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It’s difficult navigating the autistic space when a child does something for attention. On the one hand, it’s hard because you want to give them all the attention in the world; on the other hand, they have a lot less ways than other kids of gaining the attention they need. As caregivers it can lead our heads in a spin; is ignoring their behavior when it is attention seeking the right thing to do? Are we neglecting their needs? Shouldn’t we be their strength of communication for them by speaking/acting/advocating for them? With Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) therapy a technique called active ignoring is used in certain circumstances, where the child is trying to get attention, or what they want, with socially unacceptable behavior, like spitting, whining, or violence. We don’t ig…Read More

The other week I discussed reasons for why a child would act out. We then went through techniques an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapist uses when a child elopes. But what about techniques for sensory issues? Sensory integration is the process of normalizing sensation and making it easier for your autistic child to cope with them. Occupational Therapy Alongside ABA your child may benefit from Occupational Therapy if you find they have a lot of physical issues. OT in simple terms helps people do what they want to do in everyday life, be it taking off a t-shirt or using a pen. Sometimes these issues are accompanying sensory problems, like the feel of fabric, or not knowing you are squeezing too hard. An OT’s job is to identify the sensory issues and guide your child through them un…Read More

The behavior of trying to escape a situation in all children is common, but especially so with autistic children who have a lot going on and little to no attention span. In applied behavioral analyses therapy (ABA) avoidance techniques are tackled head on, to build up the child’s tolerance to accept and even enjoy certain situations—such as sitting down to read a book. A child won’t be allowed to escape a situation (since this will re-enforce that escape is preferable to getting through to the other side) so what does the therapist do to make sure the child feels they can make it through that moment? ABA Techniques: How to Encourage a Child to Stick it Out A lot of now vs then techniques may be used. Sometimes autistic children have a hard time understanding that this moment won’t…Read More

Every child, anywhere, regardless of autism, acts a certain way for a reason. We don’t do things out of nowhere. Honing down those reasons are the key to helping a child overcome a behavior that won’t serve them in their adult years. Let’s look at some common reasons people engage in certain behaviors so you notice what makes your child act the way they do! Sensory Sometimes we do things because it feels good to do them. Even though soda is bad for us, when we drink it the taste feels worth it, or the energy it gives us feels good. Sometimes we know we shouldn’t do something but we do it anyway because it makes us feel something we crave. For an autistic child they may involve themselves in sensory stimulation, like flapping, rubbing their hands on things and spitting. This behavi…Read More

How do you know whether you’re experiencing an ‘extinction burst’ or if your child’s behavior is just getting worse? What is an Extinction Burst? To understand what I mean by this, I’ll give an example. If your child is hitting when asked to do something and the hitting is ignored but they still have to do the demand, a child won’t stop the behavior straight away; in fact it will get worse. Why? Because it used to work for them! This is called an extinction burst. When you start to ignore the behavior all together they will up the ante and try to go back to the way it was before. Because that was easier for them than listening to you. This doesn’t make your child a bad person in any way; in fact it makes them pretty smart! They’ve figured out how get want they want in the …Read More

Many children with autism suffer from sensory overload. This could be sensitivity to noises, sensations, lights, textures, temperature and more. The issue with these sensory problems is they impede things your child needs to do. We work with a boy who has autism and he hates people touching his finger-tips. Therefore, it is almost impossible for parents to cut his nails because he will scream and thrash around. But he also uses his nails as weapons to hurt himself, so cutting them is necessary. It’s a catch 22 and there are a lot of times this happens for our autistic children. Take for example a potty; if they are scared of how it sounds or how it feels to sit on one, they won’t want to relieve themselves. It will be impossible for them to learn how to potty train. They may not like t…Read More

When it comes to Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) therapy consistency is key. This is true for all parenting styles; Autistic children are no different from every other child in the world. If they can find a way to get what they want, then they will utilize it. For instance, if a toddler wants a lolly-pop and you say no, then they ask somebody else and they say yes, they may ask different people until they get candy because it worked before. It’s important that all parents and those raising a child (because it takes a village) are on the same page. An ABA therapist in effect helps you to raise and teach a child who doesn’t respond as well to traditional teaching methods we as caregivers see in our own families and mainstream media. Because consistency is paramount, it’s imperative …Read More

One of the first things your Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapist may work on with your child is imitation. This is a program your therapist teaches if your child is babbling and attempting speech but won’t speak when asked a question, or cannot repeat something. Being able to imitate somebody is so important for learning social skills, mands and how to learn from others. And since children with Autism learn a little differently than their peers, it’s vital to teach them this key skill in a way they can comprehend. How an Imitation Program Works in ABA If you want to teach your child new words and new behaviors they have to copy those behaviors, right? If they can’t copy the behavior, then they can’t learn how to do the behavior. This is where the therapist steps in and sho…Read More

It’s hard for our children on the spectrum to control impulse control and emotions related to frustration. Because of this, asking them to wait is akin to asking them to stop their world from spinning. The end result? It gets frustrating quickly; they may explode, tantrum, lash out, whine, repeatedly ask, and destroy property, or any number of things to stop the waiting period. This is why with applied behavioral analyses (ABA) your therapist teaches your child how to wait in a structured way.  First the therapist may start by reducing the waiting period to a miniscule amount of time; usually 5 seconds. The therapist will hold a toy, and when the child asks for it, they will say wait, and count to 5. If the child can wait those 5 seconds, great! They receive the toy and all is good wit…Read More

Sometimes your child doesn’t have a skill that his peers have. Recently we’ve had problems getting an (almost 4-year-old child) to remove his shirt. This is obviously a skill he should be able to do by now if he was developmentally normal but alas Autism has him behind others his age in many ways. There could be plenty of skills that your child has yet to achieve too! Such as; washing their hands, putting on clothes or brushing their teeth, etc. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope. Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) therapists have a specific technique for teaching skills like this and it’s called chaining. What is Chaining? Well, we can break it down like this. Almost every skill has a series of steps attached. For example, when you’re learning how to make a salad, you don’…Read More

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