right away. Follow the procedures with crossing every “t” and dotting every “i.” You will waste less time if you give the school whatever they require to step in quickly. Just as Applied Behavior Analysis molds a child’s behavior with positive rewards, negative consequences such as bullying can also mold behaviors that you don’t want. So, don’t let the bullying go on thinking it will go away on its own.

If at all possible, try to cultivate a friend for your child in his or her class. One vocal defender can make a big difference.

Applied Behavior Analysis helps to extinguish undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Helping Children with Autism Deal with Winter Weather

The changing of the seasons and the advent of winter is not always welcome for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There can be a number of challenges, and we have some suggestions that will help you.

Autistic children do best with routine in their lives, and winter weather changes that routine. The first and most obvious change is in the clothing they wear. Bulky winter wear is not necessarily pleasant for the child.

The autistic child may not like the feel or weight of bulky clothing. Fortunately, today there are lots of very lightweight and warm choices available that didn’t exist 20 years ago.

So, it’s wise to get the child used to the idea that he or she has to dress differently. Practice putting on coats and hats and gloves in the house before needing the child dressed in a hurry for an appointment.

If your child is in a program with us, we can help you with this by tailoring learning programs—in our learning environment or at home in yours—to include getting ready to go outside in the cold. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) techniques can make getting dressed for winter weather a pleasant experience.

We’ve mentioned before that many autistic children have an issue with wandering off or what’s called “elopement.” You will want to be especially vigilant during the winter because what’s annoying in the summer can be life-threatening in the winter.

If you child isn’t crazy about the cold, consider planning some interesting outdoor activities collecting rocks or leaves or building a snowman or even making a toboggan track in your yard if there’s a slope to it.

There are also some winter sports that might appeal to your child. Team sports and very noisy sports aren’t always the best fit, but there are still independent sports to consider like snowboarding or skating.

For a very visual child, a winter birdfeeder close to a window can make a dreary day interesting. The child can learn the names of birds or count them or do all kinds of observational games. The point here is to try to make the best of foul weather. The good news is that spring is just around the corner.

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Applied Behavior Analysis helps to extinguish undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

A Sibling’s Guide to Autism

A Sibling's Guide to AutismLearning that your brother or sister has autism can be a difficult experience. Siblings may start to notice behaviors that upset them and hearing the word “autism” might be confusing for them. During this time, siblings life and that of the family may feel different than they were before this happened. Sometimes families may be worried about how your family will cope.

It is very important to remember that brothers or sisters are just like any other child, except he or she has autism. This is a time for you and your family to learn as much as you can about autism.

At times, families will need to talk about how all of this affects you. So don’t hesitate to seek out a family member, teacher, or friend with whom you can be open and honest about your questions and feelings.

Some things sibling may be having trouble with:

 Understanding why their brother or sister acts in what seems to be strange ways.

 Feeling like their brother and sister gets more time and attention from your parents than they do.

 Feeling embarrassed about their brother or sister’s behaviors when with friends or out in the community.

 Not knowing how to play with their sibling.

Just like your child with ASD, your other children need your attention. Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois

How to Handle Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis

How to Handle Your Child's Autism DiagnosisFinding out that your child has autism can be overwhelming. Shock, helplessness, guilt, anger, and resentment are a few of the emotions you may experience when your child is first diagnosed with autism. Once the initial reaction has subsided, remember your child is still the same person regardless of his/her diagnosis. Your child will continue to grow and learn and you can help.

Helpful suggestions for parents:

  • Seek help from other parents.
  • Take it one day at a time.
  • Gather information and start to learn the appropriate terminology.
  • Don’t be intimidated by medical or educational professionals.
  • Don’t be afraid to show emotion.
  • Keep a positive outlook.
  • Gather resources about effective interventions.
  • Keep daily routines as normal as possible.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Recognize that you are not alone.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

10 Tips for Traveling With an Autistic Child

10 Tips for Traveling With an Autistic ChildIt will come as no surprise that traveling with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be challenging in the same way that any kind of social outings can be difficult. But there are some tips that can help you.

  1. If your child is already in a program with us, let us know about your travel plans. Our programs are individually tailored to each child. If you have some special travel plans coming up, we can work with your child to help him or her prepare. We can also give you, the parent, activities, and exercises to do at home to help the child get ready for the trip.
  2. Role play at home. If possible, do some role-playing at home to show the child what he or she can expect in a plane or train or long car ride. Talk about what the child will see and hear and experience to defuse any anxiety.
  3. Take something soothing. Try to bring something for the child that is soothing, whatever that is. A stuffed animal or blanket or a toy. Have something available to quiet the over-stimulated child.
  4. Appeal to your child’s special interests. Consider bringing along something new that you know your child will like.
  5. Bring earplugs or headphones for the sound-sensitive child. If your child is very sensitive to noise, then an airport or a crowded ferry terminal can be a scary place. Earplugs or headphones are an easy way to dull ambient noise.
  6. Prepare for meals in advance. If your child is fussy about food, then take food with you rather than rely on what you may or may not find during the trip. Any child is irritable if the child is hungry or thirsty, so try to take that worry out of the equation.
  7. Increase safety precautions. Wandering off or “elopement” is a problem for about half of the children with ASD, and this problem is magnified when the child is no longer familiar with the surroundings. So, if you travel, have the child wear a medic alert bracelet with his or her name and contact information and/or have that information affixed inside their clothing in case the child is separated from you.
  8. Plan trips to appeal to the child. While this is not always possible, if it is possible, then the trip may be happier for everyone. If the child likes water, take him or her to the beach. If the child likes airplanes or rockets, take the child to an air or space museum. This sounds so simple, but not all parents seriously consider what best suits the child on a trip or a vacation.
  9. Keep daily routines even when away. Everyone young and old benefits from a daily routine. And this is even more important for an autistic child. Whenever possible try to follow your at-home routines even when you are away. This predictability reduces stress and anxiety and helps the child feel more in control.
  10. Arrange things in advance. Figure out your schedule and hotel stops in advance, and ask for help if you need it. Airports and hotels have guest services that can lend a hand.

Traveling with an autistic child requires some preparation, but it will be easier if you plan ahead. Use some of our tips, and see how much better your next trip goes.

Applied Behavior Analysis helps to extinguish undesirable behaviors and reinforce desirable ones. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Preparing for Back to School with Your Child

Preparing for Back to School with Your ChildThe beginning of a new school year is an exciting yet anxious time for both parents and children. Prepare an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with the school to prepare for your child to go back to school. Public schools are required to use an IEP for a child with autism or any other disability. It creates structured therapies and educational programs to ensure your child is educationally successful. These therapies and programs may include speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy. It will also define if your child will be in inclusion classes or special education classes. IEP meetings can be held anytime throughout the school year. Bring goals to your child’s IEP meeting. You have a chance to offer suggestions that for your child to learn for the next school year.

Consider the following:

• Your child’s strengths.

• How would you like to enhance your child’s education?

• The results of recent evaluations.

• Do they have behavioral issues that may interfere with their learning experience?

• Does the child have limited language skills?

  1. Establish a bedtime and waking hours. Get your child used to a specific routine. Create a picture book of what the child’s day-to-day routine will look like.
  2. Prepare your child socially for school. Prepare conversation starter cards or make a social skills superhero comic book. Show how the child should properly express their feelings when they’re feeling happy, sad, excited, fearful, etc.
  3. Talk to your child about bullying. This important issue exists for all children, not just for children with disabilities. According to StopBullying.gov in 2012, 46% of children with autism in middle school or high school reported being victimized and 70% of children with autism that is mainstreamed, are bullied. Teach your child the motto to live by, “treat others you would like to be treated.” Notify the teacher immediately if you feel your child is being bullied.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

5 Ways to Help Your Child With Autism Make Friends

5 Ways to Help Your Child With Autism Make FriendsFriendships help your child to develop socially and emotionally, but for children with autism, it is often an isolated one-way street. Many children on the spectrum want friends, but just don’t know how to make or keep them. These five tips will help in assisting your child with autism to develop healthy friendships.

Define friendships with them.  Often autistic kids have a different connection to their environment and the people around them. Which means you might have to explain what a friend is in terms that they comprehend. This will help guide your child through potential interactions within friendships.

Find out what activities your child enjoys. Identify your child’s interests . You will be able to easily connect them with other children who enjoy similar things. When your child does activities that he enjoys, it’ll also help him to keep paying attention when there are other people around

Use community resource groups. Ask your local church and other community members for ideas on local groups for kids that your child can join to make new friends. Structured activity groups often work well for children with ASD.

Create at-home play dates. You can encourage friendships by inviting children home or out to play. Even if it just for parallel play each time the children get together, the connection gets stronger. There should always be supervision of playdates so that your child can be directed–and redirected–throughout.

Be patient. A  friendship for your child may not develop overnight, but in time they will take your definition of friendship, developing social skills and the people they know from their activity groups to eventually form solid bonds with friends.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Social Media and Autism

Social Media and AutismSocial media is a common and everyday method of communication which has both advantages and disadvantages for a wide variety of people—including those with an autism spectrum condition. Adolescents with ASD tend to lack the ability to appropriately express themselves in social situations. This hinders their communication with peers and appropriate social skills to make friends. Indeed, due to issues around social communication, many of those on the autism spectrum often prefer communicating via social media.

Although communication through social media sites may appear to be more comfortable because it eliminates the face-to-face, personal interaction, truth be told, while it may be difficult for those same reasons. Social interactions require a level of understanding concerning underlying insinuations, implications, nuances, etc. When using social media, one may easily misinterpret, misread, or misunderstand a comment or status negatively or positively.

It seems imperative to use existing technology in our daily lives as a tool to teach these students communication skills, to make friends and build social networks. Here are a few tips on ways adolescents with ASD can further develop social skills using social media:

  1. Monitor their social account.   You aren’t going to be able to shield them from all the not so nice comments out there. Use this as an opportunity for discussion.  Learning to cope socially, also means learning to cope with people when they are mean or say ignorant things.
  2. Monitor and filter friends. Remember your child is still learning social behavior, it is up to you to vet those who want to contact him/her online. But also give them the freedom to choose their friends – within reason. This will help with them building their confidence in their own choices.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.

What Is Reinforcement and Why Is It Important in ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the only treatment that has been shown in research for many years to be the most effective therapeutic intervention to help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Applied Behavior Analysis uses the science of learning and positive reinforcement to bring about meaningful changes in behavior.

So what exactly is “reinforcement”?

In order to understand reinforcement, first we have to look the “Law of Effect” in Behavioral Psychology. The Law of Effect means basically that if an action or event is followed by satisfaction for the individual or animal, that action or event becomes more closely tied to the individual (or animal) and more likely to reoccur. Also, if an action or event is followed by discomfort for the individual or animal, that action or event is less likely to reoccur.

So, in Applied Behavior Analysis, reinforcement is what happens in the environment to make desired behaviors in the autistic child pleasant and more likely to happen again. These environmental stimuli are the basis of learning in what’s called Operant Conditioning in psychology.

Why is reinforcement important in ABA?

Reinforcement in the very basis of Applied Behavior Analysis. By analyzing each individual child’s needs and tailoring a program specific for that child, we can use these principles of psychology to help the child learn new and desirable behaviors to better cope with the world we live in.

Following the tenets of psychology such as Operant Conditioning, the Law of Effect, and reinforcement, we make learning new things pleasant and fun for the child. These same theories also make it possible to extinguish undesirable behaviors. This is why ABA works and has been shown to work in research. It’s actually pretty simple: show the child what behaviors you want, make it a pleasant experience (or “reinforce” the behavior,) and the child will learn the behavior.

ABA can be life changing for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. ABA can improve your child’s toileting behaviors, eating behaviors, speech, and sleeping routines. If you are trying to decide how to handle a child with ASD or what type of therapy is most appropriate for your child, please contact us today.

Let us help you. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at info@totalspectrumcare.com. We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.