• Essential Safety Skills Your Adolescent Needs to Know

    For young people who are growing up with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, learning basic safety skills is a must. It’s important for parents and teachers alike to take the time to ensure that adolescents with ASD have the necessary skills and knowledge to protect themselves from potentially dangerous situations. These are some of the core safety skills that every young person should have:

    Using a cell phone. Being able to answer a cell phone is an essential skill for children and adolescents alike. To ensure his or her safety at all times, your adolescent should be able to make and receive calls, follow simple directions, and describe his or her location. Your adolescent should also be able to tell when it is appropriate to dial 911 for an emergency situation.

    Crossing a street . It’s easy for adults to take for granted, but understanding how to cross a busy street—or even one that isn’t busy—is one of the most important safety skills there is. Knowing where it is safe to cross, staying aware of your surroundings, understanding what crosswalks and traffic signals mean, and remembering to look both ways are all skills that can be taught and remembered.

    Using the internet safely. The internet may be omnipresent in our world, but that doesn’t mean that anyone is born knowing how to use it. You should establish clear time limits for your adolescent’s internet use. Make sure that your adolescent knows never to give out personal information such as his or her address or birthday to strangers online. You should also talk about bullying and how to recognize its signs, and what steps to take if somebody is bullying your child online.

    STAR of CA works to provide you with the programs you need for living with ASD. We offer individuals, families, and communities in Ventura County the opportunity to get the most accurate and evidence-based treatments for ASD and other developmental disorders. To reach our team today, call us at (805) 644-7827.

  • Common Questions About Our Mental Health Services

    STAR of CA has been providing resources and education for treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since we first opened in May 2006. Since then, we have expanded our services to encompass a wider range of mental health issues. We work to ensure that all of the services we provide adhere to the highest possible standards. Here are some questions you might have about the services we offer.

    What mental health services do you offer for children or minors? STAR of CA provides treatment for mental health issues that include anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The treatments we offer include applied behavior analysis (ABA), behavioral classroom management, cognitive behavioral therapy, family focused therapy, and parent management training.

    Do you offer services for adults with mental health issues? We offer treatments for adults who are dealing with issues such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The adult treatments we focus on include dialectic behavior therapy (DBT), cognitive behavior therapy, and prolonged exposure. We also offer psychotherapy services to individuals, couples, and families who are dealing with problems such as grief and relationship issues.

    Can STAR of CA assess mental health issues? Yes, STAR of CA is qualified to provide a psychological assessment service that will allow you to ascertain what issues you are confronting and which evidence-based treatments may be most useful. Among other services, we offer functional behavioral assessments, cognitive functioning assessments, personality functioning assessments, psychodiagnostic assessments, and psychoeducational assessments.

    If your family is dealing with the challenges of an ASD diagnosis, STAR of CA can help. We are here to offer comprehensive mental health services to families in the Ventura area and across California. If you would like to learn more about how our services can help your family, contact our team today by calling (805) 644-7827.

  • Advice for Explaining ASD to Family and Friends

    One of the most challenging aspects of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is explaining it to your loved ones. If you have a child with ASD, you may be concerned that your family and friends will not understand what the condition is, or that they will not know how to react. Here are some tips for talking about your child’s ASD diagnosis.

    Be prepared for a range of reactions. Many people feel overwhelmed or distressed upon learning that somebody they know has ASD. Sometimes, they are even reluctant to believe that the diagnosis is true. These reactions are normal and understandable. Patience is essential as you help your loved ones adjust to the news.

    Emphasize the positive aspects of the diagnosis. When talking to your family and friends, emphasize that the diagnosis will help your child. Once a child’s disorder has been identified, it will be easier to find professional treatment that will help the child to develop his or her socialization, communication, and self-care skills. It will also be possible for your family to find the professional support you need.

    Be ready to talk about causes. It’s important to explain that we do not completely understand the causes of ASD, but that complex genetic factors are involved. There are numerous popular misconceptions surrounding the disorder, such as the common myth that vaccines cause ASD and other developmental issues. It is not caused by a child’s upbringing, poor nutrition, or any of the other outside factors to which it has been wrongly attributed in the past.

    STAR of CA is focused on providing families with the tools and resources they need to live with ASD and other developmental disorders. We have been helping families in Ventura County since May 2006, and we have expanded our mental health services to serve the rest of the country. To learn more about us, call (805) 644-7827.

  • What Are Common Health Problems Associated with ASD?

    Children who have autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, have an increased risk for a number of other health problems—many of which may not be obvious in the context of ASD or other developmental disorders. Here we discuss some of the more frequent issues that may be present for families living with ASD.

    Sleep disorders. Many children who have ASD have trouble falling asleep at night. This often leads to an irregular sleep schedule, which may exacerbate symptoms of ASD. In some cases, difficulty sleeping is linked to a medical problem such as sleep apnea. If this is the case, the underlying issue should be treated in order to help the child get back to a normal sleep routine. You can also help your child by trying to keep to a consistent bedtime routine, avoiding caffeine and sugar at night, and making sure that your child’s bedroom is quiet and comfortable.

    Gastrointestinal distress. Children with ASD may also be prone to chronic stomach and intestinal issues, including diarrhea, acid reflux, recurrent vomiting, and constipation. These may be related to chronic health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. Children who display signs of gastrointestinal distress should be examined by a gastroenterologist right away. In some cases, a dietary change may resolve the issue.

    STAR of CA is committed to ensuring that you and your family get the support and assistance you need. Our team serves the Ventura area as well as the surrounding communities. To learn more about our services, call (805) 644-7827.