Family Reunion Tips

As summer is in full gear, many family reunions take place that can be challenging for children with ASD. It is not uncommon to encounter some difficulties related to changes in our environment and how we deal with them. This article is intended to provide some helpful tips based on the principles of ABA to help you make a positive and successful experience during family reunions! Regardless if you have ASD, there will always be a mix of personalities when relatives gather together. Therefore, we need to be realistic with our expectations on what we expect from our children during the gatherings such as family reunions. Tip 1: Pair your relatives: If you are concerned that your child will refrain from engaging with relatives whom they don’t get to see as often, re-arrange the environment in such a way so that your child will want to interact with their relatives. Bring...
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Transition into Summer

The summer break provides great opportunities for families and children to experience new activities, explore new locations, relax and stay in, forget about homework, say no to early mornings, and take a break from the overall rigid structure an academic environment provides. However, completely removing those structures and routines may not be the best approach for all children with ASD. All individuals, regardless of disability status or age, must move (i.e., transition) between multiple tasks and activities throughout the day (Sterling-Turner & Jordan, 2007). In addition to difficulties in social relationships and communication, some individuals with autism may exhibit behavioral difficulties associated with changes in routines (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). For most families, summer schedules include changes in routines such as shorter days in summer school, new teachers, babysitters/therapy providers and overall longer unstructured times. Be prepared to tackle on this summer by utilizing some of these tips for having a...
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Tips for Traveling

Practice makes progress!Practice visiting similar places in advance.Show your child pictures and videos of where you will go.Talk about the trip in the weeks prior to departure.Use a timer to practice for waiting.Contact guest services in advance!Many theme parks, airlines, and hotels will provide special accommodations for your child.Prepare for sensory issues, special diets, limit waiting time, etc.Provide choices!Let your child help to choose toys and snacks to bring with them.Let them choose which seat they will sit in or whose hand they will hold.Allow your child to take a break from the activity if they need to.Prepare for sensory concerns!Pack noise cancelling headphones/earplugs.On the plane choose seats towards the front for less noise.Bring a variety of fidget toys for your child to hold.Prepare to board first to avoid the crowds.Safety first!Consider having your child wear an ID tag/tattoo/shirt, etc. in case they get lost.Wearable GPS trackers can be helpful if...
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Children & Technology

Our children are born in a world where television shows can be watched any time they want on multiple devices around the house. Tablets, computers, & smartphones are accessible to even the most economically challenged families. The overwhelming options can be difficult for parents to navigate as they raise their family. Risks of too much media & technology use include negative health effects on weight & sleep, exposure to content that is inappropriate & issues of confidentiality. According to the American Association for Pediatrics, families should avoid digital media use (except video-chatting) in children younger than 18 to 24 months. For children ages 18 to 24 months of age, if you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programming & use media together with your child. Avoid solo media use in this age group. For children 2 to 5 years of age, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of...
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Therapist Vlog - NET teaching

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Identifying language delays in young children

Children develop language skills at different times. Language development can also depend on a variety of factors including: their natural ability to learn language, other skills that they are learning at the same time, how much talking they hear during the day and what kind of response is given to when they do speak or attempt to speak ("Late Blooming or Language Problem?")

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are several risk factors to consider when analyzing a potential learning delay

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Promoting Independence

Independent Child

Independence is a valuable part of our daily routines and significantly enhances the quality of life. Even at young ages, a child should be encouraged to develop independent living skills . As a children’s motor and cognitive skills increase, their ability to complete these tasks also increases. By fostering independence in a child’s early years, parents can help make daily living skills become part of a routine rather than a difficult chore. To accomplish this goal, parents can encourage their children by creating opportunities, providing choices, and reinforcing behavior.

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Tactile Sensory Processing

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What is Tactile Sensory Processing?

The tactile system receives information from the environment around us through receptors on our skin that receive touch. Our body then is able to interpret this information and decide how to respond to it. Tactile sensory processing is necessary to develop skills needed for daily activities and social relationships. When the brain has difficulties understanding and responding to tactile information it may be expressed as hyperrosponsiveness or hyporesponsiveness.

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Valentine's Day Sensory Bin

Valentine Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are such a inexpensive and fun activity you can do with your children during holidays. Toddler and preschool age children benefit from the different activities that can be incorporated with them. They are also very popular for children with special needs or developmental delays. Who doesn't love an activity that is fun and encourages your child to learn at the same time? The best part is that you can buy everything that you need at a dollar store!

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Vestibular Sensory Processing

What is Vestibular Sensory Processing?

The vestibular system is responsible for receiving information as the body moves through its environment. Located within the inner ear, the vestibular system receives sensory information from head movement and gravity to maintain balance, equilibrium and movement through space. Movement and balance is necessary for children to explore their environment. It is also important in the development of emotional security and confidence. For children, vestibular movement can include running, jumping, swinging, or spinning. If a child is hyperresponsive to vestibular input, they will often avoid too much movement because it makes their body feel unbalanced and insecure. If a child is hyporesponsive to vestibular input they may seek excessive amounts of movement that could be considered unsafe at times.

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Toys as Learning Tools

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With the holiday season around the corner, many families will be thinking about new toys for their toddlers and preschoolers. Toys have the opportunity to be learning tools and can help grow speech and language skills. However, for these toys to support language, caregivers must facilitate the language. Below are some of my favorites, along with skills your child can learn from playing with these toys.

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Robot Therapy

Some children with autism have difficulty with social and emotional cues from others. Milo is a robot that was created by RoboKind that is a new tool in helping children with autism learn about these cues. One of the main reasons that Milo works so well is because of the engagement that the child has with him in the activities. The robot takes away the anxiety and pressure that the child feels when interacting with a human.
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Halloween Crafts!

Here are some more great crafts from Whats Up Moms. These are activities are all Halloween themed. The ghost mud is great for sensory play. It will open your child up to a new and gooey texture while staying clean at the same time. Who doesn't love a craft that is fun and clean! Just make sure to do the activity outside or have a drop sheet on the ground for easy clean up! The spider web craft is great for enhancing fine motor skills while being festive for the holiday at the same time. Your child will be so excited to make decorations to hang up for everyone to see that they won't even realize they are doing an activity that is a source of therapy. I hope you enjoyed these activities. Happy Halloween!
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Making the Back-to-School Transition a Little Smoother

Back to School! By: Tara Karen, M.S. Ed, BCBA, LBA
Achieve Beyond-Director of Behavioral Services

With September fast approaching, we are all anxiously awaiting the first day of school! The beginning of the school year brings on a host of challenges for both children and parents alike: obtaining school supplies, scheduling after-school activities, checking homework, making friends, strict bedtimes, and meeting new teachers. These all will cause some anxiety for children and parents. When a child has a disability, these challenges may become overwhelming for children and their parents, which may lead to an increase in “problem behaviors.” Below are a few of the strategies we can use in order to relieve the stress of back-to-school and make the transition easier for our kids and for ourselves.

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Tummy Time

Back to School! By: Sheryl K. Goncalves, DPT, PT
Achieve Beyond-EI Clinical Director

Tummy time, tummy time, tummy time! Parents hear it and are aware of it but only some practice it with their little ones. There is no magic number of times to practice tummy time throughout the day but the more the better. For example, incorporating time throughout your daily routines such as after every diaper change.

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Misunderstood

Larry was misunderstood his whole life. At the age of eight years old he was believed to be severally mentally retarded, and was ultimately institutionalized. Unable to speak to anyone he used art as his own therapy to survive the physical and mental abuse that he endured while living in the institution. Once his sister was able to, she moved Larry home with her. He discovered he was able to communicate with others through computer communication. Finally Larry was recognized as non verbal autistic. His whole world changed. He still creates his beautiful art to express the emotions he feels. His story is so inspiring to everyone, especially those who are misunderstood.
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Cool down with these Ice Games

It is summer, and hot! What's Up Moms share some great ice activities to do with your kids to help you cool down. The first activity is basically a sensory bottle much larger and frozen! Roll up your sleeves and make one of these for your child and they will be occupied trying to get those little toys out. 
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The Autistic Me

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BBC did an amazing documentary on the transition from childhood to adulthood when having autism. They shared the daily life and struggle of three men. It also shows how this struggle does not only effect the individual, but their family as well. Documentaries like these help those of us that are not effected by autism, understand their lives. Knowledge is power, and with knowledge comes understanding.

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Easter Bunny for Special Needs

b2ap3_thumbnail_easterbunny.jpg Autism Speaks partnered with Simon Property Group, Inc. and the Noerr Programs Corporation on their Caring Bunny program. This program bring a controlled and friendly environment for children with special needs to meet the Easter Bunny. It is also a great oppourtunity for special needs families to meet and socialize with one another. The Caring Bunny program is active throughout the United States. To get a full list of the dates and times go to the Autism Speaks website. Here are the dates that are within the states that Achieve Beyond services:
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What is Autism?

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A 22 year old boy in the UK, Dwaynne Way, made a video about Aspergers. He himself has Aspergers, and wanted to reach other young people and help them to understand how autism changes your life. 

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