• How ABA Helps Parents

    When children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it can be challenging for parents to know how to help them succeed. One of the best ways to help a child with ASD is through applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. Proven to improve the skills of kids with ASD and decrease problematic behaviors, ABA works best when parent training is integrated into treatment strategies. That’s because parents play an integral role in ABA therapy and can work with their children outside of the therapeutic session.

    • What is ABA therapy? Applied behavior analysis focuses on how behavior works and how it’s impacted by certain environments. It also examines the concept of learning strategies and how they apply to people with ASD. A combination of behavioral knowledge and observation is used by an ABA therapist to gain a thorough understanding of each patient’s behavioral patterns. Then the therapist is better able to customize therapeutic strategies to meet the needs of the individual patient. The objective of ABA therapy is to help people with ASD engage and positive behaviors and minimize negative behaviors. The long-term goal is to help individuals become more independent.
    • What techniques are used in ABA? ABA is not a one-size-fits-all therapy, and there are many different techniques utilized by ABA therapists to encourage positive behaviors and minimize negative ones, including:
      • Positive reinforcement like praise, a toy, or a treat, to reward individuals for appropriate behavior.
      • Discrete trial training, using brief, clear, instructions to prompt a desired response.
      • Picture exchange communication system (PCES) teaches people with ASD to communicate using pictures.
    • What is a parent’s role in this therapeutic approach? Parents are integrally involved in ABA as part of the caregiving team and when parents are involved, children learn faster. If you have a child with ASD, you’ll work with the therapists and doctors to:
      • Assess your child, identifying troublesome behaviors and providing background.
      • Develop a plan, determining how your child prefers to learn, setting goals for treatment, and identifying interventions to improve your family life.
      • Collect information, keeping track of your child’s progress and sharing that data.
    • How can parents reinforce ABA therapy? Watching your child’s sessions, you can assess your own skills and determine how to build them to help your child, considering how to incorporate the therapist’s techniques into your own style. Learning how to reinforce ABA therapy is important, because parents spend much more time with their children than the therapists do. The work of ABA seeks to improve social skills, communication, reading, fine motor skills, and more, in order to help people with ASD become more independent and successful.

    If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to help by providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in an environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.

  • Helping your Child Stay Up-to-Date Over the Summer

    Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy good weather and family time. There’s a concern though that kids may suffer from the lack of learning opportunities. Essential academic and social skills can be lost during the summer if parents don’t actively try to support their children’s continued learning. Here, we offer some tips for helping your children stay up to date over the summer while still keeping summer fun.

    • Stick to a routine. You don’t have to get up as early as you would for school, but having some structure makes it easier to transition back into the normal routine once school starts back up. Make sure you’re working some physical play or exercise into your everyday activities.
    • Play games as a family. Setting aside one night each week as “Family Game Night” helps you to connect with your kids and make memories, but it does more than that. Playing games helps kids learn critical thinking and how to strategize, as well as strengthening their reading, math, and fine motor skills.
    • Encourage their creativity. Give your kids plenty of opportunities not just to do artwork, but also to build things. Provide sidewalk chalk, finger paints, colored pencils and markers, and craft kits to help them learn new creative skills. For building fun, offer not only building toys like Legos but also help them think creatively by showing them how to build with boxes and anything else interesting you might have on hand. Challenge them to building contests.
    • Plan and grow a garden. You don’t even really need a yard to grow vegetables and flowers, because even apartment dwellers can create a container garden. Plan your garden together, researching seeds, drawing a blueprint, and sprouting seeds or transplanting young plants. Growing things is both educational and satisfying, and eating vegetables you’ve grown is a great way to teach kids about healthy eating and where our food originates.
    • Make a game of math. Invent math activities, perhaps using sidewalk chalk to create targets with numbers and challenging kids to hit the highest numbers. You could also try a sandbox game, burying objects in the sand and challenging kids to compete and see who finds the most treasure.
    • Read together. Reading to little children is fun, and reading together as your children grow is even more rewarding. Going on a long car trip? Listen to audiobooks in the car!
    • Choose educational activities. Go geocaching, explore a historical site, or cool off inside a museum. Summer adventures can promote learning and still be fun.
    • Enroll in summer programs. Public libraries, community centers, and summer camps focused on topics or activities that your child enjoys are great places to find educational summer fun and provide great opportunities to practice social skills with peers.

    If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to help by providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in an environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.

  • Childproofing the home for an ASD Child

    If you’re a parent, you know how important it is to make your home a safe haven for your child. If you’re a parent of a child with ASD, you know this can also be both a challenge and an ongoing process. However, following a few simple tips can help you keep your children safe at home.

  • Be prepared to keep evolving. Childproofing a house for a child with ASD is not a “one and done” situation. As children grow and get stronger, you’ll have to come up with creative new ways to keep them safe. When your kids figure out how to get around protective measures, it means they’re exercising their problem-solving skills. The challenge is to stay one step ahead of them.
  • Anchor everything. If you’ve got a climber, you need to tie down all of the furniture. Use furniture anchors to secure bookshelves, armoires, and dressers to the walls to prevent tipping. Be creative, finding ways to eliminate not only access to high places, but also the temptation to climb. Here’s a hack: if your child drags chairs around to get to desired heights, use Velcro to keep the chairs in place. Screw a two foot length of Velcro under the table by each chair. Then, when you finish your meal, push the chair in and wrap the Velcro around it. This should be frustrating enough to discourage interest in the chairs.
  • Prevent eloping. No, not the kind that ends in a Vegas wedding, but the scenario in which your child with ASD runs off from where you left them. Keeping kids with ASD inside can be tricky, so if you have an escape artist, consider installing alarms on your doors. Get creative about locks and other mechanisms for keeping your child indoors. Childproof your home with the usual safety measures, but go a step further, limiting access to unoccupied rooms, attic, basement, and garage.
  • Watch out for water. Children with ASD tend to be drawn to water. Be vigilant about water sources, using safety devices to keep bathroom doors and toilets locked and removing sink plugs. If you have a large body of water in the backyard (e.g., pool, hot tub), ensure access doors are always locked.
  • Use gates inside as well as outside. Baby gates are a parent’s friend, especially when that parent has a child with ASD. They can keep children off stairs, out of kitchens, and from getting into dangerous situations.
  • Create designated spaces. Sometimes, safety isn’t just about what kids aren’t allowed to do; it’s also about what they’re encouraged to do. Making special spaces for different activities and keeping a consistent routine can help keep your child with ASD calm and safe.

If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to help by providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in an environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.

  • Outdoor Socially-Distanced Summer Activities

    Summer is upon us, and even though things are finally starting to open back up, many parents are still, understandably, proceeding with caution. Are you among them? By now, most kids have gotten accustomed to social distancing, and understand that it helps them stay safe. Fortunately, we’ve got some great ideas for fun, outdoor, socially-distanced, summer activities.

    • Teach the neighborhood kids some old-school games. Kickball, Simon Says, hopscotch, and other old playground games don’t require kids to get close but do allow them to interact with each other. You can also play a dancing game in which everyone must freeze as soon as the music stops.
    • Update some old games to create something new. You’ve heard of tag, but have you heard of noodle tag? Incorporate pool noodles into your game of tag and it’s easy to social distance. Chutes and ladders is a classic board game, but what if you made it an outdoor game, drawing a giant game board with sidewalk chalk? Sidewalk chalk is also great for playing hangman or hopscotch, or drawing an obstacle course. Think outside the box to update old favorites.
    • Make something big and beautiful. Create a neighborhood mural by enlisting all of the children to draw in front of their own homes with sidewalk chalk. If sidewalk talk is becoming old hat, try sidewalk paint, made of cornstarch, water, and food coloring. You can also decorate your fence with paper flowers made by the children out of construction paper, paint, markers, and paper plates. Your kids can have fun creating these large scale art projects and it may brighten the day for people passing by.
    • Have a scavenger hunt. You can walk through your neighborhood, challenging kids to find things like a blue house or a mailbox in the shape of an animal, or make it a sensory scavenger hunt, directing kids to look for things that are rough, smooth, shiny, warm, and so on.
    • Go geocaching. With a mobile device and a free geocaching account, you can be launched into an outdoor treasure hunt that provides good family fun outside in nature. It also helps kids learn to follow instructions and use their powers of observation. The treasures you find are real objects that people have hidden, typically a trinket or souvenir.
    • Host an outdoor movie night. Social distancing this fun even is totally doable. Just set up your screen, position the chairs six feet apart, and serve individually packaged snacks. Movie theater candy, anyone? Everyone will have a blast and they may not even notice it’s socially distanced.

    Check back here often for more tips on finding fun family activities! If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, STAR of CA is here to help by providing important support services. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in an environment that offers support for the entire family. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.