• 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. 

  • How Are the Signs of Autism Different in Girls?

    More boys are diagnosed with autism than girls. Although autism may simply occur more often in boys, researchers say that the disparity can also be attributed to cases of autism going undetected and undiagnosed in girls. And yet, researchers also know that the sooner the symptoms of autism are detected and early intervention has begun, the better the outcome will be. Parents of daughters may wish to take a minute to learn how autism can manifest differently in girls than boys. 

    Restricted Interests and Method of Play

    One of the hallmark characteristics of autism, at least in boys, is a focused interest in one narrow topic. Some boys can’t stop talking about train schedules or chemical reactions, for instance. When considering whether a girl might have autism, it’s important to bear in mind that girls tend to have more age-appropriate interests, such as playing with dolls. The key to detecting differences rests in how a girl plays. Girls might have their dolls do the same things and “say” the same words every time. They might sort doll clothes by color instead of playing with the doll’s hair. And they might exhibit very strong resistance to transitioning to another activity. 

    Social Pressures and Behaviors 

    For better or worse, girls are expected to adhere to certain social behaviors at a younger age than boys. Families may be more proactive in teaching and enforcing these social behaviors in girls than in boys, even though this tendency may not necessarily be deliberate. Because of this, girls with autism aren’t likely to display the same sort of social differences as boys with autism. Instead, girls tend to “camouflage” their behaviors to mimic those of the other girls around them. A close look, however, will still reveal some differences. Girls with autism might not be socially rejected by their peers, but they may not be accepted, either. Instead of playing with other girls, a girl with autism may simply play near them. 

    Every child is unique, and at The Behavior Exchange, every child receives a uniquely individualized autism therapy program. Our skilled behavior analysts in Plano work with children of varying ages and ability levels, taking a proactive and positive approach toward empowering families. Get in touch today by calling 888-716-8084.