• How ABA Can Help Your Child Build Better Social Skills

    Children with autism often have difficulty with social situations, such as meeting new friends or managing the nuances of conversations. These challenges can become increasingly difficult to cope with as the child grows older and enters school. But there is hope. Children who receive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can acquire the social skills they’ll need to succeed, both in school and in life. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about how you can implement evidence-based ABA techniques at home to help your child master social skills. 

    The Importance of Mastering Social Skills 

    Social skills are comprised of the customary behaviors and rules that inform a person’s interactions with others. Social skills are generally absorbed the same way that language is. Young children learn them by observing the people around them. However, children with autism may need extra help to learn social skills. It’s critically important to begin teaching these skills as early as possible. When children have difficulties with social skills, they can become easily frustrated, and this can lead to undesirable behaviors and social isolation. Furthermore, every child needs healthy friendships for emotional wellness. 

    The Role of ABA Therapy 

    ABA techniques are evidence-based and time-tested. ABA therapy is a way to replace undesirable behaviors with desired ones, and to teach important skills like those that govern social interactions. For instance, your child’s therapist may recommend enrolling him or her in a social skills group. This is an ABA therapy group in which children interact with their peers in an environment that is carefully monitored and facilitated by the therapist. After the therapist teaches a social skill to the child, such as initiating a conversation or taking turns, the child has the opportunity to master that skill through practice with his or her peers. 

    Autism can bring many challenges to your family, but we are here to help. The highly trained and compassionate behavior analysts at The Behavior Exchange can put together a personalized plan to help your child—and your whole family—overcome challenges related to autism. Call our ABA center in Plano or Frisco at 972.312.8733 and ask us about our social skills groups. 

  • Examining Age-Specific Indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Autism is a common disorder that can have a major impact on a family. Kids with autism often need extra help to master academic skills, social skills, and desired behaviors. The sooner a child with autism begins receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, the better the outcome is likely to be. Ideally, intervention should begin before a child starts school in order to enable the child to progress through school at a rate that is on target for his or her age. By keeping an eye out for developmental red flags, parents can help their kids get the early intervention they might need as soon as possible. 

    The First Year 

    Sometimes, the early signs of autism can be detected even before a child reaches his or her first birthday. Parents can watch out for avoidance of eye contact, seeming indifference toward others, and a preference for being alone. Toward the end of the first year, parents may notice that their babies fail to react as expected when presented with objects, such as toys. It’s possible for some repetitive behaviors to develop by this point, such as rocking. 

    The Second Year 

    As a child with autism enters the second year of life, parents will typically continue to notice that he or she prefers not to make eye contact with others. Kids who had been developing language skills and social skills may show signs of regression. Other possible differences may include the following: 

    By this point, typically developing children are generally able to use very short sentences of two words. It can be a cause for concern if a child doesn’t develop this ability during the second year. 

    If you’re concerned that you might have noticed the early signs of autism in your child, you can contact The Behavior Exchange to request a comprehensive evaluation with one of our highly trained ABA therapists. Our ABA center in Plano and Frisco only uses evidence-based techniques that you can trust to effect positive change in your child. Get in touch today at 972.312.8733. 

  • Teaching a Child to Wait: How ABA Can Help

    Waiting is an essential life skill, and also one of the most difficult to learn successfully. Any child may have trouble waiting. For a child with autism, in particular, the abstract concept of time can be difficult to grasp. This is why undesirable behaviors sometimes occur when a child is told to wait a few more minutes before he or she will get a desired objective or item. Fortunately, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help teach children with autism how to wait patiently. 

    Structured Program for Waiting 

    An ABA therapist may design a structured program to help your child learn how to wait. First, it’s necessary to determine how long a child can already wait for a desired object. For this example, let’s say Jane is waiting for a doll. Jane can wait 30 seconds before grabbing at the doll or pleading for the doll. To start, the therapist may give Jane the doll for a few seconds, and then put it out of reach and say, “Wait.” Then, Jane must wait for 20 seconds before receiving the doll again. Gradually, the therapist will increase the length of time that the child will wait for an item or an activity. 

    Opportunities for Waiting in the Natural Environment 

    It’s important for parents to learn the basics of ABA techniques so that they can practice them with their children in the natural environment. Here’s a look at some natural opportunities to practice waiting: 

    • Mom starts to unbuckle Jane from the car seat, but then says, “Hold on a second,” and pretends to be busy with something else. 
    • Dad starts to hand Jane a book she wants, but then says, “Just a minute, let me read the back cover.” 

    Each time the child can successfully wait, he or she should receive praise and the desired item or activity in order to reinforce the lesson. 

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we are tireless advocates for kids with autism and their families. Our autism therapy experts in Plano and Frisco, Texas firmly believe that every child deserves the opportunity to live up to his or her full potential. Call our ABA school at (888) 716-8084 to learn how our approach to therapy can help your child. 

  • What Is HOH Prompting?

    Autism therapy experts who use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) have a number of tools and techniques that they can use to help children reach their full potential. One example is prompting. A prompt is a stimulus that encourages a desired response. Sometimes, hand over hand (HOH) prompting may be appropriate. As the name suggests, HOH prompting involves the practitioner placing his or her hand directly on the child’s hand to guide the child in completing a task. 

    HOH prompting is often used for teaching children how to acquire academic skills, such as manipulating a pair of scissors, and self-care skills, such as wielding a toothbrush. The goal of HOH prompting is eventually to fade it out. As the child develops a better grasp on the skill, the therapist will begin to make the hand prompting less obvious. For example, the child may eventually only need a gentle tap on the hand to remember how to complete the task properly. 

    At The Behavior Exchange, our autism therapists in Plano and Frisco, Texas only use evidence-based, proven ABA techniques, so you can feel confident in your child’s therapy plan. We welcome your call at (888) 716-8084.

  • Helping Your Child Accept the Word “No”

    One of the hardest jobs a parent will face is teaching a child to accept the word “no.” If your child has autism, it’s a good idea to speak with his or her behavior analyst about this issue. You may learn, for example, that you have been inadvertently reinforcing negative behavior. This often includes giving in to the child’s demands after he or she displays a negative reaction upon hearing the word “no.” By giving in to the child’s demands, the parent teaches the child that this negative behavior will bring favorable results. 

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help. The therapist may first introduce your child to the word “no” in low-stress situations. Let’s assume that Benny likes popsicles and yogurt equally. Benny asks for a popsicle. The adult would say, “No, you can’t have a popsicle, but you can have yogurt.” Problematic behavior is ignored, rather than reinforced, and good behavior is rewarded with the yogurt. The child will need lots of practice learning to accept “no” in these low-stress situations in order to tolerate the word in other situations. 

    Evidence-based personalized ABA therapy is available in Plano at The Behavior Exchange. Call (888) 716-8084, and our compassionate ABA therapists will help your child learn to exchange negative behaviors for positive ones. 

  • 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.

  • Could Your Child Benefit from One-on-One Therapy?

    Autism therapists employ a range of evidence-based techniques to help children improve their functional abilities. In general, it’s recommended that children with autism have intensive one-on-one therapy sessions first before adding group skills classes. During your child’s individual sessions with the ABA therapist, he or she can work on behavioral skills such as compliance and instruction following. Your child will also develop self-help skills to increase independence and make daily life easier for the whole family. 

    All children with autism have unique needs. Your child’s individual therapy sessions will be customized to help him or her work toward established goals. These goals will likely include academic targets as well as behavioral improvements. Reading, writing, and mathematics are all fundamental academic skills that your child can work on in individual therapy sessions. 

    Families affected by autism in the Plano area are encouraged to contact the ABA therapy team at The Behavior Exchange. Call (888) 716-8084 to inquire about our individual therapy sessions.

  • Exploring the Impacts of Early Intervention ABA

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a time-tested, evidence-based collection of techniques that autism therapists can use to help children achieve a higher level of functioning. The effectiveness of ABA has been proven with decades of scientific studies. It’s long been known that the sooner a child with autism receives early intervention with ABA, the better the outcome is likely to be. Autism Speaks, the national advocacy group, took a closer look at a study published in the journal Pediatrics, which evaluated children as young as 18 months of age. 

    The ABA Study 

    The autism study took place over five years. It was spearheaded by a research team from the University of Washington in Seattle. The study participants were 48 children between the ages of 18 and 30 months of age. All of the children were diagnosed with autism, and none were diagnosed with other health problems. The study participants were divided into two groups. The first received 20 hours of ABA therapy per week, along with five hours of therapy delivered by their parents. Specifically, the intervention group followed the Early Start Denver Model, which uses ABA techniques combined with relationship-based methods. The other group was referred to community-based resources. 

    The Results 

    At the end of the five-year study, Autism Speaks reports that the control group had gained four IQ points, compared to an average of 18 points for the children in the intervention group. The researchers also evaluated receptive language skills. The control group improved by about 10 points, compared to about 18 points for children in the intervention group. The researchers noted that the intervention group likely made better progress thanks to the structured teaching, which used a relationship-based approach that took advantage of play-based learning opportunities. The researchers also lauded the parental involvement, noting the importance of consistency across environments. 

    The ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange work closely with preschool-age children in our B.E.E.S. program. It’s carefully designed to help children with autism in Plano develop social, language, motor, behavior, and academic skills. If you’ve noticed possible signs of autism in your child, please give us a call today at (888) 716-8084.

  • 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. 

  • 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.