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A lot of children who have autism will start their speech journey with something called echolalia. Echolalia is when a child repeats what you have just said back to you. It is done for many purposes, but the main reason a child does this is because they have a hard time with fluent or creative spoken language. Some good news about echolalia is it can be a sign your child is trying to speak and they may grow out of it. In some cases however, the child never fully overcomes echolalia. There are some classic examples of this, as some children began with echolalic speech which slowly filters out as they speak more fluently, but rears its head again when they are under stress. Some parents are told their child would always use echolalia and never speak but through ABA they can form fluent sente…Read More

Applied Behavioral Analyses (ABA) is based on 7 core dimensions. Any interventions your therapist uses with your child will fall within or be defined by these 7 categories. Therapists use the anagram GET A CAB to remember each part of the therapy. G is for Generalization: This is moving skills from one situation to another. Sometimes your child with autism may perform certain skills like using the potty in one location but not in another. Generalization is the process of moving this skill from one place to another. E is for Effective interventions: All interventions are monitored to ensure effectiveness and to see how they impact the behavior you are trying to change. They must be strong changes that affect something for the better. T is for Technological: Where interventions and procedure…Read More

We talked about token boards and how they help reinforce good behavior during Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy sessions. But there is a way you can improve on the token boards and other reinforces to make them as effective as possible. Your therapist should use some of the following methods to help your child move forward through their skills quickly. When offering a token or sticker for each completed task, your therapist will ensure it is given as soon as the child completes the task. It is here reinforcement will be the most powerful, mostly due to instant gratification. If you promise a treat later for doing something they were asked to do, the behavior change will not be as rapid. This is why stickers and tokens on hand are such an amazing tool, there’s no wait period. The …Read More

Prompting is a wonderful tool in applied behavioral analyses therapy (ABA) and probably the reason some children learn to communicate at all. This simple way of moving a child through the motions of an action/response so he/she can see the consequence is so powerful yet so simple. It really answers the question, how do you teach a child that can’t understand language intuitively, what you are asking of them? My son was completely non-verbal until his speech therapist used hand-over-hand prompting to show signs and slowly weaned him through the process of prompting until he could mand (request things) for himself. Here is a list showing some most invasive to the least invasive prompting. Most invasive: Full Physical Prompting This is when your therapist will essentially use your child’…Read More

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

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