• Essential Elements of the IFSP

    Early intervention services are essential for children who have autism. Early diagnosis and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can help young children be ready for school when the time comes. All children who qualify for early intervention services are legally entitled to receive an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). In contrast to the Individualized Education Program (IEP), which is designed for school-aged children, the IFSP is a family-oriented document. It considers not only what the child needs to thrive, but also what the family needs to support the child’s development. 

    Current Abilities and Skills 

    After listing the family’s vital statistics, such as the contact information, the next section in the IFSP is an in-depth description of the child’s current abilities and skills. This section is divided into categories: 

    • Physical skills 
    • Cognitive skills 
    • Communication skills 
    • Self-help or adaptive skills 
    • Social/emotional skills 

    Some examples of skills at this age level include holding and manipulating age-appropriate toys, transitioning from using a bottle to a cup, and vocalizing to initiate interactions with others. This section of the IFSP will explain what the child is able to do, as well as what he or she isn’t able to do, based on age-appropriate milestones. 

    Family Resources, Concerns, and Priorities 

    This section of the IFSP describes the family’s resources, such as whether the parents have college degrees and who watches over the child during the day. It also considers nearby resources, such as the proximity of autism treatment centers. Parents are encouraged to discuss their concerns for the child and the family as a whole, and to identify what their priorities are. For example, it may be a priority for the child to develop better muscle tone so that he or she is able to act more independently. 

    Measurable Outcomes 

    This is the goals section of the IFSP. All goals must be specific and measurable. For example, a goal that’s too vague might be: “Jane will improve her communication.” Instead, the goal should be something like this: “Jane will learn to use simple words, and to understand and follow one-step directions.” Each measurable outcome is followed by a discussion of the strategies and activities that will help the child reach the goal. 

    Early Intervention Services 

    This portion of the IFSP details the child’s early intervention services. It explains where the child will receive services, such as at a local autism treatment center. It also details how many sessions per week the child will have, and how long those sessions will be. 

    The Behavior Exchange is a leading provider of early intervention services for children with autism in the Plano and Frisco areas. Our highly trained and experienced ABA therapists look forward to meeting your family and helping your child achieve his or her goals. You can reach us at (888) 716-8084. 

  • Creating a Language-Rich Environment for Toddlers

    Long before children are able to read fluently by themselves, they need constant exposure to language. It’s a major reason why parents are advised to frequently talk to their infants right from birth onward. A language-rich environment supports early literacy skills in all children, whether or not they have autism and require early intervention services. There are plenty of ways that parents can create a language-rich home for their children. 

    Fill your home with books. 

    It’s a given that a language-rich environment requires the presence of lots of books. Give your child his or her own bookcase, positioned low to the floor so that your child can easily access the books. Some parents like to keep a book or two near the child’s bed so it’s accessible as soon as the child wakes up from a nap. Used bookshops are an economical way to stock the shelves, and you can bring your child to the library regularly to pick out new selections. Your child should also see the adults in the family enjoy reading their own books every day. 

    Read to your child every day. 

    Reading together reinforces the loving bond you share with your child. Many parents like to read a few picture books at bedtime, allowing the child to choose them. It’s perfectly all right if your child selects the same books over and over again. This is actually beneficial for language acquisition because it reinforces the idea that the words remain the same and have the same meanings every time. Repetition is crucial for learning. 

    Help your child play with the books. 

    You can help your child develop a love of books and reading. Make the activity interactive by playing dress-up with your child to imitate the characters in a favorite book. If a book has animals as characters, use corresponding stuffed animals as props while reading the book. Encourage your child to talk about the story and characters by asking open-ended questions. 

    Children with language deficits, including children with autism, can receive early intervention services at The Behavior Exchange. Our autism treatment center near Plano provides the Early Start (B.E.E.S.) program designed to help toddlers acquire language, social, academic, and behavior skills. Parents are invited to call (888) 716-8084 to request a consult with a behavior analyst. 

  • Cartoon Strip Conversations: The New Social Story

    Carol Gray, the renowned creator of social stories for children with autism, has developed another useful tool. Cartoon strip conversations depict people interacting with each other. Each cartoon square features one or more blank speech bubbles. These templates allow parents or ABA therapists to customize the speech to fit the type of interaction that the child needs to learn about. 

    Some types of cartoon strip conversations include requests, greetings, negotiations, and interaction initiations. These templates offer a precise, visual way for children with autism to learn how to interact appropriately with people. The parent or ABA therapist will need to lead the child in a discussion of the nuances of the conversation, such as by pointing out that a child would interact differently with an adult than with a peer. 

    At The Behavior Exchange, we believe every child deserves to lead a happy, fulfilling life, despite the challenges of language and social deficits. If your child has been diagnosed with autism in the Plano and Frisco area, call us at (888) 716-8084.