• Could Your Child Benefit from One-on-One Therapy?

    Autism therapists employ a range of evidence-based techniques to help children improve their functional abilities. In general, it’s recommended that children with autism have intensive one-on-one therapy sessions first before adding group skills classes. During your child’s individual sessions with the ABA therapist, he or she can work on behavioral skills such as compliance and instruction following. Your child will also develop self-help skills to increase independence and make daily life easier for the whole family. 

    All children with autism have unique needs. Your child’s individual therapy sessions will be customized to help him or her work toward established goals. These goals will likely include academic targets as well as behavioral improvements. Reading, writing, and mathematics are all fundamental academic skills that your child can work on in individual therapy sessions. 

    Families affected by autism in the Plano area are encouraged to contact the ABA therapy team at The Behavior Exchange. Call (888) 716-8084 to inquire about our individual therapy sessions.

  • Exploring the Impacts of Early Intervention ABA

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a time-tested, evidence-based collection of techniques that autism therapists can use to help children achieve a higher level of functioning. The effectiveness of ABA has been proven with decades of scientific studies. It’s long been known that the sooner a child with autism receives early intervention with ABA, the better the outcome is likely to be. Autism Speaks, the national advocacy group, took a closer look at a study published in the journal Pediatrics, which evaluated children as young as 18 months of age. 

    The ABA Study 

    The autism study took place over five years. It was spearheaded by a research team from the University of Washington in Seattle. The study participants were 48 children between the ages of 18 and 30 months of age. All of the children were diagnosed with autism, and none were diagnosed with other health problems. The study participants were divided into two groups. The first received 20 hours of ABA therapy per week, along with five hours of therapy delivered by their parents. Specifically, the intervention group followed the Early Start Denver Model, which uses ABA techniques combined with relationship-based methods. The other group was referred to community-based resources. 

    The Results 

    At the end of the five-year study, Autism Speaks reports that the control group had gained four IQ points, compared to an average of 18 points for the children in the intervention group. The researchers also evaluated receptive language skills. The control group improved by about 10 points, compared to about 18 points for children in the intervention group. The researchers noted that the intervention group likely made better progress thanks to the structured teaching, which used a relationship-based approach that took advantage of play-based learning opportunities. The researchers also lauded the parental involvement, noting the importance of consistency across environments. 

    The ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange work closely with preschool-age children in our B.E.E.S. program. It’s carefully designed to help children with autism in Plano develop social, language, motor, behavior, and academic skills. If you’ve noticed possible signs of autism in your child, please give us a call today at (888) 716-8084.

  • What Is the Right Age for My Child to Begin ABA Therapy?

    There is a large body of research that underscores the critical importance of early intervention services for children with autism. If a child doesn’t receive ABA therapy until after he or she enters school, then he or she will already be behind the developmental and academic milestones that are on target for the child’s peer group. As an example, a child who is reluctant to verbalize his or her needs may not inform the teacher that he or she doesn’t understand an assignment. 

    The right age for a child to begin working with an ABA therapist is as soon as he or she shows signs of autism or is diagnosed with a developmental disorder. The sooner a child receives early intervention services, the better equipped he or she will be to become a productive learner in the classroom. 

    According to the well-renowned source, “Autism Speaks,” in a study with toddlers, intensive behavioral intervention helped all ages, but those who started before age 2 were most likely to make dramatic gains. Learn more about that study here.

    The Behavior Exchange invites parents to explore our early intervention autism therapy group, the Early-Start Program (B.E.E.S.). Call 888-716-8084 if you’ve noticed potential signs of autism and your family lives near Plano. 

  • The Importance of Activity Schedules

    Children with symptoms of autism can benefit from highly structured, scheduled routines. In fact, parents often report that their children exhibit more behavioral issues during unstructured “down time” than during scheduled activities in school or in the ABA therapy classroom. You can work with your child’s therapist to develop appropriate activity schedules for your child. These are visual aids that may be posted on a wall for your child to follow. 

    As an example, you could post an activity schedule for your child to follow after school. Print out a clear image of each activity. Tape the pictures to a large piece of cardboard in the order in which your child should complete them. Remember to provide your child with everything he or she will need to complete each activity, and consider using a timer to help your child transition from one activity to the next. 

    The Behavior Exchange specializes in ABA therapy and parent training, which empowers families to create an ideal home environment in which children with autism can thrive. You can call 888-716-8084 to request a consultation at our ABA school in Plano. 

  • Understanding Chaining in ABA

    Imagine this: You’re in your office when your boss enters and rattles off 10 minutes worth of instructions. By the end of it, you would probably have trouble remembering the first thing you were supposed to do. Kids with autism have this same issue with multi-step directions. Some of them have trouble processing language and information, and it can be confusing when they’re told to do multiple things in a specific order. Your child’s autism therapist may use an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) technique called “chaining” to help your child master multi-step directions. 

    ABA Chaining Overview 

    Chaining helps ABA therapists and parents teach kids how to perform complex, multi-step tasks. Most tasks can be broken down into more basic components. For example, the directive to “Make your bed” can be broken down into specific directions about smoothing the fitted sheet, pulling the top sheet up, arranging the blankets, and fluffing up the pillows. Chaining is a way to link discrete tasks together to help kids complete the whole task. 

    Total Task Chaining 

    There are three main approaches to chaining. The first is total task chaining. The behavior analyst or parent walks the child through each step of the task, prompting as necessary. 

    Forward Chaining 

    Forward chaining has the child learn how to complete the first step of the task independently. Then, the parent or ABA therapist prompts the child for each subsequent task. Once the child can complete the first step independently, without being prompted, then he or she can work on completing the first two steps independently, and so on. 

    Backward Chaining 

    Backward chaining is the opposite of forward chaining. The child completes all of the steps with prompting, save for the last one. Depending on the skill being taught, backward chaining has a distinct advantage: It directly links the independent completion of a task to the immediate reward or reinforcement. Once the child can complete the last step independently, he or she can work on also completing the next-to-last step independently. 

    Highly trained and compassionate behavior analysts comprise the staff here at The Behavior Exchange. We utilize evidence-based ABA therapy to help children reach their full potential and to help families overcome autism-related challenges. Call 888-716-8084 to request an appointment with a behavior analyst near Plano. 

  • How Are the Signs of Autism Different in Girls?

    More boys are diagnosed with autism than girls. Although autism may simply occur more often in boys, researchers say that the disparity can also be attributed to cases of autism going undetected and undiagnosed in girls. And yet, researchers also know that the sooner the symptoms of autism are detected and early intervention has begun, the better the outcome will be. Parents of daughters may wish to take a minute to learn how autism can manifest differently in girls than boys. 

    Restricted Interests and Method of Play

    One of the hallmark characteristics of autism, at least in boys, is a focused interest in one narrow topic. Some boys can’t stop talking about train schedules or chemical reactions, for instance. When considering whether a girl might have autism, it’s important to bear in mind that girls tend to have more age-appropriate interests, such as playing with dolls. The key to detecting differences rests in how a girl plays. Girls might have their dolls do the same things and “say” the same words every time. They might sort doll clothes by color instead of playing with the doll’s hair. And they might exhibit very strong resistance to transitioning to another activity. 

    Social Pressures and Behaviors 

    For better or worse, girls are expected to adhere to certain social behaviors at a younger age than boys. Families may be more proactive in teaching and enforcing these social behaviors in girls than in boys, even though this tendency may not necessarily be deliberate. Because of this, girls with autism aren’t likely to display the same sort of social differences as boys with autism. Instead, girls tend to “camouflage” their behaviors to mimic those of the other girls around them. A close look, however, will still reveal some differences. Girls with autism might not be socially rejected by their peers, but they may not be accepted, either. Instead of playing with other girls, a girl with autism may simply play near them. 

    Every child is unique, and at The Behavior Exchange, every child receives a uniquely individualized autism therapy program. Our skilled behavior analysts in Plano work with children of varying ages and ability levels, taking a proactive and positive approach toward empowering families. Get in touch today by calling 888-716-8084. 

  • Using ABA to Encourage Your Child to Mand

    One important aspect of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is teaching children with autism to mand. “Mand” is just another word for a request. There are lots of little ways parents can incorporate ABA therapy into a child’s daily routine at home and in the community, and encouraging the child to mand is one of them. 

    Understanding the Importance of Manding  

    Manding is among the most powerful communication tools a child can learn. It gives the child a sense of control over the world. It also teaches the child that there is an alternative way to achieve an objective than to engage in undesirable behaviors. Children who master the art of manding can reduce problematic behaviors and learn how to navigate the world in a more self-sufficient way. 

    Finding the Right Time to Encourage Manding  

    There are many circumstances that are appropriate teaching moments for a child with autism. As an example, let’s say you give your child their favorite puzzle but hold on to the last piece. When they need the final piece of the puzzle, you can hold up the last remaining piece and encourage your child to mand.   

    Avoiding the Reinforcement of Improper Manding  

    Echolalia, or the repetition of words and phrases, can inadvertently cause parents to reinforce improper manding. As an example, let’s say that Jorge reaches for a cup of milk. His father asks, “Do you want milk?” Jorge repeats this sentence exactly and is given milk. This reinforces the idea that Jorge must ask “Do you want milk?” in order to get what he wants. If Jorge uses this question to request milk outside of the home, non-family members will probably say, “No, thank you,” instead of giving Jorge a drink. This can result in undesirable behaviors since Jorge will get frustrated that his improper mand didn’t work. 

    Individual and group parent training classes are available at The Behavior Exchange to help families learn how they can better support the progress of children with autism. When you attend our classes, you’ll learn how to turn every interaction with your child into a therapeutic one. Call our ABA school in Plano at (888) 716-8084 to find out about our upcoming schedule of classes. 

  • Teaching Kids with Autism to Recognize Emotions

    One of the potential symptoms of autism is difficulty recognizing the emotional cues of others. This can make social situations tricky for children with autism, and it creates difficulties with friendships. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about how you can help your child make progress with emotion recognition.  

    One common strategy involves the use of picture cards. The child is shown one picture at a time depicting a face with a certain emotion. The therapist or parent can help the child learn the cues that indicate what the facial expression means. Beyond learning the differences between smiles and frowns, a child can learn that a furrowed brow means confusion, that one lifted eyebrow is a questioning look, and that biting the lower lip indicates nervousness. But picture cards with just facial expressions might not provide a complete explanation for the child. It’s also helpful to match emotions to pictures of common scenarios, such as the happy face of a boy at a birthday party. 

    The Behavior Exchange is a warm and welcoming autism treatment center in Plano that offers social skills groups to help kids with challenges like recognizing emotions. Call (888) 716-8084 to sign up your child! 

  • Autism Rates Are Increasing. Do You Know the Signs?

    Autism rates have been on an upward trend in recent years, as evidenced by the periodic reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that more children are developing autism, but rather that parents, teachers, and caregivers are getting better at recognizing the symptoms of autism. This is a good thing because it means more children are getting the early intervention they need to reach their full potential. 

    Take a moment to remind yourself of the potential signs of autism, which include developmental issues like speech delays and learning challenges. Avoidance of eye contact, atypical play behaviors, repetition of words and phrases, and an insistence on following a predictable routine are other possible signs. Some children with autism may resist physical contact (like hugs), prefer to play alone, and demonstrate an apparent lack of awareness about safety issues. 

    If you’re concerned about your child’s development, contact The Behavior Exchange today at (888) 716-8084. Our board-certified behavior analysts look forward to meeting you and your child. 

  • How Do ABA Therapists Set Goals?

    ABA therapy is an evidence-based method of replacing undesirable behaviors with desired behaviors. An important part of developing an autism treatment plan is goal-setting. First, the ABA therapist conducts a thorough assessment of the child’s strengths and deficits. This assessment is used to determine which specific skills the child needs to learn. In light of the child’s age, level of functioning, needs of the family, and any other relevant factors, the therapist lists the skills according to priority. The therapist will also consider how many hours of ABA therapy per week the child can receive when deciding which skills to teach first.

    Although every child has unique needs, ABA therapists often prioritize the skills that empower the child to communicate. The skills that the child will need to be a successful student are also typically prioritized.

    ABA therapists are available near Plano to help your child improve his or her capabilities and enjoy a higher quality of life. Call The Behavior Exchange at (888) 716-8084 to request a consultation.