• A Brief Overview of the Verbal Behavior Approach

    The verbal behavior approach is a type of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy that focuses on improving language. The purpose of the therapy is to assist individuals who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in developing better language skills by breaking verbal output down into specific subtypesThere are four sub-types of words that the verbal behavior approach focuses on: 

    • Mand, which is a verbal request. 
    • Tact, which is an observation or label. 
    • Intraverbal, which is a response. 
    • Echoic, which is a repetition of another word or phrase. 

    This approach is often used in conjunction with other ABA treatments as part of a comprehensive treatment program. 

    At STAR of CA, we specialize in providing the best services available for children who have ASD and other developmental disorders. We can develop an individualized program for your child that targets his or her particular needs. When you need behavioral health services in Ventura, call (805) 644-7827. 

  • Hearing from Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

    There are numerous myths and stereotypes about ASD that are at odds with the facts, particularly for women who have the disorder. In this video, you’ll learn about some of these myths—and the truths that lie behind them.  

    If you have ASD or a related condition, it’s time to reach out to the team at STAR of CA. We work to provide families and individuals with up-to-date resources for living with ASD. For more information about the services we offer, call (805) 644-7827.  

  • How ASD Can Differ in Boys and Girls

    If you are the parent of a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be wondering if the disorder manifests differently depending on the child’s gender. In fact, there are notable differences between the way ASD appears in boys and girls. These are some of the areas in which girls display ASD symptoms differently than boys:  

    Communication Skills 

    For boys who have ASD, trouble with social communication skills may become apparent early on, as they begin interacting with their peers. Girls who have ASD, on the other hand, may not experience serious difficulty with social communication until they reach adolescence. The same holds true for non-verbal communication skills, which girls tend to experience less trouble with than boys. Thus, it may be more difficult to observe the signs of ASD in girls who have it.  

    Disruptive Behavior 

    Many parents of children with ASD notice that their children tend to act out and display disruptive behavior. While both boys and girls who have ASD may manifest this behavior, some experts are observing that girls with ASD may demonstrate higher levels of imitating socially appropriate behaviors.   

    Limited Interests 

    Many children who have ASD become fascinated with one or two interests to the exclusion of all others, such as trains or building blocks. While girls do manifest this symptom, they tend to become absorbed by interests that do not seem unusual to their parents, such as dolls or television shows. Therefore, this symptom can easily go unnoticed, and a case of ASD may not be diagnosed right away.  

    If you and your loved ones are struggling to deal with the challenges that come with an ASD diagnosis, you may benefit from the services offered by STAR of CA. We have been serving Ventura and the surrounding areas since we first opened our doors in May of 2006. For the comprehensive ASD services you deserve, contact us today at (805) 644-7827. 

  • Who Should Be Screened for ASD?

    If you are concerned that your child may have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), your first step should be to obtain a professional screening as soon as possible. But you might not be certain precisely how to determine whether or not your child displays any of the symptoms of the disorder. If any of the following things are true of your child, you may want to consider scheduling a screening.  

    Your child is missing important developmental milestones.  

    As they develop, children tend to hit certain milestones at certain ages. By the time of their first birthday, children should be able to gesture and babble; by 16 months, single words should emerge; by their second birthday, they should be able to use simple phrases on their own. Additionally, by 12 months, your child should often seek your attention and to share their experiences with you by pointing out items of interest in their environment or looking to you as a means of identifying how they should respond to a novel situation (e.g. social referencing). If your child misses any of these milestones, they may need a screening for ASD.  
    Your child is regressing after reaching milestones.  

    If your child is having difficulty using certain language or social skills after already achieving them, it’s a definite warning sign. For example, if your child seems to be having difficulty using words or gestures to express him or herself after being able to do so previously, you should consider having an ASD screening in addition to a medical screening.  

    Your child has a sibling who has ASD.  

    If your child has a sibling with ASD or another developmental disorder, it’s important to watch carefully for any warning signs of ASD. If you notice any similar symptoms arise at any stage of development, you may want to have your child screened by a professional for ASD.  

    If you are searching for the right resources to help you and your family support your child with ASD, let STAR of CA be your guide. We have been serving areas across California for more than a decade, and we are continually working to expand and improve the behavioral and psychological services we offer. For more information, call us today at (805) 644-7827. 

  • Why Are Rates of ASD Rising?

    In recent years, the number of new diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased drastically. Why exactly is this happening? As this video explains, this trend may not mean that actual instances of ASD are on the rise. Instead, the answer may simply be that we are getting better at identifying ASD and other developmental disorders.  

    If you have a child who has ASD or a related disorder, it’s time to get in touch with the team at STAR of CA. For the past decade and longer, we have been helping individuals and families in Ventura find the right services for their needs. To learn more about the wide array of support services we offer, call us today at (805) 644-7827.

  • Enjoying the Winter Holidays with a Child on the Spectrum

    If you have a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be wondering if he or she can still enjoy the holiday season. Fortunately, the answer is yes! Children with ASD can still enjoy all of the warmth, fun, and excitement of the holidays—as long as you know how to manage the experience for them to ensure that it is positive. Here are some tips to keep in mind.  

    Consider alternatives to shopping with your kids.  

    Children who have ASD may react negatively to the noise and tumult that comes with the territory of Christmas shopping. Instead of taking your child along on a trip that may be upsetting or unsettling, you might want to think about leaving your child with a sitter or respite worker, a family member, or even doing most of your shopping online.  

    Plan your decorations carefully.  

    While children may enjoy decorating a tree or putting up lights with you, it’s important to supervise them at all times. Keep in mind that flashing lights can be distracting or even upsetting for children with ASD. You may want to choose lights that emit a steady glow, and you might want to emphasize calming colors, such as light blue.  

    Be prepared for holiday trips.  

    For many families, the holiday season means traveling. If you are going to be taking a trip with your child, it’s important to take some precautions in order to avoid sensory overload. Bring plenty of toys and games to keep your child from getting restless, keep your child’s dietary preferences and needs in mind, and make sure you have a quiet, safe place to take your child whenever he or she needs a break.  

    At STAR of CA, our goal is to help families with children who have ASD get the effective, up-to-date therapies and resources they deserve, including evidence-based treatments, parental education, and counseling. If you have any questions about ASD or other developmental disorders, you can reach us in Ventura by calling (805) 644-7827.  

  • Preparing for the ASD Assessment Process

    Making a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is essential in order to ensure that the individual gets the therapy he or she needs. However, getting that diagnosis can be tricky. After all, there is not a single definite test that can be used to determine whether a person has ASD or not. If you’re wondering what you should do in order to prepare your child for the ASD assessment process, here is what you need to know.  

    When should an ASD assessment take place?  

    The most reliable assessments of ASD generally take place by or around the age of 2. However, the symptoms of ASD are often visible by around 18 months of age. If you have identified any possible symptoms of a developmental delay in your child, the next step is to schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.  

    What happens at a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation?  

    If your child shows any early signs of ASD, setting up a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation will allow you to determine whether your child does indeed have this condition. At the evaluation, which is usually performed by a specialist, your child will receive a complete examination, and areas such as hearing, vision, and developmental history will be taken into account.  

    What should I bring to my child’s diagnostic evaluation?  

    In order to ensure that your child’s evaluation for ASD is as productive as possible, you will want to take the time to assemble the materials you’ll need ahead of time. You should be sure to bring any relevant medical information, such as your child’s vision and hearing records, to this evaluation. It may also be helpful to bring some personal notes, such as any questions you have about ASD or your own observations of your child you’d like to note. 

    STAR of CA provides a wide range of support services for individuals with ASD and their families in Ventura County, including individualized intervention programs, family support services, and parent education classes. We are committed to offering the best services possible to everyone we work with. To learn more, call (805) 644-7827. 

  • 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.  

  • An Inside Look at a Summer Camp for Kids with ASD

    For many children, summer camp is the source of some of their most cherished childhood memories. If your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a similar condition, though, you may be wondering whether summer camp is still something they can experience. In this video, you’ll learn about a camp in Nova Scotia that is designed to accommodate the needs of children with ASD, helping to ensure that they can have summertime fun just like every other kid.

    STAR of CA has been providing ASD resources in Ventura County since May 2006, and we have recently expanded our reach to cover other counties in California. If you have any questions about our services, you can contact us today by calling (805) 644-7827.

  • 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.