• Helping Your Child Learn Recreational Activities

    Recreational activities are important for every child. They support self-confidence, offer an outlet for emotions, and encourage feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction. But children with autism often struggle with recreational activities, in part because of the social component. An autism therapy specialist can help your child learn how to interact with his or her peers on the playground.

    Trained therapists can teach your child how to play ball, ride a bicycle, and enjoy other common recreational activities. With the help of therapy sessions, your child can participate not only in individual activities, but also in partner, team, and group opportunities.

    If your family is affected by autism and lives in the DFW area, contact The Behavior Exchange at (888) 716-8084 to request an initial appointment at our ABA school. We firmly believe that every child with autism has the potential to lead a full, active life that includes participation in fun recreational activities.

  • The Importance of IEPs for Students with Autism

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that every student is entitled to receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a document that specifies a child’s deficits, goals, and needed services to ensure that the child has access to a FAPE. Every student with autism should have an IEP and this document will need to be regularly reviewed and updated as needed.

    The IEP of a student with autism ensures that he or she receives appropriate services to achieve specific and measurable academic and non-academic goals during the school year. The contents of the IEP are established during IEP meetings between parents and appropriate school personnel. It’s often helpful for parents to bring a family advocate to these meetings, such as an autism specialist.

    The ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange offer effective school advocacy services for families affected by autism in Plano and Frisco. If you would like to have an ABA therapist review your child’s IEP, please contact us at (888) 716-8084.

  • Is There a Link Between GI Disorders and Autism?

    The body of research regarding autism is constantly expanding, yet not all of the research is conclusive. For example, a possible causal relationship between gastrointestinal disorders and autism is not supported by the evidence. However, researchers have noted that children with autism are more likely to experience chronic gastrointestinal disturbances such as constipation or diarrhea. Parents are encouraged to speak with an autism therapy provider for reliable information about the latest research.

    Exploring the Possible Link

    Several studies have found that children with autism or other developmental delays are more likely to experience gastrointestinal distress compared to typically developing children. For instance, a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders evaluated 960 children who were either typically developing, had autism, or had another developmental delay. The researchers concluded that children with autism or another developmental delay were more likely to develop gastrointestinal symptoms. Furthermore, of the children with autism, those who did report frequently occurring diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, or other symptoms were more likely to develop behavioral challenges. These included social withdrawal, irritability, and hyperactivity.

    Understanding the Related Challenges

    Most researchers are not suggesting that gastrointestinal disorders cause autism and the evidence does not support this. However, it is thought that chronic gastrointestinal symptoms can indeed contribute to the frequency or severity of behavioral challenges in these children. Additionally, children with autism are often quite selective in their eating habits. It can be difficult for parents to convince children with chronic constipation to get more fiber in their diet or make other physician-recommended changes. Some children with autism may have toileting management issues. In addition to consulting a pediatrician about a child’s gastrointestinal symptoms, parents may wish to speak with an ABA therapist about behavioral modification and its role in dietary intake.

    The Behavior Exchange is an ABA school in Plano and Frisco that is committed to using only evidence-based practices to help children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) reach their full potential. Our highly trained therapists offer both individual and group autism therapy. Call (888) 716-8084 to request more information.

  • The Impact of Autism on Language Development

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) affect children in different ways and to varying degrees of severity. This is why autism specialists develop personalized therapy plans based on the individual child’s deficits and goals. An autism therapy plan may help a child develop his or her expressive, receptive, or pragmatic language skills, among other areas of development.

    Expressive Language

    Every time a person converts thoughts into words, he or she is using expressive language skills. Many children with autism have expressive language impairments. In some cases, the child may be entirely nonverbal. Other children with autism do speak, but not to the extent that a typically developing child would. ABA therapy is to encourage the child’s ability to interact with others through expressive language skills.

    Receptive Language

    As the term implies, receptive language skills are the ability of a person to understand another person’s spoken words. A child may have receptive language deficits if he or she has trouble answering questions or following directions. These children also commonly have trouble taking turns in conversation, understanding gestures, and identifying objects.

    Pragmatic Language

    Pragmatic language deficits are common among children with autism. Pragmatic language refers to the social context of language. For a typically developed individual, the ability to interpret another person’s facial expressions or body language seems to be intuitive and automatic. But for a child with autism, these social cues of language can be enigmatic and confusing. Pragmatic language skills include the ability to alter language depending on the situation or the listener, such as speaking differently in a library versus the playground. They also include the ability to use language for varying purposes, such as greeting a person, requesting something, or providing information. A third major component of pragmatic language is the ability to follow the conventional rules of conversation, such as taking turns speaking.

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we’ve made it our life’s work to help children with autism reach their full potential. Our ABA therapists in the DFW area provide one-on-one sessions to help children develop their language skills , social abilities, and self-help skills, among other abilities. If your child has speech and language differences, you can contact us at (888) 716-8084.

  • Managing Family Relationships When One Child Has Autism

    A diagnosis of autism doesn’t only affect the child and his or her parents; it’s a life-altering event that changes the dynamics of the whole family. It can take quite a while for all of the family members to adjust to the new reality, but there are plenty of autism therapy techniques and family support services available. It’s also important to remember that your child is still the same, sweet boy or girl you know and love.

    Sibling Relationships

    Typically developing siblings can often have a difficult time coping with the challenges of autism. They may feel angry about the attention given to the child with autism; they may feel embarrassed about the atypical behaviors displayed in school and throughout the community; and they may feel upset with themselves for experiencing these emotions. To encourage healthy sibling relationships, it’s a good idea for typically developing siblings to have their own special, one-on-one time with each parent. Siblings should also feel free to express their feelings in a judgment-free environment.

    Marital Issues

    The stress of juggling the many demands of autism and its treatment can easily spill over into a marriage. Marriages can deteriorate due to financial strain and emotional challenges, such as one spouse feeling resentment that the other spouse isn’t handling his or her share of the workload. It’s important for spouses to spend some time together regularly. This is often difficult when a child has autism, but some creative scheduling can help. Spouses could meet each other for a lunch date during work hours when the kids are at school, for example.

    Family Traditions

    Children with autism often have trouble coping with changes in daily routines. It can be difficult to take the whole family on vacation or to a holiday gathering at a relative’s house. But extensive pre-planning can help families maintain these important traditions. When going to a family reunion, for example, the family affected by autism might arrive much earlier than everyone else to allow the child plenty of time to adjust to the new surroundings.

    The Behavior Exchange is an ABA school in Frisco and Plano that provides comprehensive support to help each child with autism reach his or her full potential. Give us a call today at (888) 716-8084 to set up a consultation with an ABA therapist. Be sure to ask us about our parent training classes.