• Vacation Planning Tips for Families Living with ASD

    From a day at the beach to a cross-country road trip, summer is virtually synonymous with vacations. For families with children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), however, vacations can present some unique challenges. How can you make sure that vacations remain fun and non-stressful for your entire family? Here are some tips that may help:  

    Choose your destination carefully.  

    When you’re planning a vacation, make sure to consider your child’s personality and needs. Some children may delight in a trip to Disneyland, while others may prefer less crowded places such as parks or the beach. Whatever your destination is, be sure to give your child plenty of time during each day to calm down in a quiet environment like a hotel room.  

    Start preparing early.  

    Children with ASD are often upset by changes in schedule, so you should sit down with your child as soon as possible to talk about your vacation: where you will be going, what you will be doing, and how long you will be there. It may help to draw pictures of your trip or to show your child photos and videos of your destination online.  

    Make a schedule for the trip.  

    It’s important to sit down and draw up a rough schedule for each day of your vacation before you leave. If you have a daily routine for your child, it will be comforting for them and help them enjoy the trip more. This may be as simple as having a snack at a certain time of day, having an afternoon nap at the same time every day, or watching a favorite video on YouTube before bed.  

    When your family is in need of resources for living with ASD, you can turn to STAR of CA for the help you need. We have been providing Ventura County residents with state-of-the-art ASD services for more than a decade, and we have recently expanded our services to cover a wider area. If you have any questions for our team, please call us today at (805) 644-7827.  

  • Tackling Toilet Training with Nonverbal Kids

    Toilet training is a challenging time for any parent, but the challenges can be exacerbated if you have a nonverbal child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Children with ASD tend to resist changes to their routine, and they may have trouble learning new physical skills. Not to worry, though! All it takes is patience and a little know-how. Here are some toilet training tips for nonverbal children:  

    Use visual aids.  

    As you may already know, many children who have ASD learn more effectively from visual prompts, such as pictures, than they do from verbal instructions. You might try drawing a series of simple pictures to guide your child through the process of going to the toilet, using it, wiping, flushing, and handwashing. Being able to see this process will help many children remember it.  

    Be consistent. 

    Create a routine around using the bathroom.  Incorporate fun and predictable experience for your child when going to the bathroom (i.e., singing a particular song, transitioning with a particular object to the bathroom and cueing your child before going to the bathroom). In addition to using visual supports to review the necessary steps to complete the bathroom routine, use the same language when transitioning to the bathroom in order to create predictability in their daily environment.   

    Don’t focus on accidents.  

    It’s only natural that your child will have accidents during the toilet training process. When that happens, don’t call attention to it. Making a fuss about every accident may confuse your child since it can be difficult for some children with ASD to firmly distinguish between positive attention and negative attention. Rather than inadvertently reinforcing the behavior, simply clean up the mess and remind your child to use the toilet.   

    Give small rewards.  

    When your child goes through the process of using the toilet with no mistakes or accidents, you might try rewarding them with something like a treat or a small toy. These rewards will be helpful for reinforcing desired behavior, and they will associate the successful use of the toilet with positive emotions in your child’s mind.  

    STAR of CA works to provide the best possible education and resources for children who are living with ASD and other developmental disorders. We are based in Ventura County, but we now serve a wider range of communities across California. If you would like to learn more about our services, you can reach us today at (805) 644-7827.  

  • Play Date Tips for Kids with ASD

    Play dates with other children are an essential part of growing up. They are also a valuable opportunity for children to work on skills such as sharing, taking turns, and reciprocating which contributes to a child’s social and emotional development. When a child has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), parents often wonder what they can do to help ensure that play dates stay fun, positive, and successful for their child and their playmate. In this video, you’ll get some advice for planning successful play dates for your child.  

    STAR of CA has been making a difference in the lives of children who have ASD since 2006. We offer therapy and education to families across California who are living with the complex issues of ASD and related conditions. If you have any questions, please call (805) 644-7827.  

  • Tips for Seeking Out Social Support

    If you have a child who has recently been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s not uncommon to feel alone. That’s why finding sources of support around you can be so valuable. You might want to seek out family therapy services that will help you and your family adjust to the new challenges that come with an ASD diagnosis. There are also therapy services available for existing issues you or a family member might have that may be exacerbated by a diagnosis of ASD, such as anxiety or depression. You might also want to look for support groups where you can meet and talk with other parents of children who have ASD. Finding appropriate support can be extremely helpful for getting through the first few challenging months after an ASD diagnosis.  

    When you’re looking for ASD help in or near Ventura County, it’s time to turn to STAR of CA. Our experienced team of mental health experts will be happy to help you find the resources you need. For more information, call (805) 644-7827.  

  • Balancing the Needs of Siblings When You Have a Child with ASD

    Of all the challenges involved in raising a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of the most significant may be balancing that child’s needs against those of their siblings. It’s common for the siblings of children with ASD to feel jealousy over the attention the other child is getting and confusion about the nature of the disorder. Here are some tips for dealing with these common issues:  

    Explain what the condition means.  

    In an age-appropriate way, explain to your children what it means that their sibling has ASD. This will most likely be an ongoing conversation, rather than a one-time explanation. Your children will likely have questions, and it’s important to try to answer them as clearly and as honestly as possible. Your children will be more likely to feel included if you are open with them about the circumstances, and it will also help them understand how to play and interact in an appropriate way.  

    Include your child’s siblings in interventions.  

    It’s important to know that there are resources available that may help your other children work through their feelings about having a sibling with ASD. Family support services, such as a sibling support group can help your children talk to others who will understand what they are experiencing, which can help to reduce their anxiety, frustrations, or other emotions.  

    Set aside time for all your children.  

    It’s common for children to feel that siblings with ASD and other disorders are getting more attention than they are.  That’s why it’s so valuable to make sure that you are spending enough time with every member of your family. It’s a good idea to set aside special times for you and each of your children.  This can be done in a variety of ways such as every Saturday afternoon, where the two of you can go to the zoo, get ice cream, go on a bike ride, or do something else fun together. Even finding small ways to provide each child with attention can have a big impact on how valued your other children feel.  For example, spending 10 minutes before bedtime to do an activity together. 

    STAR of CA provides an integrated, holistic approach to ASD treatment, focusing on making sure that your family has access to the best resources available. We offer a wide range of mental health services for individuals and families in the Ventura County area. For more information, you can get in touch with us by calling (805) 644-7827.