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How to Help Your Child with Autism During the Coronavirus Lockdown

Due to COVID-19, schools and daycare centers in New Jersey and many other States have been closed. This is a stressful and challenging situation for all of us, especially for children with autism and their families.

We know that many of you must be asking yourselves how best to discuss this with your children and how to help them through this difficult period. That’s why we’ve put together this blog, which we hope will provide you with some practical advice and reassurance when it come to supporting your child with ASD during the Coronavirus lockdown. 

Talk to Your Child About the Coronavirus

You’ve no doubt already had plenty of conversations with your child about the coronavirus. However it’s really important that you continue to give them honest but reassuring information, while also debunking rumors or any inaccurate information they’ve heard from elsewhere. 

When having these conversations, make sure it’s your child that is leading them. Ask them questions like:

  • What has he/she heard about coronavirus?
  • How does he/she feel about it?
  • How do you feel about school closing?

Have some reassuring answers prepared. This will make sure you’re not caught off guard and say anything that may worry them further. It’s a good chance for you to quell their worries, set some expectations, and also connect with them. 

Look After Yourself

It’s perfectly normal for your child to be struggling to comprehend or come to terms with the current situation. However, you can help them by leading by example. 

If you have anxiety about the virus, try to work through it with exercise, mindful activities, or whatever else you may need. As you know, children with ASD are extremely perceptive and can pick up on doubt or panic in others. 

We completely understand that as a caregiver, it’s in your nature to put your child’s needs before your own. However, taking care of yourself shouldn’t be taken for granted at this time. It creates a brighter atmosphere for you and your child and the rest of your family. 

Make Washing Their Hands as Fun as Possible

Hand washing may be mandatory, but you can make it as fun as possible for your child. We’re all aware of the 20-second rule set out by the World Health Organization (WHO). To make this less of a chore for your child, get into the habit of singing a song when they wash their hands. 

Here’s a website where you can generate your own handwashing poster with lyrics from a 20-second segment of a song. You can use this if your child has a favorite song or artist or, if your child is a bit younger, here’s some nursery rhymes you can use.

Keep Up a Routine 

Get your child up at the same time as if they were going to school and then start setting a routine for the rest of the day. This can include things like study time, lunchtime, playtime, backyard time and screen time, which can all be spaced out at the same time each day.

You can even sit down with your child and write out a new routine together, one where school work is still a priority but there are still some fun activities, too.

Look Out For Signs of Anxiety

You know your child better than anyone. Therefore, you’ll be able to spot any anxiety, ill temperament, or frustration in them very quickly. Again, this to be expected during this time period. 

If you do get in this situation or are generally struggling, it may be worth joining some autism support groups or finding parents in similar situations on social media. Remember, many people are in the exact same situation you are and may be able to offer solutions or a general outlet. We’re all in this together!

Overall, Just Be There For Them

This is a difficult period for everyone. However, by looking after yourself, remaining calm and open, and offering all the love and support that all of us parents provide to our children, we’ll be sure to get through this period without any major difficulties.

Featured image photo by Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

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Behavior Tech & Registered Behavior Technician Jobs in NJ

Working with children with autism is an extremely rewarding career. While the work can be challenging at times, no two days are ever the same. And with children in New Jersey having the highest rate of autism in the country, there is more demand than ever for talented and passionate professionals.

Who are we

We’re Golden Care Therapy, an in-home ABA therapy provider servicing children with autism and their families across New Jersey. Our mission is to help children with autism to live happy, independent and fulfilling lives. We do this by equipping them with the mental, physical and emotional skills they need to help them thrive. 

It’s thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our fantastic therapists that we’re able to deliver this mission. Our BCBAs take the time to truly personalize all of our clients’ treatment plans, to ensure every child receives the best possible therapy for their needs. While our Behavior Techs and Registered Behavior Technicians have the freedom to deliver the therapy on the ground how they see best.     

About the job

As a Behavior Tech or Registered Behavior Technician, you’ll be working on the front line, delivering ABA therapy in-home to the children that we work with. You’ll be supervised by an experienced BCBA and will base your therapy sessions on the treatment plans that they develop. This will involve running therapy sessions, tracking data and ensuring the client’s goals are being met, as well as working closely with their parents every step of the way.

Here’s what what we require from our candidates

  • Minimum 6 months experience in the ABA field
  • Reliable transportation
  • Ability to work well, and relate to children in a compassionate and effective manner
  • Integrity and reliability

In return, you’ll receive the following from us:

  • Flexible, per diem hours- take on as much or as little as you want!
  • Great hourly compensation!
  • Excellent clinical/ supervisory team
  • Client base within your local area

Our locations

We provide in-home ABA therapy throughout New Jersey, so have openings available across the state. Some of our in-demand areas include:

  • Atlantic County
  • Bergen County
  • Burlington County
  • Camden County
  • Cape May County
  • Cumberland County
  • Essex County
  • Gloucester County
  • Hudson County
  • Hunterdon County
  • Mercer County
  • Middlesex County
  • Monmouth County
  • Morris County
  • Ocean County
  • Passaic County
  • Salem County
  • Somerset County
  • Sussex County
  • Union County
  • Warren County

How to apply

If you’re interested in joining the team here at Golden Care Therapy, then you can apply for a Behavior Technician role on our careers page here

What if you’re not a Registered Behavior Technician but want to become one?

The Registered Behavioral Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional qualification in behavioral analysis. It requires training, competency assessments and the successful completion of an exam. The below infographic, courtesy of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, shows the steps required in becoming a BRT.       

Registered Behavior Technician training infographic

Featured image by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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A Complete List of Autism Walks, Runs and Rides in New Jersey in 2020

Autism walks, rides and runs are a great way to be active, have fun and raise money for a cause that’s close to all of our hearts.

There are a large number of autism walks in New Jersey each year, as well as rides and runs, so everyone has the chance to participate no matter their fitness level.

In this article, we’ve put together a list of all the big events that are happening in NJ in 2020.

Autism Walks

There are two organizations that organize the major autism walks in NJ: Autism Speaks and POAC.

POAC Autism Walks

POAC is hosting the following walks in the following locations in 2020:

  • Lakewood, Ocean County – 11am, Saturday, May 9th 2020
  • Woodbridge, Middlesex County – 11am, Saturday, May 16th 2020
  • Ewing, Mercer County – 11am, Sunday, May 17th 2020
  • Sayreville, Middlesex County – 11am, Saturday, May 30th 2020
  • Manahawkin, Ocean County – 11am, Sunday, May 31st 2020
  • North Jersey, Passaic County – 11am, Sunday, June 7th 2020

You can either join a team, start your own team, or come and walk on your own. Find out more information and sign up here.

Autism Speaks Walks

This year’s Autism Speaks walks are being held on the following dates in these locations:

  • South Jersey Walk, Mount Laurel – 10:15am, Saturday, May 30th 2020
  • Northern New Jersey Walk, East Rutherford – 10:30am, Sunday, May 31st 2020
  • New Jersey Shore Walk, Long Branch – 11:30am, Saturday, October 3rd 2020
  • Union and Morris County Walk, Cranford – 11:30am, Sunday, October 4th 2020
  • Central New Jersey, Trenton – 10:30am, Sunday, October 11th 2020

You can view all of their walks and sign up here, either as part of a team, as your own team, or just by yourself.

Autism Rides and Runs

This year there are a number of autism rides and runs in New Jersey. Here’s a list of the main events.

Ride for Autism

Ride for Autism NJ is the biggest event of its kind in the region and is now in its 20th year, having raised more than $880,000 during that time.

All ability levels are catered for, with riders having a choice between six routes, ranging in length from 5 to 100 miles. 

And to celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary, there will also be a 5K fun run/walk, which is open to all abilities. 

  • Location: Brookdale Community College, Lincroft, NJ
  • Date: Saturday, June 13th 2020

Go the Distance for Autism

Go the Distance for Autism is another major fundraising event for autism in NJ. It offers a choice between different bike rides and a fun run.

For cyclists, you have the choice between 10, 25 and 50-mile events through Bergen County, while runners can take part in a 5K fun run.

  • Location: Bergen Community College, Paramus, NJ
  • Date: Sunday, June 7th 2020

Eden Autism 5K

The Eden Autism 5K is the biggest fundraising event that’s organized each year by the non-profit special education school. Join more than 1,500 runners and walkers who take part in the race each year.

  • Location: The Eden School, Princeton, NJ
  • Date: Sunday, October 4th 2020 

Want to explore more NJ autism resources?

Visit our blog directory for more New Jersey autism resources. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured image photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

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A Parents Guide to the New Jersey Autism Registry

The New Jersey Autism Registry was created in 2007 with the aim of improving access to autism services in the state. However, while the registry is intended to benefit those with autism, we find that some families have concerns about this. Therefore, we’ve written a brief guide to the NJ autism registry for parents.  

What’s the purpose of the registry?

The NJ autism registry has two purposes. Firstly, it connects families to specialist child health management services provided at the county level, as well as other autism support groups and resources. Many of these services are free to use, but you must be registered in order to access them.

Secondly, it’s used to provide insight and statistical data on the rate of autism diagnosis within New Jersey. This helps the state to better forecast demand for services and make more informed decisions.       

Who’s added to the registry?

All New Jersey residents under the age of 22 who are diagnosed with ASD.

How do I register my child? 

Your primary health care provider and/or the diagnosing doctor will add your child to the registry. Health care professionals should be proactive with this. However, you can facilitate this by informing them of it if they haven’t discussed it with you in the immediate sessions after a diagnosis. They must obtain a signed written statement from you before they add your child to the registry.

Once your child is registered, you will receive informational documents in the post, detailing the services in your area that you can access.

Can I refuse to have my child registered?

No, the registry is mandatory. You can, however, request an anonymous registration. But if you choose to do this then you will not have access to the services discussed above.  

Is the data confidential?

Yes, all data is kept confidential and is not shared with any other government agencies or organizations, other than to facilitate access to the service mentioned above. 

Is this the same thing as the New Jersey Autism Mandate?

No, this is a separate piece of legislation that provides protection for families when accessing autism services through their health insurance policies. You can read our guide to the New Jersey Autism Mandate for more information on this.  

How do I find out more information?

The New Jersey Department of Health website provides more information about the registry here

Want to explore more autism resources for parents?

Visit our blog directory for more New Jersey autism resources here. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

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5 Ways to Help Your Child with Autism on Valentine’s Day

We all hold precious memories of Valentine’s Days from our childhoods. Cupid hearts, handmade cards and crafts, and more candy than was ever sensible to eat. But while they form a part of our cherished childhood memories, Valentine’s Day can create difficulties for children with autism. However, with some careful planning, you can ensure that your son, daughter or child in your class with ASD can form their own special memories of the big day.

Autism and Valentine’s Day – possible problems

Firstly, it’s important to understand the potential triggers that can accompany the day, which can include:

  • A break from routine
  • Different social norms and signals
  • Unfamiliar words and phrases
  • Unusual decorations and displays  
  • Group activities with unclear purposes

While it’s of course impossible to avoid all of these, there are however plenty of steps you can take to help prepare your child. And in this article I’ve listed what I consider to be the five most important, which any parent or carer can do.  

1. Write a Valentine’s Day social story

Social stories are short descriptions of a particular situation or activity which provides specific information on what to expect and why. For children with autism these can really help to build greater social understanding of everyday situations. It does this by enabling them to visualize and predict their role and its outcome.

First developed by the therapist Carol Gray, the great thing about social stories is that anyone can write one about any situation. All you need to do is consider the end goal of the story and what your child needs to understand to achieve this. You then create a story and place your child as a key character within it. 

So for a Valentine’s Day social story, you could write a story that has the end goal of your child giving Valentine’s cards to classmates. The story would show the significance behind this gesture, by explaining how other children feel when they receive these cards.

2. Incorporate your child’s specific interests

Incorporating your child’s interests is a great way to get them to engage with the day. So if your child loves Frozen they could draw their favorite character on the cards that they make. Or alternatively you could buy some cards that feature this.   

It’s also important to bear in mind, particularly on a day like Valentine’s Day, that your child may form friendships based on shared interests. Meanwhile, they may be less engaged in the emotional side of relationships. Therefore, ensuring that their specific interests take a lead role in their creativity and gift giving helps to ensure that your child remains engaged in these activities.    

3. Plan ahead with the school

As with any change of routine, these need to be planned carefully, by giving your child plenty of notice. So check with the school what Valentine’s Day activities they’re planning on doing and when. Make sure you get all the small details from the school as well. This includes things like the decorations they plan on putting up and any colored clothing that children are going to be encouraged to wear.  

Once you know the schedule for this, you can gradually increase your child’s exposure to this in the days running up to it. You can also incorporate elements of what the school has planned into a Valentine’s Day social story, as discussed above.

4. Prepare for specific activities with role plays 

As with social stories, role plays are another great way to “learn by doing”. This helps children with ASD to familiarize themselves with common social interactions. This in turn helps to equip them with the language and actions that are required to engage appropriately when in these situations.   

To prepare for Valentine’s Day, you could role play giving out cards to classmates, where you and other family members play the part of the classmates. This can help your child to practice what they say and how they act when they do this. Once you’ve completed this role play, reverse it so you’re giving cards to your child. This will help them learn how to process receiving cards as well as giving them.

5. Discuss the meaning behind Valentine’s Day

All of the above steps are of course quite abstract, so it’s important that you also discuss the meaning behind Valentine’s Day. How you do this and the level of detail you go into will depend on your child’s age and level of development. 

However, the most important aspect to get across is that Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the people in our lives that are the most important to us. This can therefore be used as a great way for your child to identify all the people in their life that are special to them.

Want to explore more autism resources for parents?

For more autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured image photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash

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The Science Behind ABA Therapy

Receiving an autism diagnosis can be a big shock for any family. Once you’ve had time to process the news, the coming weeks and months will most likely be taken up by researching what’s the most effective autism therapy for your child.

If you’ve already started this research, then you’ll know that the sheer amount of advice and treatment options out there can be overwhelming. But while there is a near endless amount of choices, ABA therapy is scientifically proven to be an evidence based best practice treatment.

How ABA therapy works

ABA treatment is based on proven scientific theories from the behavior field of psychology, including positive reinforcement and Antecedent-Behavior-Consequences (ABC). Essentially, ABA seeks to encourage desired behavior through a system of rewards and consequences.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement helps to encourage specific behaviors through rewards: 

  • An ABA therapist identifies a skill that requires improvement
  • The skill is then taught to the child, and as the child engages in the desired skill they gain access to reinforcing items
  • Over time, these rewards encourage the child to continue engaging in the targeted skills 

Antecedent-behavior-consequences

This is a scientific model which helps us understand what triggers certain behaviors and how different consequences can affect whether it will happen again. An antecedent is what happens before a behavior occurs and a consequence is what happens afterwards. For example   

  • Antecedent: You ask your child to get ready for bed
  • Behavior: Your child refuses 
  • Consequences: You lose your temper and your child gets upset 

With ABA therapy, we can use this model of behavior to encourage a better outcome, such as:

  • Antecedent: You ask your child to get ready for bed
  • Behavior: Your child asks if they can finish what they’re doing
  • Consequences: You let your child finish what they’re doing before bed time

Using DATA to track progress

ABA therapy is grounded in scientific principles. Therefore, the collection and use of data is vital in order to constantly monitor progress and optimize the treatment plan. 

Data is used to carefully track outcomes from the above two approaches, as well as to monitor all behavior goals. Ultimately, all future changes and modifications to the treatment plan can then be based on data. The treatment plan can therefore be personalized to the specific needs of your child.

Is ABA scientifically proven?

Yes, ABA is scientifically proven to be an effective therapy for the treatment of autism. Both the US Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association consider it an evidenced based best practice treatment.

In addition to this, more than a dozen scientific, federal and state organizations have classified ABA therapy as a best practice approach to treating autism.

Over 20 studies have proven that ABA therapy delivered for between 1 to 3 years, improves outcomes for many children with autism. These improved outcomes include intellectual functioning, language development and social functioning.

What to find out more about ABA therapy?

We’ve written a wide range of resources to help parents discover more about ABA therapy, including:

Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured image photo by Maxime Bhm on Unsplash

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5 Tips for Throwing an Awesome Autism Friendly Birthday Party

A child’s birthday party can be stressful for any parent. Keeping tabs on dozens of over excited kids is not everyone’s idea of a relaxing Saturday. But as parents we do it as they bring so much joy to our children, as well as creating those family memories that last a lifetime. When it comes to autism and birthday parties, while the challenges can be more difficult, the rewards can be even greater. 

So to help you with your party planning, here are five autism friendly birthday party ideas.

Firstly, why can parties be difficult for children with ASD? 

Children’s parties have a lot of sensory stimulation as well as unfamiliar social norms, which children with autism can find overwhelming. Loud music, shouting and singing happy birthday all have the potential to cause sensory overload.

Then there are both the explicit and implicit rules that kids need to follow when playing party games, which again can be a struggle. 

And while parties are a great way for kids to learn how to socialize outside of the structures of school, this adds further stress to those that struggle with communication.

But careful planning can help you throw an autism friendly birthday party which avoids many of these problems. 

1. Keep it small and brief            

Possibly the most important piece of advice is to start small. If this is the first birthday party you’re throwing for your child, then maybe just invite a couple of friends. Parents often feel like they need to invite the whole class, or to reciprocate any invitations their child has previously received. But you need to do what works best for your child, and other parents will understand this.   

Or you may feel more comfortable only inviting a few family members that your child has a close bond with, such as grandparents and cousins. Then, as your child gets a bit older, you can start inviting a few school friends.

As well as keeping the guest list small, it’s also a good idea to keep the running time brief. Plan this around your child’s attention span and energy levels. If you think just half an hour of activities and half an hour for food is sufficient, then that’s fine. 

2. Pick a suitable location    

Next you need to consider where the most suitable birthday party location is. Do you think your child would feel most comfortable in the familiar environment of the home, or would they get more enjoyment from their big day at another location?

If you decide to go somewhere such as a restaurant or indoor play center, it can help if your child is already familiar with the place. Doing a “practice run” the week before can also be a wise move, as it prepares them for what to expect. Even little things like knowing where the bathrooms are or where the table will be can help with the preparation. And some party venues now host sensory friendly days, such as Chuck E Cheese.

3. Carefully plan the activities 

The birthday activities you choose will of course be based on your child’s interests and ability (after all, you know you child your best!). But generally speaking, activities that have lots of rules, turn taking, or loud noises can pose the biggest challenges. So things like musical chairs or pass the parcel may be best avoided. 

Therefore, focus on what your child enjoys playing with. For example, if your child loves playing with Lego, the main activity could be unstructured play time with Lego. Or if your child likes to try their hand in the kitchen, you could do a make your own pizza topping activity. 

4. Decide the best approach for gift giving  

The ceremony that comes with accepting and opening gifts can be tough for some kids. Again, you’ll know best how your child responds to gift opening, but it’s common for many children with ASD to become overwhelmed by being the center of attention. Therefore, some families prefer to save the gifts and open them later with just the immediate family present. While other families ask that guests don’t bring gifts.

5. Consider treat alternatives

We all know the problems that come with too many sugary foods and drinks. Therefore try and substitute traditional party snacks for healthy alternatives. Fruit and carrot sticks always make a great alternative, as does diluted natural fruit juice. And a birthday cake isn’t mandatory either. If for example you feel your child would prefer ice cream, then do that instead. 

And remember, don’t feel pressure to have a “traditional” party

As with Christmas and the holidays, parents can often feel pressure to throw a “traditional” birthday party for their little ones. But as any parent of a child with ASD knows, autism and birthday parties need to be carefully planned and considered. After all, it’s about doing something your child will enjoy, rather than doing what others might expect.

For more autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured image photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

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How to Choose the Right Autism School in NJ for Your Child

How to choose the right school for your child with autism in NJ is one of the biggest questions parents face. The hopes and dreams we have for our children are heavily dependent on giving them the best possible education. But when it comes to a child with autism, what we mean by the “best” education varies greatly from child to child. 

Therefore, forget about searching for “the best autism schools in NJ”, and instead focus on assessing possible schools based on your child’s specific needs. To help you with this process, we’ve put together this quick guide to choosing autism schools in New Jersey.

First off, know your rights

Choosing the right school for your child with autism can be a tough decision. This is especially the case if it’s the first time anyone in your close family has been in this position. Therefore it’s important to be aware of the support that’s available and the rights that you and your child have. 

Children with autism in NJ (and all other states) have the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). What this means in practice is that you have the right to request an evaluation from your local school district’s special education service, who will then work with you and your child to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is a legal document which must:

  • Provide a detailed explanation of your child’s special education program
  • Summarize your child’s current performance and specific instructional needs
  • Provide measurable goals and objectives
  • Allow your child to make reasonable progress based on their individual circumstances

Consider your choice of schools 

Public schools autism programs

As the above information shows, public schools are required to adapt their lessons in order to support children with autism. However, there are still plenty of pros and cons you need to carefully consider. These environments can be great for inclusion, for children that are functioning well socially and are comfortable being placed in a large institution.

However, for some children, the stimulation and social structures of a mainstream school can be overwhelming. Furthermore, some public schools unfortunately lack the resources to provide all the support that some children may need.    

Charter schools for autism

If you feel that a mainstream education provided by a public school isn’t the best option for your child, then you may consider a charter school for autism. Charter schools receive government funding so are free to attend, but are independently run and usually based around a specific mission.

Therefore, these schools are able to provide a far greater range of support and services for children with ASD, such as ABA therapy and sensory rooms. However, children don’t get the benefit of interacting and building relationships with the broad range of peers that they would at a public school.  

Private schools for autism

Private schools for children with autism and other disabilities are similar to charter schools. However, the big difference is that these schools charge tuition fees. Also, these schools are not bound by the students’ rights discussed in the above section, so do not need to provide IEPs.

The support and services provided by these schools varies, as do their educational philosophies. Therefore, you should thoroughly research each of these schools, to evaluate if they’re a good fit for your child.

What to look for in a school  

Now you know your rights and your choices, you can begin evaluating individual schools for autism in NJ. Here are some of the important factors you need to consider:

  • The distance from your home. Decide the maximum daily travel time that you consider appropriate for your child and calculate what the radius would be. This should be the first filter you apply as you start your search.
  • Read online comments and reviews. Research what other parents have to say about the schools in your area on autism and parenting blogs and forums.
  • Visit each school during a regular school day. Arrange a visit to each school on your shortlist during a regular school day. Get a feel for the environment and culture and speak to the teacher your child might have, as well as the principle.
  • Question the staff on their approach to children with ASD. Ask how they handle specific behavior situations such as bullying, as well as examples of support they’re provided to other students.
  • Take your child with you during each visit. Observe how your child behaves and interactions in each school, to see which environment they respond to the best.
  • Inspect the facilities. Check what facilities each school has for children with special needs, such as a sensory room.

And remember, trust your gut

Ultimately, the school you choose has to feel right for you and your child, so just as when choosing an ABA therapist you have to trust your gut. Therefore, do your research, visit each school, read reviews and speak to other parents, but make your decision based on what feels right. If you follow this process you’ll choose the right autism school in NJ for your child. 

For more autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured images photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

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ABA Therapy Techniques You Can Use at Home

ABA therapy is often considered the “golden standard” of autism therapy. This is a scientific approach to therapy which is designed to improve specific behaviors and skills in many arenas in life, but is most notable for those with autism. When delivered in a professional setting, it’s overseen by a qualified expert known as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).       

However, while ABA therapy is a highly qualified field of therapy, this doesn’t mean that parents or other caregivers can’t apply ABA therapy techniques at home. So to help parents off on the right track, we’ve put together a quick list on how to do ABA therapy at home.

But just a quick note before we start. If you’re already working with an ABA therapist then they’ve no doubt already discussed ABA therapy techniques to use at home. In which case, discuss any changes you want to make or new ideas you have with your therapist first.

First off, what is ABA therapy?

Essentially, ABA therapy focuses on improving specific behaviors and skills in people with autism. This includes social skills, communication and domestic activities.

At a very high level, this is how the process works:

  • An ABA therapist identifies a needed skill
  • As the child engages in the desired skill or appropriate behavior they gain access to reinforcing items
  • Over time, this reinforcement encourages the child to continue engaging in the targeted skills 

ABA therapy in the home  

As you can see the purpose of ABA therapy is to improve skills and behavior. Therefore, ABA therapy techniques at home should focus on this objective. In which case, the techniques that are best for your child will depend on their individual circumstances. But here are some common exercises that many parents find useful and effective around the home. 

Sit in the chair

You can incorporate this into daily activities where your child is required to sit in a chair, such as meal times. Sit down and then ask your child to take a seat opposite you, facing your direction. Make it as fun and tactil as possible. Provide plenty of praise when this is achieved.

Look at me 

This is a good exercise to encourage your child to make and maintain eye contact with you. To do this, use a visual stimuli such as blowing bubbles from your mouth. This can also be incorporated with the above activity, once your child develops their ability to sit still in a chair.

Match the colors 

For this exercise, try and use objects around the home that your child is familiar with and recognises. Examples include toy cars, crayons or socks. Select one item and ask your child to match all the other items that are the same color. Start with colors that are the same shade. As your child develops their skills, incorporate different shades of each color into the activity.

Identify the emotions

This is a great activity for children that struggle with emotion regulation. Print out a range of emojis (such as a smiley, sad and angry face, etc), then place each one face down. Your child then picks up one at a time and has to identify the correct emotion. You can also use this activity to open up broader discussions around their own and other people’s emotions.

Sort household items

This activity requires illustrated boards and cards of rooms in the home and the typical items found in each room. You can find these in most toy stores or online. Your child needs to match each item with each room, which is a great way to build some early level life skills.

Identify the function

Again, this activity requires some materials, which you can either download and print out or buy. Here’s a good example of the type of cards you need for this. Your child then needs to use the context provided on each card, in order to choose the correct object for the function. This helps to develop both their functional skills and their vocabulary.         

Remember, positive reinforcement is vital 

Modern ABA therapy techniques are all about incorporating fun and stimulating activities into your child’s daily routines. But for the newly acquired skills and behaviours to stick, you need to use plenty of positive reinforcement. In practice, this can mean lots of different things, such as praise whenever an activity is performed correctly, or giving your child access to reinforcing items, such as favorite toys.

Ultimately, when using ABA therapy techniques at home, experiment with different activities, at different times of the day, with different family members. This will enable you to discover which activities are the most effective and when are the best times to do them. 

For more autism resources for families in New Jersey, visit our blog directory. Or if you would like to find out more about the ABA services we provide to children with autism, you can get in touch here.

Featured image photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

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What’s True Inclusion? By Guest Contributor Tim Rohrer

This article first was first published in The Source on July 5th 2019. 

People with disabilities have been given a lot more opportunities than ever before. They have the same opportunities in learning new talents, jobs, and education. But there is one opportunity that is missing for them. That opportunity is true inclusion and friendship.

People with disabilities had been stereotyped as anti-social. This is false! Not all people with disabilities are like that. A lot of them want to have healthy able friends in their lives who can look up to them and help them whenever they are struggling. Whether someone has a disability or not, being friends with neurotypical people is a right, not a privilege. People with disabilities complain about being left out from social activities such as texting, calling, going to the movie theater, going out to eat, hanging out at the beach and at parties. When people with disabilities complain about being left out from these social activities, it means that they may feel upset about their lives.

We have the option to participate in activities such as going to restaurants, movie theaters, and going to the beach alone. But doing these activities without friends is not fun. Telling excuses to leave someone with a disability out from fun activities is bad for their health.

Not giving people with disabilities the opportunity to hang out and keep in touch with the general population is not only boring for them, but it can also damage their communication skills, behavior, education, and employment. If it would hurt your feelings for people to restrict you from hanging out or keeping in touch with you, why would you do it to people who are different from you?

Many people mistake people with disabilities to be annoying. The behavior of people with disabilities does not mean they are trying to alienate us. It means that they want someone to make them feel better. Friendship and compassion are the most pleasant ways to make them feel better.

Including people with disabilities is more than just being an acquaintance with them and avoiding saying hurtful things to them. True inclusion of people with disabilities means allowing them to talk to you. It also takes compassion, common sense, and an open mind to talk to them. If you witness something different in someone, it means that they have a disability. The disability does not make them a bad person. Don’t always see people with disabilities with your eyes, see them with your heart!

The second ingredient to true inclusion is allowing them to keep in touch with you, whether it is through calling, texting, instant messaging, Face Timing, Snapchatting, or even through a video game server. If they talk in a different way than neurotypical people like the rest of us while keeping in touch with you, take the time and talk to them in their style. Be courteous not to ignore or block them when they want to talk to you.

The third ingredient is allowing them to do fun things with you or even your group of friends. You may meet someone with a disability at school, church, volunteer program, or at work. Talking to them just for when you see them there may be satisfying to them, but it will only satisfy them for a short amount of time. Talking to them in that concept only will make them sad or angry during their free time such as the weekend or summer break.

People with disabilities like going to restaurants, beaches, movie theaters, birthday parties, the bowling alley, and the mall as much as the rest of us. How would you feel if you were forbidden from going to these places? People with disabilities either go to these places alone under supervision by a guardian or they don’t go to these places at all. Imagine going to these places alone under supervision by an authorized guardian without any friends. Do you think people with disabilities would rather be with friends or with authorized guardians better? If we can start hanging out with people with disabilities by giving them the time to chat and have fun together, it would save time and money for parents, guardians, caregivers, and counselors.

Treat people with disabilities the same way you wish to be treated. Let’s educate our youth of how to socialize with the disabled. Similar to Best Buddies, we need to have more extracurricular activities and events that allow people with disabilities to hang out with the rest of us.

Whoever you are, enjoy your passion in sports, cheerleading, band, choir, theater, honors classes, art, computer graphics, video games, comedy, agriculture, or anything you dream of. But just remember this, if someone is lower than you, allow them to talk to you about your passions. For example, your passion in the choir can soothe them or your passion in honors classes can help them memorize things better.

Money can’t buy happiness, but true inclusion can! Remember to let your friendship with the disabled person follow up with them not only when you see them in the hallways, but during the weekends, holidays, and summer breaks too!

You can find out more information about Tim’s great work on his website Tips4Inclusion and on his Facebook page.

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