Winter Activities in New England

Staying active during extended school breaks is ideal to maintaining a consistent schedule for your child! Keeping a structured daily schedule that includes activities of daily living, community outings, downtime, worktime, and fun are all key components to a well-balanced schedule. Below you can find a list of fun winter activities in the New England area for your whole family! Remember to prepare for sensory stimulation when planning your outings, it may be helpful to contact the event or business prior to arriving to see if they have sensory friendly options or times.

Outdoor activities

Movement Based

  • Trampoline Parks
  • Urban Air (MA: Bellingham)
  • Altitude (MA: Avon, North Attleboro, Franklin, Marlboro, Billerica)
  • Launch (MA: Westborough, Norwood, Framingham, Methuen, Woburn, Watertown)

Educational

  • Children’s Museums

Just for Fun!

To learn more, contact us Here today!

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! 

norwood park autism services

All about services at the Norwood Park Autism Center

Welcome to our Key Autism Services, Norwood park ABA Center! Below you will find detailed steps of what to can expect if you are considering enrolling your child in our center-based ABA program!

To get started you will need to speak with our intake team and get approval from your insurance for an ABA assessment. After completing an assessment with a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), your child will be assigned to a team of highly qualified behavior therapists (BTs).  The BCBA will create a custom-tailored program for your child, targeting a variety of skill areas such as communication, social skills, daily living skills, and behavior reduction. Your child will have the opportunity to target these skills in an individualized setting with their team of BTs, as well as attend one of our unique NPC programs. Parents are informed about their child’s progress with regular updates from their BCBA, as well as receive a weekly newsletter from the center director.

Behavior Therapy Programs:

Each of our programs are put together by the team of BCBAs at NPC.  Our BCBAs work together to build a curriculum and program that targets the individual needs of each child. Each child will attend individual, group, or a combination of those programs with his or her assigned behavior therapist, who help the BCBA’s facilitate the programs and groups.

Early Learners:

Our Early Learners program is geared toward the 2-4 – year-old age group.  This program is structured like a preschool day, allowing the learners to practice the skills they would need in a school setting, while receiving individualized programming. Some of these skills include following group instructions, group transitions, waiting in a group, sharing and turn taking, fine motor activities, and sensory and movement activities. Each learner will work 1:1 with a behavior therapist, as well as spend much of the day with his or her peers, providing opportunities for communication, socialization, and toleration of less preferred activities. Our curriculum for the early learner program creates fun and exciting opportunities for learning throughout the whole day!

School Readiness Program:

Our School Readiness program targets children ages 5-7.  This program follows a daily schedule of a mix of group time and 1:1 sessions with each child’s team of therapists. Some of the goals targeted in this program include reciprocal conversation, collaborative play, gross motor play, self-advocacy, transitions, and toleration. The learner’s individual goals are incorporated to the group goals, allowing for more natural opportunities to practice. The school readiness program curriculum allows the children to learn about different topics in a variety of modalities, making learning fun and exciting, and preparing the children for attending school with their peers.

Pre-Teen Social Group:

The pre-teen social group meets 1-2 times weekly and is targeted toward leaners aged 10-13. This group follows an evidence-based curriculum and targets a variety of skills. Some of the skills targeted include executive functioning, daily living skills, conversational skills, collaboration and compromise, puberty, emotional regulation, money management, and team building.  Each member has individual goals which are then incorporated into a small group setting.

Speech and OT:

KAS has recently partnered with Pop Pediatric Therapy to provide onsite speech and occupational therapies at the Norwood Park Center. This allows for collaboration and goal building across disciplines, providing a well-rounded approach to the child’s therapy.

Special Activities:

We often have special activities and events at NPC such as spirit weeks, birthday celebrations, and milestone celebrations.  Additionally, the staff create fun and creative opportunities to target the strengths and unique abilities of each child, allowing everyone to shine!

Ready to see how we can help your child? Contact us here:

Sensory-Friendly Places to Learn, Do and Watch in Houston

Summer is a great time to get out of the house and beat the heat by experiencing some of the amazing activities that Houston has to offer adults and kids of all ages and needs.  Whether you are looking for a place to learn by experiencing, be active, or a place where you can be entertained, Houston has what you are looking for, especially for those with specific sensory needs.  Below is a list of places by category that make it a priority to provide daily accommodations for those with sensory sensitivities.

Places to Learn:

Houston has several wonderful Museums where children and adults can engage in learning while exploring different exhibits with room, to roam and accommodations made for those with sensory needs.

Children’s Museum of Houston

  • Sensory friendly days
  • Weighted lap pads, noise reducing headphones and sunglasses
  • Designated quiet rooms

Space Center Houston

  • Sensory friendly days
  • Sensory backpacks
  • Designated quiet rooms

Houston Museum of Natural Science

  • Sensory friendly days
  • Sensory backpacks

The Health Museum of Houston

  • Sensory friendly days
  • Sensory backpacks

Places to Do:

For a more physical experience, theses venues offer sensory-friendly days with a more-calm atmosphere where lights and music are turned off.

We Rock the Spectrum Gym

  • Trampolines, tactile toys, climbing wall
  • Sensory friendly every day

Urban Air Adventure Park

  • Sensory friendly days
  • No flashing lights, no music, no whistles

Chuck E Cheese

  • Sensory Sundays
  • Reduced lighting and sound

Places to Watch:

If you are looking for an opportunity to sit back and be entertained, Houston has live theater and movie theaters with specialized accommodations.

The Hobby Center

  • Sensory-friendly shows
  • Lighting and sound adjusted

AMC Theatres

  • Sensory friendly films (2nd and 4th Saturday of every month)
  • Lights turned up and sound turned down

Main Street Theater

  • Sensory-friendly shows
  • Lighting and sound adjusted

Be sure to check with each facility to get the most up to date Covid-19 restrictions and policies to make sure your child is able to participate.

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.