• How to Embrace ABA Techniques at Home

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based autism treatment. You can support your child’s progress by using ABA techniques at home. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about what to do. One example is to create situations that require your child to mand, or request items. Place a bowl of soup on the table for your child’s lunch, but don’t provide a spoon. Your child will discover that he or she has to ask for the spoon. A successful mand is rewarded with the requested object and praise. 

    You can also use ABA techniques at home to discourage problematic behaviors. When your child misbehaves, don’t reward the behavior. Let’s say your child has a meltdown because he or she doesn’t want to finish the broccoli before having ice cream. Don’t reward the inappropriate behavior with ice cream. This would only reinforce negative behaviors. 

    When you enroll in parent training classes at The Behavior Exchange, you’ll learn how to structure the home environment and use ABA techniques with your child at home. For more information, call our ABA school in Plano at (888) 716-8084.

  • Helping Kids with Autism Cope with Routine Changes

    Whether a child is typically developing or not, he or she can benefit from a structured environment and a predictable daily routine. Children with autism are particularly sensitive to changes in routine, and many of them have difficulty adapting to them. Autism therapy can help your child learn how to adjust to changes more easily. If your family is anticipating a major change in routine, you can talk to the ABA therapist about transitioning your child. 

    Anticipating Changes 

    You know your child best. By now, you probably have a general idea of what sort of changes upset your child. It could be a major change like going on vacation or a relatively minor change like going to the dental office. Some children with autism have trouble switching between toys or activities. Doing routine tasks in a different order and unexpectedly canceling planned activities may also cause issues for your child. 

    Using Social Stories 

    Once you’ve identified changes that might upset your child, you can prepare him or her for them. Explain what’s going to happen and when. You can use social stories to help your child learn what to expect from the new event. A social story is a simple, straightforward depiction of an activity using pictures and words.  

    Creating Timetables 

    Your child may feel more control over the situation with the use of timetables. You can create a timetable for every day of the week to let your child know what’s going to happen. You could print the start and end time of the event next to a picture depicting it, but some children get upset if things take longer or end sooner than expected. Another option is to simply depict the events in order. Use a picture of a bathtub and then a plate of food to tell your child that he or she will take a bath before dinner. If your child is still having trouble transitioning between activities, try setting a timer. Tell your child that when the timer rings, it’s time to put away the toy and start another activity. 

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we firmly believe every child is capable of leading a happy, well-adjusted, and productive life. Our board-certified behavior analysts in Plano would like to help your family cope with the challenges of autism. Call (888) 716-8084 to request an appointment. 

  • Boosting Reading Skills in Children with Autism Who Are Nonverbal

    It’s a common misconception that children with autism who are nonverbal cannot learn how to read. In fact, all children are born learners. However, some of the traditional methods of literacy instruction may not work. Parents can’t ask the child to sound out letters out loud, for instance. But there are other ways of teaching a child to read. Your child’s ABA therapist can help you get started with reading lessons at home. 

    Read with your child every day. 

    Whether or not a child is nonverbal, it’s absolutely crucial to read with him or her every day. Shared reading encourages language acquisition, letter and word recognition, and reading comprehension. Reading together helps feed your child’s curiosity about the world. 

    Encourage nonverbal interactions with books. 

    Children with autism who are nonverbal can interact with the story even if they can’t have a conversation about it. First, get into the habit of “underlining” each sentence with your finger as you read it. Later, you can ask your child to trace underneath the words. You can also ask your child to turn the pages for you. The two of you can act out the story, perhaps using props like stuffed animals. 

    Use an AAC device. 

    Your nonverbal child probably already uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. You can use this to supplement the reading lessons you do with your child. Download pictures and their accompanying words that are related to the story. If the story is about the ocean, download pictures to depict the ocean, fish, whales, and ships. Encourage your child to use the symbols to discuss the story with you. Your child’s AAC device should always display the words next to their pictures. If not, adjust the settings. As your child starts to recognize words, try reducing the size of the pictures and increasing the size of the words. 

    The Behavior Exchange provides a complete spectrum of autism therapy services in the Plano area. These include school consulting and advocacy services, such as IEP evaluation and drafting. Parents can reach our autism treatment center at (888) 716-8084. 

  • How We Help Families Employ Positive Reinforcement

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we wholeheartedly embrace the power of positive reinforcement as an evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis therapy technique. Our ABA therapists can help your family use positive reinforcement techniques at home to support your child’s achievement. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding children when they comply with a directive. For example, positive reinforcement can help your child learn how to use verbal language to request things. When your child uses words to ask for a glass of milk, he or she is rewarded with a glass of milk. 

    Our autism therapists can also show your family how to use positive reinforcement to replace undesirable behavior with a desirable one. This can make life easier for parents and siblings alike, particularly when the child has been experiencing behavioral difficulties in public settings. 

    Parents near Plano can explore Applied Behavior Analysis techniques with the help of the knowledgeable, friendly team at The Behavior Exchange. Give us a call today at (888) 716-8084.

  • Sleep Difficulties and Autism: What Parents Need to Know

    Compared to children without autism, children affected by autism have a substantially higher risk of suffering from sleep difficulties. This can lead to problems for the whole family, as a child who can’t get to bed or awakens frequently at night is apt to awaken the rest of the family as well. Since sleep is so crucial for health and quality of life, it’s important that parents speak with the behavior analyst about any sleep difficulties their child has been experiencing. 

    Types of Sleep Difficulties 

    Insomnia is common among individuals with autism. This means it takes them longer to fall asleep, and they are more likely to wake up during the night. It’s also possible that some children with autism have sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing ceases and restarts in a cyclical fashion throughout the night. Furthermore, children with autism tend to spend less time in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is essential for memory retention and learning. Individuals who get less REM sleep experience fewer of the restorative benefits of sleep. 

    Causes of Sleep Difficulties 

    There are several reasons why people with autism tend to have more problems sleeping. Often, it’s because of conditions that frequently co-exist with autism. For example, children may also be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders, both of which can interfere with proper sleep. These kids are also more likely to have gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation that causes cramps. This can understandably make relaxation and sleep more elusive. 

    Consequences of Insufficient Sleep 

    Insufficient, poor-quality sleep isn’t healthy for anyone. But for children with autism, it can be particularly disadvantageous. There is evidence to suggest that sleep-deprived children may have more severe symptoms of autism, including severe repetitive behaviors and poor social skills. And of course, they’ll also have more difficulty paying attention in class. 

    Children affected by autism in the Plano area can find the help and support they need at The Behavior Exchange. Our behavior analysts focus on empowering children, parents, and siblings to improve quality of life for the whole family! You can get in touch today at (888) 716-8084.  

  • 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.