• Teaching Kids with Autism to Recognize Emotions

    One of the potential symptoms of autism is difficulty recognizing the emotional cues of others. This can make social situations tricky for children with autism, and it creates difficulties with friendships. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about how you can help your child make progress with emotion recognition.  

    One common strategy involves the use of picture cards. The child is shown one picture at a time depicting a face with a certain emotion. The therapist or parent can help the child learn the cues that indicate what the facial expression means. Beyond learning the differences between smiles and frowns, a child can learn that a furrowed brow means confusion, that one lifted eyebrow is a questioning look, and that biting the lower lip indicates nervousness. But picture cards with just facial expressions might not provide a complete explanation for the child. It’s also helpful to match emotions to pictures of common scenarios, such as the happy face of a boy at a birthday party. 

    The Behavior Exchange is a warm and welcoming autism treatment center in Plano that offers social skills groups to help kids with challenges like recognizing emotions. Call (888) 716-8084 to sign up your child! 

  • When to Talk to Your Child’s Doctor about Autism Symptoms

    If you have noticed potential symptoms of autism in your child, it can be difficult to know when you should speak to your physician about it. It’s best to rely on your instincts as a parent and to call your doctor if you sense any developmental delays in your child. You should also act quickly if your child’s communication skills or social skills seem to regress at all. The earliest months and years in your child’s life are the most critical for development, and this is when you’re most likely to notice the symptoms of autism. The earlier you respond to a developmental delay, the more effective the response is likely to be.

    If you have a child who has autism, the ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange can help to ensure that you have access to the most effective therapies. If you would like to learn more, call our office in Plano today at (888) 716-8084.

  • Facilitating Sibling Relationships When One Child Has Autism

    Since children with autism require plenty of their parents’ time and attention, siblings often feel left out. Siblings can be affected by conflicting emotions—they may feel protective of their brother or sister, but also jealous that the child with autism is getting most of the attention. To build strong relationships, siblings need some one-on-one time with a parent. By putting the focus on the sibling, and making him or her feel special, the sibling will be less likely to feel resentful of the child with autism.

    An ABA therapist can help siblings understand why children with autism act the way they do. Therapists and parents can also help siblings learn how to play and interact with each other, as children with autism often need extra help to acquire play skills.

    At The Behavior Exchange, we understand that siblings can have trouble coping with the symptoms of autism. Give us a call at (888) 716-8084, and an ABA therapist near Plano will discuss how we can help balance the family dynamic .

  • Why Unproved Autism Therapies Can Put Your Child at Risk

    One of the biggest challenges that parents of children with autism face is the overwhelming number of untested, unproven autism therapies that are promoted on an ongoing basis. Trying these non-science-based therapies aren’t just potentially a waste of time and money for families. They can also put children with autism at risk for dangerous side effects.

    Many unproven autism therapies involve dietary changes, chemicals, minerals, and vitamins that can cause serious complications when not used appropriately. Some untested treatments can lead to serious health issues like mercury poisoning, intestinal upset, headaches, and vitamin overdose toxicity. For your child, unproven autism therapies will not provide results and could actually exacerbate symptoms in some cases.

    The Behavior Exchange is committed to providing autism therapy in the DFW area using the most tested treatment method available, applied behavior analysis . We’re always available to answer your questions about ABA and how it could help your child with autism. To learn more, please call us at (888) 716-8084.

  • What Are Some Strategies for Fostering Friendships in Children with Autism?

    Some children are naturally shy and introverted, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. But children with autism face added challenges, such as not knowing how to start or maintain a conversation, or how to play cooperatively with a friend. A child’s socio-emotional development is crucial for his or her well-being. Structured autism therapy in a group setting can help these kids overcome social challenges.

    Making Eye Contact

    There are so many complex nuances that go into a successful social interaction, and most people follow unspoken social rules without giving them a second thought. But children with the symptoms of autism need some extra help to learn and practice these social rules, such as those regarding making eye contact. Kids need to be taught that making eye contact lets the other person know he or she is listening. However, making eye contact for too long without briefly looking away is considered rude. Parents can help their kids practice this skill in one-on-one interactions and conversations that involve multiple people.

    Entering a Conversation

    Children with autism might not realize that entering a private conversation is generally frowned upon. There are social cues that can indicate to a child that he or she is welcome to join in a group conversation. One speaker might smile at the child, call over to him or her, or wave a hand. Kids can also learn socially appropriate ways of capturing the attention of the speakers to see if it’s alright to join in.

    Learning About Emotions

    Facial expressions can be tricky for many kids who are developing atypically. Therapists and parents can help children understand how to interpret different emotions through the use of visual aids. For instance, flashcards with faces with different expressions can help kids differentiate between happy and sad faces. This can lead to practicing appropriate social responses to these emotional indicators.

    The Behavior Exchange uses evidence-based practices to teach critical social skills to children with autism in the Plano area. We invite parents to explore the benefits of our social skills groups, which include making friends, playing cooperatively, and engaging in age-appropriate play. You can reach us at (888) 716-8084.

  • Why ABA Is a Trusted Autism Treatment

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is unlike other approaches to autism treatment because its effectiveness has been demonstrated with decades of research and implementation. Autism therapy providers trust ABA because it’s evidence-based, it’s stood the test of time, and because it’s infinitely adaptable to meet the unique needs of each child with autism.

    ABA therapy is versatile. The principles of ABA can be found in various therapy techniques. These principles include the use of positive reinforcement to naturally encourage desired behavioral changes, while reducing unwanted behaviors. The effectiveness of ABA principles continues to be demonstrated with new, peer-reviewed studies. Although there is no cure for autism, since ABA therapy was first developed decades ago, it has proven its value in helping children with autism reach their full potential.

    The ABA therapists at The Behavior Exchange only use evidence-based methods to encourage positive change in families affected by autism. You can reach our ABA school near Plano at (888) 716-8084 for more information.

  • Reducing the Stress of Routine Changes for Your Child with Autism

    ABA therapy providers recommend maintaining a predictable schedule for children with autism, as changes in routine can make them feel uncomfortable. However, change is sometimes necessary. An autism therapist can teach you the strategies that can help your child adjust to changes in daily life. These strategies can be effective regardless of whether the change is minor (wearing a new shirt) or major (taking a family trip).

    Introduce visual aids.

    Visual aids will improve your child’s understanding of the world around him or her, including changes in daily routines. Experienced parents of children with autism often have large schedules posted prominently in the home to help kids keep track of what they’re supposed to be doing at any given time. A large wall calendar can also introduce upcoming events. If your family will be taking a trip to the aquarium in a couple of weeks, you can talk about it with your child in advance. Help him or her mark it on the calendar and, each day, count down the number of days remaining until the trip.

    Use social stories.

    The more your child knows about what will happen and how he or she should behave, the easier the transition will be. Use social stories to explain every detail. Social stories consist of simple sentences matched with pictures that explain a common event, such as going to grandma’s house or meeting a new friend.

    Practice doing the new activity.

    Children with autism can make amazing progress when they have the opportunity to practice new activities. This is true of everyday events like talking to peers and for special occasions like flying on an airplane. For instance, you and your child can go to the airport before the departure date to explore the terminal and security checkpoint. Some airlines have even held events that let kids with autism get on a plane to experience the concept of flying without actually going anywhere.

    The behavior analysts at The Behavior Exchange are on a mission to improve quality of life for your whole family by reducing undesirable behaviors like resistance to change. Call our autism therapy center in Plano at (888) 716-8084. We look forward to meeting your family and helping your child reach his or her full potential.

  • A Look at Rituals in Children with Autism

    Everyone has individual quirks. For instance, you might need to have your alarm clock placed at a particular angle on your nightstand before you can fall asleep. In children with autism, these behaviors are called rituals or routines, and they’re not always harmful. When a child’s rituals do interfere with his or her life and productivity, an ABA therapist can help.

    Identifying Rituals and Routines

    Parents often find it helpful to keep a written record of their observations. This lets the autism therapy provider become more familiar with a child’s individual behaviors, and the extent to which they might be a burden on family life. Some examples of ritualistic behaviors include:

    • Dressing and re-dressing several times each morning
    • Asking the same question repetitively and requiring the same answer
    • Arranging toys in a specific order
    • Drinking only from a specific cup
    • Needing to flush the toilet upon entering each new building

    Knowing When Rituals Become Problematic

    It’s common for parents of children with autism to learn to pick their battles. But sometimes, even benign rituals can become problematic. For example, if a child needs to change his or her clothing five times every morning, he or she might be habitually late to school. When determining whether to work with an ABA therapist to change ritualistic behaviors, consider whether the behavior interferes with your child’s:

    • Social interactions
    • Academic progress
    • Physical health
    • Family relationships

    Additionally, consider whether the rituals might be problematic for other family members or the family as a whole.

    Handling Ritualistic Behaviors

    When working with a child who engages in repetitive or ritualistic behaviors , a therapist will consider what might be driving the behavior. Perhaps the child is distressed by the environment or upset by changes in routine. Sometimes, rituals can serve as a coping mechanism for children who crave greater structure. A therapist can work with your family to establish boundaries and limits for the child, decrease anxiety in everyday life, and lessen the duration and frequency of the behaviors.

    At The Behavior Exchange , it’s our mission to empower families affected by autism. Our behavior analysts serving Plano offer one-on-one and group therapy that can help children with autism change behaviors that might hold them back in life. Connect with us at (888) 716-8084 to discuss whether your child might benefit from working with one of our dedicated ABA therapists.

  • Dispelling Myths About the Causes of Autism

    The first person to ever be officially diagnosed with autism was Donald Triplett, who was diagnosed in 1943. Almost certainly, autism had existed for quite some time before 1943, but no one had a name for it until Mr. Triplett came along. Since that time, there have been many theories about the potential causes of autism , but many of these theories have been debunked over the years. If your child is newly diagnosed, you can get the facts by talking to an autism therapist.

    Myth: Autism is caused by childhood vaccinations.

    Perhaps the most damaging myth about autism is that it can be caused by childhood vaccines. This erroneous belief has led countless parents to withhold life-saving vaccines from their kids out of the fear that they’ll be affected by autism. Even now that any link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly debunked, some parents still refuse to vaccinate children because of these concerns. This theory arose from a 1997 paper published by a British surgeon, Andrew Wakefield. He blamed the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine on rising rates of autism. In the years since, this paper has been wholly discredited due to Wakefield’s faulty methods and ethical violations. Numerous studies published since then have not found any evidence that vaccines cause autism.

    Myth: Autism is caused by “refrigerator mothers.”

    The refrigerator mother theory is an old one. It was finally debunked in the 1960s, but not before it had caused severe damage to countless families. This theory proposed that autism was caused by bad parenting. Specifically, it was thought to result from cold, uncaring mothers. Today, scientists know that it’s not possible for a parenting style to cause autism.

    Myth: Autism is caused by nutritional problems.

    One persistent myth is that developmental delays are caused by poor nutrition. This is why many parents decide to put their children on a gluten-free, casein-free diet in an effort to manage autism challenges. It’s true that children with autism do often experience gastrointestinal issues, but there’s no evidence that food allergies cause autism.

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we wholeheartedly embrace a science-based approach to autism therapy. We use time-tested, clinically proven methods at our ABA school near Plano. Call (888) 716-8084 if you’re concerned about possible symptoms of autism in your child.

  • Eye-Opening Strategies to Decrease Sleep Difficulties in Kids with Autism

    A solid night’s sleep is essential for good health and quality of life, but many children with autism struggle to sleep soundly through the night. This can create problems for the whole family. If your child has been having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, talk to an ABA therapist about effective solutions.

    Use a bedtime routine.

    One of the hallmark symptoms of autism is the compelling need for predictable, consistent routines. When children with autism must deviate from a set routine, they may have significant problems coping with the change. Bedtime is no different. Follow the same bedtime routine with your child every night. It shouldn’t be too long—about 20 minutes is ideal. Avoid overstimulating activities, such as watching TV or playing with electronics. Instead, you can play some soothing classical music at a low volume and read a book together after your child changes into his or her pajamas.

    Give your child bedtime cues.

    For some children with autism, a predictable routine might not be enough. If your child gets upset when he or she has to stop an activity to get ready for bed, it can be helpful to remind your child at regular intervals that bedtime is approaching.

    Maintain a soothing bedroom environment.

    Adjust the bedroom environment to suit your child’s comfort needs. In general, a good environment for sleeping is one that is dark, cool, and quiet. Require your child to only fall asleep in bed—not on a couch.

    Teach your child how to fall asleep alone.

    One of the most common causes of frustration regarding a child’s sleep is when the child requires the presence of a parent in the bedroom to fall asleep. If your child can’t fall asleep alone, then he or she will wake you up periodically throughout the night. You can address this issue by leaving the bedroom immediately after your child’s bedtime routine, but before he or she falls asleep. An ABA therapist can also help your child feel safe and secure when he or she is alone in the bedroom.

    At The Behavior Exchange, it’s our mission to help families affected by autism overcome challenges and enjoy a harmonious home environment. Our ABA therapists in Plano only use evidence-based autism therapy practices. Call us today at (888) 716-8084 with any questions you might have.

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