Tips for Helping Your Child get the most of E-Learning

With the rapid spread of COVID-19, we saw a drastic shift in how many students would be learning at the start of the Fall 2020 school year. There are a few different learning modals that are being followed by different school districts. Many children are fully remote, having all their learning occur via an online platform. Some children are spending 2-4 days a week in person at school, with shortened days and additional e-learning occurring at home. And finally, several school districts have chosen to return to school full time with precautions in place.  
E-learning can be a difficult transition for children with ASD for several reasons. The fact that they will be required to attend to a computer for long periods of time, with the added distractor of being at home can pose a challenge. There may also be longer periods of downtime, while the teacher is asking other students questions or prepping for the next activity. Many kids use IPads or computers for leisure activities, and they may be tempted to exit out of their e-learning platform to engage in other activities. Finally, the change in routine can be incredibly challenging for children, the idea of going to school but remaining home can be difficult to understand or adjust to.   
There are several things parents can do to help support their children with ASD when it comes to e-learning. Visual schedules and calendars to help their children prepare for their day and attend to tasks as needed. This can help ease some anxiety and transitions between classes. It can also detail which class they will be attending, and which teacher will be leading the class. Helping prep the learning area at home can support success when it comes to e-learning. Providing the child with a decluttered workspace, removing as many distractions as possible. Also providing an environment with minimal noise, and if needed have fidgets to help with any needed movement breaks and support focus on each class/task.   
Parents can also reach out to their child’s teacher for any resources to help familiarize the child to the new virtual learning platform. There are also support groups available for parents to help gain additional ideas to support children with the new platform for learning this school year. Finally, parents can request IEP meetings to discuss appropriate supports for their children during remote learning. These meetings can be used to discuss any needed changes to the content or methods of instruction. 
2020 marked a huge change to our educational system and with that many challenges arose for our children. Parents can help prepare their students for the changes in their learning platforms in a few different ways. Preparing our students in advance can help them anticipate the changes, and possibly make the transition a little smoother. Establishing daily routines can also help a child adjust to their new learning platform. Visual schedules can help support the new routine and guide e-learning. Online learning can be confusing to some children, as they may be only used to using their IPads/computers for leisure activities. Helping them understand when it is time for e-learning and when it is time to play can help them understand how they are using their devices at a given time. If additional supports are needed, parents can reach out to either their child’s teacher or call for an IEP meeting. Additional resources/accommodations can be made to ensure a child is able to succeed with their new e-learning platform. 

4 Tips to a Happy Halloween

Halloween is a day that most kids wait all year for. It’s a time to dress up in a fun costume and then go out to people’s houses to get bags full of candy. What’s not to love about that? Fact is, children on the autism spectrum may not love it, and they may not understand it. Dressing up and upsetting normal routines can cause stress and anxiety for a child with autism. Participation in events like this is a goal, and there are some easy ways to making it a successful and stress free time. This article will give you 4 tips to a Happy Halloween.

4 Tips

  • Keep the costume to something simple. Not all costumes have to be made of uncomfortable material and have big cumbersome masks. Do something simple. An example of a simple costume would be Superman, but instead of a cape and tights, just use a T-Shirt with the Superman logo on it.
  • Trick or Treat if tolerated and for a short amount of time. If your child cannot tolerate trick or treating, do not force the issue. If they can, do it for a very short amount of time. Your child will have the experience, but not to a point that is disturbing to them.
  • Make necessary modifications. Put a bowl of candy outside your house for trick or treaters to take without them having to knock or ring the doorbell all night. The constant noise and hassle of answering the door with strangers outside might be too much for your child.
  • Go with the flow. You know your child best and understand what he or she enjoys and what may be too much. The last thing that anyone wants is for your child to have a negative experience on Halloween that lasts with them forever. Make decisions based on what’s best for your child.

Enjoy Together

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy Halloween together. Having a plan and following the 4 simple tips above can create an atmosphere filled with joy and laughter. Halloween in general has been toned down a bit in communities to make it more fun filled, and less scary for children.  Create a safe place for your child and make memories that can last forever.


Back To School: Tips for Enhancing Learning For Children With Autism

For children with autism, going back to school after summer break can be an exciting time. However, with the current circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic, it may make for a more difficult transition to in-person or e-learning. Here are some tips on how you can enhance learning for your child in the classroom.

  • Provide your child’s teacher with as much information as possible. Information like your child’s likes, dislikes, favorite sensory activities, and favorite extracurricular activities can help your child’s teacher decide on the best method of teaching for your child. 
  • Meet with your child’s teacher if possible. Meeting with your child’s teacher in person or over a video call allows you to ask questions that may be easier to ask than over email. Not to mention, participating in meetings with your child’s teacher shows them you’re serious about their education and looking to put forth the most effort to help your child succeed.
  • Share your child’s diagnosis with their teacher. As a parent, sharing your child’s diagnosis with their peers is a personal decision, but sharing their diagnosis with their teacher with full disclosure offers clarity for learning methods and how the teacher may handle and understand your child.

While the COVID-19 pandemic can be a stressful time, your child’s education is still important. Allowing yourself to embrace the recent changes with your child may make it easier for them to adjust to the changes they will face this upcoming school year.

What is ABA Therapy for Autism?

ABA Therapy is short for Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy and is regarded as the gold standard for autism treatment. It is a form of therapy that is based on the principles and the science of human behavior and learning. As the go-to method of autism therapy, ABA has been used to improve communication, social and learning skills by using key tactics like positive reinforcement, mainly with individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism. It employs a system of rewards and consequences to curb and eventually eliminate negative or harmful behaviors, helping to mold behavior in a positive way. 

It has also been effective in treating other conditions such as anxiety, OCD, phobias, eating disorders, substance abuse and more. 

How Does In-Home ABA Therapy Work?

No two kids are alike which is why ABA Therapy has several phases and can be customized to your child’s specific needs. ABA Therapy starts with an initial consultation and a functional behavior assessment, administered by a qualified and trained ABA Therapist or Behavior Technician. During this assessment, the ABA Therapist will start by asking the parents, in-home family or direct caregivers questions about the child’s strengths, abilities and challenges. They will meet and get to know the child, interacting with them and getting a feel for their communication levels, their social skills, how they learn, their personality and more. All the information gathered here will be used to create a custom behavior plan for your child. 

What Do the In-Home ABA Therapy Sessions and the ABA Behavior Plan Entail? 

The ABA Therapist assigned with the child will then work the BCBA, or Board Certified Behavior Analyst to formulate the behavior plan. They will share the observations made during the assessment to start with an initial plan of action for the individual child moving forward. This dictates what the ABA Therapist will work on with the child during all subsequent In-home ABA therapy sessions. It will align with the child’s needs, unique strengths and challenges and will dictate treatment methods and goals. 

Goals set usually aim at correcting problematic behaviors or harmful behaviors, such as aggression, emotional outbursts, self-injury, and tantrums; it will help increase or improve learning, communication, and social skills. Behavior plans also include principles and strategies caregivers, teachers, and other influencers in the child’s life can use to help the child meet his or her behavior goals. This helps keep everything the child is learning streamlined and reduces the chance for conflicting ideologies that could confuse the child and set them back in their progress. 

More specifically, some of the intervention methods utilized in different behavior plans can include: 

Verbal Behavior Intervention: focuses on improving communication skills with kids who display non-verbal behaviors. 

Early Start Denver Model: Uses play-based activities to integrate multiple goals. 

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention: Recommended for kids under age 5 and teaches functional and adaptive skills, social interaction, and communication skills in a focused, intensive manner. 

Pivotal Response Training: Allows the child to take charge and lead in a learning activity with the therapist suggesting several choices for the child to select from, based on the child’s displayed tendencies and skills. 

Discrete Trial Training: Teaches via structure and task completion, offering rewards on jobs well done. 

The Importance of In-Home ABA Therapy 

The best place to do this is in a natural environment for the child, so the therapist can get a full understanding of what factors are at play in the child’s behaviors. It will also give the child the utmost sense of comfort, knowing that they are in a natural environment, giving the therapist a much more accurate assessment of the child’s natural tendencies and habits than if the child were to be assessed in an unfamiliar environment. Other places your therapist may spend time with the child in, are in other natural settings like at school, where the child is accustomed to spending time. This allows the therapist to observe the child as they go about their daily activities. 

ABA Therapy and Caregiver Training 

Being in a natural setting also allows the ABA Therapist to get the support of the other caregivers and educators around the child, like the parents and the teachers in his or her life. Having the principles and the different behavior intervention strategies reinforced by other authority figures in the child’s life is key to helping them succeed in reaching their goals. The ABA Therapist assigned to work with the individual child will provide training for caregivers and oftentimes ask that they participate in the one-on-one therapy sessions. The training will help caregivers navigate challenging behaviors and help steer the child into more positive ways of responding. 

Ongoing Evaluation

The aim of the ABA Therapy sessions is to reveal any causes of any detrimental behaviors while working to replace those behaviors with more positive, constructive ones.  Over the course of the child’s therapy journey, there will be more assessments made based on the data that is collected. The approach will be adjusted as more sessions are completed, as time goes on and as progress is made. The behavior plans are designed to be scalable and malleable, allowing the therapist to build on it and adjust it as the child grows and learns. 

What are the Results of Successful In-Home ABA Therapy? 

ABA Therapy helps kids with Autism communicate more effectively, show more interest in the people and activities around them, engage in more socially healthy ways and will help them become more independent by being able to ask for things themselves, having fewer tantrums or outbursts, being more focused at school and by eliminating self-harming behaviors. 

To get more of your questions answered, reach out to our staff to schedule a consultation with the Key Autism Team.