• Is It Possible to Expand a Child’s Narrow Interests?

    For parents of children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of the ongoing challenges they face is finding ways to diversify their child’s interests. Many children with ASD have restricted interests, and they may be reluctant to play with unfamiliar toys or engage in unfamiliar activities. These are some approaches you can use to help your child expand his or her interests:

    Rotate your child’s toys.

    The more toys your child plays with—and the more varied they are—the better. Discovering new activities may help your child’s brain develop and may encourage independent exploration. To foster this, you might try categorizing your child’s toy collection and bringing out different toys every week, every afternoon, or even every hour.

    Encourage your child to use different toys.

    Your child may need some incentive before he or she picks up a new toy and starts playing with it. Model the use of the new toy; if you can generate excitement, the child will be more likely to seek out that toy in the future.

    Give your child a choice.

    You can encourage your child to try out a new toy for the first time by presenting it as a choice between several toys. For example, you might place a number of toys on a shelf in your child’s room and tell your child that he or she can pick one to play with for the next hour.

    STAR of CA is committed to providing important mental health services for children in Ventura, and surrounding areas. We use evidence-based treatments to meet the ever-changing needs of children with ASD. If you have a loved one who has a developmental disorder, contact us today to learn how we can help you. You can reach us by calling (805) 644-7827.

  • What Makes an ASD Treatment Evidence-Based?

    If you have a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), then you probably already know how difficult it can be to distinguish good information from bad information. Unfortunately, there are numerous purported treatments for ASD on the market that have little or no value. How can you tell which treatments may be beneficial for your child? The best practice is to look for treatments that are based on solid evidence. These are some of the qualities that set evidence-based treatments apart from others:

    Evidence-based treatments are based on solid scientific studies.

    The internet is filled with impressive-looking scientific studies of questionable value, which makes it all the more important to be able to identify studies that are fair and representative. In general, real scientific studies use participants that are representative of the population being targeted, use appropriate sample sizes, and use comparison groups that are well-matched demographically.

    Evidence-based treatments can demonstrate real results.

    If a scientific study can’t be repeated with similar results, then it does not hold much value. An evidence-based treatment will show tangible results across multiple experiments, providing assurance that the treatment’s effects can be predicted.

    Evidence-based treatments are supported by peer-reviewed literature.

    If a treatment has not received support from a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal, then it is likely of questionable value. Peer-reviewed publications tend to adhere to very strict standards, which makes them a good way to measure whether or not the scientific community supports the value of a particular treatment.

    If you and your family are raising a child with ASD in the Ventura County area, STAR of CA is here to provide you with the modern, up-to-date resources you need. Our team specializes in offering education, support, and mental health services based on the latest research into ASD and other developmental disorders . For more information, call us today at (805) 644-7827.

  • Good Fences Make Safe Neighbors: A Look at Pool Safety and Your Child with ASD

    Pool safety is an important concern for all families, and families with children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are no exception to the rule. If your home has an adjoining swimming pool, it is essential that you take some fundamental steps to ensure that your child stays safe at all times. These are some important safety guidelines to keep in mind:

    Secure your home with locks.

    One of the best ways to ensure that your child with ASD doesn’t wander into a pool area without adult supervision is to invest in childproof locks, both for your house and your yard. After installing the locks, double-check them to make sure that your child cannot open them without assistance. Having these locks can both keep your child safe and provide you with greater peace of mind.

    Invest in an alarm system.

    Alarm systems aren’t just useful for deterring burglars—they can also be used to keep your family members safe. Buy a reliable alarm system and set it to go off when someone opens a door or even a window from inside your home. If the pool is on your property, you can even add an alarm system to the fence around it.

    Inform the local authorities.

    It’s also smart to let local authorities know that you have a person with ASD in your household. To do this, simply call the non-emergency number for your local emergency responders and tell them. This can be extremely invaluable in the event that they ever need to respond to an emergency situation involving your child.

    STAR of CA offers a range of essential services to families who are dealing with the ongoing challenges of ASD and other developmental disorders. We serve a diverse population in and around Ventura, CA, and we are continually working to improve and update our behavioral health services. If you would like to learn more, call us today at (805) 644-7827.

  • The Basics of Toilet Training a Child with ASD

    As every parent knows, toilet training a young child takes some time—and a lot of patience. The challenge may be amplified, however, when you are toilet training a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Fortunately, it’s a challenge that can be met. The same principles that are used in teaching children with ASD can be applied to teach this essential life skill. Here is what parents should know about how to toilet train children with ASD.

    Don’t start training before your child is ready.

    The typical age guidelines—anywhere from two to two and a half—do not apply with children with ASD, for whom development may proceed at a different pace. If your child understands how to follow simple directions, can sit on a toilet for at least a few minutes, and can hold in urine for at least an hour, he or she may be ready to begin toilet training.

    Don’t be discouraged by accidents.

    Accidents aren’t a problem when you are toilet training a child—in fact, they’re part of how children learn. With consistent teaching, and a good plan of attack, the number of accidents will steadily decrease and your child will begin to go to the toilet without being prompted.

    Once you’ve started, be consistent.

    After you start toilet training your child, it’s important to stick with it. Make sure that your child has quick and easy access to the toilet consistently.

    If you have a child in your life who has ASD, it’s imperative that you have access to the best and most up-to-date treatments. At STAR of CA , we work to give families the education and resources they require to confront the challenges of ASD. We are based in Ventura County, but we have expanded our services to other communities. Call (805) 644-7827 today to learn more.