• Helping your Child with ASD Adapt to New Places

    As a parent, you’re probably excited about exposing your child to new experiences and new places. If you’re parenting a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), however, it can be tricky. Children with ASD tend to be resistant to change because it makes them feel anxious. The world can seem unpredictable, but when things stay the same, it can make them feel like they have a little bit more control. It’s understandable, then, that new places can be overwhelming. How can you help your child with ASD adapt?  

    • Maintain as much consistency as possible. Having your child’s favorite toys on hand and keeping daily routines the same can make it easier for your child to adjust to a new place. Children with ASD find “sameness” comforting, so making things seem familiar can keep the new place from feeling frightening or confusing. 
    • Prepare your child in advance. Talk about the upcoming change, using visual aids and stories to help him or her understand what to expect. Preview what’s coming by telling a story about what your child might expect, show pictures of the new place, or visit in advance, if possible. Knowing what to expect will help your child deal with the unfamiliar more effectively.   
    • Countdown, to help ease into it. Whether you’re visiting a new place on vacation, moving into a new home, or enrolling your child in a new school, you can make the transition easier by creating a visual countdown that helps your child prepare.  
    • Offer choices and reward flexibility. Whenever there’s a chance to present a choice, do it. This will help involve your child in what you’re doing and give the child a sense of control. On a regular basis, reward flexible behaviors, even if they’re small. Praise your child and give additional positive reinforcement, drawing attention to the desired behavior and congratulating the child on being able to “go with the flow.” Doing this even for small things will make the transition easier when the change is a big one.  
    • Be patientRecognize that there may be a meltdown from time to time, and decide in advance how you’ll deescalate it. Prepare a calm down routine ahead of time, so that your child will know how to self-soothe. Children with ASD can benefit from a sequence that includes things like taking a certain number of deep breaths with their eyes closed, rubbing their hands together, and hugging their bodies. Having this predictable sequence ready will be calming during an unfamiliar experience.  

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896. 

  • Benefits of Applied Behavioral Therapy

    If you’re the parent of a child who has recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you’re probably looking for anything that will help your child. You may feel overwhelmed by the diagnosis, and that’s ok. In fact, there are many different therapies that may help your child, and one of the most beneficial is Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy (ABA).

    What is ABA? Used since the 1960s in treating young children with ASD and related disorders, this evidence-based best practice treatment has evolved over the years. ABA uses customized Behavior Intervention Plans to make gradual, systematic changes in the consequences of behaviors. In this way, socially positive behaviors are encouraged, while socially detrimental behaviors are discouraged. Using ABA, therapists are able to help children develop not only basic skills like looking, listening, and imitating but also more complex skills like reading and carrying on a conversation.

    ABA looks at how behavior works, and applies that understanding to real-world situations. Treatment plans are developed based on individual needs, and for children with ASD, this can help them reach goals in communication and language, social skills, self-care, play, motor skills, and learning and academics. Using ABA for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder is beneficial for many reasons.

    • It works. While many other therapies are available to children with ASD, there’s more scientific evidence supporting the use of ABA than any other treatment.
    • It gives children with ASD the opportunity to make friends. The social skills that many children with ASD are lacking can be taught using ABA, allowing children to interact with others successfully and make friends.
    • It provides children with the skills they need to live real-world lives. Something as simple as toileting skills is crucial for daily function in society. ABA can help children with ASD learn basic skills and much more.
    • It helps parents to parent more effectively. ABA can teach parents how to interact with their children, while also teaching the children how to interact with others. Parenting a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not easy, but ABA can help you be a better parent.
    • It sets the bar higher for children with ASD. Some children lose their ASD diagnosis after ABA therapy. Applied Behavioral Analysis is beneficial because it shows parents and children what those children are capable of accomplishing. When expectations are raised, children achieve more. Behaviors that were thought impossible before the start of therapy may suddenly be within the child’s grasp, leading to the confidence that makes even higher goals possible.

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.

  • What Is Autism?

    If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, you may be feeling a mixture of emotions. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel panic, fear, distress, or confusion, or a combination of more than one of these emotions. The important thing for you to do now is to educate yourself. Knowing the facts about autism will help you understand your child’s condition so that you can find the resources you need to help your child thrive.

    What is autism? It’s a broad range of conditions, which in 2013 were grouped together under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). People with ASD experience challenges with social skills, repetitive or stereotypical behavior, speech, and nonverbal communication. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that autism affects about one in fifty-nine children in the United States. Indicators of autism are typically evident by age two or three. In some cases, associated developmental delays can appear even earlier, and it can be diagnosed in children as young as 18 months. Research indicates that early intervention is a key factor in positive outcomes later in life for individuals with ASD.

    There are many subtypes to ASD, and most are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Each person with ASD is unique and has a different set of strengths and challenges, and people with ASD can range in functioning in terms of how they learn, think, and solve problems. Some people with ASD need significant support in their daily lives. Other people, on the other hand, need less support and may even be able to live entirely independently.

    There are many factors that can influence the development of autistic spectrum disorder. The condition is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and may include comorbid medical issues that include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, or sleep disorders. People with ASD also have a higher likelihood of encountering mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, and attention issues.

    A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder can be unnerving, but you are not alone. As you learn more about the condition, you’ll be able to better understand your child and you’ll find support and resources to help your child thrive. Like everyone else, each child with ASD has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and as you learn more you’ll be able to build on your child’s strengths and find targeted interventions to address his or her weaknesses.

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.644.7827.

  • Helping Your Child with Autism Thrive

    If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be worried, wondering what will happen next.  While ASD is not something that people grow out of, there are many treatments and therapies that can help your child build skills and overcome developmental challenges. Assistance is available, from free government services to in-home behavioral therapy to school-based programs, and you can find ways to help your child learn, grow, and thrive. Be proactive about your child’s treatment, seeking help as soon as you suspect there’s an issue. Early intervention is important in successful treatment of autism. Learn as much as you can, not just about autism, but about your child, and learn to appreciate your child’s individuality and the things that make him or her unique. Then, employ these tips to help your child thrive:

    • Provide consistent structure. Know what your child’s teachers and therapists are doing, so that you can create a sense of continuity at home, helping your child transfer techniques from one environment to another. Keep your child’s schedule highly-structured, and try to minimize disruptions to the routine. Be consistent in dealing with challenging behavior, and offer positive reinforcement for good behavior.
    • Connect with your child nonverbally. Your voice, touch, and body language are all important, and by learning your child’s nonverbal cues, you’ll be better able to communicate. Be observant, and you’ll be able to pick up on your child’s cues and what they indicate. Look for the motivation behind challenging behaviors, and you’ll be better at managing them. Remember that your child with ASD is still a child, and make sure you’re finding time to have fun together. Be aware of your child’s sensory sensitivities, understanding that some children with ASD are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, while others are under-sensitive. By understanding your child’s responses, you’ll be better able to anticipate and prevent difficult situations.
    • Find a treatment plan that fits your child. A good plan will build on your child’s interests, teach tasks through simple steps, offer a predictable schedule, provide highly structured activities that actively engage your child, include regular behavior reinforcement, and involve the parents.
    • Seek support. In addition to finding support for your child, look for ASD support groups, respite care, and individual, marital, or family counseling. For your child, be aware that children with ASD are eligible for a range of free or low-cost government services, including early intervention for very young children and special education services for children over three.

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.

  • 11 Tips for New Autism Parents

    Has your child been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? The good news is that the diagnosis offers a certain relief: you now know what’s going on. What’s next? We have a few tips.  

    1. Know that it’s ok to take breaks. Parenting a child with ASD can feel like a marathon, so take care of yourself. Read, watch TV, go to the gym, do whatever helps you check out for a bit, understanding that it’s ok to be less than productive sometimes.  
    1. Stop Googling. Don’t drive yourself crazy looking for an autism cure online, or scaring yourself with “what-ifs.” 
    1. Find support online. While the internet can be terrifying, it can also be a great place to network. ASD can make parents feel isolated, but a parent or caregiver is always awake and online somewhere in the world, and getting to know parents on social media sites can be a great source of support.   
    1. Learn to ignore advice. Expect unsolicited input, and decide how you’ll answer it.  
    1. Respect those who have gone before. Parents who have been dealing with ASD for years know more than you do, so respect their knowledge and learn from them.  
    1. Know that every technique doesn’t work for every child. Kids with ASD are unique, and just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will help your child. Some therapies, medications, and cures will flop, and that’s ok.  
    1. Expect to spend money. ASD is expensive, so be prepared to ask for therapy or lessons as gifts.  
    1. Know that some people won’t give these things as gifts. Your kid will receive inappropriate toys from well-meaning people, but that’s ok. Eventually, your child might like it. If not, you can donate, re-gift, or return it for therapy money.  
    1. Be open-minded. You never know what will help your child, so be willing to try things even if they seem ridiculous.  
    1. Go out in public. Taking your kid everywhere helps teach coping skills. Acknowledging your child’s limits, take little trips and build on them. Maybe you’ll go out to buy milk, maybe you’ll go to the library. Let your child know what’s going on, but provide as much exposure to real life as you can.  
    1. Feel sorry for yourself sometimes. Give into self-pity every now and then, because this is not the life you planned. Then snap out of it, ask for support, and remember that this is your new normal, and it’s going to be ok.  

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our websiteor call 805.588.8896. 

  • How to have a Sensory-Friendly New Year’s Eve

    New Year’s Eve is a fun and festive holiday that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. If your child has sensory processing issues or autism spectrum disorder, however, all that festivity can be problematic. The fireworks, bright lights, crowds, and loud music can be overwhelming, causing panic and anxiety for children with special needs. What’s more, your children may already be out of sorts, because of all the disruption the holiday season brings, with upended schedules and increased social interaction. Don’t worry! You can have a happy and sensory-friendly New Year’s Eve this year, just by following a few simple guidelines.  

    • Prepare in advance. Talk to your kids and make a plan together, and get everything ready to go. You might watch YouTube videos of New Year’s Eve festivities together to help you make a plan.  
    • Don’t mind the clock. If staying up until midnight is going to be disruptive, ring in the New Year at a time that works better for you! You might celebrate midnight in another time zone or plan your party for noon.  
    • Plan sensory-friendly activities. A sensory bin with confetti, streamers, party blowers, glow sticks, balloons, or whatever else your kids might enjoy can be a great addition to your New Year’s celebration. You might also make a calm-down sensory bottle, filled with water mixed with glitter or confetti.  
    • Watch a movie under a weighted blanket. Make New Year’s Eve a family movie night, snuggled up under a weighted blanket, which will provide calming deep pressure and proprioceptive sensory input. Make it even more fun by popping some popcorn.  
    • Have a family game night. Board games offer a great low-key way to ring in the New Year, and they’ll help your kids practice social skills, too.  
    • Dance the night away. If your kids need to move and wiggle around too much to last through a movie or a board game, no problem! Have a family dance party instead, dressing up if you want to and dancing to your kids’ favorite tunes.  
    • Choose hats over noisemakers. Hats are just as festive as the noisier party favors, and for extra fun, you can make it a craft activity, making or decorating them yourselves. 
    • Do the fireworks and ball drop your own way. Watch fireworks on video instead of experiencing them live, and set up a balloon or confetti drop to release after your countdown, filling a drawstring garbage bag with party streamers, ribbons and bows left over from Christmas, confetti, or balloons.  

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896. 

  • Parenting Styles to Avoid When Raising a Child With Autism

    Raising a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder involves many challenges, because your child may not often communicate, play, or behave like their neurotypical peers. Sometimes, these behaviors can confuse or overwhelm parents, but parents can bring out strengths and abilities you may not even have realized your child possessed. It doesn’t always come naturally, though, and there are certain parenting styles you’ll need to consider avoiding especially when parenting a child with ASD. 

    • Helicopter parenting can stunt a child’s development. This is true for any child, but it’s especially important not to constantly hover over children with ASD because when you do, you prevent them from achieving independence and self-determination. It’s important to allow your child to experience the challenge of trying new things, enjoy success, learn from others, and learn from failure. If your child presents with behaviors that pose a safety risk however, then close supervision or safety precautions are often warranted.  
    • Competitive parenting can affect both you and your child negatively. When you feel like you’re competing with other parents, it can cause you to develop a feeling that your child and your parenting are not up to par. When you feel this way, it may impact you and your child’s self-image. 
    • Free-range parenting is inappropriate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children with ASD need higher levels of focused parental engagement, with parents who help them learn how to socialize, converse, pretend, ask questions, investigate the world, and build other important skills.  
    • Perfectionist parenting creates unrealistic expectations. Some children might thrive under “tiger” parenting, but those children do not often have ASD. While it’s important to have high ideals for your child, it’s also crucial that you don’t set your sights on goals that will only frustrate and upset both of you. 
    • Permissive parenting can cause serious problems in the long run. While you shouldn’t set your expectations too high, you also need to make sure you don’t set the bar too low. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder need to experience the feeling of confidence that comes with accomplishment.  
    • Frenetic parenting can overwhelm your childSchool, therapy, and other activities are important in helping your child learn and grow, but too much packed into the schedule can leave no room for practicing new skills and interacting with others. Children with ASD are still children and need time to play and rest. When you’re scheduling activities, make sure to work in some calm, unfocused parent and child time.  

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.644.7827. 

  • How to Make the Christmas Season Bright and Sensory Friendly

    The holidays can be hectic under the best of circumstances, but if you have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, you may be facing them with a sense of dread. This busy time of year, with all its sights, sounds, smells, and crowds can be absolutely overwhelming. How can you make the Christmas season merry and bright, while keeping it sensoryfriendly? 

    • For a child with ASD, the holidays can be a time of sensory overload. The mall can be overwhelming, even for neurotypical people, so do your best to avoid taking your child there if it’s not absolutely necessary. Shop online, find a sitter, or ask someone to pick a few things up for you. Look for “sensory-friendly” Santas and other low-key holiday options, and if you’re heading to a big holiday event, have a plan B in place just in case it’s too much for your child.  
    • Another issue with holidays is that they disrupt the normal routine. Consider carefully before you commit to things that will put a crimp in the schedule, and try to keep things as normal as possible. If you’re traveling, make sure to bring along your child’s favorite things, and try to stick to the regular routine in regard to things like mealtimes and bedtimes if you can. When you do choose to attend a special event, practice behaviors ahead of time so your child knows what to expect. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that you don’t believe will be in the best interest of your child. 
    • Visiting with unfamiliar friends and family members can be stressful for a child with ASD. Make a plan ahead of time, and anticipate which gatherings and traditions will be stressful for your child. Be polite but firm, and explain your child’s needs to family members, so that they can understand how best to help you, but bring your own necessities and have a plan in place to escape to a quiet room or another location if things become overwhelming.  
    • Have a plan in place for managing your own holidaysKeep things simple, and establish traditions that will be fun for everyone in your family. Don’t set unrealistic expectations, but try to stay low key when you can, while still considering the needs and desires of your other children and family members. Take care of yourself, too, and create the kind of holiday season that you’ll remember fondly in years to come.  

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896. 

     

  • Holiday Tips for Children with ASD

    For many people, the holiday season is a joyous and eagerly anticipated time of year. For families of people with autism spectrum disorders, it can also be a time of disrupted schedules, broken routines, and other challenges. How can families lessen the holiday stress and make this time of year more enjoyable? We’ve got some ideas, garnered from input given by the Autism Society, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism, Easter Seals Crossroads, the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism at Logan, and the Indiana Autism Leadership Network.  

    • Be prepared. Think about your child’s individual needs, and how much preparation is appropriate. If he or she suffers anxiety over upcoming events, you may need to consider how far in advance you reveal certain happenings. Use a calendar to mark the dates of different holiday events, creating a social story to explain what will happen at each event. Prepare yourself for the holidays too, realizing that you may be the recipient of unsolicited advice. Understanding that this advice will probably be well-meaning, practice saying “I’ll think about that” with a smile.  
    • Consider your decorations carefullyFor some children with ASD, decorations can be disruptive. To ready your child for the changes you plan to make to the house, it may be helpful to look at photos from previous holidays. It might also help to engage your child in the process of decorating, involving him or her in shopping for or putting up decorations. Once your decorations are in place, make sure you have direct, specific rules about what can and cannot be touched, and that you are consistent in enforcing the rules.  
    • Ring in the holidays gradually. Some children with ASD have trouble with changes in their environment. If that’s the case for your child, it may be best to decorate the house gradually, keeping the child as engaged in the process as possible. Creating a calendar detailing what will be done each day can also be beneficial.  
    • Limit obsessing over gifts. A child with ASD may obsess over a particular desired item, and if that’s the case, it can be helpful to set limits. Be specific about the number of times the gift can be mentioned, perhaps giving the child five chips or tokens, and explaining that he or she can exchange one token for a designated length of time spent discussing the gift. You can also offer to write the gift down on a wish list. Be clear with your intentions, and if you are not going to purchase the gift, explain that, too.  
    • Empower by teaching self-management. Teach your child how to get support when a situation becomes overwhelming. If you’re having visitors, for instance, create a safe space so that the child can exit the event if he or she is feeling overwhelmed. Encouraging this kind of self-management is empowering, and will serve your child into adulthood. If your child is not at that level of self-management, work together ahead of time on a signal or cue that will indicate anxiety, so that you can prompt your child to use the safe space. You might even want to practice using this space in a calm manner ahead of time.  
    • Bring a touch of home on your holiday travels. Take along your child’s favorite foods, books, and toys when you travel for the holidays because this can help to alleviate stressful situations. Before the trip, discuss what will happen on the trip, using social stories to rehearse scenarios like boarding a plane, and preparing the child for situations like delayed travel.  
    • Use a photo album to prepare for visiting familyShow your child photos of relatives and guests you will see during the holidays, speaking briefly about each person. Then allow your child unrestricted access to these photos during the holidays.  
    • Practice and use roleplay to prepare for gift exchanges and other traditionsRehearse scenarios like giving gifts, taking turns opening gifts, receiving gifts, and responding to an unwanted gift. You might also find it helpful to practice religious rituals your child will encounter during the holidays.  
    • Prepare your extended family with appropriate strategies. Help your family members understand the person in your family with ASD, letting them know whether hugs are appropriate, and other factors that can facilitate smooth interactions during the holiday season. Coach them on strategies for minimizing behavioral issues.  
    • Keep the sleeping and eating routines steady. If your child is on a special diet, have food available that he or she can eat. Be careful about sugar consumption, and try to keep the sleep and meal routines as close to normal as possible.  
    • Understand your loved one with ASD. Think about his or her individual needs, and know how much sensory input can be tolerated. Consider your child’s level of anxiety, and how to prepare for situations that may arise. Avoid stressful situations when possible, and be sensitive to your child’s need for a quiet place to regroup.  

    Knowing how to prepare can help you have an enjoyable holiday season, and knowing where to find the right resources can help you overcome the challenges of ASD. If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website. 

  • Helping Children with Autism Learn to Communicate

    For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), communication can be a major challenge. Children whose language skills do not develop typically often have difficulty conveying their wants and needs effectively, which leads to frustration. This puts these children at risk of potentially harmful and misunderstood behaviors like tantrums, aggression, or self-injury. That’s why it’s vital to focus on working with children with ASD to help them develop communication skills.  

    One effective way of doing this is with functional communication training (FCT). Rather than teaching kids to label an item, FCT focuses on using language to get something needed or desired. This information is conveyed with language, signs, and pictures, to help individuals achieve a desired result. The object may be obtaining something like a toy or food, expressing the desire to participate in an activity, or stating a need for something like a trip to the bathroom or a break from something. Using positive reinforcement, FCT helps teach children about language and communication, in order to increase their ability to have their needs met by interacting effectively with others. By rewarding appropriate methods of communication, whether verbal or nonverbal, we’re able to empower children with ASD to advocate for their own wants and needs.  

    • How does FCT work? The first step in the process is to identify something that highly motivates the child. It could be a favorite television show, a toy, a favorite snack or an activity. The child is taught a sign or given a picture that represents that thing. Using errorless learning, the therapist guides the child to use that sign or picture in order to get the reward. Repeating this process, with the presentation of the picture or sign always bringing the earned reward, helps children become familiar with the process and more independent in communicating. As signs, words, or pictures are being consistently used correctly, new ones can be added gradually, to increase the child’s vocabulary.  
    • What are the goals of FCT? The goals vary between children, depending on the child’s level of communication. For children with complex needs or significant language impairment, it may be challenging to build a small repertoire of functional communication. Children with a higher level of function and less complex needs may be able to gain as much language as their typically developing peers, by using FCT. Using assistive tech, some children may be able to speak in full sentences. Others may only be able to use single words. It’s important to tailor the goals and the treatment to each unique child. That’s why functional communication training is typically taught one-on-one by a clinician with a speech or language pathology background, or by a behavioral psychologist trained in applied behavior analysis (ABA). A major factor in the success of FCT is reinforcement of the training by parents and teachers. It’s important for children to learn that the appropriate sign, word, or picture must be presented in order to obtain the desired reward.  
    • How does FCT help with behavioral issues? The development of functional communication training originated as a way to reduce troubling behaviors exhibited by children with ASD. By assessing the function of the inappropriate behaviors, we can determine the reason the child is behaving that way. If it’s because of a lack of communication, then teaching a child to communicate reliably and effectively should extinguish the behavior. For example, a child might engage in self-injurious behavior to get attention, access something he or she wants, escape something undesired, or serve a sensory need. When this succeeds, it’s accidentally reinforced, but with FCT, these unhealthy behavioral patterns can be broken. When a child learns to self-advocate using a word, sign, or picture and discovers that the reward is given quickly and efficiently, he or she is likely to choose the easier path of appropriate behavior.  
    • Does the age of the person with ASD matter in FCT? Functional communication training can work with every age, and some adults who have been introduced to FCT have been known to gain skills quickly. However, the earlier the intervention can happen, the better, because the younger the child is when the communication repertoire is built, the better off he or she will be.  

    If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.