• Meet Malcolm: A Young Man with Big Dreams

    Malcolm Harris-Gowdie is 25, and he lives in Florida with his parents. He was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when he was three and a half years old. Malcolm has made tremendous progress thanks to occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. His biggest dream, though, lies ahead of him: He wants to be a professional sportscaster on ESPN. In this video from Autism Speaks, you’ll hear Malcolm’s story and find out what drives him in life.

    Is your family dealing with the challenges of an ASD diagnosis? At STAR of CA, we focus on providing specialized mental and developmental health services for families in the Ventura area. You can learn more about our services by visiting our website or by calling (805) 644-7827.

  • ASD at the Dental Office: What to Know and What to Do

    If you have a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be nervous about their first visit to the dentist. While regular dental visits are essential to ensure that children’s teeth develop properly and they maintain good oral health, visits can be challenging for children who have developmental disorders. Here’s what you can do to make that first dental visit go smoothly.

    Let your dentist know in advance.

    Before choosing a dentist for your child, call their office and explain that you will be bringing in a young patient who has ASD. Ask if they have previous experience providing treatment for children with ASD. Many dentists will be willing to make special accommodations for your child, especially if you provide them with advance notice.

    Practice with your child before the visit.

    Many children who have ASD are distressed by disruptions to their routine, and something as dramatically different as a visit to the dentist can be especially upsetting. Many dentists will allow you to make a few “happy visits” to their office, so children can become used to the office environment, sitting in the chair, and even watching and listening to the dental equipment.

    Be mindful of sensory issues.

    For a child, going to the dentist means encountering a lot of unfamiliar sensations, from the sound of the drill to the feeling of having their teeth cleaned. This can make many children anxious. Bringing along a favorite toy, letting your child wear sunglasses to block out the bright light, and bringing headphones to minimize unfamiliar noises can all help to make your child’s dental visits as stress-free as possible.

    Are you looking for ASD resources for you and your family? STAR of CA has been serving Ventura County and other areas for more than 12 years, providing the most up-to-date services for individuals who are living with ASD. If you have any questions, you can reach us at (805) 644-7827.

  • Raising Awareness About ASD

    We have known about the existence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for a long time, but our understanding of the condition has changed considerably over the past few decades. The first documented case of a child with ASD was in 1943. Since then, the definition of ASD has evolved to meet our expanding knowledge of the disorder. In this video, two experienced journalists talk about their recent book about the history of ASD.

    Since we were founded in Ventura County in May 2006, STAR of CA has become an important resource for families and individuals who are dealing with the ongoing challenges of ASD and other developmental disorders. If you’d like to learn more about our services, call us today at (805) 644-7827.

  • After the Diagnosis: A Family’s Step-by-Step Guide

    If you have a child who has been newly diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you may be feeling overwhelmed by the news. You may also be wondering what you need to do next. Fortunately, there are many helpful resources available that will help you better understand your child’s diagnosis and develop a plan for moving forward. Here are the most important steps you should take after an ASD diagnosis:

    Learn everything you can about ASD.

    This will be an ongoing process, of course, but you should try to learn as much as possible about ASD and what a diagnosis means for your family. Look for quality information from respected researchers and established institutions such as universities and reputable non-profits (e.g. Autism Speaks, National Autism Center). Educating yourself about ASD will also prepare you to answer questions from friends, family members, and acquaintances about your child’s diagnosis.

    Find the best resources for your family.

    After an ASD diagnosis, your first priority should be finding the best services available in your area. This includes evidence-based interventions, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and may also include parent education, family therapy or support services, and school-based services. A great reference for evidence-based and effective therapies for ASD can be found on the National Autism Center’s website and is called the National Standards Project . ASD is something that affects your entire family, so it’s important to look for resources that will help you in multiple ways across family members (e.g. family or individual counseling, parent support groups, sibling support groups, etc.).

    Reach out for support from others.

    It is common to feel isolated, highly stressed, or to feel grief after receiving an ASD diagnosis. Some parents may even feel a level of relief in finding an explanation for some of their child’s presenting needs. Joining a support group will give you a chance to talk to other people who are dealing with many of the same challenges that you’re now confronting for the first time. Learning that you’re not alone, and that there are other families out there who are working through the same issues, can be heartening and reassuring.

    Since we first opened in May 2006, STAR of CA has been working to ensure that individuals and families across regions of California have access to the comprehensive ASD resources they need. We are committed to serving our local communities, providing compassionate care, and delivering personalized services to our clients. If you have any questions for our team, you can reach us at (805) 644-7827.