• Siblings and ASD: A Guide for Families

    In general, research indicates most siblings of children autism spectrum disorder (ASD) adjust well. They may be more compassionate and caring with others. However, there are also unique challenges that come with having a sibling with ASD. For example, some s iblings of children with ASD may feel jealous of the amount of attention that the brother/sister is getting, frustrations over the lack of reciprocity from their brother/sister, or concerns regarding what ASD means for their brother or sister. Here are some of the challenges that these siblings may face and what parents can do to help guide the relationship:

    Difficulty forming a relationship with their sibling.

    Due to social communication challenges, it can be difficult for children with ASD to establish comfortable normal relationships with their siblings By intervening as early as possible and teaching your children how to engage appropriately with their sibling with ASD, you can help foster a close relationship. Research has shown that children can be taught skills to help them better engage their sibling with ASD. Skills such as learning to get their brother/sister’s attention, giving simple directions, and praising appropriate play. Another idea to foster their relationship is to look for ways that they can all play and interact with each other. It may be easier to first think of activities your child with ASD enjoys and then pick one that the sibling will have fun doing too.

    Uncertainty about what ASD is.

    Just like many adults, children are unlikely to understand what ASD is. You can explain it to them in an age-appropriate way, and you should also be sure to provide them with more details as they get older. In order for any conversation about ASD in your family to be a productive and valuable one, it needs to be a continuing conversation.

    Feeling like they aren’t getting enough attention.

    With balancing intervention sessions, IEP meetings on top of the daily needs for your family, it can be challenging to ensure that all of your children feel included in the family. Sometimes you may feel like you are not doing enough to meet the needs of all your children, try not to be too hard on yourself. To help you stay connected to your other children you may want to try to find something within your typical routine that can be set aside as time with your typical child such as bedtime story just the two of you, or bath time for a young child. It can be as little as 5 minutes daily. If that is not possible try to be available to listen when they want to share something with you. You might also want to set aside a special time once a week to do something with each of your other children.

    STAR of CA works to make the best modern resources for ASD and other developmental disorders available to families in and around Ventura County. We are committed to providing children with services that will help them confront the challenges of ASD. If you have any questions for us, call (805) 644-7827.

  • Helping Your Child with ASD Prepare for Adulthood

    One of the most formidable tasks comes when a child who has ASD is preparing to enter adulthood. This transition marks a tremendous change in any young person’s life, but it can be particularly difficult for those who have ASD. Here are some important facts to keep in mind as you help you child prepare for this life stage:

    The transition doesn’t happen overnight.

    The transition to adulthood happens between the ages of 16, when your child should begin getting ready for a post-school existence, and 21, when your child is no longer eligible to receive special education services from the state. It’s important to take initiative and seek out adult services that are available in your state, such as job training or housing assistance. The need for parents be an advocate on behalf of their child does not diminish with age.

    Adulthood requires a new approach to education.

    If your child will be continuing to postsecondary education, be aware that he or she will need to request any accommodations that may be necessary. Privacy laws also mean that it can be more difficult for parents to help their children at this stage, so plan accordingly.

    The earlier you start planning, the better.

    It’s important to remember that the skills a child with ASD learns early on will build a foundation for his/her independence in the future.. So it’s important to stay focused on your goal of allowing your child to live as independent a life as possible, and that means thinking about what skills they will need in adulthood while they are still a child. Teaching your child to do simple chores, care for his or her personal hygiene, and manage money are all steps toward that goal.

    If you have a loved one with ASD, STAR of CA can offer you the capable and caring support you need. Our team has been providing residents of Ventura County and beyond with evidence-based services for developmental disorders for more than a decade. If you have any questions about ASD or a related issue, call (805) 644-7827.

  • A Look at Our Adult Treatment Services

    In addition to our child and adolescent psychosocial treatments, STAR of CA also offers psychotherapy services for adults. Our services consist of evidence-based treatments for a wide variety of presenting problems and disorders, including but not limited to: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for mood and anxiety disorders, Trauma-Focused CBT for trauma, and behavioral interventions for attention problems. We also offer services that are geared toward adults who are struggling with stressful experiences, dealing with grief, or working through difficult personal relationships through individual, couples, and family therapies. If you are an adult who is experiencing any of these issues, you should be aware that you are not alone and that qualified help is available for you.

    STAR of CA offers psychotherapy services for individuals and families out of certain office locations. If you would like to learn more about our mental health services and availability, please call (805) 644-7827.

  • Red Flags to Consider When Evaluating ASD Interventions

    For parents of children who have autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, one of the greatest ongoing challenges is determining which treatments have value and which do not. Unfortunately, this is not always a simple task. There are hundreds of purported treatments for ASD and related disorders available today, and not all of them are beneficial. If you are trying to evaluate the potential value of an ASD intervention, watch out for these warning signs:

    The intervention isn’t backed up by scientific evidence.

    When you look at a website offering a therapy for ASD, look at the evidence that is offered to support its effectiveness. If the evidence is purely anecdotal, it doesn’t inspire confidence in the therapy’s efficacy. If the intervention has been supported by research published in peer-reviewed journals, then it is much more likely to be a legitimate treatment that could be helpful for your child.

    The intervention provider does not have credentials.

    It is important that the intervention provider has appropriate training and credentials. Being licensed by the state to perform a service, and being certified by a legitimate organization, is one indication—though it is by no means a guarantee—that the service provided may have value. If the intervention team includes individuals without advanced degrees or credentials, the supervisor should have the appropriate credentials and provide an appropriate level of supervision.

    The intervention is not individualized.

    The most effective treatments for ASD are those that are adapted for each individual. No two people experience ASD in precisely the same way, so there is no catch-all treatment that can be applied with equal effectiveness to every situation. Your child’s intervention plan should identify his or her unique needs and strengths to build upon.

    There is no objective measure of progress.

    In addition to having intervention goals that are individualized, a sound treatment will collect information (i.e., data) on your child’s progress. The information collected should be used to adapt the intervention plan to meet your child’s need to ensure continued progress is being made.

    Working from our center in Ventura County, STAR of CA works to provide community-based mental health services for families that are working through the challenges of ASD. We are dedicated to providing the education that our clients need to understand and respond to ASD and related conditions. You can reach us today by calling (805) 644-7827.