• Common Sensory Sensitivities in Kids with Autism

    Some children who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder may display an increased sensitivity to certain external sensory stimuli. A child’s reactions can have harmful consequences for him or her. Take the hypothetical example of six-year-old Connor. Connor gets anxious when his parents try to feed him new foods. As a result, it’s challenging to give his body the nutrients it needs for proper physical development.

    Connor also becomes excessively anxious in response to very loud noises. When his kindergarten class held a planned fire drill, the loud noise upset Conner. Now, he’s fearful of going back to class. Connor’s parents also have trouble getting him to the dentist, because the harsh, overhead lights and sounds of the dental instruments. Not every child with autism has anxiety responses this debilitating, but even minor sensitivity can adversely affect the child’s ability to thrive. An ABA therapist can help, such as by gradually introducing new foods with different textures to the child.

    At The Behavior Exchange, our ABA therapists serving the Plano and DFW areas are committed to helping every child live a full, happy life. Call us at (888) 716-8084 .

  • What Are the Benefits of One-on-One Therapy?

    Both one-on-one ABA therapy and group sessions can help children with autism progress toward their goals. Ideally, children will attend both types of therapy. Whereas group sessions allow children to get real-life practice with appropriate interactions with their peers, one-on-one therapy gives them the extra attention they need to excel. ABA therapists customize one-on-one sessions to meet the individual child’s unique needs and goals.

    During an individual session, children can receive intensive help to improve their behaviors, such as following instructions and engaging in age-appropriate play. Therapists can identify deficits with language, social skills, and self-help skills, and develop a personalized plan to help kids reach their full potential. Additionally, individual therapy gives children the opportunity to gain a firm grasp on critical academic skills like writing, reading, and math.

    The Behavior Exchange is an autism treatment center in Plano that develops personalized achievement plans for children in our one-on-one and group therapy programs . Call (888) 716-8084 to request an evaluation with a behavior analyst.

  • Why ABA Is a Trusted Autism Treatment

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is unlike other approaches to autism treatment because its effectiveness has been demonstrated with decades of research and implementation. Autism therapy providers trust ABA because it’s evidence-based, it’s stood the test of time, and because it’s infinitely adaptable to meet the unique needs of each child with autism.

    ABA therapy is versatile. The principles of ABA can be found in various therapy techniques. These principles include the use of positive reinforcement to naturally encourage desired behavioral changes, while reducing unwanted behaviors. The effectiveness of ABA principles continues to be demonstrated with new, peer-reviewed studies. Although there is no cure for autism, since ABA therapy was first developed decades ago, it has proven its value in helping children with autism reach their full potential.

    The ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange only use evidence-based methods to encourage positive change in families affected by autism. You can reach our ABA school near Plano at (888) 716-8084 for more information.

  • Reducing the Stress of Routine Changes for Your Child with Autism

    ABA therapy providers recommend maintaining a predictable schedule for children with autism, as changes in routine can make them feel uncomfortable. However, change is sometimes necessary. An autism therapist can teach you the strategies that can help your child adjust to changes in daily life. These strategies can be effective regardless of whether the change is minor (wearing a new shirt) or major (taking a family trip).

    Introduce visual aids.

    Visual aids will improve your child’s understanding of the world around him or her, including changes in daily routines. Experienced parents of children with autism often have large schedules posted prominently in the home to help kids keep track of what they’re supposed to be doing at any given time. A large wall calendar can also introduce upcoming events. If your family will be taking a trip to the aquarium in a couple of weeks, you can talk about it with your child in advance. Help him or her mark it on the calendar and, each day, count down the number of days remaining until the trip.

    Use social stories.

    The more your child knows about what will happen and how he or she should behave, the easier the transition will be. Use social stories to explain every detail. Social stories consist of simple sentences matched with pictures that explain a common event, such as going to grandma’s house or meeting a new friend.

    Practice doing the new activity.

    Children with autism can make amazing progress when they have the opportunity to practice new activities. This is true of everyday events like talking to peers and for special occasions like flying on an airplane. For instance, you and your child can go to the airport before the departure date to explore the terminal and security checkpoint. Some airlines have even held events that let kids with autism get on a plane to experience the concept of flying without actually going anywhere.

    The behavior analysts at The Behavior Exchange are on a mission to improve quality of life for your whole family by reducing undesirable behaviors like resistance to change. Call our autism therapy center in Plano at (888) 716-8084. We look forward to meeting your family and helping your child reach his or her full potential.

  • A Look at Rituals in Children with Autism

    Everyone has individual quirks. For instance, you might need to have your alarm clock placed at a particular angle on your nightstand before you can fall asleep. In children with autism, these behaviors are called rituals or routines, and they’re not always harmful. When a child’s rituals do interfere with his or her life and productivity, an ABA therapist can help.

    Identifying Rituals and Routines

    Parents often find it helpful to keep a written record of their observations. This lets the autism therapy provider become more familiar with a child’s individual behaviors, and the extent to which they might be a burden on family life. Some examples of ritualistic behaviors include:

    • Dressing and re-dressing several times each morning
    • Asking the same question repetitively and requiring the same answer
    • Arranging toys in a specific order
    • Drinking only from a specific cup
    • Needing to flush the toilet upon entering each new building

    Knowing When Rituals Become Problematic

    It’s common for parents of children with autism to learn to pick their battles. But sometimes, even benign rituals can become problematic. For example, if a child needs to change his or her clothing five times every morning, he or she might be habitually late to school. When determining whether to work with an ABA therapist to change ritualistic behaviors, consider whether the behavior interferes with your child’s:

    • Social interactions
    • Academic progress
    • Physical health
    • Family relationships

    Additionally, consider whether the rituals might be problematic for other family members or the family as a whole.

    Handling Ritualistic Behaviors

    When working with a child who engages in repetitive or ritualistic behaviors , a therapist will consider what might be driving the behavior. Perhaps the child is distressed by the environment or upset by changes in routine. Sometimes, rituals can serve as a coping mechanism for children who crave greater structure. A therapist can work with your family to establish boundaries and limits for the child, decrease anxiety in everyday life, and lessen the duration and frequency of the behaviors.

    At The Behavior Exchange , it’s our mission to empower families affected by autism. Our behavior analysts serving Plano offer one-on-one and group therapy that can help children with autism change behaviors that might hold them back in life. Connect with us at (888) 716-8084 to discuss whether your child might benefit from working with one of our dedicated ABA therapists.

  • Enrolling Your Child in B.E.E.S.

    Every child deserves to enter school fully equipped to learn, but many kids with autism struggle with deficits that inhibit their progress before they can even get started. The dedicated ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange encourage parents of preschool-age children to consider enrollment in our Early Start Program, B.E.E.S. Within a positive setting, we guide young children toward developing the social, behavioral, and academic school readiness skills they need to get the most out of kindergarten.

    Each B.E.E.S. class has a child to therapist ratio of 3:1 to ensure each of our students receives personalized support. This enrichment program gives kids a secure setting in which to learn how to make friends, interact with others in appropriate ways, and enjoy fun, age-appropriate play. The skills your child will improve upon in B.E.E.S. also include communication and motor skills.

    If you’d like to enroll your child in our ABA school, call The Behavior Exchange at (888) 716-8084. Our autism classrooms near Plano welcome students of all abilities!

  • A Look at Our IEP Review Service

    Under federal law, children with autism are entitled to receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Each child’s IEP—a written document—is developed for his or her specific needs and achievement goals, and it’s updated periodically. But it’s often hard for parents to know exactly what their kids need to reach their full potential, which is why The Behavior Exchange is pleased to offer our school advocacy services, including IEP assistance.

    Our ABA therapists can review your child’s IEP to ensure that it meets his or her needs. This document should include reasonable, specific, and measurable goals, and it should clearly identify the accommodations and modifications your child is entitled to receive in school. We can also attend your child’s Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meetings to advocate for him or her in a positive, yet firm way.

    Call (888) 716-8084 to consult one of our ABA therapists near Plano, and let us know how we can help your child with autism succeed in the classroom. The Behavior Exchange is committed to improving quality of life for the families we serve.

  • Dispelling Myths About the Causes of Autism

    The first person to ever be officially diagnosed with autism was Donald Triplett, who was diagnosed in 1943. Almost certainly, autism had existed for quite some time before 1943, but no one had a name for it until Mr. Triplett came along. Since that time, there have been many theories about the potential causes of autism , but many of these theories have been debunked over the years. If your child is newly diagnosed, you can get the facts by talking to an autism therapist.

    Myth: Autism is caused by childhood vaccinations.

    Perhaps the most damaging myth about autism is that it can be caused by childhood vaccines. This erroneous belief has led countless parents to withhold life-saving vaccines from their kids out of the fear that they’ll be affected by autism. Even now that any link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly debunked, some parents still refuse to vaccinate children because of these concerns. This theory arose from a 1997 paper published by a British surgeon, Andrew Wakefield. He blamed the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine on rising rates of autism. In the years since, this paper has been wholly discredited due to Wakefield’s faulty methods and ethical violations. Numerous studies published since then have not found any evidence that vaccines cause autism.

    Myth: Autism is caused by “refrigerator mothers.”

    The refrigerator mother theory is an old one. It was finally debunked in the 1960s, but not before it had caused severe damage to countless families. This theory proposed that autism was caused by bad parenting. Specifically, it was thought to result from cold, uncaring mothers. Today, scientists know that it’s not possible for a parenting style to cause autism.

    Myth: Autism is caused by nutritional problems.

    One persistent myth is that developmental delays are caused by poor nutrition. This is why many parents decide to put their children on a gluten-free, casein-free diet in an effort to manage autism challenges. It’s true that children with autism do often experience gastrointestinal issues, but there’s no evidence that food allergies cause autism.

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we wholeheartedly embrace a science-based approach to autism therapy. We use time-tested, clinically proven methods at our ABA school near Plano. Call (888) 716-8084 if you’re concerned about possible symptoms of autism in your child.

  • Eye-Opening Strategies to Decrease Sleep Difficulties in Kids with Autism

    A solid night’s sleep is essential for good health and quality of life, but many children with autism struggle to sleep soundly through the night. This can create problems for the whole family. If your child has been having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, talk to an ABA therapist about effective solutions.

    Use a bedtime routine.

    One of the hallmark symptoms of autism is the compelling need for predictable, consistent routines. When children with autism must deviate from a set routine, they may have significant problems coping with the change. Bedtime is no different. Follow the same bedtime routine with your child every night. It shouldn’t be too long—about 20 minutes is ideal. Avoid overstimulating activities, such as watching TV or playing with electronics. Instead, you can play some soothing classical music at a low volume and read a book together after your child changes into his or her pajamas.

    Give your child bedtime cues.

    For some children with autism, a predictable routine might not be enough. If your child gets upset when he or she has to stop an activity to get ready for bed, it can be helpful to remind your child at regular intervals that bedtime is approaching.

    Maintain a soothing bedroom environment.

    Adjust the bedroom environment to suit your child’s comfort needs. In general, a good environment for sleeping is one that is dark, cool, and quiet. Require your child to only fall asleep in bed—not on a couch.

    Teach your child how to fall asleep alone.

    One of the most common causes of frustration regarding a child’s sleep is when the child requires the presence of a parent in the bedroom to fall asleep. If your child can’t fall asleep alone, then he or she will wake you up periodically throughout the night. You can address this issue by leaving the bedroom immediately after your child’s bedtime routine, but before he or she falls asleep. An ABA therapist can also help your child feel safe and secure when he or she is alone in the bedroom.

    At The Behavior Exchange, it’s our mission to help families affected by autism overcome challenges and enjoy a harmonious home environment. Our ABA therapists in Plano only use evidence-based autism therapy practices. Call us today at (888) 716-8084 with any questions you might have.

  • Recognizing the Importance of Parent Training

    After your child is diagnosed with autism, an ABA therapist can develop an effective plan for helping your child overcome obstacles. However, children with autism need support around the clock, which is why parent training is so crucial. At The Behavior Exchange, our ABA therapists implement effective parent training programs that empower families as they work to conquer the many challenges of autism.

    We invite parents and caregivers to enroll in one of our group parent training classes. We also offer one-on-one classes. During your session, you’ll learn how to structure the home environment and schedule in ways that encourage behavioral improvements. We’ll cover household rules and ways of strengthening relationships with siblings. The techniques you’ll learn here will help you make a positive difference in your child’s life.

    Parents can reach our autism treatment center in Plano at (888) 716-8084 for more information about our parent training sessions . The team at The Behavior Exchange looks forward to meeting your family and helping your child achieve his or her full potential.