How to Handle the Picky Eater in Your Life!

Don’t we all love food???? We take it for granted that everyone eats or at least learns to eat automatically. And then we realize that we have a Picky Eater in our lives who tests our very understanding of consuming edibles! The Picky Eater may be difficult but also inspires us to understand their needs in this crazy world of food and eating!!!. So, read on and I hope you can gain some tips on what to do with your Picky Eater!

The Top 9 Things to Consider for Helping Your Picky Eater:

  1.  Rule out medical concerns – Any sickness, chronic constipation, allergies, sensory concerns, etc. Check with your medical professionals!
  2.  Reflect – How important is increasing food tolerance for you and your child? If it is, start by making a list of foods that are commonly eaten in your home that you are ready to introduce to your child. Make sure to include foods that your child is starting to show preference for, in terms of texture, color, taste. 
  3.  Reflect again using a food log to determine what your child regularly eats – analyze patterns that are seen – are they all white food, Are the foods mushy, crunchy, etc.
  4. Prepare to tackle this with reinforcing the task with some highly preferred food or toy or activity to use after working on this skill.
  5. Don’t forget – it may take up to 10 exposures to a food before some interest is shown.
  6. Review logical steps to introduce the food – Look, Touch, Hold, Smell, Bring close to mouth, Lick/taste, Bite a small piece, Keep in mouth (slowly increasing time – even by seconds), Chew a small piece, swallow, Chew off a bigger piece, swallow, repeat
  7. Provide the opportunity for each step, then after about 15-30 minutes if no progress is made at all, it is okay to remove the item and then present tolerated food for the child to consume and to not go hungry. 
  8.  Try again after a short break…some children can come back to work on this task again after a small break. It is okay if your kiddo does not. You can try again the next mealtime or day. Don’t give up.
  9.  Don’t be dejected by the gagging, spitting out, and throwing up…. this is the “not so cool” part of the process. Do go easy with the introduction of the food and take it one step at a time.

What do you need the most as a caregiver?????​

Patience, consistency, and faith in the process!!! It sure is worth it! ​

Your BCBA at Key Autism Services can support and guide you through this process. The toughest part of this is when you are by yourself without the staff. Have no worries, a step-by-step plan and log will be provided for you to follow along and complete. This will support analysis of the process and modifications may be made to ensure that getting your child to tolerate different types of is steadily improving.

What are you waiting for? Contact your BCBA to provide you with guidance and support! Let’s get your Picky Eater to eat more …to support health, for growth and to improve overall quality of life!

Best of luck! 

Services in Colorado

Key Autism Services Feature – Services in Colorado

Come join us at Key Autism Services Colorado!  Key Autism Services is accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE), an international accrediting body created to meet accreditation needs specific to the delivery of behavior analysis.   Here at Key Autism Services Colorado, your child will receive treatment tailored to his or her needs, aligned with your family’s goals, and based on scientific treatment models.  Our services address a wide range of pivotal skills and challenging behaviors.  Our clinical team consists of highly trained professionals who are passionate about helping your child reach his or her goals.  

Your Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Services may include some or all of the following supports:

Home-based Services:

A trained Behavior Therapist works with your child, in your home, for a prescribed number of hours per week.  A Board CertifiedBehavior Analyst (BCBA) oversees these services on a weekly basis.  Goals and behavior change strategies are created through an initial evaluation of your child’s skills levels and behavior patterns.  Home-based therapy is designed to promote learning in the natural environment and may target areas such as communication, social skills, leisure skills, activities of daily living, safety skills, coping strategies, and challenging behavior.  Therapy sessions are integrated into your daily routines.  We make things easy for you by scheduling around your calendar.

Community-based Services:

ABA Services are incorporated into your family’s day-to-day life to propel your child towards the communicative, social, daily living, and behavioral goals of his or her age and family unit.  Community-based services may include shopping at the grocery store, taking a walk in the neighborhood, participating in dance lessons, and riding in the car.

Caregiver Support and Collaboration:

Our services do not just help your child, they help to improve life for your entire family.  Our clinical team employs family members to better understand why and how ABA Services are so effective.  Additionally, caregivers know their child best and can offer important insights to enhance the effectiveness of services.  Caregivers are teachers, and their ability to support their child’s treatment plan is essential to their child’s success.

Whole Team Collaboration:

Key Autism Services works alongside your child’s team of professionals (pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, school staff, etc.) to ensure that your child’s unique needs are met.

School-based Services:

If your child is exhibiting challenging behavior within the school setting, ABA services may be requested by a caregiver, Special Education Teacher, or the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.  Should this be an option for your family, a BCBA will conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) within the school setting.  Results from this evaluation will be used to create an individualized Behavior Support Plan (BSP).  The BSP will then be implemented in the school setting with the supervision of the BCBA and support of school staff.

Key Autism Services Colorado is located in Aurora, Brighton, Boulder, Centennial, Denver, Ft. Collins, Littleton, Loveland, Lakewood, Thornton, Castle Rock, Lafayette, Englewood, and Glendale.

Key Autism Services accepts CO-Medicaid, CO-Anthem BCBS, CO-UBH, CO-Aetna, CO-Humana, CO-Cigna, CO-Magellan, and CO-Beacon.

Click here to inquire about initiating services with Key Autism Services Colorado:  https://www.keyautismservices.com/contact-us/

Your Child is a Sunset: Strategies for Managing Stress as a Special Needs Parent

Stress is a normal and unavoidable part of life, but families with children with autism can experience more stress than other families. Many families feel immense pressure to “parent perfectly”, following all of the recommendations and strategies provided by their BCBAs, SLPs, and other providers 100% of the time. This approach, however, as a “fixer” of our child’s challenges, often leaves us feeling like we are falling in quicksand. The more we try to fix, the faster we fall in. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy offers a different approach, focusing on strategies to move through inevitably difficult and stressful situations. Here are just a few strategies derived from the ACT:

Your Life is a Movie:

Think back to a time in your life when you felt stressed. Maybe your child was having a meltdown in the grocery store, and all the tips and tricks you usually implement aren’t working. Imagine yourself as a bystander in the situation. What’s something kind you would say in this moment? Maybe you’d say something such like, “I’ve been there!”, or “You got this”. Practicing self-compassion will not only help you move through stressful situations in the moment, but also model these skills for your child. 

Milk, milk, milk:

Have you ever noticed that if you keep saying the same word over and over, it starts to sound strange or loses its meaning? Try saying the word “milk” over and over for 45 seconds straight. Eventually the word loses all of its associations, and becomes a series of meaningless sounds. We can use this same strategy to move through uncomfortable or anxious thoughts. 

Your Child as a Sunset:

ABA Therapy can be immensely helpful in identifying interventions to support our children’s independence. It is also important, however, to sometimes resist the urge to problem solve, and appreciate our children as sunsets. This means we enjoy their beauty and unique qualities without focusing on how long the moment will last, or how we could improve it. 

For more information on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, see a list of resources below:

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT by Russ Harris

Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes

Additional References:

Hahs, A.D., Dixon, M.R., & Paliliunas, D. (in press). Randomized controlled trial of a brief acceptance and commitment training for parents of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science

Paary-Cruwys, R. (Producer). (2019, February 13). Acceptance and commitment training with Dr. Adam Hahs [Audio podcast].

Harris, R. (2006). Embracing your demons: an Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Psychotherapy in Australia, 12, 2-8. 

Our New Partnership With SensAble Kids

Here at Key Autism services, we are very excited to announce that we have recently partnered with SensAble kids for our client’s speech and occupational therapy needs. SensAble Kids began providing speech and occupational therapy at our Oak Lawn ABA clinic at the beginning of June. With this new partnership, our clients are able to receive speech and/ or occupational therapy through SensAble kids here at the convenience of our Oak Lawn ABA clinic. Speech and Occupational therapy are now built into each of our client’s schedules and offers the ease and convenience of a single therapy location. 

The decision to partner with SensAble kids was an easy one and came down to 3 key factors;

1. Being able to meet all our clients’ therapeutic needs in a whole child approach. 

2. Identifying a highly reputable company providing quality therapeutic services. 

3. The convenience of 1 location for all of our client’s therapy needs. 

Since agreeing to partner with SensAble kids our team of BCBA’s and behavior therapists have been able to shift their focus from strictly an ABA model to a co-treatment approach. Our BCBA’s, speech therapists, and occupational therapists now have an opportunity to work together as a team focusing on the whole child. With this unique set up, our team has the opportunity to come together and meet to review the progress and goals of the child’s individual therapies and ensure that they are working together towards a common goal. 

Our second driving factor in this partnership was the quality of services that SensAble kids adheres to and their reputation in the community. SensAble kids core values truly line up with the core mission and values here at Key. We were quickly able to identify that this would be a great fit based on their desire to work collaboratively with other liked mind professionals, the willingness to collaborate in all areas of the child’s treatment, and the integrity of their services. 

Our third and final factor in this decision to partner was the ability to offer these services on site in a single location for all of our Oak Lawn center clients. We understand that modern families are always busy and on the go. Juggling school, extra curriculars, and therapies can be a scheduling nightmare. We see a huge value in the ability to combine and reduce our families drive time to and from therapy so they can focus on the things that really matter like quality family time. 

We are confident that this exciting new partnership model provides an exciting opportunity for all disciplines to collaborate on a child’s treatment and we are looking forward to future partnerships at all of our clinic locations with local speech and occupational therapy partners.

A Deeper Look at ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has evolved in to one of the most effective therapies for Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. It is a therapy based in science and results. Children with autism that receive the recommended amount of ABA hours per week show a substantial improvement in behavior and learning. Simply put, the goal of ABA is to increase positive behaviors and decrease behaviors that negatively impact learning and daily life. This article will take a deeper look at ABA, and how it works.

Evidence-Based

ABA is an evidence-based best practice treatment of Autism. That means it has been scientifically proven through many valid and reliable experiments to work. This is a very important point. There should be a certain level of confidence associated with the treatments of any condition or illness. In fact, when intensive ABA is provided (between 25-40 hours per week), substantial gains are shown to be made. This has been presented in many studies targeting ABA.

How it works

Behavior Analysts go through a tremendous amount of training to be able to successfully provide the service. For the sake of this article, how ABA works will be simplified. The main goal of ABA as stated above is to increase positive behaviors and reduce negative ones. One of the main strategies behavior therapists use is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is providing a reward for when a positive behavior has been used. After repetition and time, the behavior should be changed permanently. The reward is appropriate and applies well to the person receiving it.

Behavior analysts and therapists heavily focus on the cause of a certain behavior (Antecedent), what behavior was exhibited, and the consequence of the behavior. The consequence is a direct result of the behavior and may positive or negative. Using this method allows analysts to build programs tailored for individuals that are unique in what they are targeting.

Other helpful tidbits

ABA is provided by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), also referred to as Behavior Therapists. The BCBA’s evaluate the child, build the programming for the child, and then supervise the RBT as the program is implemented. All the data shows that the more hours of ABA a child gets, the more optimal results will be seen. An ABA team may consist of one BCBA and several RBT’s. The important thing is that the programs are followed closely, monitored for success, and adjusted for improvement. Most insurance companies do cover ABA services at this point, though, that wasn’t always the case. Benefits should be verified by the ABA company prior to therapy starting. This is a standard practice. Embarking on an ABA journey is a huge step in the development of any child with autism. Like anything else, the unknown may be scary. Having some information about it in advance can make all the difference in the world.