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.

Helping Children Cope with Changes as a Result of COVID-19

Families across the country are adjusting to the many changes resulting from COVID-19, including changes in daily life, the way we educate our children, and what we will now define as the new normal. This also includes keeping children occupied and focused on what is important. It is important to note that during this stressful time, children look to adults for guidance, so the way you react can have a major impact on how your child perceives and reacts to the changes occurring and information presented. COVID-19 gives parents the ability to model routines, schedules, and remote school lessons in creative ways. The following tips can help:

· Children look up to you. Staying calm, collected, and informed during this unsure time can decrease your child’s fears and ensure your child has the facts. Carefully listen to your child and help your child draw or write out concerns, thoughts, and feelings, then respond with truth, validation, and reassurance.

· Explain what COVID-19 and social distancing are. Children most likely do not fully understand what COVID-19 is and why we are social distancing. Create visuals or hands on activities for your child to explain what the COVID-19 virus does and exactly why we are participating in social distancing.

· Keep a morning routine, and don’t forget to relax. Keeping up with a regular schedule, especially as things start to shift to the new normal, is important to keep your child at ease. Working with your BCBA to identify preferences for activities that are calming and relaxing in nature to your child can help. An example of an activity that may be a preference to your child is yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.

· Model basic hygiene and health practices. Encourage your child to practice regular hygiene like washing hands for at least 20 seconds, wearing a mask in public, and teaching personal space.

· Be aware of your child’s mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change the way we interact. This can mean decreased contact with friends and family. Pay close attention to your child’s eating and sleeping habits – if you see a sudden change, consult with a mental healthcare professional.

Keeping an open, understanding mind towards your child’s concerns can help your child adjust to the fears of going back to school in the fall and others concerns your child might have.

For more information on COVID-19 and other helpful resources, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children.html

For more information on hand washing and hygiene, visit https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf

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.

 

Autism Friendly Places in Lake County, Indiana

Finding fun things to do each day with our kids is not always easy.  We want them to have a great time while learning.  In addition, we want our kids on the Autism spectrum to experience the enjoyable and educational things that our community has to offer. That being said, planning a great day for our kids with ASD can actually be easy and stress free.  It just takes learning about our neighborhoods. There are hidden gems out there and you need to know where to look. This article will provide a road map to Autism friendly places in Lake County Indiana.

5 Autism Friendly Fun Places In Lake County, Indiana:

  1. Located in Crown Point, Indiana, Deep River Waterpark is sure to be a good time for the entire family. The park has an assortment of slides and pools and puts a premium on safety.  The park also has “Splashtacular” Night Out events for kids with Autism and their families. This is a great place for summer fun, and your child will have a blast.
  2. Also in Crown Point, is the beautiful Lemon Lake County Park. The park features fishing, hiking, a dog park, playgrounds, and more. There is room to run and play. Lemon Lake is a family friendly place and your child will enjoy the beautiful nature and fun activities to participate in.
  3. For kids who love nature, check out Hammond Lake Front Park and Bird Sanctuary, in Hammond. Your child will love seeing all different types of birds, and the respite from the urban sprawl of Hammond. This is a great place to relax and see some beautiful animals in their natural environment. The trails are accessible for walking disabled.
  4. Kids on the Autism spectrum may have difficulty going to a movie due to sensory issues. Just across the border in Chicago is Studio Movie Grill. Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles during the movie. This is an experience kids with ASD may not get to enjoy otherwise.
  5. Located in Lake Station, Indiana is Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center. This fun and autism friendly play center is loaded with activities for kids of all learning and functioning levels. Watch the calendar for fun seasonal events.

Go ahead, Explore:

The places listed above are just a sample of what Lake County, Indiana has to enjoy for kids on the Autism Spectrum. They are fun, and sure to be enjoyed by everyone in the family. In addition, don’t hesitate to explore what other places have to offer for kids with Autism. Sometimes, just asking the management of a place about how they might be Autism friendly, can open the door to new offerings. Museums, parks, restaurants, and other public locations are eager to be inclusive and offer fun for everyone. Lake County, Indiana is no different, and as time goes by, more places are sure to be Autism friendly. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes open and share more lists as they become available.