• 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.

  • Spotlight on Our Social Skills Groups

    For children with autism, developing friendships and relating with peers is not always easy. At The Behavior Exchange, our Social Skills Groups can help. In our groups, school-aged children get the opportunity to work on creating and maintaining relationships with kids their own age. This group is designed for children with autism who are in school and doing fine academically but having difficulties in social situations.  

    Within our Social Skills Groups, we put children together based on their ages, skills, and needs. There are groups available for children who are just learning the basics about social skills and those who are advanced but need more confidence. Within their groups, they will have a chance to play games, practice conversation, and engage in other age-appropriate activities together, all under the guidance of ABA therapists.  

    Could the Social Skills Group at The Behavior Exchange be right for your child with autism in Plano? Find out more about all of our programs by calling (888) 716-8084.

  • Explaining Autism to a Younger Sibling

    If you have a child with autism, explaining the diagnosis to your other children is one part of working together as a family. When the sibling in question is younger than your child with autism, this process can be challenging, as you will decide what information is appropriate to share at what point in your younger child’s development. This information can help.  

    Before age seven, younger children may struggle with concrete information about autism and may do better with your simply answering questions and providing reassurance on an as-needed basis. As children get older, you can begin by explaining what autism is and how it impacts the affected child. Remind all siblings that it is your responsibility to be the parent, not theirs and that you are always available to answer questions.  

    Getting children involved in family therapy can be as important as getting your child with autism into a program at an autism treatment center. At The Behavior Exchange, we offer support for the whole family along with ABA therapists in Plano for kids with autism. To find out more about our services, call (888) 716-8084.

  • 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. 

  • Is Your Child Ready for a Play Date?

    All children need regular and ongoing social interactions with their peers to develop socio-emotional skills. For children with autism, play dates are even more important because of the need for lots of practice with social interactions. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about whether he or she is ready for a playdate. 

    First, your child should have plenty of practice playing with adults. You can help your child learn about appropriate play and important skills like taking turns and sharing toys. A successful play date requires a child to know how to play with certain toys or games. Your child should also be interested in playing with his or her peers before having a play date outside of the ABA school. 

    Your child can prepare for successful play dates by joining the social skills classes at The Behavior Exchange. Our behavior analysts in Plano and Frisco guide school-aged children in learning important social skills and developing lasting friendships. Call (888) 716-8084.

  • How to Embrace ABA Techniques at Home

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based autism treatment. You can support your child’s progress by using ABA techniques at home. Talk to your child’s ABA therapist about what to do. One example is to create situations that require your child to mand, or request items. Place a bowl of soup on the table for your child’s lunch, but don’t provide a spoon. Your child will discover that he or she has to ask for the spoon. A successful mand is rewarded with the requested object and praise. 

    You can also use ABA techniques at home to discourage problematic behaviors. When your child misbehaves, don’t reward the behavior. Let’s say your child has a meltdown because he or she doesn’t want to finish the broccoli before having ice cream. Don’t reward the inappropriate behavior with ice cream. This would only reinforce negative behaviors. 

    When you enroll in parent training classes at The Behavior Exchange, you’ll learn how to structure the home environment and use ABA techniques with your child at home. For more information, call our ABA school 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. 

  • How We Help Families Employ Positive Reinforcement

    Here at The Behavior Exchange, we wholeheartedly embrace the power of positive reinforcement as an evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis therapy technique. Our ABA therapists can help your family use positive reinforcement techniques at home to support your child’s achievement. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding children when they comply with a directive. For example, positive reinforcement can help your child learn how to use verbal language to request things. When your child uses words to ask for a glass of milk, he or she is rewarded with a glass of milk. 

    Our autism therapists can also show your family how to use positive reinforcement to replace undesirable behavior with a desirable one. This can make life easier for parents and siblings alike, particularly when the child has been experiencing behavioral difficulties in public settings. 

    Parents near Plano can explore Applied Behavior Analysis techniques with the help of the knowledgeable, friendly team at The Behavior Exchange. Give us a call today at (888) 716-8084.