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5 Tips for Dining Out with Your Child With Autism

5 Tips for Dining Out with Your Child With AutismGoing out to eat can be a fun pastime for many families,  but can be a bit difficult for families of individuals with autism. The following tips can help you and your family prevent behavior problems and have a successful and enjoyable experience for everyone!

Be Prepared.

Be sure to have activities for your child to enjoy while waiting for your food. Table activities such as coloring, drawing, reading, or tablet time will help. You might try calling ahead and requesting a specific reservation time to avoid long waits.

Set Expectations.

Before heading out to eat, set aside a quiet moment with your child to tell them the rules. For example, say, “Sit in your seat and speak with a quiet voice.”

Reward Good Behavior.

Reward your child throughout the meal for following the dining rules. Consider using more tangible items like favorite toys, dessert, etc. 

Choose a Familiar Restaurant. 

This allows for familiarity with the food and the environment which can decrease outbursts.

Leave On Time.

If you see your child is getting a bit fidgety and overwhelmed it’s okay to order the food to go and finish eating at home. It’s better to leave than to wait and trying to control any tantrums.

If your child still presents challenging behavior while dining out, we are here to help with additional tips and strategies specific to your child.  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.

Sensory-Friendly Clothes for the Autistic Child

Clothing for the autistic child can cover a wide range of needs. What is important or helpful with one child may be totally different than what is needed by another child.

Fortunately, today, there are many brands of clothing specifically designed for the autistic child. Some of these companies were started by parents of autistic children in order to make available what was previously lacking—and needed—on the market. Here is a list of some of the common issues that appropriate clothing addresses.

  1. Sensory-friendly (soft). Some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) find clothing that is scratchy or stiff to be intolerable. So, the first category would be soft fabrics such as fleece or prewashed denim or other very soft natural or artificial fibers. Soft clothing may also have fewer seams and no rough-edged labels inside.
  2. Sensory-friendly (variety). Other autistic children may benefit from some tactile stimulation. To this end, there are clothing designs that might have, for example, pockets or flaps with different textures that the child can touch and retouch all day long.
  3. Sensory-friendly (pressure). Many autistic children benefit from having clothing that is more fitted and puts pressure on them. There are coats and vests and scarves, for example, that are weighted so as to add a constant pressure on the skin. For some children, this pressure reduces fear and anxiety.
  4. Ease of wear. A number of autistic children have a hard time with fine motor skills, which extends to difficulty managing buttons or zippered pants, for example. If this is a problem, then there are clothes that are designed to be easier to get on and off. Ease-of-wear clothing can make the difference between a child being able to dress him or herself—or not. 

You may not realize how much the child’s clothing affects his or her day-to-day behavior, but it’s worth exploring. The child who isn’t very communicative may not be able to articulate exactly why he doesn’t like his sweatshirt. But once you hit on the clothing solution that best suits your child—like very snug-fitting tops—the positive change in your child’s behavior may surprise you.

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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.

The Stigma of Autism

The Stigma of AutismWhat parent of a child with autism hasn’t had one of those moments in public? Your child is screaming, spinning or making noises, and you’re on the receiving end of disapproving stares or outright hostility from others. “Control your child,” they say coldly. Maybe he assumes your child lacks discipline; maybe he recognizes the disability but blames you for subjecting him to such behavior. The Annoyed can be a stranger, an acquaintance or cousin Pat.

At that moment, you feel the stigma that societies around the globe attached to autism. In different ways and to different degrees, people in many countries view autism as a source of disappointment, annoyance, shame or worse. According to some researchers, stigma may keep families from seeking a diagnosis and services for their children, from participating fully in their communities, and from enjoying the same quality of life as their neighbors. Simply put, stigma influences public health.

We need to move forward from preconceived, negative ideas surrounding an autism diagnosis. Views that suggest that parents are using the diagnosis as a “Badge of honor” or to “excuse poor behavior” do not consider or are not aware of how this could affect young people who may desperately need an autism diagnosis or ongoing support.  Parents are not wearing autism as a “badge of honor” like some craze or fashion statement, they are simply comfortable with the term and keen to promote awareness or acceptance.

Changes in perception need to be promoting acceptance to all types of people instead of marginalizing one group over another. Barriers around inclusion and awareness are still the areas we need to be prioritizing and not getting sidetracked with the negative stigma and misconceptions of “labeling.” If a more diverse playing field in society existed, then labels of difference could be viewed in the positive light they deserve.

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.

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

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.

Events

30th Annual Autism Society Conference

Developmental Differences Resource Fair