• 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. 

  • 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. 

  • 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. 

  • A Look at the Benefits of Early Intervention ABA Therapy

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a collection of techniques that behavior analysts can use to help children with autism overcome their challenges. ABA therapy is sequential, versatile, and backed by decades of scientific research. As effective as ABA therapy is, the best outcomes are seen when children begin therapy as early in life as possible. This is a significant reason why it’s important for parents to learn how to recognize the potential signs of autism and seek an evaluation. 

    Early intervention supports the acquisition of communication skills. 

    Many children with autism experience delays or regression of language and speech acquisition. Others begin talking at a developmental stage that is on target for their age group but have difficulty with the appropriate use of speech to accomplish goals. Yet, the functional use of language is imperative for a child’s success in school. A child who begins school without having basic communication skills will struggle to keep up academically and socially and may be more likely to experience behavioral problems. With early intervention using ABA therapy, children have the opportunity to catch up to their target speech and language milestones. 

    Early intervention supports school readiness.  

    School readiness is so important for children. It means different things at different age groups, but it’s typically used in reference to the kindergarten age group. At this age, a child who is ready for school is one who: 

    • Can follow rules and routines 
    • Can follow multi-step directions 
    • Can reasonably self-regulate emotions 
    • Can have appropriate social interactions 
    • Can listen to adults and peers 
    • Can talk with adults and peers 
    • Can understand stories and identify letters 

    These are just a few aspects of kindergarten readiness, and many of them are tasks that a child with autism may struggle with. During early intervention ABA therapy sessions, children can acquire these crucial skills so that they can enter kindergarten as self-confident learners who are prepared to thrive. 

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we believe every child deserves the opportunity to reach his or her full potential, and to lead a happy and productive life despite challenges. Our ABA therapists in Plano encourage you to explore our Early Start Program (B.E.E.S.), which is an early childhood enrichment and school readiness program. Find out more by calling (888) 716-8084.