• Why Social Interaction Is Important for Children with Autism

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    For children with autism spectrum disorders, social interaction doesn’t come naturally. While it is not uncommon for all children to struggle with social skills, engaging socially can be particularly intimidating and unpleasant for children with autism. The good news is that when social skills aren’t occurring naturally, it is still possible to learn them.

    Frequent social interaction is crucial for children with autism for this reason. When given a chance to interact with peers both with autism and without, children get practice at coping in social situations. They learn to share, cooperate, and how to correctly read facial expressions and voice tones. Below are some examples of ways to connect with others:

    • Be Polite
    • Smile and introduce yourself
    • Lend a helping hand
    • Have a positive attitude
    • Admit mistakes
    • Respect others personal space
    • Let someone go first
    • Listen without interrupting
    • Use manners/be polite
    • Take turns

    At The Behavior Exchange, social skills groups are part of our applied behavior analysis approach to dealing with autism. To learn more about the importance of social interaction for children with autism and to visit our center, call (888) 716-8084.

  • What Group Therapy Can Do for Your Child

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    The Behavior Exchange is proud to offer individualized, early start therapy and classes for children of all learning abilities and ages. If your child has attention deficits, learning challenges, or behavioral issues stemming from autism, our educators may recommend group therapy as part of a comprehensive plan to develop your child’s special gifts. Our caring staff of therapists and educators are committed to helping each and every child develop social and language skills through applied behavior analysis. A group therapy program encourages social interaction with therapists and peers while also providing exciting opportunities for communication and language enhancement.

    Interaction techniques like these can help grow and foster a healthy and sustainable social construct:

    • Compliment others and cheer someone up
    • Share
    • Be a good sport, accept losing
    • Engage in small talk
    • Learn to have common interests and agree to disagree
    • Tell the truth
    • Respect others
    • Learn to deescalate when getting upset

    To learn more about how group therapy can address behavior disorders such as autism, contact The Behavior Exchange Plano of Dallas today at (888) 716-8084. Our caring staff is dedicated to helping bring about meaningful improvements in your child’s life, education, peer relationships, and family participation. Call us today to find out more about one-on-one sessions, group therapy, and real-life experiences.

  • Ask Dr. Mike: Expecting and Anxious About Autism

    Published by Ashburn Patch

    With last month’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) reporting that as many as 1 in 50 children in U.S. schools have Autism, the topic of Autism has created an increase in parental anxiety in my practice as a psychologist. Parents want to know what the CDC’s study and those numbers could mean for them and their own potential for having an Autistic child.   

    The parents who are most concerned are those who are either planning for pregnancy or who are pregnant and expecting. One parent I met with recently expressed a profound sense of relief after learning that the sex of their fetus is female, reminding me that boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls. And, another parent indicated that, while they would love a fourth child, they do not want to “take any chances with autism being so rampant.”

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    We have all watched the rates grow year after year, so I’m not surprised that parents are becoming more anxious about Autism. In 2000, the Autism prevalence rate in the United States was 1 in 500 and during the past 13 years those numbers have climbed to today’s CDC’s finding that 1 in 50 U.S. children having Autism. One explanation for the startling increase is that diagnosis is improving and older children are now being diagnosed at higher rates.

    And the CDC’s research findings have mirrored what I have been seeing in my practice for several years now, where I am diagnosing older children – usually male – who are generally high functioning. I have spoken to my colleagues whose experiences are similar, and I imagine that child psychologists all over the country are having the same sort of experience in their practices – that there is subset of children with High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), that aren’t being identified or diagnosed until later in childhood. 

    Presently, there is no medical test or genetic test that can identify Autism during pregnancy. However, several factors are associated with higher rates of Autism, including: premature births, babies low in weight at birth, low Apgar scores, parental age (for both fathers and mothers), high maternal stress, maternal use of certain medications, maternal hormonal and genetic status and fetal hypoxia. Some research has even shown a correlation with Autism and cesarean section delivery and having a baby in less developed countries than the United States or Europe.

    Unfortunately, most of the above-mentioned factors for autism are not in one’s control, and the rise in Autism rates is raising parental anxiety. Pediatricians, child psychiatrists, child psychologists, and other professionals who work with parents who are planning for pregnancy or expecting or parents of young children need to be prepared to discuss Autism. 

    My advice to my clients at this point is for them to focus on what is in their control: good maternal health at birth and good prenatal care. I also discuss the importance of early intervention and its proven positive impact for children on the Autistic Spectrum. I also support and work with parents whose children are being diagnosed later inasmuch as older children and adolescents on the Spectrum can benefit from behavioral therapy and social skills interventions. 

    I also tell parents that Autism is an epidemic on a global level, but it is not a curse on an individual one. Some of the happiest parents I know (both personally and professionally) have children on the Autistic Spectrum. And it has been my honor and pleasure to work with many children, adolescents and adults with Autism over the years.

    Regardless of the diagnosis, at  The Behavior Exchange , we’re here to help. With our applied behavior analysis approach and neutral perspective on diagnosis, we work to help your child overcome the symptoms that led to that diagnosis.  To develop strategies for healthy interactions, help is a phone call away. Dial (888) 716-8084.

  • May Newsletter

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    After the national events last month, with the Boston bombing, and the explosion in West Texas, I think it’s important for all of us to count our blessings. How fortunate are we to have a place to live, to be surrounded by family and friends who love us, to have a job that allows us to truly make a difference, and most importantly, to be in good health and safe. Many times our most primary needs, which so many people in the world are lacking, are something we just assume and forget to truly be thankful for. 

    At a time when their is a lot of turmoil in the world, we want to always have hope, that good will prevail over evil, that those grieving will find comfort, that those injured will heal, and that those who are weak will find strength. 

    When everyone was running away during these tragic events, the first responders rushed in and in West and Boston many of them lost their lives. The heroic efforts of those that responded rescued many of the injured and led to an arrest which will hopefully prevent more tragedy. These first responders should give all of us hope.

    When there are tragedies, it makes us all pause and remind ourselves of what is important. This month, I hope that we all can appreciate each other a little more and recognize how special our Behavior Exchange team is and how lucky we all are to have one another.  When someone leaves this world, it is common to think, “I would have done so many things differently”, “I would have told them how much I cared”, “I would have spent more time with them”, etc. So, at The Behavior Exchange, I hope that we can operate more from our hearts, more from our soul, and appreciate each other knowing that their is no guarantee about tomorrow. 

    Our work is not unlike first responders. Although we may not be running into fire or dodging bullets, we deal with our fair share of problem behavior. But, I will argue, that our work is also important and heroic. We TRULY can make a REAL difference in the life of each family we touch. We can set the child’s life path on a much more positive and meaningful course then may have been possible had we not intervened. This in turn can transform a family and everyone they touch.

    How lucky are we to have this opportunity to help so many people? So, in a sense, we are first responders, we are the ones who rush in when others may be retreating. We give each child a chance and work so hard to help them connect to others in this world, to want to be better, and to help them reach their full potential. 

    This month, let’s focus on hope. I hope that those affected by the recent tragedies will find comfort and strength so they can begin healing.

    Let’s help the families that we are helping find hope that their child and their future will be bright and to know that we are their partner throughout this process.  

    Keep Boston and West in your prayers and let’s all have the courage to really operate from the heart with each other and each of the families we serve.

    Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, BCBA

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    behaviorexchangedfw.com

    Did you know that The Behavior Exchange now has a more robust, more informative blog/website?
    We believe that knowledge is one of our greatest allies in the fight against behavioral disorders, mental disabilities, autism, aspergers, etc…

    With that in mind, we have created  behaviorexchangedfw.com . A place where we will collect as much information as possible for your knowledge and benefit. We will also post inspirational quotes and images as well as tip-and-tricks to help you with any behavioral needs your family may encounter. It is our hope this will be your expert-guide-blog stop. We hope you browse around, learn something, perhaps teach us something. Hope you like it.

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    Summer time is fun time.

    The Behavior Exchange’s Summer Camp  and Social Skills Group want you.

    Summer Camps and Social Skills Group are a 10-week long group intervention and school readiness programs. 

    Using unique curriculum, developed by The Behavior Exchange, experienced Behavior Trainers will engage students in fun activities that enhance their individual behavioral goals and expand on their previous learning using ABA therapy techniques. Our camps will focus on communication, school readiness, participation, and social skills while working in a group setting. 

    Your child will enjoy:

    •  Our unique Behavior Exchange social skills curriculum 
    •  Structured social skills lessons and applied activities 
    •  Our awesome staff 
    •  Fun, age-appropriate play 
    •  Cooperative skill-building and “get-to-know-you” activities 
    •  Science, art, music and academic enrichment 
    •  Technology and gaming activities

    Our sessions begin June 10, 2013.

    We will do our best to accommodate your schedule and the needs of your child.

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    This month we bring you:
    Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

    Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

    If you have a TED video you would like us to share, please email us at walter@behaviorexchange.com

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    It’s May!
    You’re not spending all of your time indoors, are you?

    We don’t know if you have noticed, but the weather around the DFW metroplex during the month of May is pretty much…how shall we put it…AWESOME.
    Old man winter is definitely behind us, spring is in full force and some of those nice warm nights are just around the corner. Tis the perfect time to be out-n-about!

    Check out some of the cool things to do around town.

    May 5
    Cinco de Mayo Parade

    May 10, 11, 12
    Swiss Avenue Historic District Home Tour and Mother’s Day Celebration

    May 11-19
    12th Annual Butterfly Festival

    May 17, 18, 19
    Main Street Grapevine Festival

    May 26
    Annual Dragon Boat, Kite & Lantern Festival

    May 27
    Memorial Day Weekend Celebrations
    There are many events happening this weekend honoring our brave soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country.

  • Happy Families. Successful Children. Empowered Parents. Effective Schools.

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  • Trusting the Process

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    Written by Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, BCBA

    Just as our beautiful illustration shows the process of a caterpillar forming a cocoon and transforming into a beautiful butterfly, so goes the transformation that we are making for every child and family we serve.  That is our mission. 

    As Behavior Analysts, we know that our methods are very effective and so we have learned to “Trust the Process” in most instances.  But what about those cases that are slow moving, or where there are roadblocks to success, or where you wish you could just find that secret key to unlocking the door that is keeping the child from coming into the world in a new and profound way.  In those instances, it is especially important to trust the process.  Of course the transformation may happen at varying degrees based on a whole host of factors. 

    What I know about The Behavior Exchange is that each of you embody what we were founded on, and that is, that every individual is capable of greatness.  Everyone is capable of learning, growing and becoming something more beautiful and improved than they were before.  Sometimes we may see one child’s progress and compare it to another’s  and feel discouraged.  For some children, the reality is that there progress may be slower, it may be more limited, but that doesn’t mean that it is less important.  In cases like this, we have to look for those behaviors that are most functional and that can provide the biggest impact for the individual and focus there. 

    This is where the notion of the behavioral cusp is very important to understand.  A behavioral cusp is a behavior that can open the door to a wide range of changes in the child’s environment. It is any behavior change that can bring the child into contact with new contingencies that have a huge impact.  An example would be literally, opening a door.  When a child learns to open a door, this behavior is considered a cusp because the child now can open any door and can come into contact with a whole host of contingencies based on what is behind that door.  So, think about other examples of behavioral cusps and a single behavior that can have a dramatic effect on the child’s ability to access new information, environments and contingencies.  These are the skills that we should focus on for all of our clients, but especially those with slow progress. 

    Of course, trusting the process does not only apply to our clients, but also to ourselves.  Aren’t we all striving to be better all the time?  Personally, professionally….a better friend, a better wife, a better husband, a better parent, a better child or sibling, a better neighbor, a better student,  a better co-worker, a better citizen….to stop smoking, to start exercising, to lose weight, to eat better, to study more, to do nice things for people, to find a new hobby, to visit a grandparent more….everyone is trying to improve.  I remember my mentor telling me so many times…..”Be Patient”.  It sometimes drove me crazy hearing that.  I wanted results now.  I wanted to be better right away.  But, I hear his wisdom echoing in my ear a lot now…..Be patient.  And, I believe that’s what I want to focus on this week.  Be patient.  Trust the process.  For our clients….for you…in each other…and for The Behavior Exchange as a whole.  We need to trust the process of crawling along dilligently as a caterpillar to wrapping up ourselves in a cocoon and being still and reflective to gather the strength for the growth ahead, so that we too can all see the hard work transform into a beautiful reality that we can all celebrate. 

    Each day we make these transformations possible.  Each day all of us and our clients are in various stages of this transformation process.  So, let’s trust the process and be sure to celebrate the butterflies as they fly by, knowing that we have made a difference.

  • Happy Mother’s Day!!

  • High School Student Speaks Out.

    Have you seen this video of a high-school student standing up to his teacher? What are your thoughts?

  • This Sunday, May 12, tell your mom how much you love her. She’ll love to hear that from you.

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  • The CDC Explains Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Written By Tammy Cline-Soza, MS, BCBA

    What is an autism spectrum disorder? As you will learn in this video, the term autism refers to three specific conditions: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified, and Asperger’s syndrome.

    In the March 2013 CDC report it was discovered that the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder is increasing. School-aged children now have a 1 in 50 chance of being diagnosed with Autism or Autism-like conditions according to the report. The results were generated from studying children during 2007 -2012.

    These conditions are all defined by an impairment in social interaction, but the number and severity of behavioral and communication impairment differ. Children’s behavior may be mildly or severely affected. Early intervention using applied behavior analysis is critical and studies show that early treatment allows children to make significant progress in learning, communication, and social skills.

    The Behavior Exchange of Dallas is dedicated to using applied behavior analysis in both one-on-one and group formats, to help children and parents successfully navigate behavior challenges and to reach their full potential. Call us today at (972) 312-8733 to learn more about our  group therapy  and one-on-one sessions. 

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