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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.

5 Effective Strategies for Calming Tantrums and Meltdowns

5 Effective Strategies for Calming Tantrums and MeltdownsAlmost every parent of a child has encountered a child’s meltdowns and/or tantrums. But dealing with an autistic child can be slightly different. So we’re going to give you some strategies for calming tantrums and meltdowns that actually work.

First, it’s important to differentiate between tantrums and meltdowns because for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, they are not the same thing. A tantrum is a cluster of undesirable behaviors that are related to the child wanting something that he or she can’t have. Meltdowns for the autistic child are undesirable behaviors that are the result of sensory overload. So, in order to deal with tantrums and meltdowns, you have to identify what you’re dealing with.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Remain calm. No matter what situation presents itself, remain calm. Always remember who is the parent and who is the child. If you get very nervous and agitated, that will make the tantrum or meltdown worse.
  2. Tantrums in a public place may require leaving. However, if they’re at home, the best thing to do is say that you A) recognize the child is upset and B) and are happy to discuss it when they calm down without giving in to what the child wants if they want is not reasonable. If you give in then you are reinforcing tantrums and the child learns that if I do this ugly behavior, I get what I want. Instead, reward positive behavior when the child calms.
  3. Address sensory meltdowns immediately. If you know the basis for the meltdown and can remove what’s causing the sensory overload, then do that. Sometimes a weighted blanket can help. For some children, noise-canceling headphones are the answer. If the child is overwhelmed by crowded areas, you may need to leave to find someplace quieter.
  4. Emergency Meltdown Kit. Some parents carry a “kit” for dealing with sensory meltdowns away from home. These can include, for example, a weighted blanket, headphones mentioned above, a favorite toy, sunglasses, and perhaps a weighted coat or snug sweatshirt. You may even want to get an armband or something that says “my child is autistic—please step back.” The kit will be different for each child based on his or her individual needs.
  5. Safe Corner. At home, you may want to designate a small area as a “safe corner” for calming down. This could be, for example, just a corner of the couch or it could be tent permanently set up in the child’s room, which is filled with soft heavy blankets. It’s not a bad idea to have a designated spot that the child can go to for an opportunity to calm him- or herself down.

One of the problems with tantrums and meltdowns is that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aren’t always the best at communicating what the problem is. So, it may not be immediately obvious to the parent. The good news is that the responses for a sensory meltdown can also calm a tantrum. If your child is going through therapy with us, talk to us about your child’s tantrums and meltdowns, and we can help to design problem-solving measures specific to your child.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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