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Social anxiety vs autism

Social anxiety disorder and autism spectrum disorder are two of the most common mental health issues. While they have a number of similarities and overlap in symptoms, such as social difficulties, they are distinct conditions with different diagnostic criteria. Understanding the similarities and differences between social anxiety disorder and autism can help individuals better understand their own experiences and seek the support they need.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition characterized by intense fear or anxiety in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder often experience physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and rapid heartbeat when they are partaking in social interactions. They may fear being judged or evaluated negatively by others and may avoid social situations altogether.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is typically diagnosed in early childhood and is characterized by difficulties in social cues, repetitive behaviors, developmental delays, and restricted interests. Individuals with autism may have difficulty in social settings, expressing emotions, interpreting nonverbal cues, and may have trouble with maintaining eye contact.

Nonverbal communication is also often affected in people with autism, as well as language development. People with ASD may have difficulty understanding jokes or subtle expressions and may take things too literally.

Social Anxiety vs Autism

Both autism and social anxiety disorder share a number of symptoms and challenges. For instance, both conditions can be characterized by difficulty with social interactions and a tendency to avoid social settings.


Individuals with social anxiety disorder and autism may also have physical symptoms like increased sweating, rapid heartbeat, and trembling when faced with social situations. Both groups may also struggle with activities or situations that are perceived as unpredictable or unfamiliar. Consequently, this can lead to restrictive behaviors and inflexibility in their routines.


Another commonality between autism and social anxiety disorder is the heightened sensitivity to outside stimulations like noise, touch, or light. This hyper-sensitivity can lead to sensory overload and anxiety, making it difficult to remain focused in social situations or/and noisy environments.


Differences Between Social Anxiety Disorder and Autism

While there are similarities between social anxiety disorder and autism, there are also distinct differences.


One of the key differences between autism and social anxiety disorder is that social anxiety is a mental health disorder while autism is a developmental disorder. Autism can involve challenges in areas beyond social interaction, such as restrictive behaviors and repetitive movements.


Children with autism may also have more trouble with communication than people with social anxiety disorder. They may struggle with understanding and using nonverbal cues like body language, facial expressions, and tone. People with social anxiety, on the other hand, may be more adept at reading nonverbal cues, but can be hyper-focused on negative feedback and critical evaluation from social situations.


Another differentiating factor is that social anxiety disorder may only occur in particular social contexts, while autism is pervasive throughout various areas of life, including communication, behavior, and social skills. People with social anxiety disorder feel anxious or apprehensive when in social situations, but may not experience the same level of anxiety when engaging in solitary activities. Conversely, individuals with autism may experience communication difficulties and restrictive behaviors in all situations and across various environments.

Conditions that may overlap with Autism and Social Anxiety

There are other conditions, such as mental disorders, that may overlap with autism and social anxiety disorder, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and major depressive disorder. Additionally, people with autism are more likely to experience comorbid anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder.

How to Differentiate Social Anxiety Disorder and Autism

While there are similarities between these conditions, clinicians are trained to evaluate, differentiate, and diagnose social anxiety and autism based on specific diagnostic criteria.


Generally, an individual with social anxiety has poor social skills in other contexts, but becomes socially anxious and uncomfortable when interacting with new people or in a specific type of social situation. Whereas, autistic individuals will have prolonged and pervasive difficulties with communication, behavior, and social interaction across multiple contexts.


To diagnose social anxiety disorder, clinicians will look for evidence that the patient is experiencing marked fear or anxiety in one or more social interactions. To diagnose autism, clinicians will examine communication and social skills, as well as behaviors and interests.

Treatment Options

Here are some ways to treat social anxiety disorder and autism:


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a specific type of psychotherapy that can help individuals with social anxiety and some aspects of autism. CBT is a short-term treatment that focuses on identifying and changing negative patterns and beliefs.


You can find a psychotherapist through referrals from your primary care provider, or by researching local mental health providers. Your child’s school or therapist may also have some recommendations


ABA therapy

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that focuses on changing behaviors through positive reinforcement and other behavioral strategies. ABA can help individuals with autism manage symptoms, such as restrictive interests or repetitive behavior. It can also help children with autism develop social skills to use in different settings.


Various medications can be useful in managing social anxiety, including anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. However, medication for autism is generally reserved for comorbid conditions, as there is no medication that “cures” autistic symptoms.

Support groups

People with social anxiety and autism can benefit from support groups where they can meet others who share their experiences. Support groups provide a safe space where people can share their thoughts and feelings.


You can find a support group in your area through local organizations, psychiatric hospitals, and mental health organizations.

Resources for Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with social anxiety and/or autism, there are a variety of resources available to provide support. Support groups and online resources can be very helpful in offering advice and providing a listening ear. Additionally, there are numerous organizations dedicated to helping people with social anxiety and autism.


Social anxiety and autism share several common characteristics, yet they each have their own unique qualities that make them distinct from one another. It is important to recognize that both conditions can be managed with the help of a qualified healthcare professional or support group. It is also important to remember that individual experiences will vary and resources are available if needed. With an accurate diagnosis, medication, psychotherapy, and/or other forms of support, individuals living with social anxiety and autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives.


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Normal Toddler Behavior vs Autism

According to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism is a broad term that describes a range of conditions that affect a child’s social, behavioral, and communication skills. While the symptoms of autism can vary widely, early diagnosis and therapy are crucial in helping children with autism reach their full potential.


As a parent, it can be challenging to distinguish normal toddler behavior from symptoms of autism. Many typical toddler behaviors are similar in children with and without autism. However, there are specific behaviors and developmental milestones that are delayed in children with autism. This article aims to explore the developmental differences between typical toddler behavior and symptoms of autism, equipping parents to better detect early warning signs of autism.


Why are developmental milestones important?

Developmental milestones are important because they provide a guideline for tracking a child’s progress in terms of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Delays in achieving developmental milestones can be an early warning sign of autism or other developmental disorders. It is essential for parents to familiarize themselves with the typical timeline for each developmental milestone so that any delays can be quickly identified. Early detection and intervention are key to helping children with autism reach their full potential.

What are the differences between typical toddler behavior and symptoms of autism?

Typical toddler behavior may include delayed speech development, sensory issues, and difficulty transitioning from one activity to another. Children with autism often demonstrate similar behaviors but to a much more pronounced degree. They may demonstrate extreme difficulty in developing speech and language skills, an inability to make eye contact or respond to their name when called, repetitive behaviors such as rocking or spinning objects, and hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to various sensations. 


Additionally, children with autism often show signs of impaired social interaction and communication. These can manifest as difficulty making friends, engaging in conversations, or understanding social cues.


In conclusion, it is important for parents to be aware of the typical timeline for milestones and to take note of any developmental delays or difficulties their child may be having. While these behaviors may be indicative of a wide range of conditions, they could also be warning signs of autism. 


If you have concerns or have noticed any delays in your child’s development, it is important to consult with your pediatrician or a qualified professional for further evaluation. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a world of difference for children with autism.

Normal Toddler behavior versus autism

Typical Child’s Development

Many children develop and grow rapidly during the first few years of life. They learn new skills and abilities through exploration and interaction with their environment. The following four categories are the most critical areas of toddler development: speech, social communication, play, and motor skills.


Speech development begins with cooing and babbling in the first few months of life. By six months, a baby can recognize familiar voices and can differentiate between different sounds. At around nine months, infants can utter simple words like “mama” and “dada” and understand simple commands. They start putting two or more words together at the age of 2, and their speech becomes more complex as they grow older.


Social interaction is another critical aspect of early childhood development. Young children need interactions with their parents, siblings, and peers to develop their social skills. They learn how to empathize and understand others’ emotions through play and socialization. As early as 18 months, toddlers start to play with other children and show interest in making friends. They can also recognize familiar faces and respond to social cues, such as smiling or waving.


Play is an essential aspect of toddler development that helps them learn new things, develop their cognitive and creative abilities, and improve their social skills. Toddlers love to play with toys, explore their surroundings, and engage in imaginative play. They may become increasingly interested in certain objects or themes, such as toy cars or animals.


Motor skills development is also a key area of toddler behavior. They learn how to sit, crawl, walk, run, jump, and climb during their first few years of life. They use their motor skills in everyday activities like playing with toys, dressing up, and eating.


Overall, typical toddler development involves fast and exciting changes. Toddlers reach various milestones at different stages during this period, and the range of development is vast. Many children develop faster or slower than their peers, and it is essential not to compare a child’s development with that of others. Instead, parents should focus on their child’s progress and provide opportunities for growth and development.

Areas where children with autism spectrum disorder are delayed

While there’s a broad range of what’s considered typical toddler development, children with autism spectrum disorder often experience delays in certain areas of development. Some of these areas include:


  1. Speech development – As we’ve mentioned, children with autism can have difficulties developing speech. Communication may be difficult or delayed, and children may have trouble understanding language or showing interest in communicating with others.
  2. Social skills – Social interactions can be particularly challenging for children with autism. They may struggle to initiate social encounters, read facial expressions and gestures, or understand how to engage in conversations.
  3. Motor development- Children with autism may also experience delays in their motor development. Activities like walking, running, throwing, and kicking can take longer for children with autism to master than their peers. Of course, they may also struggle with fine motor skills in everyday activities like playing with toys, dressing up, and eating.
  4. Cognitive development – Children with autism may have difficulty understanding abstract concepts or problem-solving tasks. It can take longer for them to develop the same abilities as other children of the same age.

Early Signs of Autism

Although there are various symptoms of autism, there is a cluster of behaviors identified in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • Lack of eye contact

Children with autism may have difficulty making eye contact, avoiding eye contact, or have difficulty maintaining eye contact as usual.

  • Delayed speech or language development

Autism can cause difficulties in speech and language development. A child with autism might use fewer words or have trouble communicating or becoming verbose or repetitive in their speech. They may also have difficulty speaking in complete and complex sentences.

  • Difficulty with imaginative play

Toddlers with autism may not engage in imaginative play or mimicking activities that other children of their age enjoy. They may not engage in pretend play or find it difficult to pretend, fantasize, or engage with make-believe toys.

  • Repetitive movements

Repetitive behavior like flapping or rocking is also common in children with autism. They may repeat words or phrases, or repeatedly speckle items.

  • Difficulty with social interaction

Children with autism may have difficulty picking up social cues, initiating social interactions with others, or sharing toys or aspects of self.


The challenges that children with autism face can make it difficult for them to integrate socially, academically, or physically. They may need significant support to overcome these challenges, making early diagnosis and intervention crucial.


It’s important to note that children with autism may also exhibit some typical toddler behaviors, such as enjoying the company of other children, laughing, and playing with toys. Autism presents itself differently in every child, and recognizing the early warning signs early can be tricky.

behavioral challenges in children with autism

In addition to delays in a child’s development skills, children with autism spectrum disorder may also display challenging behaviors which can have an impact on their social functioning, learning, and daily living. These may include:

  1. Tantrums – Children with autism may experience intense temper tantrums or meltdowns when faced with changes in routine or difficult situations. They may respond to frustration with aggression, biting, or hitting.
  2. Inappropriate behavior – Children with autism may demonstrate inappropriate behaviors like public displays of affection, verbal outbursts, and refusal to follow instructions.
  3. Self-injury – Some children with autism may also exhibit self-injurious behaviors, such as head banging, biting themselves, and scratching.
  4. Hyperactivity – Autism can also cause hyperactivity in children that make it difficult to focus or engage in activities over longer periods of time.
  5. Sensory sensitivities – Children with autism may be highly sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, certain textures, tastes, and smells. This can make it difficult for them to participate and engage in activities with other children.
  6. social communication- Children with autism may find it difficult to interact with peers and adults. They often have difficulty understanding body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. They may also find it difficult to initiate conversations with other children of the same age.

How ABA therapy helps children with autism

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy is a widely accepted and effective method of intervention for children with autism. ABA therapists use positive reinforcement techniques to help children learn how to communicate effectively, interact with others, and engage in activities that they may otherwise find difficult or impossible. It can also help them develop problem-solving skills, improve their behavior, and enhance their quality of life.


ABA therapy is tailored to an individual’s specific needs and goals, and can take place in a variety of settings including the home, school, or clinic. It also provides an opportunity for family involvement by teaching parents how to work with their child to establish positive behaviors. 


With early identification, intervention, and ongoing support, children with autism can grow to reach their full potential. ABA therapy is an important part of that journey. By working with a therapist to identify positive behaviors and rewarding them for those behaviors, children with autism can learn new skills and be successful in the classroom, at home, and in their community.  As a result, they can lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.


Having a child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be overwhelming; however, early intervention is essential in providing the best possible outcome for them and their families. There are many resources available to support children and parents living with autism, including therapies and social programs to help children reach their full potential. With proper care and guidance, all children can thrive in life no matter where they fall on the autism spectrum.


By understanding what to look for and getting an early diagnosis, parents can help their children with autism lead happy, fulfilling lives. If you have any further questions or concerns about your child’s development, please reach out to a medical professional. For more information on autism, and to start ABA therapy click here.



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Weighted Blankets for Autism

A weighted blanket is a sensory tool that is used to help calm or comfort children with autism, in addition to reducing sleep problems and anxiety. Let’s dive in to learn more about the benefits of weighted blankets and how to choose one for your autistic child.

What Are Weighted Blankets?

A weighted or gravity blanket contains an evenly distributed weight that makes it heavier than a regular blanket. The pressure from the extra weight has similar effects to that of a therapeutic technique known as deep pressure stimulation (DPS) and provides a sense of relaxation and security.

How much do they weigh?

Weighted blankets can weigh anywhere from 5 pounds for children to 30 pounds for adults. The general rule, you should choose a blanket that is approximately 10% of your body weight.

How do they work?

Weighted blankets apply gentle pressure on your body, which increases the amount of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These “feel good” chemicals help relax the nervous system, increasing the feeling of calm and well-being.


Read on to find out how weighted blankets can benefit children with autism spectrum disorder.

Are Weighted Blankets Good for Children with Autism?

Many children with autism struggle with sensory issues and experience difficulties when it comes to tactile sensory input. Signs of tactile sensitivity in your child may include:


  • Withdrawing from touch
  • Refusing to wear clothing made of certain fabrics
  • Eating only foods with certain textures, for example, smooth and pureed foods
  • Avoiding getting their hands dirty
  • Touching things only with fingertips in order to minimize contact.


The deep pressure that weighted blankets provide has a calming effect on the nervous system in children who are sensitive to touch, while at the same time, they fulfill the children’s sensory needs.


Furthermore, sensory and other issues can create anxiety and sleep problems in children on the spectrum. Deep pressure touch has been shown to stimulate the release of serotonin, which may help your child sleep more soundly. Weighted blankets are thought to improve both the ability to fall asleep, sleep throughout the night, relax during the day, and the ease of waking up. 

Are Weighted Blankets Effective?

Studies that focus on the effects of weighted blankets on sleep and anxiety in children with autism are limited. Most researchers rely on the results of a study from 1999 that explores the benefits of deep pressure stimulation using Temple Grandin’s Hug Machine


Although more research is needed, results have so far indicated that weighted blankets are beneficial for:


  • Reducing overall anxiety
  • Decreasing the amount of stress hormones in the body
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Creating calming effect on the nervous system
  • Lowering sensitivity to touch
  • Improving focus
  • Producing a sense of calm that can last for up to several hours
  • Increasing the feeling of security
  • Reducing meltdowns due to sensory overload
  • Decreasing self-injurious behavior
  • Enhancing social interactions.


Here’s how you can know your child is ready to use a weighted blanket.

Signs That Your Child with Autism Will Enjoy a Weighted Blanket

There are a few signs that may suggest your child will benefit from using a weighted blanket. You may want to consider using a weighted blanket if your child: 


  • Seeks out deep pressure or enjoys being hugged tightly
  • Enjoys contact, for example, cuddling with a pet
  • Struggles with sleep
  • Has trouble staying calm
  • Experiences sensitivities to touch or certain textures
  • Likes to use multiple blankets at the same time
  • Prefers to wear heavy clothes or layers.


Now that we have seen what weighted blankets are and how they can benefit your child, let’s discuss what you need to keep in mind before you purchase one.

How to Use Weighted Blankets

When buying a weighted blanket, it is essential to take into account the following factors:


  • The blanket should be roughly 10% of your child’s weight, plus an additional 1-2 lbs.
  • Your child should be able to remove the blanket without assistance.
  • A blanket used for sleeping should cover the child’s feet, legs, and abdomen for maximum comfort. For daytime use, you can opt for a smaller blanket. 
  • Make sure to take into account the size of your child’s bed and accommodate for growth.
  • Children are more likely to use a weighted blanket if it features a design they like. Ask for your child’s opinion and go for their preferred colors and patterns.


Depending on your child’s sensitivity, it is also important to consider the kind of textures they may be reactive to. For example, the waterproof material of some weighted blankets may be triggering to a child with autism. In this case, you can use a removable cover made of a fabric that fits your child’s sensory needs.


Finally, as with any new sensory tool, it’s crucial to monitor your child’s response to the weighted blanket and make adjustments if necessary. A healthcare professional can help you determine what type of blanket is the most suitable for your child.

Who should not use a weighted blanket?

Each child’s sensory needs are unique, and not everyone will benefit from using a weighted blanket. You should always consult with your child’s healthcare provider and consider your child’s specific needs before introducing a weighted blanket. 


Furthermore, you should not use a weighted blanket if your child experiences one of the following:

  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Claustrophobia


You should also avoid using a weighted blanket in very young children, as it may increase the chances of suffocation. 

The best weighted blankets for children

Weighted blankets come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and sizes. They can be filled with micro glass beads, plastic pellets, and other materials that help apply consistent pressure to the body. Most are made of soft materials, such as cotton, mink, chenille, or fleece, for additional comfort. Blankets made of antimicrobial, waterproof, and cooling fabrics are also available.


Here’s our pick of the best weighted blankets for children with autism.

Mosaic Weighted Blankets

Mosaic carries a full line of weighted blankets for all ages, from toddlers to teens and young adults. They come in a range of fun patterns, colors, sizes, and materials. Prices start at around $80.

Gravity Weighted Blankets

Gravity offers several different types of weighted blankets, including flannel, chunky knit, and travel blankets. All blankets are machine washable. Prices start at around $195.

SensaCalm Weighted Blankets

SensaCalm sells premade as well as custom weighted blankets filled with hypoallergenic, non-toxic glass beads. The collection includes an all-weather weighted blanket featuring super soft fleece on one side for the winter months. Prices start from $100.

Harkla Weighted Blankets

Harkla carries soft weighted blankets and lap pads designed specifically for children with autism and sensory issues. Blankets are made of soft minky fabric and are available in several different colors. Removable covers make them easy to wash. Prices start at $85.

In Summary

Weighted blankets are a great sensory tool for children on the autism spectrum. The deep pressure sensation provided by the blanket can help promote relaxation, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety. With careful consideration, a weighted blanket may be beneficial for promoting sensory regulation and improving the overall well-being of your child with autism.

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visual supports
Visual Supports for Children with Autism

Children with autism often process their surroundings differently than other individuals, which is why the right tools are essential to helping people with autism learn. One of these tools is known as a visual support—here’s how to use them the right way.


What Are Visual Supports?

A visual support refers to using a picture or other visual item to communicate with a child who has difficulty understanding or using language. There are all types of visual supports.
Visual supports can be photographs, drawings, objects, written words, or lists. Sometimes, instead of verbally communicating their needs, children prefer to use these visual supports to convey their message.

Research has shown that visual supports work well as a way to communicate, particularly for children with autism.

Why are Visual Supports Important?

 Visual supports serve two primary purposes. First, they help parents communicate better with their children. Plus, they also help children communicate better with others.
Some of the main hallmarks of ASD are challenges in interacting socially, using language, and having limited interests or repetitive behaviors. Visual supports help in all three of these areas.

Visual supports can help in other ways as well including:

  • Provide children with structure and routine
  • Encourage independence among little ones
  • Help build confidence
  • Improve understanding among children
  • Avoid frustration and anxiety as kids learn
  • Provide opportunities for children to interact with others

With so many unique benefits of visual supports, it should come as no surprise that many parents are starting to use visual supports as an aid. All parents need to do is determine which types of visual supports they want to use.

Types of Visual Supports
Different children are going to have different responses to different types of visual supports. With this in mind, it may take some trial and error when finding visual support that works best. A wide range of items can be used as visual supports.

Here are some of the different types of visual supports.

Tactile Symbols

Tactile objects or ones of reference are a great way to help children with autism understand what different words are. For example, using a pair of socks or a food label that a child can physically touch as a visual cue. So, if you are asking your child what shirts they want to wear that day, it can be as easy as holding up two different shirt options for them to touch and choose from.


Photographs are a common type of visual cue that you can use as visual supports. Some children will respond to a photo on a phone of an object as a way to communicate, such as a photo of their favorite sippy cup for when they’re hungry.

They may also react more emotionally to photos that they are in as a visual cue, so you could try a photo of your child drinking from their favorite sippy cup.


Short Videos

Most parents know that kids like screens, and the right short videos can help children learn. These are newer visual cues but ones that can ultimately help educate children on certain topics. A short video on something such as how to brush teeth can sometimes hit home more than a parent just talking about brushing teeth.

Miniatures of Real Objects

Miniatures of real objects have long been popular visual cues and ones that can help all types of children better comprehend different topics. For example, you can use a toy kitchen with miniature toy food items that your child can use to communicate their interest in eating certain foods.

Colored Pictures

Colored images are a great way to teach children about objects you don’t have photos from. Many times, children relate better to brightly colored drawings and images as opposed to real-life photos—which is why you’ll see these so much more in children’s books. You can get cartoon images of visual cues and use them to help build your vocabulary and boost communication.

Plain Squares of Colored Paper

A plain square piece of colored paper can help foster communication between parents and children. While they can represent actual colors, here’s another way to use them as well, different colored cards can represent different things. Yellow can mean “I need to go to the bathroom” while blue can mean “I’m sad” and green can mean “I’m hungry.”


Schedules, rules, and to-do lists for kids are all popular visual aids that can help foster better expectations in the home. It’s a great communication tool that also helps children learn a sense of responsibility.



Symbols are another great visual aid that you can use to help foster better communication with children. If you are asking a child a question such as “What do you want for lunch today?” And they are struggling to respond, you can use symbols. Create symbols on a board or piece of paper of some of the options for lunch so your child can point to symbols that correlate to certain foods.

These are all tools that parents today are using to facilitate better communication with their children.

Uses of Visual Products

Visual supports can be used in a range of ways. Here are a few examples of ways to start utilizing visual products around children with autism:

  • As a single message. For example, your child takes a yellow card from their pocket when they need to go to the toilet, or a puts purple card on the table when they’re feeling stressed.
  • In combination with other visual supports create a daily timetable, schedule, sequence, or reward chart for kids.
  • To help children communicate that they are making a choice. For example, a child can put the trampoline symbol in the ‘afternoon’ area of the board, stating that they want to jump on the trampoline in the afternoon.
  •  To illustrate a social story or comic strip conversation. This can help children with autism build their social skills.

Visual supports can help foster these types of communication between a child and a parent.

Printable Visual Cards For Autism

Sometimes visual supports can just be items from around the home, or by looking through photos that you already have. However, you may not have all of the visual cues that you need. In situations like this, there are resources available online. Once you find the right print-offs you want, make sure to back up your images and laminate them once printed—so they stay intact!

Most visual aids are going to get a lot of use so laminating them for durability is important. It’s also essential that they are always easy for your child to find. Accessibility is essential if you want your child to default to these visual cues and use them regularly.

A Day in Your Shoes offers free printable visual schedules for home and daily routines. They also have additional visual cues that can supplement these routine aids as well.

Noodlebook is another resource available for parents of children with autism. On their site, you can get everything from social stories to schedules and everything in between.


Visual supports are some of the best tools that parents can use when communicating with their child with autism. With the right approach and the right visual tools, you can help foster better communication between parents and children in a way that will help everyone involved.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.


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Executive Functioning and Autism

Executive functioning challenges, also known as executive dysfunction, are a common difficulty of autism spectrum disorder. Any parent of a child with autism should understand executive functioning, what it means, and how they can help their child with autism overcome any associated challenges.

What is Executive Functioning?

Executive functioning refers to a person’s ability to process information. It includes the following functions:

  •  Organizing
  • Planning
  • Paying attention
  • Inhibiting inappropriate responses
  • Problem-solving
  • Working Memory
  • Attention
  • Initiation
  • Cognitive flexibility

Many people with autism have difficulty with executive functioning. They may have trouble with certain skills like planning, staying organized, sequencing information, and self-regulating emotions. Some people with autism pay attention to minor details but have trouble seeing how these details fit into a bigger picture. Others have trouble maintaining their attention in the classroom or other settings.

As you can see from the aforementioned list, executive functioning impacts so many different areas of the brain and so many different functions. This is why executive dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose at first. It isn’t always black and white.

Executive functioning challenges can come in many different forms, but one of the most common issues that parents of children with autism notice is poor impulse control. In fact, this is one of the first signs that parents notice in children who struggle with executive functioning. It is important to know what executive function impairment looks like in daily life so that, as parents, you can better diagnose what is going on with your child.

What Does Executive Function Impairment (Executive Dysfunction) Look Like in Autism?

In day-to-day life, executive function impairment can cause several challenges. Parents of children with autism may not notice some of these signs at first as they can be explained away as other struggles or even personality traits.

However, many times, the best way to determine if it is an executive function issue is to see if you notice several of these signs together at once. This includes the following signs and signals parents may notice in children with autism:

  • Forgetting to pack a school bag or packing the wrong things in their bags.
  • Difficulty organizing a calendar or a personal schedule.
  • Struggling with homework (losing, forgetting, not completing it).
  • Inability to begin or complete a simple task.
  • Forgetting about or running late for appointments.
  • Constantly misplacing items.
  • Accidentally skipping meals or showers.
  • Difficulty recognizing a task that needs to be done.
  • Struggling to break a task into smaller steps.
  • Difficulty self-monitoring, or figuring out what is “wrong” in their body or the environment around them.
  • Forgetting or mixing up practical instructions (i.e. directions, chores, etc.).
  • Difficulty keeping up in conversations, even with their peers.
  • Forgetting names and/or faces.

Individuals with autism who struggle with daily tasks like this likely have an issue with executive functioning. The good news is with professional help and intervention, children struggling with autism spectrum disorder can get the help that they need to better handle executive dysfunction.

Treatments and Supports

One of the first questions that parents of children with executive functioning have has to do with treatment options and avenues for support.  The good news is, the more advancements there are in autism treatment, the more therapies and support systems there are for those with autism, and the more resources there are for parents and their children.

There is no one blanket treatment for complex challenges like this. Treatment options are specific to individual cases. For individuals with autism, treating comorbid conditions is actually one of the most effective ways to help reduce executive function difficulties. This includes side effects and symptoms such as depression, anxiety and GI issues. Treating these conditions can ultimately help with executive function challenges.

There are other treatment options as well. For some, organizational aids, timers, notebooks, assistive devices, etc. help with organization and memory. Many times, it’s working with children to help them help themselves.

In other, more serious cases, medication and behavior therapy can be used to help with executive functioning. Many times, a combination of the right medications along with regular behavioral therapy will effectively help children control certain complications while learning to adjust their behavior to help themselves through these challenges.

Recent studies have found encouraging results for the positive effect of mindfulness and physical practices on executive function impairment. Physical exercise, movement and the positive effects that come from this can drastically help children with autism who struggle with these executive functioning blocks.

These can include yoga, meditation, martial arts, aerobics, and other forms of exercise, which all require dedicated and repetitive practice. These are all great ways for children to have an outlet, to help keep their minds and bodies healthy, learn discipline, and get into a routine.

It may take some time and some trial and error to find a combination of support systems, treatments, and therapies to find results. The most important thing to keep in mind is that stability and consistency are so important when it comes to helping with executive function challenges.



Executive function challenges are a difficulty presented in those with autism and one that can make everyday tasks difficult. This is why it is so important to not only understand the signs of this struggle so that you can diagnose it but to be aware of the different treatments and support services available for those who struggle with their executive functioning abilities.

 If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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Occupational Therapy for Autism


Occupational therapy is an effective means of improving cognitive, social, and motor skills in children with autism. Read this article to learn more about occupational therapy and how it can help children on the spectrum reach their full potential. 

What Is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy (OT) is a type of intervention that supports people with injuries, disabilities, and other conditions, including autism. The main goal of occupational therapy is to improve the patient’s quality of life and allow participation in a wide range of activities. 

Occupational therapy for autism

Occupational therapy can help improve many different aspects of daily life in children and young people with autism, such as: 


  • Daily living skills (brushing teeth, bathing, dressing)
  • Understanding boundaries and personal space
  • Social skills
  • Promoting safety awareness
  • Dealing with transitions and expectations
  • Regulating emotional response to sensory overload
  • Self-feeding 
  • Supporting adolescents’ transition into adulthood and helping them build the necessary skills to enter the workforce

Strategies used in occupational therapy

Common approaches used by occupational therapists who work with children with autism include: 


  • Sensory integration and sensory-based strategies
  • Sensory diet (activities like playing with sensory toys)
  • Emotional development and self-regulation strategies and programs
  • Organizing peer groups, social participation, and play activities
  • Working on motor skills
  • Cognitive behavioral approaches to support positive behaviors.


Occupational therapy is always highly individualized to suit the needs of each child. For example, while some children may only have to work on their independence when it comes to activities of daily living, others may need to improve their sensory self-regulation skills or motor development. 


In the following section, we take a look at how occupational therapists evaluate children in order to create a personalized treatment plan. 

Occupational Therapy Evaluation

An occupational therapist starts by observing how a child performs age-appropriate tasks and interacts with the environment. During the evaluation, the therapist will consider the following aspects of the development:


  • Emotional regulation
  • Responses to touch or other types of stimuli
  • Gross motor skills such as posture and balance
  • Fine motor skills like manipulating small objects
  • Social interactions
  • Interactions between the child and caregivers
  • Transition to new settings or activities
  • Play skills
  • Need for personal space
  • Attention span and stamina
  • Aggression and other types of negative behaviors


In addition, the therapist will identify any obstacles that prevent the child from participating in typical day-to-day activities, such as sensory sensitivities, communication issues, restricted interests, and motor skill delays.

Tools used in OT evaluation

Common tools used to evaluate children’s performance in occupational therapy include: 


  • Screening tools, for example, an autism checklist
  • A sensory profile, a standardized assessment that evaluates how a child responds to sensory stimuli, such as touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell.
  • Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), a standardized rating scale that assesses the severity of autism spectrum disorder
  • Diagnosis criteria as per the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) 

Intervention plan

After completing the evaluation, the therapist will work with the child and caregivers to set treatment goals and develop an individualized intervention plan. Children are often expected to practice target skills also outside of therapy sessions, both at home and at school.

Occupational therapy strategies

Occupational therapy combines a variety of activities that may help children on the spectrum respond better to their environment, such as:


  • Developmental activities (brushing teeth, combing hair)
  • Physical activities to help a child develop coordination and body awareness (stringing beads, doing puzzles)
  • Play activities to improve interaction and communication
  • Adaptive strategies to help them navigate day-to-day life (planning, organization, coping with stress)

How Long Is an Occupational Therapy Session?

Occupational therapy typically consists of half-hour to one-hour sessions provided one to two times a week. The number of weekly sessions is based on the child’s needs.

Who Provides Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is provided by a licensed occupational therapist (OT) who has a master’s degree and has passed a national certification exam from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. In addition, occupational therapists must obtain a state license. A pediatric occupational therapist specializes in working with children from infancy through adolescence.


Therapy services are sometimes provided by an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) who holds an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and is trained and supervised by a certified OT. Occupational therapy assistants work directly with children to help them practice their skills and work towards goals determined in the treatment plan.

Is Occupational Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Occupational therapy is often covered by health insurance. However, a doctor must indicate that this type of therapy is medically necessary for health insurance to provide coverage. 


In addition, there are two other ways to receive occupational therapy: through the Individualized Education Program and Early Intervention Program. 

Occupational therapy through IEP

Children with autism may receive occupational therapy as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school. OT is often included in IEPs as a related service and incorporates goals related to learning. Occupational therapy services that are written the IEP are provided to families at no cost.

Occupational therapy through Early Intervention Program

Young children with autism can also receive occupational therapy through their Early Intervention. This program is offered in each state to children up to age 3 who are not developing as expected. These services are either free or low-cost, depending on the family’s income.


Occupational therapy is an essential tool in treating children with autism. Here’s what you need to know when choosing your occupational therapy provider. 

Questions to Ask Before Beginning Occupational Therapy

Before beginning therapy, it’s important to consider asking some key questions to ensure that you are prepared and have a clear understanding of what to expect.

Program details

  • What are the goals of the program?
  • What skills will therapy help my child with?
  • How will it help with sensory issues?
  • What type of activity evaluation do you do?
  • How will you account for my child’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the involvement of my child in choosing activities? Can they choose activities that they find interesting?

Occupational and other therapists

  • How long have you been working as an OT?
  • Will you be working directly with my child?
  • How many other occupational therapists work with my child?
  • Will you collaborate with other professionals, for example, speech-language pathologists, psychiatrists, or other specialists?

Therapy sessions

  • Where will services be provided?
  • How often will therapy sessions take place?

Reporting and progress

  • How will you measure my child’s progress?
  • What type of notes do you take during therapy? Will I get access to them?
  • How will I know that my child is responding to therapy?


  • What is the role and involvement of the family in this process?
  • What other interventions may work well for my child in combination with occupational therapy?

The Takeaway

Occupational therapy is a highly beneficial tool for helping children with autism integrate sensory processing activities and practice various skills to use in activities of daily living. The main goal of an occupational therapist is to provide the child with the tools necessary to thrive in multiple environments. Optimal outcomes are seen when there is consistency between therapy and daily routines and when children are given the possibility to continually learn and practice their skills.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.


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Speech Therapy for Children with Autism

Speech therapy helps people who struggle with their speech and with language. Children with autism benefit greatly from speech therapy because it helps improve their communication and interaction skills. 

Understanding what speech therapy is and the skills taught during these sessions can help parents find the right therapy services for children with autism.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is part of the healthcare treatment options that help people develop their language skills. It also teaches children how to pronounce words and to speak clearly and fluently.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, speech therapy can help them overcome communication challenges. It can also help them improve their verbal and non-verbal communication and social skills.

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) will assess your child’s communication barriers and strengths. Once the SLP has compiled their assessment, they will create goals for your child to achieve during therapy.

These goals include learning several skills that help improve speech, body language, and appropriate facial expressions.

Skills Taught During Speech Therapy

Depending on the goals an SLP sets for your child, they may learn the following skills during speech therapy:

  • Distinguishing between sounds and syllables.
  • Strengthening exercises for the mouth, jaw, and neck to help with pronunciation and vocalization.
  • Vocal exercises to make clear sounds when speaking and improve speech fluency.
  • Matching different emotions with the corresponding facial expressions.
  • Sign language and the use of communication cards to improve non-verbal communication.
  • Picture card training, including matching pictures with their respective meanings.
  • Responding to questions and understanding body language.
  • Using speech applications to produce the correct words.
  • Using the right tone of voice for different situations.

Sign language, picture cards, and speech apps are known as Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) methods. You may notice that your child prefers these methods over speaking during speech therapy sessions.

Alternative Augmentative Communication

While receiving speech therapy, your child may struggle to use or understand spoken language. AAC is an alternative communication system, and when implemented early, your child may be more likely to use it to communicate.

AAC communication is about matching actions, tasks, and objects with corresponding pictures or hand signals.

The system consists of aided and unaided methods. The unaided method does not require equipment and only uses hand signs and gestures for communication.

The aided method uses picture books and cards that help children understand what others are saying. It also helps them ask for items they need or answer questions.

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is the best approach for children with autism who have little to no communication abilities. The PECS system works in six phases to encompass an entire teaching course for your child:

Phase 1: Communication

Your child can learn which picture to use when they want an item or when they want to participate in an activity.

Phase 2: Distance and Persistence

This phase can teach your child to be persistent in their picture-card communication. It can also help them choose specific pictures to communicate with people in another location.

Phase 3: Picture Discrimination

Once your child is comfortable using pictures for communication, they can learn to select images that depict their favorite things. They will be using these pictures the most.

Phase 4: Sentences

Moving on from a picture-only system, your child can learn how to construct sentences to convey what they want, combined with a picture of the item they are asking for.

Phase 5: Questions

After learning how to build sentences, your child can learn how to answer questions using the PECS system.

Phase 6: Comments

Finally, the last phase can teach your child to comment on questions. For instance, if you ask your child what they are listening to, they can respond appropriately.

Aided AAC systems also incorporate technology like speech-generating apps, which help children develop their language and communication skills. Speech-generating devices, like the ones from Dynavox, are helpful for anyone with language and cognitive or physical impairments.

AAC, including all its components, is one of the best strategies for supporting adults and children with autism and improving their social skills.

Speech Therapy and Social Skills

Social skills are the connection between creating meaningful conversations. They teach children to take turns talking and stay on topic. Children with autism have difficulty adhering to social skills and need help learning these skills to build relationships with their peers and family.

If your child struggles to grasp social skills, an SLP can help them develop expressive language skills through speech therapy. The SLP may do this with the use of AAC methods.

Speech therapy to improve social skills also includes learning to interpret language and understand the communication of others. If your child is in preschool, they may learn nonverbal cues like a high five or a thumbs-up to help them in everyday social situations.

It may be comforting for your child to receive speech therapy lessons in different settings, such as in a group or as part of a community skills lesson.

Where are Speech Therapy Services Provided?

Speech therapy can take place anywhere your child prefers. Locations may include the SLP’s office or a nearby clinic.

Several schools offer programs that include speech therapy. If the school provides an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and your child wants to learn inside their classroom, the SLP can accommodate them.

Another option for speech therapy is an Early Intervention program, which offers home-based lessons for children younger than three.

Should you choose speech therapy for your child, you may need to have your doctor state that it is medically necessary to ensure your health insurance covers the cost.

Does Insurance Cover Speech Therapy?

While your health insurance plan may cover the initial SLP evaluation, there is no guarantee it will cover the cost of speech therapy sessions.

Before you start looking for an SLP, you should contact your insurance company to establish what the limits on your policy are. You may also want to check whether your insurance plan covers local and out-of-state speech therapists.

Once the evaluation is complete, you can ask the SLP to write a report with their assessment. The SLP will send the document to the insurance company as motivation for the speech therapy.

When deciding on whether to pay for speech therapy, your insurance company will consider the following aspects of the report:

  1. Test scores

    The assessment would have to show a clear need for speech therapy, which means their scores must be low.
  2. The number of sessions

    The insurance company will evaluate the recommended number of therapy sessions to determine how many it will cover.
  3. Consequences of not getting speech therapy

    If the SLP notes on the report that your child may suffer harm due to not receiving speech therapy, this will weigh in on the insurance company’s decision.

If the insurance company decides not to pay, you may want to look into speech therapy services offered at your child’s school. IEP speech therapy services are usually available at no extra cost. Alternatively, you could consider using your health savings account if you have one.

It is essential to have all insurance questions answered before you contact a speech therapist.

What Questions Should I Ask?

When you have decided on an SLP, you may want to ask them the following questions to determine whether they will be a good fit for your child and your family:

  • How many people will be working directly with my child?
  • Can I be present during my child’s initial evaluation and therapy sessions?
  • What does the initial assessment entail?
  • How many years have you been working with children with autism?
  • How many services will you provide as part of speech therapy?
  • Can you start immediately, or will my child be on a waiting list?
  • How many hours of speech therapy will my child need, and how long is each session?
  • How many other current clients do you have, and will your caseload interfere with my child’s therapy?
  • What does a speech therapy program look like?
  • How will you determine goals for my child, and how can I help them practice their speech therapy exercises at home?
  • Will the sessions be done at my home or your offices?
  • When should I expect a progress report, and can I give my input?


The concept of speech therapy may be overwhelming at first. You may want to take a few days to think it over and come to terms with the unavoidable impact on your family.

However, the benefits of speech therapy for children with autism are immeasurable. Your child can learn how to express their wants and needs. They may be able to understand your verbal and nonverbal requests.

Speech therapy can even help your child form friendships with peers and communicate with them in a way that is easy and comfortable.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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Best Toys For Children with Nonverbal Autism

If you have a child with non-verbal autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you understand the difficulty of connecting with them. An estimated 30% of children with autism struggle to communicate through speech, so finding the right toys to foster a connection is important. Keep reading to learn how!

What Are Sensory Issues?

If your child is living with nonverbal autism, they may experience a range of sensory issues. These issues can be broken down into two categories: hypo-sensitivity and hypersensitivity. 

Hypo-sensitivity is when your child does not seem to notice or pay attention to certain sensations. This can make them less aware of their surroundings, and they may even seek out sensory experiences as a way to stimulate themselves. 

Examples of hypo-sensitivities include: 

  • Not reacting to loud noises like other children do 
  • Not being bothered by clothing tags or seams in socks 
  • Enjoying deep pressure, such as getting massages or squeezing objects 

On the other hand, hypersensitivity occurs when your child becomes overwhelmed by certain sensations that others consider normal, which can lead to a meltdown. 

Examples of hypersensitivities include: 

  • Becoming alarmed at loud noises like sirens or fireworks 
  • Avoiding certain fabrics or feeling uncomfortable when wearing clothing tags 
  • Reacting negatively to deep pressure, such as getting hugs from people they don’t know well 

As you can see, these sensitivities affect sight, touch, taste, sounds, balance, smells, and even body awareness. The good news is the right sensory toy can help your child better cope with these sensitivities. Let’s examine how.

How do Sensory Toys Help Autism?

Gadgets and games that engage the senses are an important part of helping children with autism learn and grow. These toys provide tactile stimulation that helps kids explore their environment and interact with others in meaningful ways.

Through playing with these toys, children are encouraged to plan ahead, negotiate and share. As they explore the different textures and sounds of the plaything, their brains become more attuned to their surroundings and those around them. 

This helps them better understand facial expressions, body language, and other forms of communication – all essential for developing social skills.  

Sensory play can also help your child focus on the task at hand by providing input through sound, sight, or touch that is calming for them. Additionally, it allows your child to practice motor skills like grasping items or manipulating objects, which can help with their development. 

No matter what type of toy you choose for your child, it’s important to look for ones specifically designed to meet the needs of those on the autism spectrum. So how do they work? We’re glad you asked.

How are Sensory Toys Used for Autism?

Sensory toys stimulate the body and give it feedback which helps the brain better understand itself. This is particularly beneficial for those with ASD as it helps them focus, relax, and calm down. 

There are different types of gadgets to choose from that target specific senses such as sight, sound, touch, or taste-smell. Many of these games are designed to be combined with others to maximize the sensory experience. 

However, it is important to note that while sensory toys can be helpful for children with autism, they do not replace formal and evidence-based treatment strategies. 

The following popular sensory toys and aids should be used as an additional strategy in conjunction with other therapies, such as applied behavioral analysis (ABA), speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, etc. 

Ultimately these tried-and-true gadgets help create more positive outcomes for those on the autism spectrum.

The 10 Best Sensory Toys for Autism

Let’s examine some of the most popular gadgets for children with non-verbal autism:

Sensory Mats

Sensory mats are an excellent option for those with nonverbal autism, as they provide a tactile experience and encourage exploration. They come in different sizes, shapes, and textures that can match the individual’s sensory preferences. 

For example, some mats may have ridged surfaces for children to run their hands over or soft fabrics to practice motor skills like grasping or pushing. These mats also offer plenty of opportunities for imaginative play since each texture can be used differently depending on the activity being done.

Chew Toys

Chew toys can be comfortable and calming to use, as they’re made of non-toxic silicone material, which is gentle on the skin. Chew toys come in many sizes and shapes, from hand-held items to jewelry-like pieces that you wear around your neck or wrist. 

Furthermore, chew toys also have different textures – from bumps and ridges to patterns or smooth surfaces – so you can find something that fits your needs perfectly. Plus, these chew toys help reduce anxiety by giving users something tangible to focus their attention on when feeling overwhelmed.

Sand, Slime, or Putty

These seemingly messy choices are fantastic options that allow your child to play while developing their fine motor skills. Plus, these substances often come in bright and bold colors which can be visually stimulating and appealing to them. 

Each of these toys has distinct characteristics: 

  • Sand is a classic toy with versatile uses; you can pour it out on a table or tray and have your child explore its texture and movement. 
  • Slime is another popular option with its gooey consistency that requires squeezing and stretching as they manipulate it with their hands. 
  • Putty also has similar qualities but provides more resistance when molding shapes and forms. 

All of these toys provide tactile stimulation, helping to engage your child in a fun way while still providing therapeutic benefits.

Pin Art

Pin art is an entertaining and engaging toy that helps children with non-verbal autism practice expressing themselves. This toy is made up of hundreds of tiny pins connected to a board, and when pressed against the surface, they create 3D shapes. 

Here are some ways pin art can help children with nonverbal autism: 

  • Develops hand-eye coordination 
  • Encourages creative thinking 
  • Teaches cause-and-effect relations 
  • Improves fine motor skills 
  • Helps with decision making 
  • Improves concentration

Pin art is an engaging and entertaining toy that can provide hours of fun while also helping them build essential skills they need to thrive.


The gentle sound of the rainmaker is like a soothing lullaby, which can be incredibly helpful in helping ease anxiety and stress. Rainmakers come in different colors, shapes, and sizes, which will surely spark your child’s interest. 

Benefits of using a rainmaker: 

  • Provides sensory stimulation through sound 
  • The calming effect helps reduce anxiety 
  • Helps improve concentration levels by providing background noise 
  • Aids in relaxation and promotes self-expression 
  • Enhances auditory skills, such as tracking and sound discrimination 
  • Teaches cause-and-effect relationships 
  • Promotes imaginative play 
  • Improves motor skills by encouraging hand-eye coordination 
  • Encourages creative exploration and discovery

Rainmakers are fun toys that make great gifts for any child on the autism spectrum, verbal and non-verbal alike.

Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners are an excellent toy for non-verbal children on the spectrum. Benefits of fidget spinners include: 

  • Providing tactile stimulation. Kids on the autism spectrum have sensory issues and often seek activities that provide tactile input, such as spinning objects or squeezing items. Fidget spinners can offer this type of sensory feedback safely. 
  • Keeping hands occupied. As mentioned above, fidget spinners can keep the child’s hands busy, which can help them focus and stay calm. 
  • Improving fine motor skills. Fidget spinners can also help improve a child’s fine motor skills. This is important for children with ASD who often struggle in this area. 
  • Improving coordination. Hand-eye coordination, in particular, can be beneficial for kids with ASD. 
  • Reducing stress – by providing a calming and soothing activity. 

Fidget spinners provide tactile input, help keep hands occupied, and improve fine motor skills and coordination while reducing stress.

Electric Dog Pet

This toy is designed to help children with autism desensitize themselves to everyday noises from home appliances and pets. The toy has a realistic feel, complete with fur and plastic ears that move when its noise-inducing button is pressed. 

When the button is pushed, it plays a variety of sounds like barking and growling, which can be calming for children on the spectrum who may otherwise struggle with these types of noises.

Senseez Vibrating Cushion

This soft cushion features built-in vibrations that can be activated with a simple press of a button. The gentle motion and sound it creates help your child relax while also stimulating their senses in an enjoyable way. 

It’s perfect for soothing meltdowns or providing extra comfort when needed. Plus, it’s lightweight and portable so you can take it anywhere.

Body Sox

These colorful, see-through and breathable lycra socks provide a calming experience that helps to reduce anxiety. By putting themselves into one of these unique socks, kids can use their sense of touch to relax and feel safe. 

The pressure the sock creates is enough to be comforting without feeling too restrictive. For many children on the spectrum, this kind of tactile stimulation has been found to help them feel more relaxed and better able to focus on tasks or conversations.

Reflective Balls

Reflective balls, such as those made with shiny mirrors or colorful lights, are an excellent choice when it comes to toys for autism. They help children with nonverbal autism develop a visual sense by giving them something they can interact and engage with. 

The reflective surfaces of the balls draw attention and encourage exploration through play, allowing children to explore their environment safely.


Finding the right activities for children with nonverbal autism can be a challenge. With the proper sensory toys, however, kids on the spectrum can find joy and comfort in their environment while also developing the life skills they need to thrive. 

Remember: talk to your child’s doctor or therapist before selecting any toys, as they may have additional recommendations based on your specific situation. 

So take some time to explore the best options out there – you’re sure to find something special that will make your child smile.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.


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The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Children with autism may struggle to communicate, leading to many innovations over the years to allow understanding. In this article, we will talk about one of those systems – the Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS and how it’s changed the world.


PECS was developed in the United States of America in 1985 by Andy Bindy, Ph.D., and Lori Frost, MS, CCC-SLP. It came to life as a form of augmentative communication for children with autism, an alternative to previous attempts to simplify the process.


Forty years later, PECS has been implemented around the world. Thousands of people of all ages are using it successfully, even with variations in physical, cognitive, and communication challenges. It’s been a successful addition to communication assistance.


Users adapting PECS will go through six phases. Let’s talk more about each level of the Picture Exchange Communication System.


PECS comes in six unique phases. Each works to allow children with autism to communicate, think, and even move on their own.

Phase I

The first phase, known as How To Communicate, is the start of the PECS process. It’s the foundation for the PECS system and will help a child with autism become accustomed to using it.


In this phase, the learner learns to exchange pictures for activities and images they desire. It gets them used to the system and what they will gain if using it to their advantage.


Once they have the basics down, it’s time to move on to the next portion. Here, the specifics shift for the communicator.

Phase II

The second phase, Distance and Persistence, allows learners to use single pictures in new places. They operate the system with new people and even try it over long distances. It’s a slight advancement of the first learning experience.


Learners learn to communicate persistently in this phase. If they want something, they can make it clear with the Picture Exchange Communication System.

Phase III

The third phase, Picture Discrimination, makes things a little more complex. Here, the learner is tasked with discriminating pictures from each other.


For example, the user may be given two images and asked which is their favorite. They are learning to communicate their favorites and prioritize one item over the other.


The favorite items then go in a PECS Communication Book. This gathering of images is a ringer binder made with hook fastener strips to keep pictures secure and removed when necessary.


Next, learners will form the basics of sentence structures for complete communication.

Phase IV

The fourth phase, Sentence Structure, helps children with autism focus on putting together more complete forms of communication. In this stage, learners will understand how to make simple sentences.


Learners will form these sentences by placing images on a detachable Sentence Strip. They start with an “I Want” paper and then follow it with a picture of what they desire.


This phase helps make the want of the speaker firmer. It provides clarity in communication and improves communicative ability.


Once mastered, it’s time to move up on the requests. Questions come into play next.

Phase V

The fifth phase, known as Responsive Requesting, allows children with autism to answer specific questions from the listener, such as “What do you want?”. The individual will pick up images to answer the speaker with ease.


This phase may take a little bit of practice. However, the previous sections do an excellent job of setting up a child with autism for success in this area.


Next, it’s time to dive into the final piece of the puzzle. The user may upgrade to communicate even better to the listener.

Phase VI

The sixth and final phase, Commenting, permits the Picture Exchange Communication System user to respond and comment on more generalized questions.


The individual using the PECS system may respond to questions like “What is it?” or “What do you hear?”. They learn how to make up sentences, which might start with “I hear” or “It is a”. This phase opens up many doors for children with autism.


Although the PECS may take a while to complete, it’s worth it. There are extensive advantages to this communication method for the listener and users.

Advantages of Picture Communication

Picture communication is an advantageous system for users. Many benefits have appeared over the years in response to its implementation.


PECS allows the listener to understand the individual using PECS because pictures are simple and universal. Many PEC systems also label their images, making communication even simple. All the speaker must do is match their thought to the image, simplifying talk.


Many individuals who start using PECS may avoid establishing a poor history of emotion regarding speech. They can point to what they want, so success is much more likely than without PECS.


PECS is also cheap compared to other assistance programs for children with autism. It’s low-tech but opens up an entire world for those who struggle to communicate.


Of course, this system is still new to most people. Who implements the Picture Exchange Communication system consistently?

Who Practices The Picture Exchange Communication System?

Not everyone has had the chance to access the wonder of PECS. However, many types of people are often familiar with the process.


Practitioners of the PECS include:


  •       Speech pathologists
  •       Occupational therapists
  •       Psychologists
  •       Physiotherapists
  •       Parents and teachers with proper training


These individuals are the most common users of the innovative system.


If you want to make an appointment for your child who uses PECS, it’s a good idea to ask ahead of time if they know the system. It will make everything easier for your child. PECS is becoming more and more common.


PECS is an exciting communication addition for those with cognitive, physical, or communicative troubles. It’s easier for children with autism to get their thoughts and desires across to the listener.


Although the world doesn’t use PECS, it’s becoming more common. In the future, we’ll likely see more and more PECS implementations.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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10 Best Books About Autism

There are thousands of published books about living with autism. These books include writings for children with autism as well as books for adults on handling an autism diagnosis.

Below, we discuss the importance of these books and provide details on the 10 best books on autism available on the market today.

Why Are Books on Autism Important?

Books on autism help teach empathy, understanding, and acceptance of those with autism. Books that explain the various aspects of autism are also great for creating public awareness about the disorder.

Best Books About Autism

1. Uniquely Human by Barry M. Prizant and Tom Fields-Meyer

The plethora of reviews that Uniquely Human received is a testament to how many lives it affected. Barry Prizant and Tom Fields-Meyer challenge people to change their attitudes and perceptions about autism.

Prizant wrote Uniquely Human from his perspective after working with children with autism for more than 40 years. Each page reflects his compassion, which gives him exceptional insight into the disorder.

2. Following Ezra by Thomas Fields-Meyer

Thomas Fields-Meyer tells his own story in Following Ezra. This book details Fields-Meyer’s son Ezra’s autism diagnosis at age three and what happened after.

Fields-Meyer authored human-interest stories for People magazine for twelve years and wrote one of the chapters of Following Ezra as a final People assignment. He included poignant and often funny stories in his book after deciding to let his son make his way in the world.

3. NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman

In NeuroTribes, science writer Steve Silberman writes about the first autism diagnosis and how research into the disorder ended when the Nazi reign of terror began.

More importantly, Silberman also expands on the myths around autism, particularly the one that claims vaccines were the cause of it. He explains the evolution of autism and combines the traits of those with autism with ongoing studies into its history. The book also focuses on autism campaigns that aim to make inclusivity and acceptance the norm.

4. 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger’s by Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk

Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk put their heads together to draft this book filled with ideas and tips on enhancing the development of children with autism.

Veronica Zysk is the managing editor of the Autism Asperger’s Digest magazine, while Ellen Notbohm has a son with autism. They’ve compiled strategies for all aspects of autism, along with a handy glossary of terms, which helps to simplify the reading process.

5. Growing Up on the Spectrum by Lynn Kern Koegel and Clare LaZebnik

Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger Syndrome consists of Lynn Koegel’s expert strategies and writer Claire LaZebnik’s questions about teenagers with autism.

Growing Up on the Spectrum deals with adolescence, social awkwardness, and college admission, providing inspiration to thousands of parents. LaZebnik has a teenage son with autism who contributed several pieces to the book. 

6. In a Different Key by Caren Zucker and John Donovan

In a Different Key tells the intense story of the first child in history to be diagnosed with autism, Donald Triplett. Caren Zucker and John Donovan did seven years of research and based some of their writing on their individual experiences. Zucker has a son with autism, while Donovan has a brother-in-law who is on the spectrum.

The book consists of 10 parts that include interviews with several individuals with autism as well as other researchers and even advocates. Though some chapters can be upsetting, the whole book is essential to understanding the ongoing struggles of those with autism.

7. Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew by Ellen Notbohm

Punctuated with humor and kindness, Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew illustrates the characteristics of children with autism. Ellen Notbohm pours out her heart on the book’s pages as she details her first-hand experiences. This excellent literary effort saw Notbohm win an iParenting Media Award.

This book is recommended for every person who works with or has children with autism. The updated version of the book includes discussions around social skills and communication issues, as well as perceptions and reactions to different surroundings.

8. Connecting with the Autism Spectrum by Casey Vormer

Casey Vormer is an autism advocate and self-taught artist. He wrote Connecting with the Autism Spectrum as a guide for those struggling to connect with children or family members with autism.

The book begins with an introduction to the autism spectrum and provides tips on active listening and positive reinforcement. Vormer also explains why the term “high-functioning autism” is a label best avoided.

Furthermore, he lists ways to communicate better and find a sensitive tone when speaking to people with autism.

9. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higshida

The Reason I Jump is a book about autism written by 13-year-old Noaki Higshida, who was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of five.

The book illuminates the difference between how children and adults with autism view the world versus how everyone else perceives them to view the world. It also highlights the fact that this disconnect is what causes people with autism to be mistreated.

10. Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison

John Elder Robison had Asperger’s during a time when an Asperger’s diagnosis did not exist in America. Robison only learned that he had Asperger’s in 1996 when he was 39. He wrote his memoir, Look Me in the Eye, in 2006, when his childhood behavior finally started making sense to him.

However, his fascination with sound engineering and electronics led him to a career working with Pink Floyd’s sound company and working on special effects for Kiss. After spending some time designing games and toys for Microvision, he started his own car restoration business.

The Bottom Line

Books about autism play an important role in increasing the understanding of autism and the experiences of people with autism spectrum disorder. The books above can provide unique perspectives on the disorder and advice on interacting with individuals with autism.



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