• 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. 

  • Autism in the Classroom: Questions to Ask Your Child’s Teacher

    Going to school is an exciting time for children and their parents. To ensure your child with autism has the support he or she needs in the classroom, keeping an open dialogue with the teacher is essential. At The Behavior Exchange, one of the roles that we play for the families that we support is being an advocate at your child’s school to ensure that he or she has access to the tools that he or she needs to be successful. As a parent, you are on the frontlines of your child’s day-to-day experience in the classroom, so it’s important to speak up and ask questions when you have them. To get the conversation started with your child’s teacher, consider asking these questions.  

    What is your experience with children with autism? 

    Often, teachers are aware of autism and even may have had students in the past who had been diagnosed with it, but they may not have the level of experience and understanding that they need to help your child in the classroom. The more your child’s teacher learns about autism and about your child’s needs, the more productive the school year will be for both of them. Find out what your child’s teacher knows and needs to learn more about, so you can provide helpful information when necessary.  

    What behavior plan do you use? 

    Every teacher has a behavior plan that he or she uses in the classroom. This plan may include standards for behavior as well as consequences for undesired behaviors and rewards for meeting expectations. In some cases, the structure of the plan may not be appropriate for a child with autism. By discussing the plan and working with the teacher to make tweaks that will work for your child, you can address behavioral concerns before they become a problem.  

    What is the best way to communicate with you? 

    Just because you see your child’s teacher in the carpool line, it doesn’t that that is the best time to chat. Ask your child’s teacher if phone calls, emails, or conferences work best, and stick to those preferences. Doing so will help you have productive communication.  

    The Behavior Exchange is here to be your child’s advocate in the classroom and throughout his or her educational career. Contact us today at (888) 716-8084 for more information ABA therapy in Plano and our school services.  

     

  • Conquering Your Child’s Mealtime Challenges

    For children with autism and their families, mealtime can often be a struggle. If your child is having difficulties at meals, be sure to discuss the issue with his or her ABA therapist or to ask for advice during a parent training session. These strategies may also be helpful.  

    Determine if There Are Any Underlying Medical Conditions 

    Sometimes, children with autism have other medical issues that can interfere with their eating habits. These problems can range from cavities to digestive discomfort and acid reflux. Your child’s physician may screen for these conditions if mealtime is a challenge. If your child is having any of these issues, then addressing them could be the solution.  

    Develop a Routine Before Mealtime 

    There are many potential triggers for anxiety during mealtime, including the introduction of new foods, bright lights, and loud noises. In some cases, mealtime behavior issues are tied to these stressors. Creating a pre-mealtime routine that helps your child feel calm and confident can help. In some cases, simply sitting together for a short session of deep breathing can be helpful. Your ABA therapist can offer other suggestions for routines that can create a sense of calm before you sit down for a meal. Your child may take comfort in the routine itself and feel calmer when it’s time to eat.   

    Eat Meals as a Family 

    Eating as a family can easily fall by the wayside with busy schedules and a long list of demands, but doing so can be invaluable for your child with autism. When you all sit together and eat at the same time, it shows your child that mealtime is a normal activity for everyone to take part in. Likewise, your child will be more inclined to try different foods after watching you eat them.  

    At The Behavior Exchange, our ABA therapists can help you turn mealtime into a positive experience for your family through group therapy, one-on-one sessions, parent training, and much more. Get answers to your questions about our services by calling our autism treatment center in Plano at (888) 716-8084. 

  • Helping Kids with Autism Cope with Routine Changes

    Whether a child is typically developing or not, he or she can benefit from a structured environment and a predictable daily routine. Children with autism are particularly sensitive to changes in routine, and many of them have difficulty adapting to them. Autism therapy can help your child learn how to adjust to changes more easily. If your family is anticipating a major change in routine, you can talk to the ABA therapist about transitioning your child. 

    Anticipating Changes 

    You know your child best. By now, you probably have a general idea of what sort of changes upset your child. It could be a major change like going on vacation or a relatively minor change like going to the dental office. Some children with autism have trouble switching between toys or activities. Doing routine tasks in a different order and unexpectedly canceling planned activities may also cause issues for your child. 

    Using Social Stories 

    Once you’ve identified changes that might upset your child, you can prepare him or her for them. Explain what’s going to happen and when. You can use social stories to help your child learn what to expect from the new event. A social story is a simple, straightforward depiction of an activity using pictures and words.  

    Creating Timetables 

    Your child may feel more control over the situation with the use of timetables. You can create a timetable for every day of the week to let your child know what’s going to happen. You could print the start and end time of the event next to a picture depicting it, but some children get upset if things take longer or end sooner than expected. Another option is to simply depict the events in order. Use a picture of a bathtub and then a plate of food to tell your child that he or she will take a bath before dinner. If your child is still having trouble transitioning between activities, try setting a timer. Tell your child that when the timer rings, it’s time to put away the toy and start another activity. 

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we firmly believe every child is capable of leading a happy, well-adjusted, and productive life. Our board-certified behavior analysts in Plano would like to help your family cope with the challenges of autism. Call (888) 716-8084 to request an appointment. 

  • Boosting Reading Skills in Children with Autism Who Are Nonverbal

    It’s a common misconception that children with autism who are nonverbal cannot learn how to read. In fact, all children are born learners. However, some of the traditional methods of literacy instruction may not work. Parents can’t ask the child to sound out letters out loud, for instance. But there are other ways of teaching a child to read. Your child’s ABA therapist can help you get started with reading lessons at home. 

    Read with your child every day. 

    Whether or not a child is nonverbal, it’s absolutely crucial to read with him or her every day. Shared reading encourages language acquisition, letter and word recognition, and reading comprehension. Reading together helps feed your child’s curiosity about the world. 

    Encourage nonverbal interactions with books. 

    Children with autism who are nonverbal can interact with the story even if they can’t have a conversation about it. First, get into the habit of “underlining” each sentence with your finger as you read it. Later, you can ask your child to trace underneath the words. You can also ask your child to turn the pages for you. The two of you can act out the story, perhaps using props like stuffed animals. 

    Use an AAC device. 

    Your nonverbal child probably already uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. You can use this to supplement the reading lessons you do with your child. Download pictures and their accompanying words that are related to the story. If the story is about the ocean, download pictures to depict the ocean, fish, whales, and ships. Encourage your child to use the symbols to discuss the story with you. Your child’s AAC device should always display the words next to their pictures. If not, adjust the settings. As your child starts to recognize words, try reducing the size of the pictures and increasing the size of the words. 

    The Behavior Exchange provides a complete spectrum of autism therapy services in the Plano area. These include school consulting and advocacy services, such as IEP evaluation and drafting. Parents can reach our autism treatment center at (888) 716-8084. 

  • 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. 

  • Using ABA to Encourage Your Child to Mand

    One important aspect of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is teaching children with autism to mand. “Mand” is just another word for a request. There are lots of little ways parents can incorporate ABA therapy into a child’s daily routine at home and in the community, and encouraging the child to mand is one of them. 

    Understanding the Importance of Manding  

    Manding is among the most powerful communication tools a child can learn. It gives the child a sense of control over the world. It also teaches the child that there is an alternative way to achieve an objective than to engage in undesirable behaviors. Children who master the art of manding can reduce problematic behaviors and learn how to navigate the world in a more self-sufficient way. 

    Finding the Right Time to Encourage Manding  

    There are many circumstances that are appropriate teaching moments for a child with autism. As an example, let’s say you give your child their favorite puzzle but hold on to the last piece. When they need the final piece of the puzzle, you can hold up the last remaining piece and encourage your child to mand.   

    Avoiding the Reinforcement of Improper Manding  

    Echolalia, or the repetition of words and phrases, can inadvertently cause parents to reinforce improper manding. As an example, let’s say that Jorge reaches for a cup of milk. His father asks, “Do you want milk?” Jorge repeats this sentence exactly and is given milk. This reinforces the idea that Jorge must ask “Do you want milk?” in order to get what he wants. If Jorge uses this question to request milk outside of the home, non-family members will probably say, “No, thank you,” instead of giving Jorge a drink. This can result in undesirable behaviors since Jorge will get frustrated that his improper mand didn’t work. 

    Individual and group parent training classes are available at The Behavior Exchange to help families learn how they can better support the progress of children with autism. When you attend our classes, you’ll learn how to turn every interaction with your child into a therapeutic one. Call our ABA school in Plano at (888) 716-8084 to find out about our upcoming schedule of classes. 

  • 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! 

  • The Parental Role in Autism Therapy

    It can be difficult to adjust after you discover that your child has or might have autism. However, there are several things you can do to help your child during his or her treatment. Keep reading to learn more about the role of parents in autism therapy.

    Increase Your Knowledge on Autism

    Make it a priority to learn as much as you can about autism spectrum disorders. As a parent, you’ll be making important decisions concerning your child’s therapy. It’s critical that you are prepared to make informed decisions so that you can help your child get the best treatment possible. Be sure to gather information from a variety of reliable sources, never be afraid to ask questions, and always have a say in treatment decisions concerning your child.

    autism Plano Learn More About Your Child

    You’re probably already an expert on your child. After all, children generally spend time with their parents more than anyone else. However, try to start keeping track of your child’s signs of autism and the specific patterns that you see in him or her. What triggers certain behaviors? When do you receive a positive response? The more you understand how the environment affects your child, the more prepared you will be to handle potentially difficult situations.

    Avoid Comparisons

    It’s difficult to avoid comparing your child to other children. After all, you want the best for your child, and don’t want them to miss out on any important experiences. However, it’s important to accept your child the way they are and appreciate his or her unique qualities and small achievements. Helping your child to feel loved and unconditionally accepted is one of the most important things you can do as the parent of a child with autism.

    Are you looking for therapy for autism spectrum disorders near Plano? The Behavior Exchange can help improve the lives of you and your child through one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and even parent training . Contact The Behavior Exchange today at (888) 716-8084 to schedule a consultation.

  • Learn About the Language Challenges that Children with Autism Face

    Is your child showing signs of autism? Children with autistic spectrum disorders face certain language challenges. Fortunately, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy can help children with autism develop and improve their language skills.

    Watch this video to learn more about the specific language challenges that children with autism often deal with. Dr. Joy Hirsch explains how different areas of the brain operate to produce language processes. Scientists have come up with some different hypotheses as to how the brain’s processes can affect the language abilities of children with autism.

    Is your child showing early signs of autism in Plano? The Behavior Exchange specializes in working with children with autism and helping them develop their language and social skills to improve their quality of life. Call (888) 716-8084 today to set up a consultation with the Behavior Exchange.