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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.

Good Sleep Habits for Children with Autism

sleep habitsPoor sleep habits are not uncommon in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and for some of these children sleep difficulties can persist into adolescence.

Fortunately, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help the child to improve those habits, which in turn makes the parents’ lives easier because having a child that never sleeps well is very disruptive for the whole family. Here are some issues that we address with children that are in our program:

  1. Difficulty initiating sleep.
  2. Difficulty maintaining sleep.
  3. Difficulty waking the child in the morning.
  4. Irritability and sleepiness during the day.

It’s clear that sleep, in general, is important for the brain development in a child. And the irony here is that children with ASD probably need more sleep than the average child because autistic children expend an enormous amount of energy with their ritualistic and repetitive behaviors. So, it’s essential for the child’s health to figure out how to improve the child’s sleep habits for both the benefit of the child and the sanity of everyone else.

With the help of ABA, we can give you tools to help improve your child’s nightly sleep. We can teach you the value of a routine, the importance of soothing behaviors in the evening, what types of play will help “wind down” your child, and methods to get the child to go back to sleep and respect the sleep of everyone else.

Once you establish a healthy pattern for bedtime, not only will the child’s nighttime behavior improve, but the daytime behavior will likely improve as well because the child is not exhausted anymore on a daily basis. We can work together to make significant improvements in your child’s sleep habits.

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.

Tips to Reduce Sensory Overload this Holiday Season

Sensory OverloadThe holiday season can be a stressful time. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, those issues can intensify over this time of year. The holiday twinkle lights, carolers, the aroma of a large home-cooked meal — can be an overwhelming experience for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Here are a few tips on how to prep for the holidays with children who have sensory needs.

  1. Plan. Plan. Plan. Plan as much as possible. When possible, do a trial run to practice group situations and settings and introduce the smells of new foods in your home.
  2. Find a Quiet Room While Out and About.  If you know you are going to be at a friend or family members house for a holiday party or while overnight, ask that person or hostess ahead of time if there is a room that your child could use as a quiet room.
  3. Schedule morning activities. Generally, kids do better in the morning than in the late afternoon or evening when they are tired. Schedule events and gatherings earlier in the day rather than late in the day.

As we are swept up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we frequently take for granted things that those with sensory processing needs find challenging. We hope you are able to find some peace and quiet this holiday season.

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.

Autism-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide

Autism-Friendly Holiday Gift GuideThe holidays are just around the corner, and sometimes it can be challenging to find the right gift for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. So, we’re going to give you some hints and guidelines to make shopping more comfortable for you.

  1. Know the child. This first suggestion may seem obvious, but it is still true. If you know the child and the child likes to collect something, like cars or trucks or stickers or stuffed animals, then your job will be more comfortable. For many autistic children pattern repetition is essential, so no matter how many the child has of something, more is always welcome.
  1. Something soothing. Many autistic children have difficulty soothing themselves, so something that sways or rocks is always welcome. Consider a rocking chair or a hammock. Even something like skates, with which a child can move with repetitive motions might be a good idea.
  1. Puzzles. Lots of autistic children like puzzles. And remember, there are all kinds. There are the traditional jigsaw puzzles of all sizes, shapes, and difficulty, and there are also 3-D puzzles made of wood or plastic like a Rubik’s Cube.
  1. Outing. If the child is okay with an outing, then the child who loves airplanes might be thrilled to just go to an airport where he or she can watch planes landing and taking off. The child who loves animals might welcome a trip to the zoo. Intangible gifts like this could be in the form of a coupon book with, for example, homemade tickets for five day-trips to the ocean.
  1. Visual Toys. Often children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are very visual. That is, they are more interested and focused on visual things. Gifts in this category would include objects that when moved have shifting sand or water or oil that changes shape. Also, there are magnetic toys with small pieces that stick together in different shapes. Even Lego is a possibility which the child can shape him- or herself. Make sure the gift is age-appropriate.

May your holidays be a happy time, and maybe some of these ideas will help you find the perfect gift for the autistic child. And if you’re having difficulty over the holidays, ABA therapy can help.

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.

How To Plan a Community Outing with Your Autistic Child

How To Plan a Community Outing with Your Autistic ChildFor families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), sometimes the thought of a family vacation – or even a community excursion – can be overwhelming. Try these simple and useful tips for venturing out in public and leaving your anxiety at home.

Plan Ahead

As much as possible, plan your trips and let your child know the schedule and what to expect. Keep a schedule posted in your home and review it with your child regularly. Prepare all members of your family – particularly your child with the disability – with a plan of the day’s activities.

Sensory Bag

Bring along activities so your child will have something to do if your outing involves downtime. Choose items that work best for your child’s sensitivities and put them in a small bag that is easy for them to carry with them on trips. Surefire winners include unique electronic games that the child may not always be allowed access to, favorite snacks, drinks, and sensory toys.

Have an Exit Plan

Some rough patches are to be expected. If your child begins to show signs of non-negotiable stress, it’s time to go. If your outing is a day of family leisure, be accepting of the fact that you may need to leave early.

Plan what will work best for you and your family. Consult other families, to see what has worked for them, or talk to professional members of your team for more suggestions. 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.

Who Should Be On Your Child’s IEP team?

IEP teamThe Individualized Education Program (IEP) team makes important decisions about your child’s education. To create an effective IEP, parents, teachers, other school staff–and often the student–must come together to look closely at the student’s unique needs. Let take a look at who should be on your child’s IEP team. 

  1. Parents are vital to the IEP team process. By being an active IEP team member, parents can also infuse the IEP planning process with a thought about long-term needs for the child’s successful adult life.
  2. Regular education teacher of the child.  The regular education teacher provides the general education curriculum in the regular classroom and possible changes to the educational program that will help the child learn and achieve.
  3. Special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate. The special education teacher will suggest ideas for instructional strategies, adaptations (i.e., modifications, accommodations) and AT devices or services.
  4.  A representative of the public agency i.e. school administrator who is qualified to provide, supervise special education services; is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum, and is knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the public agency.
  5.  The person qualified to interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results i.e. school psychologist. This person will explain what the evaluations mean concerning designing appropriate instructional goals and objectives for the student.
  6.  The Student. If transition service needs or transition services are going to be discussed at the meeting, the student must be invited to attend.

Each team member brings essential information to the IEP meeting. Members share their information and work together to write the child’s Individualized Education Program. Each person’s information adds to the team’s understanding of the child and what services the child needs.

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.

Events

30th Annual Autism Society Conference

Developmental Differences Resource Fair

Peoria March Madness Experience Special Needs Fair

Navigating Autism Today Conference

Midwestern Behavior Analysis Job Fair

Registration now open through Jan. 18, 2019. Registration will also be available the day of the event. This event is free and open to the public, though registration is required. Registration will include light snacks and beverages. Job seekers should register by Jan. 18, 2019 in order to guarantee a printed name badge.

Most companies attending will primarily be looking to hire behavior technicians/RBTs or BCBAs. It is recommended that applicants dress in professional attire and bring copies of their resume to provide to employers. Career and Student Employment Services offers services in preparing resumes, mock interviews, practicing salary negotiations, and more.