• What Is HOH Prompting?

    Autism therapy experts who use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have a number of tools and techniques that they can use to help children reach their full potential. One example is prompting. A prompt is a stimulus that encourages a desired response. Sometimes, hand over hand (HOH) prompting may be appropriate. As the name suggests, HOH prompting involves the practitioner placing his or her hand directly on the child’s hand to guide the child in completing a task. 

    HOH prompting is often used for teaching children how to acquire academic skills, such as manipulating a pair of scissors, and self-care skills, such as wielding a toothbrush. The goal of HOH prompting is eventually to fade it out. As the child develops a better grasp on the skill, the therapist will begin to make the hand prompting less obvious. For example, the child may eventually only need a gentle tap on the hand to remember how to complete the task properly. 

    At The Behavior Exchange, our autism therapists in Plano and Frisco, Texas only use evidence-based, proven ABA techniques, so you can feel confident in your child’s therapy plan. We welcome your call at (888) 716-8084.

  • Comparing Independent, Onlooker, and Parallel Play

    To the casual observer, one child’s method of play might look the same as any other. But behavior analysts and sociologists have identified multiple types of play. The type of play a child may engage in depends on his or her developmental level, age, mood, and social setting. Younger children often engage in independent play, also called solo play. Independent play is important for developing self-sufficiency. Children with autism tend to engage in independent play more than cooperative play with other children. 

    Onlooker play is similarly more common in younger children. It occurs when a child is acting as an observer as other children play. Onlooker play enables children to learn the rules of the game and pick up on the nuances of social interaction. Parallel play, which is common in three-year-olds, occurs when two children play beside each other, but not with each other. Although it might seem like children enjoying parallel play aren’t paying much attention to each other, they are indeed learning about important social cues. 

    Are you concerned that your child might not be engaging in age-appropriate play? Call The Behavior Exchange at (888) 716-8084 to request an appointment with a behavior analyst in Plano and Frisco, Texas.

  • Helping Your Child Accept the Word “No”

    One of the hardest jobs a parent will face is teaching a child to accept the word “no.” If your child has autism, it’s a good idea to speak with his or her behavior analyst about this issue. You may learn, for example, that you have been inadvertently reinforcing negative behavior. This often includes giving in to the child’s demands after he or she displays a negative reaction upon hearing the word “no.” By giving in to the child’s demands, the parent teaches the child that this negative behavior will bring favorable results. 

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help. The therapist may first introduce your child to the word “no” in low-stress situations. Let’s assume that Benny likes popsicles and yogurt equally. Benny asks for a popsicle. The adult would say, “No, you can’t have a popsicle, but you can have yogurt.” Problematic behavior is ignored, rather than reinforced, and good behavior is rewarded with the yogurt. The child will need lots of practice learning to accept “no” in these low-stress situations in order to tolerate the word in other situations. 

    Evidence-based personalized ABA therapy is available in Plano at The Behavior Exchange. Call (888) 716-8084, and our compassionate ABA therapists will help your child learn to exchange negative behaviors for positive ones. 

  • Essential Elements of the IFSP

    Early intervention services are essential for children who have autism. Early diagnosis and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can help young children be ready for school when the time comes. All children who qualify for early intervention services are legally entitled to receive an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). In contrast to the Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is designed for school-aged children, the IFSP is a family-oriented document. It considers not only what the child needs to thrive, but also what the family needs to support the child’s development. 

    Current Abilities and Skills 

    After listing the family’s vital statistics, such as the contact information, the next section in the IFSP is an in-depth description of the child’s current abilities and skills. This section is divided into categories: 

    • Physical skills 
    • Cognitive skills 
    • Communication skills 
    • Self-help or adaptive skills 
    • Social/emotional skills 

    Some examples of skills at this age level include holding and manipulating age-appropriate toys, transitioning from using a bottle to a cup, and vocalizing to initiate interactions with others. This section of the IFSP will explain what the child is able to do, as well as what he or she isn’t able to do, based on age-appropriate milestones. 

    Family Resources, Concerns, and Priorities 

    This section of the IFSP describes the family’s resources, such as whether the parents have college degrees and who watches over the child during the day. It also considers nearby resources, such as the proximity of autism treatment centers. Parents are encouraged to discuss their concerns for the child and the family as a whole, and to identify what their priorities are. For example, it may be a priority for the child to develop better muscle tone so that he or she is able to act more independently. 

    Measurable Outcomes 

    This is the goals section of the IFSP. All goals must be specific and measurable. For example, a goal that’s too vague might be: “Jane will improve her communication.” Instead, the goal should be something like this: “Jane will learn to use simple words, and to understand and follow one-step directions.” Each measurable outcome is followed by a discussion of the strategies and activities that will help the child reach the goal. 

    Early Intervention Services 

    This portion of the IFSP details the child’s early intervention services. It explains where the child will receive services, such as at a local autism treatment center. It also details how many sessions per week the child will have, and how long those sessions will be. 

    The Behavior Exchange is a leading provider of early intervention services for children with autism in the Plano and Frisco areas. Our highly trained and experienced ABA therapists look forward to meeting your family and helping your child achieve his or her goals. You can reach us at (888) 716-8084. 

  • Creating a Language-Rich Environment for Toddlers

    Long before children are able to read fluently by themselves, they need constant exposure to language. It’s a major reason why parents are advised to frequently talk to their infants right from birth onward. A language-rich environment supports early literacy skills in all children, whether or not they have autism and require early intervention services. There are plenty of ways that parents can create a language-rich home for their children. 

    Fill your home with books. 

    It’s a given that a language-rich environment requires the presence of lots of books. Give your child his or her own bookcase, positioned low to the floor so that your child can easily access the books. Some parents like to keep a book or two near the child’s bed so it’s accessible as soon as the child wakes up from a nap. Used bookshops are an economical way to stock the shelves, and you can bring your child to the library regularly to pick out new selections. Your child should also see the adults in the family enjoy reading their own books every day. 

    Read to your child every day. 

    Reading together reinforces the loving bond you share with your child. Many parents like to read a few picture books at bedtime, allowing the child to choose them. It’s perfectly all right if your child selects the same books over and over again. This is actually beneficial for language acquisition because it reinforces the idea that the words remain the same and have the same meanings every time. Repetition is crucial for learning. 

    Help your child play with the books. 

    You can help your child develop a love of books and reading. Make the activity interactive by playing dress-up with your child to imitate the characters in a favorite book. If a book has animals as characters, use corresponding stuffed animals as props while reading the book. Encourage your child to talk about the story and characters by asking open-ended questions. 

    Children with language deficits, including children with autism, can receive early intervention services at The Behavior Exchange. Our autism treatment center near Plano provides the Early Start (B.E.E.S.) program designed to help toddlers acquire language, social, academic, and behavior skills. Parents are invited to call (888) 716-8084 to request a consult with a behavior analyst. 

  • Cartoon Strip Conversations: The New Social Story

    Carol Gray, the renowned creator of social stories for children with autism, has developed another useful tool. Cartoon strip conversations depict people interacting with each other. Each cartoon square features one or more blank speech bubbles. These templates allow parents or ABA therapists to customize the speech to fit the type of interaction that the child needs to learn about. 

    Some types of cartoon strip conversations include requests, greetings, negotiations, and interaction initiations. These templates offer a precise, visual way for children with autism to learn how to interact appropriately with people. The parent or ABA therapist will need to lead the child in a discussion of the nuances of the conversation, such as by pointing out that a child would interact differently with an adult than with a peer. 

    At The Behavior Exchange, we believe every child deserves to lead a happy, fulfilling life, despite the challenges of language and social deficits. If your child has been diagnosed with autism in the Plano and Frisco area, call us at (888) 716-8084.

  • Spotlight on Our Social Skills Groups

    For children with autism, developing friendships and relating with peers is not always easy. At The Behavior Exchange, our Social Skills Groups can help. In our groups, school-aged children get the opportunity to work on creating and maintaining relationships with kids their own age. This group is designed for children with autism who are in school and doing fine academically but having difficulties in social situations.  

    Within our Social Skills Groups, we put children together based on their ages, skills, and needs. There are groups available for children who are just learning the basics about social skills and those who are advanced but need more confidence. Within their groups, they will have a chance to play games, practice conversation, and engage in other age-appropriate activities together, all under the guidance of ABA therapists.  

    Could the Social Skills Group at The Behavior Exchange be right for your child with autism in Plano? Find out more about all of our programs by calling (888) 716-8084.

  • Explaining Autism to a Younger Sibling

    If you have a child with autism, explaining the diagnosis to your other children is one part of working together as a family. When the sibling in question is younger than your child with autism, this process can be challenging, as you will decide what information is appropriate to share at what point in your younger child’s development. This information can help.  

    Before age seven, younger children may struggle with concrete information about autism and may do better with your simply answering questions and providing reassurance on an as-needed basis. As children get older, you can begin by explaining what autism is and how it impacts the affected child. Remind all siblings that it is your responsibility to be the parent, not theirs and that you are always available to answer questions.  

    Getting children involved in family therapy can be as important as getting your child with autism into a program at an autism treatment center. At The Behavior Exchange, we offer support for the whole family along with ABA therapists in Plano for kids with autism. To find out more about our services, call (888) 716-8084.

  • Autism in the Classroom: Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher

    Going to school is an exciting time for children and their parents. To ensure your child with autism has the support he or she needs in the classroom, keeping an open dialogue with the teacher is essential. At The Behavior Exchange, one of the roles that we play for the families that we support is being an advocate at your child’s school to ensure that he or she has access to the tools that he or she needs to be successful. As a parent, you are on the frontlines of your child’s day-to-day experience in the classroom, so it’s important to speak up and ask questions when you have them. To get the conversation started with your child’s teacher, consider asking these questions.  

    What is your experience with children with autism? 

    Often, teachers are aware of autism and even may have had students in the past who had been diagnosed with it, but they may not have the level of experience and understanding that they need to help your child in the classroom. The more your child’s teacher learns about autism and about your child’s needs, the more productive the school year will be for both of them. Find out what your child’s teacher knows and needs to learn more about, so you can provide helpful information when necessary.  

    What behavior plan do you use? 

    Every teacher has a behavior plan that he or she uses in the classroom. This plan may include standards for behavior as well as consequences for undesired behaviors and rewards for meeting expectations. In some cases, the structure of the plan may not be appropriate for a child with autism. By discussing the plan and working with the teacher to make tweaks that will work for your child, you can address behavioral concerns before they become a problem.  

    What is the best way to communicate with you? 

    Just because you see your child’s teacher in the carpool line, it doesn’t that that is the best time to chat. Ask your child’s teacher if phone calls, emails, or conferences work best, and stick to those preferences. Doing so will help you have productive communication.  

    The Behavior Exchange is here to be your child’s advocate in the classroom and throughout his or her educational career. Contact us today at (888) 716-8084 for more information ABA therapy in Plano and our school services.  

     

  • Conquering Your Child’s Mealtime Challenges

    For children with autism and their families, mealtime can often be a struggle. If your child is having difficulties at meals, be sure to discuss the issue with his or her ABA therapist or to ask for advice during a parent training session. These strategies may also be helpful.  

    Determine if There Are Any Underlying Medical Conditions 

    Sometimes, children with autism have other medical issues that can interfere with their eating habits. These problems can range from cavities to digestive discomfort and acid reflux. Your child’s physician may screen for these conditions if mealtime is a challenge. If your child is having any of these issues, then addressing them could be the solution.  

    Develop a Routine Before Mealtime 

    There are many potential triggers for anxiety during mealtime, including the introduction of new foods, bright lights, and loud noises. In some cases, mealtime behavior issues are tied to these stressors. Creating a pre-mealtime routine that helps your child feel calm and confident can help. In some cases, simply sitting together for a short session of deep breathing can be helpful. Your ABA therapist can offer other suggestions for routines that can create a sense of calm before you sit down for a meal. Your child may take comfort in the routine itself and feel calmer when it’s time to eat.   

    Eat Meals as a Family 

    Eating as a family can easily fall by the wayside with busy schedules and a long list of demands, but doing so can be invaluable for your child with autism. When you all sit together and eat at the same time, it shows your child that mealtime is a normal activity for everyone to take part in. Likewise, your child will be more inclined to try different foods after watching you eat them.  

    At The Behavior Exchange, our ABA therapists can help you turn mealtime into a positive experience for your family through group therapy, one-on-one sessions, parent training, and much more. Get answers to your questions about our services by calling our autism treatment center in Plano at (888) 716-8084.