What Is PDA?

Do I have to do it now? The frustration is real when trying to get your child to do their chores, but it reaches a whole other level for children who suffer from pathological demand avoidance (PDA). Learn more about how PDA may affect your child.


What is PDA?

Many people who see children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refusing to do as they’re asked chalk it up to bad parenting or spoiled kids. The truth is that many children struggle because they are wired differently, requiring a shift in thinking and parenting to support them correctly. 

Pathological demand avoidance (PDA) is a common profile seen among individuals on the autism spectrum and involves avoiding everyday demands and using “social” strategies to do so. 

While PDA is a relatively new term, and there is still some debate as to its acceptance in the scientific community, it is slowly becoming more and more mainstream. Keep reading to delve deeper into its history.

History of PDA

PDA was initially described under a different moniker. Elizabeth Newson, a renowned psychologist and autism specialist believed that pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) is an umbrella term for a wide range of developmental disabilities, including PDA.

Recent advances in autism research, however, have led to the development of new diagnostic criteria. We now understand that what was previously known as pervasive developmental disorder is a spectrum – meaning a range of symptoms, experiences, and behaviors associated with autism. 

This made PDA increasingly recognized as a form of and sometimes a characteristic of autism. While not all people with autism have this profile, more and more researchers are coming to realize it is a valid component of the spectrum. 

This relationship was recently confirmed by a 2021 literature review concluding that five out of six people with PDA also had autism and confirmed that many symptoms were shared between pathological demand avoidance and ASD. 

Extreme demand avoidance (EDA) is an alternate term for pathological demand avoidance (PDA). Some individuals find the word ‘extreme’ more palatable than ‘pathological,’ so they have chosen this alternative. 


Features of a PDA profile

Autism is a complex and unique condition affecting each individual differently. Various aspects of a person’s strengths and difficulties combine to form an individual’s profile, making every person with autism unique in their own way. 

There are two key dimensions to examine when assessing  an autism profile:

  • The ability to relate socially
  • The need for sameness can initiate the creation of repetitive thoughts or behaviors

People with a PDA profile can seem quite socially savvy and have good communication skills, which can help them in many situations. However, this mask of social ability often hides the difficulty they experience when interpreting conversations or figuring out what is expected of them in different social contexts. 

We must remember this and recognize the challenges faced by those whose outwardly confident behavior may not reflect their inner experience. People with a demand-avoidant profile have particular traits that make them stand out, so let’s examine some of these defining symptoms.

Common characteristics of people with PDA

Children and adults on the spectrum who also struggle with PDA exhibit these similar symptoms:

  • Struggles with the everyday tasks of life, often using social tactics such as making excuses or trying to distract 
  • Appearing very sociable but sometimes lacking an understanding of certain concepts 
  • Quickly fluctuating moods and decisions
  • Feeling at ease when they act out scenarios or pretend to be someone else.
  • Displaying obsessive behavior – particularly when it comes to other individuals

Now that you know how to recognize signs of PDA, what now? We’re glad you asked; the next steps are to get your child assessed by an expert.

PDA and assessment

Getting an autism assessment for your child is important because it will help you understand what kind of help and support they need. PDA isn’t a diagnosis in itself, but an autism assessment can identify it. 

This usually requires a team of experts—like doctors, therapists, and psychologists—to look at the person’s behavior and other factors. They’ll work together to determine if PDA is part of the picture. At any given moment, you may have these people on your team:

  • Pediatricians
  • Clinical and educational psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Neurologist 
  • Special Education Teacher 
  • School administrators or educational advocate 
  • Physical therapist 
  • Social worker/Counselor

With all these experienced individuals on your team, you will surely get the answers you need for you and your child. The next step is learning how to manage PDA with different techniques.

Approaches and strategies

If you think your child might show signs of PDA, there are many things you can do to help connect with them and better manage the anxiety that drives their behaviors. Let’s take a look at strategies for you as a parent first.

Strategies for parents

It can be complicated when the strategies you may have heard work best with autistic children don’t seem to be having the same effect on your child, who also has pathological demand avoidance. It’s important to know that for kids with both diagnoses; these strategies may need adjusting to get the best results.

It can be challenging for parents of children with autism and PDA to fully understand why their child behaves the way they do. It’s important to remember that your child is not trying to oppose you deliberately – they are struggling with the need to have control over their environment. 

Proper support is essential for any parent raising a child with autism exhibiting signs of PDA. This kind of help and guidance can make a massive difference in helping your child build trust and self-confidence, enabling them to manage everyday demands better. Here are some practical suggestions:

Set clear boundaries and expectations. Parents need to develop consistent boundaries and expectations around behavior, as this can help children with PDA feel more secure in their environment. 

Use positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, rewards, encouragement, or recognition can reinforce desired behaviors in children with PDA. 

Validate their feelings. Take your child’s feelings seriously but don’t give in to all of their demands. Show empathy and compassion for their struggles, but also set boundaries. 

Let them lead. Allow your child to take the lead as much as possible – this will help reduce anxiety caused by feeling overwhelmed or pressured by expectations they can’t meet. 

Work together.  Create a plan that meets everyone’s needs while still reducing stress on both sides – this could include flexible deadlines, breaks throughout tasks, and a clear understanding of what is expected from each party involved. 

Encourage independence. Autonomy should be encouraged but not forced upon a child with PDA; instead, it should be done gradually through activities that allow the child to experience a sense of accomplishment and success.

With proper assistance, your child can feel more secure in their abilities and develop the skills needed to tackle anything life throws at them. But what about school support? We’re glad you asked!

Strategies for education

By ensuring your child gets tailored help that considers their specific needs, you can set them up for success in school. As a parent to a child with PDA, this may not always feel easy or straightforward. 

However, by recognizing their challenges and working with teachers with specialized knowledge in this area, you can ensure that your child is provided with an individualized approach. 

For their part in your child’s educational task force, teachers need to realize these students will likely not respond well to structure and routine, which may present a challenge in the classroom. 

Because of this, teachers need to be open to learning new techniques and constantly adjust teaching methods to find the right one for your child.  While this may require some trial and error on the teacher’s part, the reward will be reduced frustration for both the student and educator.

In these cases, teachers may find it more beneficial to try indirect negotiations with their students. Hence, the learners feel more ownership of their learning experience and less anxious about the situation. 

Here are some practical examples of strategies teachers can apply in the classroom to support their kiddos with special needs:

  • Establish clear and consistent rules and boundaries while remaining flexible to the student’s needs. 
  • Provide regular visual reminders of tasks and expectations. 
  • Offer choices when possible, such as selecting a seat or task order, so the student feels more in control of their environment. 
  • Allow extra processing time when needed before answering questions or responding to requests from others in the classroom. 
  • Create an environment free from loud noises, distractions, and other triggers for heightened anxiety levels – this will help reduce stress levels for those with PDA tendencies.

By using these approaches, educators can help ensure their students feel at ease while receiving the education they need. More importantly, you can trust your child will be cared for and supported in their learning environment.

Don’t avoid the effects of PDA

Pathological demand avoidance is yet another facet of autism that is difficult to recognize and understand and can affect people differently. By understanding what PDA is, how it affects your child’s behavior and development, and seeking guidance from medical professionals, parents can provide the support their kids need.

Most importantly, if you suspect your child may have PDA symptoms—trust your instincts! Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from an experienced healthcare provider specializing in autism-related issues so that you and your child can obtain the support you need.


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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Autism And OCD

OCD symptoms are often portrayed in Hollywood as cute or quirky, but the fact is they are anything but. When combined with autism, OCD can be complicated for parents to manage. Let’s explore how to best provide support for your child living with autism and OCD. 

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts or urges that cause distress, anxiety, and repetitive behaviors to reduce stress. OCD often co-occurs with other disorders, such as autism. 

While scientists have yet to determine the cause of OCD, they suspect a combination of biological and environmental factors may be at play.  In fact, studies have found that children diagnosed with autism are more likely to be diagnosed with OCD than those without autism. 

The two disorders share some overlapping symptoms, so let’s investigate.

Is OCD similar to autism?

When it comes to understanding the complexities of mental health, parents of children with autism often find themselves in uncharted waters. Autism and OCD are two different conditions that can often be confused due to their similarities in terms of behavior patterns.

A few of these common characteristics can include:

  • Repetitive behavior. Both OCD and autism can involve an individual engaging in repetitive behaviors, known as stimming, such as hand-washing, counting, and arranging objects. 
  • Social interaction difficulties. An individual with either autism or OCD may have difficulty communicating and interacting socially with others due to a lack of understanding of social cues or boundaries.
  • Rigid adherence to routines. Individuals on the spectrum may display a strong preference for sticking to rituals or schedules that provide comfort and predictability, while those with OCD might be prone to compulsions that must be completed for them to feel “right” inside their heads.

Let’s go one step further and divide these similarities into two categories of behaviors exhibited by both groups. 

Obsessions shared by people with autism and OCD

OCD and autism sufferers frequently have similar obsessions in these areas:

  • Aversion to contamination
  • Concerns about accidentally leaving the lights on or the doors unlocked
  • Fear of behaving in a shameful or degrading manner
  • Discomfort with the things in their environment being out of order
  • Health anxiety and hysteria
  • Excessive religious, guilt, shame, and purity-related thoughts

Often, due to the anxiety created by these obsessive behaviors or thoughts, people with autism or OCD will develop compulsive behavior to manage their stress load.


Compulsions shared by people with autism and OCD

Here are examples of a few of the common compulsions shared by these two groups of people:

  • Excessive washing of hands and cleaning
  • Repeatedly inspecting appliances, locks, and doors
  • Arranging and moving things
  • Rituals intended to prevent coming into contact with magical items
  • Chanting or praying to stop terrible things from happening
  • Hoarding

These shared symptoms clearly demonstrate there is more going on here with regard to the OCD-autism connection so let’s examine just how often a person is diagnosed with both disorders.

Co-occurrence of OCD and Autism

A recent study found that almost 1 in 5 children with autism also have obsessive compulsive disorder.  More research suggests that the number of people with both conditions is likely to be even higher, as some family members of those diagnosed with autism were found to be twice as likely to develop OCD later on. 

Similarly, members of families affected by OCD were four times more likely than average also to receive a diagnosis of autism later in life. 

Backing up these statistics is yet another research project in the UK that found that nearly half of adults being treated for OCD also had traits associated with autism. About one-quarter of these individuals even met the full criteria for an autism diagnosis. 

Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that a larger percentage of people with OCD may also have autism than previously thought. So the question remains, how do concerned parents tell if their child has OCD, autism, or both?

How to spot the difference

When it comes to your child’s autism, try to figure out why they might be doing certain repetitive behaviors. Ask yourself if the behavior is connected with any fear or anxiety that your child may have. 

If their behavior seems related to obsessive-compulsive disorder, then their compulsions will develop to manage their obsessions and alleviate their stress.

Because it is so common for children with autism also to have OCD, it’s a good idea to screen them for autism regularly. You can do this by using an Autism Quotient (AQ) test or another approved screening tool.  

By testing often, you will keep abreast of any changes in your child’s symptoms or diagnoses and get a jump on strategies and treatments they may need. Along with these written tests, remember to observe not only your child’s behavior but also the way they think.

Differences in information processing

To function daily, people must not only take in millions of bits of sensory information, but they must also be able to understand, organize, prioritize, act on and store that information. 

Children with autism tend to be bottom-up thinkers, while children with OCD tend to be top-down thinkers. Bottom-up thinking tends to focus on details, while top-down thinking focuses more on the big picture.

Another giveaway that your child has autism and not OCD is if they absorb visual stimuli better because that is how their brain processes information, rather than auditory stimuli. 

Additionally, children with autism tend to prefer consistency and structure in their environment so they know what to expect and can feel secure in the setting. On the other hand, children with OCD may struggle more with changes or surprises, even if it’s a positive change, due to the unpredictability of it all.


Consider the sensory profile

It is helpful for parents to develop a sensory profile for neurodivergent children. A sensory profile is a way of understanding how a person processes information from the environment. It can help parents better understand their child’s behavior and provide strategies to support them. 

Children with autism often have difficulty processing sensory information like sound, light, or touch. They may be over- or under-sensitive to certain types of input and may react differently than expected in response to certain stimuli. 

This difficulty with sensory processing can lead to problems with communication and social interaction, as well as difficulties in regulating emotions and managing stress levels.

In contrast, children with OCD tend to respond differently to certain types of input because they are overly sensitive or anxious. They may be more likely to become fixated on certain topics or rituals that they feel are important and have difficulty shifting away from them. 

It is also common for children with OCD to have difficulty controlling their emotions, often feeling overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings.

Assess for criteria A

The most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for autism provide a comprehensive and detailed approach to diagnosing autism spectrum disorder. 

Criteria A is a list of the core symptoms of autism, which involves difficulty with social communication and interaction. This includes deficits in nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and understanding of others’ perspectives. 

It also includes difficulties with initiating or sustaining conversations, responding to verbal cues appropriately, developing close relationships with peers, expressing empathy towards others’ feelings or experiences, and using appropriate social skills in different settings. 

By comparing your child’s observable behaviors, you can better understand whether they may have signs and symptoms of autism or OCD or both.

Differences between OCD and autism

OCD is characterized by recurring obsessions and compulsions that can take up a significant amount of time and interfere with daily life. Autism, on the other hand, does not typically involve obsessive or compulsive behavior. 

Obsessive thoughts in OCD usually last for more than an hour each day, while autistic behaviors may come and go quickly without impacting daily life significantly. 

Compulsions associated with OCD are often repeated behaviors that people do to reduce anxiety caused by their obsessions; however, this is not typical in autism cases. 

People with OCD tend to be aware of their behavior and its irrationality, while people with autism may not be aware of their behavior and its impact on others. 

People with OCD are typically more focused on feeling in control or avoiding potential harm, while those with autism may be more likely to engage in repetitive behaviors for sensory or other rewards.

Can you have both OCD and autism?

Yes, you can; in fact, both conditions have high comorbidity, which is just a fancy way of saying they often happen together. Research conducted in 2015 that studied 3.4 million people over 18 years in Denmark concluded that those with autism are more likely to be diagnosed with OCD than the general population. 

Additionally, the study showed that individuals with OCD are more likely to be diagnosed with autism further down the line. This important research provides insight into the potential connections between these two conditions and can help us better understand our children’s mental health needs if they have been diagnosed with either disorder.

A diagnosis is the first step

As parents, we are responsible for ensuring our neurodivergent children have the best quality of life possible. With an accurate diagnosis and professional support, we can provide them with the best opportunities for success in all areas of life. 

Taking the step to get a diagnosis can be daunting, but it is essential to getting your child the treatment and resources they need. If you suspect your child has autism, OCD, or both, don’t hesitate; seek out a professional today who understands autism and OCD so you can start giving yourself and your child the support you both deserve.

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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Signs of Nonverbal Autism in Children

Many children diagnosed with autism face challenges when it comes to speech and communication and up to 30% of children on the spectrum never develop spoken language. Keep reading to learn more about nonverbal autism, its early signs, and the ways ABA therapy can help improve your child’s communication skills.

What Is Nonverbal Autism?

A child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who doesn’t speak or has very limited use of verbal communication by the age of four is considered to have nonverbal autism. Some children with nonverbal autism may be able to use a few words or understand spoken language, however, they are typically unable to communicate in a meaningful way.


It is important to note that nonverbal autism is not a distinct diagnosis from autism spectrum disorder. Rather, it’s a term used for a subgroup of children with autism who never learn to speak more than a few words. Nonverbal autism tends to occur in what is known as severe or level 3 autism. 


Nonverbal autism is also sometimes called nonspeaking autism, referring to the fact that although these children don’t speak, they may still be able to use words in other ways, for example, in writing. 

Causes of nonverbal autism

There is currently no scientific explanation for nonverbal autism. Some recent studies suggest that nonverbal children may have deficits in the oscillations of gamma and theta waves in their brains when processing semantic information. In addition, some children with autism have a speech sound disorder known as childhood apraxia that affects their speech abilities. 

Until recently, it was assumed that children with nonverbal autism were intellectually disabled, given that their IQ scores were typically under 70. However, researchers believe that IQ tests are not reliable tools for measuring intellectual ability in children with autism, particularly when they are nonverbal and that the absence of communication doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of understanding.

Recognizing the Signs of Nonverbal Autism

The main symptom of nonverbal autism is the inability to speak clearly and without interference. 

Other early signs in young children include: 

  • Not meeting developmental milestones for language
  • Not responding to their name by 12 months old
  • Not babbling and laughing by 12 months old
  • Not pointing to objects by 14 months old
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Preferring to be alone
  • Speech and language regression
  • Not spontaneously initiating or responding to conversation
  • Using only a few words
  • Not speaking in complete sentences
  • Not relying on spoken language as a primary form of communication, for example, using sounds instead of words to communicate.

Other than the symptoms listed above, your child will also display common signs of autism, including:

  • Inability to understand social cues and gestures
  • Difficulty expressing emotions and understanding the emotions of others
  • Sensory challenges, such as feeling overwhelmed by bright lights, noise, or touch
  • Repetitive body movements like rocking, flapping, spinning, and running back and forth 
  • Ritualistic behaviors, such as lining up toys, or performing actions in a set order
  • Resistance to changes in routine
  • Narrow interests in specific topics like trains or animals.

How is nonverbal autism diagnosed?

Diagnosing a child with nonverbal autism is a challenging task, because there is often no clear distinction between children with different types of communication difficulties, such as:

  • Preverbal children who have not yet developed verbal language 
  • Nonverbal children who have no spoken language
  • Non-communicative children who lack verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

To get a confirmed diagnosis, physicians and therapists must perform a range of tests, including a physical examination, MRI and CT scans, blood tests, and hearing tests. These examinations allow the professionals to rule out any other developmental or physical disabilities that may impede the child’s speech. 

Furthermore, it may be necessary to use standardized assessment tools like the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS-3) and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2) for examining young children with severe language and speech delays.

When to see a professional

If you notice that your child is not meeting developmental language milestones, you may want to see a professional. 


For toddlers who don’t babble or speak, you should consult a therapist or a speech-language pathologist. They will conduct the required examinations and evaluations to identify if your child has nonverbal autism. 

For older children, you can check your child’s language development and speech with the help of a standardized vocabulary checklist, such as the Language Development Survey (LDS). This tool helps identify language delays in children ages 18-35 months based on their use of vocabulary and word combinations.

How ABA Therapy Can Help

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy is a common support intervention for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. With more than a 90% improvement rate, this is currently the most successful treatment for autism. 


ABA therapy works by breaking down the essential skills that a child needs to learn or improve into small, concrete steps. The child can then advance toward more significant changes in functioning and independence levels. 


ABA therapists use positive reinforcement in the form of rewards, praise, and other incentives.  In nonverbal children, rewards are used to encourage them to speak instead of letting them rely on non-verbal cues. For example, the child will receive reinforcement for every correct use of a word or sound. 


When the desired behavior is followed by a motivator, such as a special toy or activity, the child will be more likely to repeat the action. In most cases, this method leads to significant improvements in behavior.

ABA therapy and language skills

One of the most commonly used methods for improving communication skills in children with autism is discrete trial training. In this highly structured ABA technique, language skills are broken into smaller, easily taught components. For instance, the therapist may work with a child on pronouncing a specific sound or learning one color at a time. 


Other techniques ABA therapists may use are vocal imitation, labeling objects and actions, and manding, performed in a fun and rewarding environment that will help reduce the child’s avoidance and escape behaviors.


 ABA therapy effectively contributes to improving communication and language skills, such as:

  • Naming or describing items or actions
  • Requesting desired items
  • Using receptive language, for example, following instructions
  • Engaging in appropriate social communication with peers.

Sometimes, ABA therapy should be complemented by speech therapy to help your child communicate in the most functional way possible. Speech therapy will address issues typically occurring in children with autism, such as humming, speaking in a song-like way, echolalia, expressionless tone, robotic-toned speech, shrieking, and yelling.

Teaching alternative means of communication

For older nonverbal children with autism, ABA therapy may be an effective way to teach other means of communication, including: 

  • Sign language
  • Communication boards
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Augmentative communication devices (iPads and other technology)
  • Speech Generating Devices (SGDs).

Benefits of ABA therapy on speech development

Early-intervention ABA therapy is the only current treatment that can help nonspeaking children with autism to become verbal. Through intensive therapy, many children with extreme language delays can learn to speak. Statistics show that after intensive ABA treatment, 47% of children with nonverbal autism become fluent speakers, while around 70% learn to speak in simple sentences. 


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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What Is Autism Parent Training?

What Is Autism Parent Training?

Autism parent training is an essential component of ABA therapy. It allows families to gain the necessary knowledge about the diagnosis and help their children cope with daily challenges. Here’s what you can expect from training services for parents of children with autism. 

What Is Autism Parent Training?

Parent training is a key element of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy programs, where families affected by autism can learn relevant parenting skills and get tools to assist their children at home. 


By taking part in autism parent training, you will get the opportunity to: 

  • Obtain a better understanding of your child’s autism diagnosis and functioning
  • Encourage your child’s independence and self-sufficiency
  • Help promote their play, social, and communication skills
  • Learn how to solve daily problems that may arise and navigate different challenges
  • Acquire the necessary skills needed to avoid and manage your child’s disruptive behaviors 
  • Help your child cope with situations that don’t fit into their daily routine
  • Learn how to use praise and rewards to motivate your child
  • Discuss your child’s progress with the therapist and review the goals that have been set for them
  • Consult a professional if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s behavior and development 
  • Get recommendations about other treatments that might be beneficial for your child if there is little or no progress during a current therapy
  • Improve communication with your child
  • Advocate for the school system to use specific strategies that might help your child do better in school. 

Types of autism parent training

Autism parent training can be child-focused, where you learn how to directly deliver interventions to your child, and parent-focused, where you learn how to cope with the difficulties of having a child on the autism spectrum.


In addition, parent education programs are designed to provide information about common autism-related issues, such as sleep problems and emotional regulation, as well as available services and interventions. Your autism parent training may include some elements of parent education programs.

Training formats

Autism parent training can be implemented in an individual or group format. 


Individual training consists of regular, one-to-one meetings with a BCBA in the child’s home environment. It is available for families who require more intensive training for severe behaviors or who wish to follow an individualized training program based on their child’s specific needs. 


On the other hand, group training is a facilitated discussion that addresses the common issues that families of children with autism face. Small group parent training gathers families who have similar needs and challenges of raising a child with autism. An advantage of participating in this type of training is that the cost is split equally between the families, making it more affordable, while still allowing for individualized training.

Benefits of autism parent training

Regardless of its form, autism parent training has numerous benefits for both parents and children, such as:

  • Ensuring that the BCBA’s recommendations and treatment plans are the best fit for your child 
  • Teaching your child important skills at home, such as self-care and following daily routines
  • Improving your child’s communication, social, play, and other skills
  • Enhancing your child’s academic performance and success in school
  • Generalizing and maintaining learned skills in different settings, which is a key component of learning new behaviors
  • Navigating day-to-day life in an effective way
  • Reducing aggressive, self-harming, and antisocial behaviors
  • Potentially reducing the need for prescribed medications
  • Reducing parental stress
  • Creating a positive environment where your child can meet his or her full potential
  • Improving your child’s overall quality of life and well-being.

What Topics Are Discussed by Autism Parent Training?

As part of parent training, you will get the chance to discuss a number of important topics with your BCBA, including:

  • The fundamentals of ABA therapy
  • Your expectations when it comes to your child’s independence and social skills
  • Challenges of parenting a child diagnosed with autism
  • Limit setting and behavior management
  • Solving day-to-day problems
  • Addressing negative behaviors
  • Enhancing the use of proper coping skills
  • Using the most effective ways to administer rewards
  • Developing and maintaining communication, social, and play skills
  • Improving self-help skills and independence.


Continue reading to learn more about how autism parent training works and when you should consider joining a training program. 

How Does Parent Training for Autism Work?

During the initial parent training session, the BCBA will determine the frequency and duration of the training. You will also agree on the expectations, goals, and priorities. For example, you might be required to implement some parts of treatment on your own at home or complete assigned homework. 


Furthermore, the therapist will review ABA strategies that have been shown to help children with autism and that have been personalized to suit your child’s needs. These strategies usually focus on preventing challenging behaviors, deciding how to react when they occur, and finding the best ways to promote positive behaviors. In addition, you will get the opportunity to discuss with the ABA provider the assessments that provide information about your child’s skill levels and cognitive capabilities. 


Parent training typically includes a limited number of behaviors that either occur often, make the most significant impact, or whose replacement would have a positive influence on the child’s quality of life. Although all parents of children with autism can benefit from learning the basic principles of ABA treatment, every family requires learning a different set of skills, depending on the needs and functional level of the child. 

When Should You Consider an Autism Parent Training Program? 

Parent training is highly beneficial for everyone who has a child with autism spectrum disorder. The effectiveness of autism treatment has been shown to be positively impacted by the participation and involvement of parents and other family members. 


Autism parent training can be useful even if your child is not receiving individual ABA therapy services. It will allow you to obtain invaluable guidance and support from a behavior analyst, which may result in meaningful change for your child.


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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Autism and Vision Issues

If your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you might have many questions about the next steps. One common concern among parents of children with ASD is whether or not their child will have vision problems. Here’s what you need to know about ASD and vision issues.


What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects a patient’s social skills, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 44 children in the United States are diagnosed with ASD.

Currently, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not children with ASD are more likely to experience vision problems. However, some research suggests that there might be a correlation between the two.


Vision Problems for Children With Autism

A study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology found that children with ASD were more likely to have a higher incidence of refractive error, strabismus, and amblyopia.

While the exact cause of this correlation is unknown, it’s possible that ASD and vision issues could be linked because both involve difficulties with processing visual information.

If you’re concerned about your child’s vision, it’s important to talk to your doctor so they can perform a comprehensive eye exam.

There are a few vision issues that are common in children with ASD. These include:


Coordinating Peripheral and Central Vision

Peripheral and central vision problems make it difficult for patients with ASD to keep their eyes on an object. A person with ASD may gaze over to the side rather than keep their eyes fixed on an object.


Eye Movement Disorders

Patients with ASD are frequently diagnosed with eye movement disorders like “strabismus” or crossed eyes. This is when the patient’s eyes are not correctly aligned. One eye may point upward or downward while the other points to either side.


Visual Defensiveness

People with ASD can have different Sensory Processing Needs (SPN). This means they might be over or under-sensitive to certain sights, sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and movements.

Because of this, people with ASD might not like certain types of clothes or foods because of how they feel. They might also cover their ears because certain sounds bother them.

People with ASD can also be visually defensive, meaning they can be oversensitive to visual stimuli. This makes it difficult for them to establish eye contact, which results in constant eye movement and scanning for visual information.


Spatial Visual Processing Problems

People on the spectrum may also experience spatial visual processing problems. This causes the patient to focus solely on particulars and persist on recurrent visual actions.

Since children with ASD often have difficulty communicating, it can be difficult to know if they are experiencing problems with their vision. Here are some symptoms to be aware of when watching for vision problems in children with autism.


Symptoms of Vision Problems in Children With Autism

Parents should be aware of the following signs that may indicate their child needs an eye exam:

  • Visual stimming
  • Extreme fear of heights or absence of appropriate fear of heights
  • Hypersensitivity to bright lights or patterns
  • Lazy eye
  • Rolling eyes
  • Looking beyond or through objects
  • Side viewing


Effects of Vision Problems

Because of vision problems, children with autism may also experience difficulties making or maintaining eye contact. They may also participate in visual stimming more often.

Autism spectrum disorder affects visual processing in children. This can cause a child to fixate on the particulars of a certain situation and persist in recurrent actions. Vision problems in children can also affect balance and posture. This may be due to the interruption it causes to a child’s spatial visual process.

This is why children with ASD frequently move their weight forward, putting more load on their toes. As a result, the child may experience tripping and falling or acquire a propensity for “toe-walking.”

If you suspect your child has vision problems, here are some visual evaluations you can ask your doctor to perform on your child.


Visual Evaluations for Children With Autism

The type of visual evaluation necessary to assess your child with ASD will vary, depending on their emotional and physical development. Generally, the patient is asked to perform several tasks while using special lenses during the test.

For instance, the patient may be asked to sit, stand, walk, throw, and catch—among other activities chosen by the administering physician. Observations of their postural adjustments and compensations will be taken by the doctor or an assisting nurse.

Moreover, these visual evaluations will help experts determine if your child has binocular vision, eye teaming problems, and other eye movement disorders. For instance,  a binocular vision problem could manifest through headaches, eye strain, or double or blurry vision.

These examinations aid in figuring out how patients with ASD process visual information. It also helps in determining the best form of treatment.



If your child has a vision problem, there are many treatment options available. For example, glasses or contact lenses can help correct refractive errors. Your child’s doctor may recommend patching the stronger eye in order to force the weaker eye to work harder.


Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is one of the most successful treatments for patients with ASD and visual issues. Its goal is to strengthen the neurological connections between the brain and eyes, ultimately enhancing a patient’s visual skills.

Therapy programs are tailored to fit specific patient needs, such as age-appropriate activities and exercise.

Here are some common vision therapy goals for children with ASD:

  • Stabilize peripheral vision
  • Enhance central vision
  • Strengthen eye coordination
  • Organize visual-spatial processing
  • Boost visual information processing


Prism Lenses

Children with ASD and vision issues can also lead more productive lives with the help of prism lenses. When worn daily, special lenses can effectively improve a patient’s balance, posture, and concentration. It can also boost their sense of comfort and physical safety in their environment by reducing sensory overload and anxiety.


The Bottom Line

If you suspect your child with autism may have vision issues, it is important to get them assessed by a professional. Ask your child’s doctor for advice on the best course of action.

There are many treatments available that can help make life easier for your little one. Vision therapy and prism glasses are treatments that can help children with autism adjust to daily life.


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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Joint Attention Autism

“I don’t have any friends.” When you hear your child with autism say these words after confessing their loneliness from a lack of friends, it shatters your heart. Don’t lose hope. Read on to understand joint attention in autism and learn strategies to help your children better connect with others. 

What is joint attention?

Have you ever wanted to share something with a friend? Maybe it was a new purchase or that Netflix show that just dropped. Joint attention is your ability to share your interest with your friend and have them understand that you are both focused on that specific object or area. 

Joint engagement is a critical skill for people with autism to learn because it helps them connect better with the world around them and understand what interests others have. 

People with ASD that have not developed the building blocks for joint attention often struggle with communication, language development, and social relationships. The excellent news is that joint attention can be learned. Let’s further define what joint attention is by looking at some examples.

Examples of joint attention?

Wherever you look in social settings, you can find examples of joint attention. Some examples of this critical skill are:

  • Two people looking in the same direction and discussing what they see 
  • Two friends pointing at something and then sharing their responses 
  • One person engaging another by pointing out an object or activity or offering a toy or item to share

Two people can establish intentional joint engagement in one of two ways. Let’s take a look.

How can joint attention occur?

Joint attention doesn’t just happen by itself; it must be initiated between two people by: 

Initiating joint attention

To mutually agree to focus on the same thing, children can invite one another through:

  • Eye contact. One child looks at the other person, and the other responds by looking back.
  • Gestures. A child can point or wave to initiate joint attention between two people. 
  • Verbal communication. Using words to indicate what one is interested in or wants to share with another person is a way to initiate joint attention and understand each other better. 

Once these three elements of initiating joint engagement are established, it’s essential for both people involved in a conversation or activity to keep their focus on the same thing for an extended period.

Extending the invitation to observe the same thing simultaneously is only half the battle. The invitee must also indicate their acceptance of this request.

Responding to Joint Attention

A response is necessary for joint engagement to occur. A child must be able to recognize their friend’s efforts to get their attention and agree to participate in the activity. People can acknowledge their wish to focus on the object or area using the three methods listed above: eye contact, gestures, or verbal communication.

So what exactly makes the ability to initiate or respond to joint attention so important?

Why is joint attention important?

Joint attention is the foundation that many other cognitive and social skills are based on, such as: 

  • Understanding and participating in conversations 
  • Recognizing and responding to facial expressions 
  • Interacting with peers, family members, and other people 
  • Learning new concepts such as counting or shapes

Joint attention is a vital part of early development that allows children to connect with their environment. It also helps them understand what other people are doing, which can be especially important for individuals with ASD. 

In order for someone on the autism spectrum to fully participate in social interactions, they need to be able to direct and sustain their focus on an object or activity while attending to the same thing as another person.

So, we know that mutual engagement is a critical skill for children to learn and is especially vital for children on the spectrum. The next question is, how can we teach joint attention to our kids? The first step is to break down the skills required to learn it.

Skills needed for joint attention

For shared focus to occur, both people must possess these skills:

  • Orientation and attending. Orientation refers to the ability of a child to look towards another person or object that has drawn their interest or curiosity, such as when someone points at something they want the child to look at. Attending is when an individual focuses on something they are looking at, such as an object or another person’s face.
  • Ability to shift their gaze. When two people mutually engage, they usually shift their gaze between each other and whatever object of interest they share. This gaze shifting helps them stay focused on the same topic and allows them to exchange information about it. 
  • Conveying emotional state. One essential aspect of joint attention is being able to read non-verbal cues from others to interpret their emotional states. For example, if someone else is feeling excited and wants to share that excitement with you, they may smile or make eye contact. Understanding these non-verbal cues is an integral part of joint focus.
  • Following the gaze and point of another. To focus on something with another person, you must be able to follow their eyes and their gestures as they point to the object of interest. 

All these skills come together to enable a person to direct another person’s focus to a thing or event for the sole intent of sharing the experience. Without these subsets of skills, joint attention is not possible.

How to encourage joint attention

There are many ways you can help your child with ASD in their efforts to create a social connection with others. Here are a few:

Help them focus on faces and develop eye contact

Eye contact is the socially acceptable behavior for people to engage with each other. By looking at someone during a conversation, you can pick up many social cues and understand the conversation more clearly. 

Making eye contact can be uncomfortable for kids on the spectrum, so if you have a therapist, ask them if this is a reasonable goal.

Play games involving turn taking

Through these games and practices, kids can increase their communication skills by learning when taking turns talking or participating in activities is appropriate. They also learn to recognize cues from others that indicate it is their turn and offer cues themselves when they would like another’s turn.

As with any type of training, start small, with short sessions, then increase the time for the games or activities when your child seems comfortable.

Do mutual activities

By completing a puzzle or role-playing with their LOL dolls, you can help your child learn to pay attention to and interact with their environment. It also helps them understand how to share an experience with another person and become more engaged in meaningful conversations. 


Practice shifting attention

Make a regular practice of asking your child to shuttle their attention from whatever they are doing to what you are doing or what you have, then back. We know it’s another task to add to your already long list of extra things your child needs, but we guarantee it will pay off in the long run.

Cartoon it up

If you’re having trouble getting your child to focus on you, try going the extra mile with funny voices, animated facial expressions, or dramatic gestures. Not only will it help gain their attention, but it will give you both a much-needed giggle!

Common milestones are opportunities

Use everyday actions such as tying your shoes or bubble blowing to work on your kiddo’s ability to focus on what you’d like to focus on and shift their attention from you to the task and back.

You can also incorporate attentional practice into your child’s daily activities, like hair brushing, getting dressed, or brushing their teeth.

Follow their lead

Believe it or not, your child is listening to you. We know sometimes it feels like they aren’t, but we promise it’s true. A 2014 study found that the more receptive parents were to interactions, the more often their children initiated those reactions.

There were a few stipulations that had to be met for this to happen, though:

  • Let your child pick what they want to do
  • Make sure you respond to your kid’s signals
  • Don’t take charge (I know, this is a hard one for parents)
  • Keep it easy, breezy, lemon squeezy (in other words, be positive and make it super fun)

Follow these rules, then follow your child’s lead. If you notice they seem engaged with an object, copy their behavior and actions and make enthusiastic comments.

Heap praise on them

This should go without saying, but notice when your child with ASD initiates or responds to invitations for engagement. The type of praise matters; be specific about what you are happy about, such as “ great job building that tower out of those blocks!”

Now that you know how to encourage joint attention, here are some great ideas to promote it. 

Play activities that promote joint attention

Any fun, safe play activity and ABA therapy can be an opportunity to develop mutual engagement skills. Of course, anything to do with your child’s special subject of interest is likely to draw the most enthusiasm, but here are some other ideas:

  • Rolling a ball or car
  • Tossing a bean bag or ball back and forth
  • Rolling objects back and forth inside a cardboard tray or box
  • Hanging a ball on an elastic and batting it to and fro
  • Play hockey by using straws to blow feathers or ping-pong balls back and forth
  • Bang away at a keyboard with your child (actual music is optional)
  • Sing action songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
  • Hold hands and dance to your child’s favorite songs
  • Play the parachute game by using a sheet or blanket and rocking or bouncing toys, teddy bears, dolls, or balls inside it
  • Play tug of war (always advisable to let them win at first)

We’re sure you can come up with many more ideas! The most important thing to remember is you can help your child with ASD develop better joint attention skills through simple play and practice. We know you’ve got this, mama! (or dada)

Time to pay attention to joint attention

Mutual engagement is a vital part of social development for children with ASD and can be developed through simple activities. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, remember that even though nurturing joint attention takes a little extra patience and dedication, the rewards are well worth it. 

 With support from family, friends, educators, and healthcare professionals, we know you can build positive relationships with your child with autism while creating an environment that promotes healthy growth and development for the entire family.

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support group
Autism Support Groups in Indiana

As a family member of a child (or adult) with autism, support groups can be one of your most important resources in navigating certain ups and downs. Autism support groups can help you learn better communication strategies, find a group of peers and they can be helpful for individuals with autism as well.

Here’s how to find the best autism support groups in Indiana for you or your family.

Cass County Autism Support Group 

The Cass County Autism Support group meets in Logansport, IN and was developed to help bring awareness to children with autism and provide support for their families.

This local support group meets the second Thursday of every month at Lifegate Church in Logansport, Indiana. These meetings take place at 6:00 PM. Those interested in this support group can reach out to [email protected] or by calling 800-608-8449 ext. 909.


V.E.N.T. is an organization that stands for:

Voicing your story

Exploring new options

Networking with peers

Tips and techniques

This support group was developed as an opportunity for families to connect with one another as they share their experiences, stories and struggles. The goal is to bring parents together to share tips while exploring new options and resources.

This support group meets every month at different days and at different locations, but meetings stay in the northwestern area of the state. Those interested in this support group can reach out to [email protected], or families call 800-609-8449 ext. 101.

ASI Clinton County Support Group

The ASI Clinton County Support Group is available to provide resources for those in Clinton County, Indiana and has an active support group that meets regularly in varying locations. This support group is a branch of the Autism Society of Indiana and not only have regular discussions but other sensory-friendly events for children with autism.

For more information on this support group, or access to their virtual community, visit the ASI Clinton County Support Group Facebook page.

Turnstone Parent Support Group

The support group is specifically catered to parents of children with autism. This group meets in Fort Wayne, IN. You can contact this support group and learn more about the types of resources they offer. Turnstone has support group meetings the third Wednesday of every month and offers families with members on the autism spectrum with a sense of community.

You can call 260-483-2100 ext. 253 or email [email protected] to learn more about this support group and determine if Turnstone is the right option for you.

Empower Encourage Enjoy the Autism Spectrum

Empower Encourage Enjoy the Autism Spectrum isn’t just a group with a positive name that encourages finding the brighter side of having a loved one with autism spectrum disorder. This organization has group meetings that encourage parents to share their experiences and provide a welcoming environment for parents and other caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorders so they can get the type of positive support they need.

This group is based out of Allen County and offers both simultaneous in-person and online meeting opportunities for families. They are currently the longest-running support group in the area. You can contact the organizers of this support group by calling 260-637-4409 or by emailing [email protected] for more information.

Autism Society of America, Indiana Chapter

The Autism Society of America is one of the largest nonprofits of its kind and has chapters throughout the country. This includes their Indiana chapter. In addition to providing local families with resources, the Indiana chapter of this organization also has support groups available for individuals with autism and heir families.

As one of the largest organizations of its kind, this organization not only offers support groups, but other resources for individuals and their families as well as in-person events designed to bring children together and offer enriching opportunities for children with autism spectrum disorder. You can find out more about these support groups by emailing [email protected] or visiting https://www.autismsocietyofindiana.org/.

ABA Parent

This Indiana-based support group gets it name from the popular and effective ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy treatment used to help children with autism learn new skill and behaviors. This private group is for parents and guardians who need or who are interested in ABA therapy so that they may come together and get the support that they need while building a community of felly parents.

More information on this group can be found through the organization’s Facebook page.

Indiana Biomedical Kids

Indiana Biomedical Kids is an organization designed to help enrich the lives of children with autism. They also have support groups available. Hi group is part of the National Autism Association of Northwestern Indiana—a group that is dedicated to bringing hope, support and information to families with children on the autism spectrum. 

You can contact this group by emailing either [email protected] or [email protected].

Families of Autism Coming Together

As the name suggests, this group is all about bringing families together. Families of Autism Coming Together is based out of Whitley County. This is a private, members-only group of parents who get together regularly to offer support and to share important information with one another.

You can contact the leaders of this organization to learn more about their support groups by contacting [email protected] or [email protected]


Based out of Elkhart, IN, the organization known as The VOICE is all about bringing a voice to individuals with autism. This organization not only has a support group but they host other events and get-togethers throughout the area to help enrich the lives of the many families in this part of Indiana who have family members on the autism spectrum.

In addition to their outreach efforts, this organization also has a support group. You can learn more about this group by emailing [email protected] or calling 574-294-6197 ext. 5.

With this comprehensive list of autism support groups in place, there is no better time to get out and start finding the right autism support group for you and your family. No matter what your current situation is, there are Indiana based support groups available that can provide the right supportive community for those who need their services most.  


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in Indiana, give us a call at (317) 406-0072. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.


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Autism Resources In Indiana

For family members of an individual with autism, finding the right resources for their loved ones can be a challenge. If you live in Indiana, you will find the state has numerous resources available for families, including access to information, legal insight, support groups and more. Here’s what to know about accessing autism resources in this state.

Autism Resources

Finding autism resources can seem overwhelming, but there are several state-wide resources that every family living with an individual with autism should know about.

Autism Society of Indiana

The Autism Society of Indiana (ASI) was established to help individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families by improving their lives and putting them in front of important resources. The mission of this organization is to make sure that every family in Indiana receives the high-quality services they deserve.

Their goal is to make sure that their services are readily available across the entire state of Indiana, not only today but over the next five years. This organization offers:

  • Individual and family support groups
  • Direct care services
  • Access to career services for individuals with autism
  • Online resources and information
  • Access to doctors for an official diagnosis
  • And more!

The ASI exists to ensure every family in the state is getting the affordable and accessible support and services they deserve.

Indiana Resource Center for Autism

The Indiana Resource Center (IRCA) works on behalf of individuals across the autism spectrum. This organization works to provide a number of resources for individuals living throughout the state of Indiana.

These resources include free family webinars, comprehensive programming for students across the autism spectrum, and access to workshops by nationally recognized professionals. This organization also offers individual consultations and school district support for public schools around the state.

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) is an organization dedicated to helping individuals in Indiana live productive, safe and healthy lives. This health care and social service agency.

As part of this state-wide organization, individuals with autism and their families can get access to home and community-based services as well as necessary healthcare. This organization places particular emphasis on individuals who need financial assistance as well.  

Legal Services

There are disability legal services available throughout the state of Indiana, designed to help individuals with autism and their families with important resources.


The Disability Legal Services of Indiana, Inc. (DLSI), is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free and low-cost legal services to children and adults with disabilities, with a primary focus on education. This organization provides legal consultation and representation when it comes to special education services and individual education plans.

This organization empowers children with disabilities in the area with low-cost or no-cost legal advocacy to ensure access to proper educational resources.

Nursing Home Abuse Guide

The state of Indiana also has legal services available to protect individuals with disabilities and potential nursing home abuse. While many residents in long-term care facilities are well-cared for, nursing home abuse is a serious problem in the United States today. The state is taking charge of making sure that any individual with disabilities, including those with autism, are legally protected against this type of abuse.

Nursing home or caregiver abuse should never be tolerated, and this organization helps families look for the signs this abuse so that they know who to contact to ensure their loved one has the protection they deserve.

ABA Therapy

In addition to some of these non-profit organizations and state-sponsored services, individuals in Indiana can access what is known as ABA therapy. Also known as Applied Behavior Analysis, this is one of the most common types of treatments available for individuals on the autism spectrum.

This type of therapy is available throughout treatment centers in Indiana and it is effective because it is based on learning and behavior modifications and can be highly individualized. Aba therapy should be administered under the discretion of a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. By using services such as Golden Care Therapy, families can actually get in-home care so that their children can live happy, independent and fulfilling lives.

ABA therapy covers:

ABA therapy can be the key for many children to start living independently and these programs can also help family members and loved ones as well. This comprehensive approach is covered by many insurance companies and is a valuable resource for many families not only in Indiana but across the world.

With this information, any individual living in Indiana can start finding the quality autism support and care that they need. No one dealing with autism should have to feel like they are alone, which is why these programs are available throughout the state.

 No matter what your current situation is, there are resources available, you just need to know where to turn in order to get the autism support you’ve been looking for.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in Indiana, give us a call at (317) 406-0072. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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Is Autism Genetic?

 There are more children than ever being diagnosed with autism today. However, while this condition is common, there are still a lot of questions surrounding autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including whether or not autism is genetic.

Here’s what to know about this neurodevelopmental condition and what may or may not cause it.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism, is a neurodevelopmental condition that impacts how a person learns, communicates and interacts with others. Autism is truly a spectrum and different individuals may be impacted by this condition differently.

The term actually refers to a broad range of conditions all characterized by challenges with repetitive behaviors, social skills, speech and nonverbal communication patterns. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States today, 1 in 44 children are impacted by autism spectrum disorder.

There isn’t one type of autism, but many types and subtypes. Because of the variability of autism, individuals with this disorder are each going to have different sets of strengths and challenges. The way that individuals with autism learn and problem-solve can vary greatly depending on the individual. People with ASD can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some individuals with autism do not need any intervention to live their everyday lives, while others may need significant support in their day-to-day lives.

Why Are Some of the Indicators of Autism in a Child?

Since autism can impact different children differently, it isn’t always so cut and dry when determining whether or not a child has ASD. This is billed as a “developmental disorder” because some symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life, and typically by age three at the latest. Some developmental delays associated with autism may appear as early as 18 months, but there are some children on the spectrum whose symptoms don’t fully materialize until they are in a classroom setting.

Here are some of the most notable indicators of autism in a child.

  • Loss of communication skills
  • Language development delays
  • Repetitive actions including flapping arms and spinning
  •  Avoiding affection
  • Lack of eye contact
  • No or limited facial expressions
  • Intense reaction to sound, smell, taste or light
  • Preference to play alone instead of with others
  • Inability to function in school or other areas of life
  • Difficulty interacting with others
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  •  Anxiety, stress or excessive worry
  • Unusual mood or emotional responses
  • Having lasting, intense interest in specific topics or facts
  • Being overly focused on certain interests
  • Repeating words or phrases
  • Being more sensitive or less sensitive to sensory inputs like  sound, clothing or temperatures

Parents who notice signs and signals like this, should take their child to a specialist for more information and a formal diagnosis. The diagnosis process includes feedback from caregivers, medical examinations, assessments and observations and may also include blood tests or hearing tests as well.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive some type of formal screening for autism. Research shows that early intervention is one of the best ways to have a better positive outcome later on in life for people living with autism.

Is Autism Genetic?

There are a lot of questions surrounding autism and why certain individuals are diagnosed with this condition. One of the biggest questions parents tend to have is, “Is autism genetic?”

Due to autism’s complex nature and the myriad of symptoms surrounding this disorder, it is likely that ASD has many different causes and that it isn’t just genetic. Researchers have determined that both genetics and environment likely play a role in autism.

However, keep in mind that geneticists believe that there are several different genes involved in autism spectrum disorder. In fact, they believe that up to 80% of the risk of developing autism all comes down to genetic factors.

The risk from gene mutations, in addition to environmental risk factors come together to determine the likelihood of a child developing ASD. So, in addition to paying attention to genetics, it’s also important to look at some of the increased risks that may impact a child’s likelihood to develop autism.

Increased Risks That Your Child Will Have Autism


There has been a lot of research on autism and what may cause this developmental disorder. While there is still a lot to learn, medical professionals have made great strides in better understanding autism. Experts have come to find there are several risks that a child will have autism, including the following:

  • Premature birth before 26 weeks
  • Advanced age of either parent
  • Low birth weight
  • Disorders such as fragile X syndrome or Rett syndrome
  • Genetic conditions such as down syndrome
  • Siblings with ASD
  • Pregnancies spaced less than one year apart
  • Heavy metal and environmental toxin exposure
  • Poor nutrition during pregnancy
  • Lack of folic acid during pregnancy
  • Diabetes, obesity or preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Family history of autism

These risk factors can make it more likely for a baby to eventually develop ASD, although these are not necessarily absolutes. Since a lot of these factors have to do with pregnancy, many women want to know if they can detect autism during their pregnancy.

Can Autism Be Detected During Pregnancy?

Since no single cause for autism has yet to be determined, it can be very difficult to screen for autism spectrum disorder when a woman is pregnant. Of course, by keeping the aforementioned factors in mind, women can do their best to stay as healthy as possible during their pregnancy and be aware of different risk factors for autism, so that they can get a proper diagnosis, should they see some of the signs and signals of autism when their child gets older.

While experts still have a lot of questions surrounding autism and genetics, the good news is, there have been many advancements in different therapies that can be used for kids and adults like those who struggle with ASD.


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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Nonverbal Autism

Contrary to popular belief, nonverbal autism is not exactly a type of autism. It’s a term used to describe patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who don’t know how to communicate verbally. This article dives deeply into what nonverbal autism is, what parents can do to help their children, and more. 


What Is Nonverbal Autism?

Nonverbal autism is a term used to describe patients on the spectrum who cannot communicate verbally. This symptom often occurs in people with severe or level 3 autism.

 Children with level 3 autism have trouble expressing their needs verbally and nonverbally. They have quite a limited ability to talk. When they do speak, their words may be slurred and awkward. As a result, they may struggle to interact socially and form lasting bonds with peers. 

Having nonverbal autism doesn’t necessarily mean that your child may never learn to speak. However, it will take time and treatment to get your child to a level where they can communicate well.


What Percentage of Autism Is Nonverbal?

It’s not uncommon for patients with autism to struggle with communication or speech delays. Some patients may get by with minimal professional assistance. Others may need more support than their more functional counterparts. 

About 1 in 44 children in the US alone are diagnosed with ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An estimated 25% to 30% of these children are either minimally verbal or never develop functional speaking skills. These patients speak no more than 30 or fewer words – if at all.

 Below are some signs that a child with autism may be nonverbal.


Signs That Your Child Will Be Nonverbal

A few common signs that your child may have nonverbal autism include the following:


  • He or she didn’t mumble or make noises as a baby.
  •  He or she avoids eye contact.
  • He or she doesn’t use gestures or communicate in other nonverbal methods.
  • He or she doesn’t respond when spoken to or when their name is being called.
  •  He or she doesn’t use body language to express themselves.


Nonverbal autism isn’t so easy to identify in a patient with ASD. It’s normal for patients with ASD to struggle to communicate using conventional techniques. There’s also a possibility that your child could just be in the preverbal stage of their development – the level at which verbal language development takes place. 

A doctor may interview your child to determine their verbal state. Parents, guardians, and teachers may also help in the process by providing the doctor with insight into the patient’s language history.


How Can a Nonverbal Child Learn To Communicate?

 Raising a child with nonverbal autism can be twice as challenging. Fortunately, there are alternative ways for children with nonverbal autism to communicate their needs to their parents.

A few examples include American Sign Language (ASL), picture cards, and mobile or digital tools. 

Here’s a list of methods and techniques parents can use to help their children communicate.


Functional Communication Training (FCT)


Functional Communication Training is a treatment designed for children with nonverbal autism. It teaches children on the spectrum to find alternative ways of communicating their needs. By identifying the underlying purpose of challenging behaviors in children with ASD, FCT can help patients learn new ways of communicating that require less effort.

 For instance, your child might be upset about his favorite cereal running out but doesn’t know how to communicate his feelings. FCT can help the child learn how to ask for more cereal, either by using gestures or communication aids like flash cards or digital devices.


Encourage Play and Social Interaction 

Playing with your child provides them with various opportunities to learn and have fun. It can help them learn languages more effectively. Plus, it offers a great avenue for your child to learn how to communicate.

 Start by playing a variety of games if you don’t know what your child already likes. A few examples include singing nursery rhymes, playing dress up, or just spending some time outdoors.


Simplify Your Language

Children with autism can’t process words and phrases as fast as their typical counterparts. Simplifying your language makes it easier for your child to understand you. It also puts them in a position where they can easily imitate your words. 

Parents of nonverbal children should speak mostly using single words. Slowly increase the word count as your child gets accustomed to your speech.


Imitate Them

 Imitating your child’s speech and actions may encourage them to vocalize and interact more. Don’t worry about feeling awkward or even embarrassed the first few times you try to imitate your child.

Soon enough, you may notice your child will start to copy your actions and speech too. You can take turns copying each other’s sounds and movements.


Use Assistive Technologies and Visual Supports

 Assistive devices and visual supports can help children with autism develop functional verbal skills. Pictures and flashcards are types of visual support that can help children with ASD learn about language. 

Additionally, software and apps that teach children how to pronounce and spell words can also help children with autism develop speaking skills.


ABA Therapy and Nonverbal Autism: How It Can Help

Parents may feel disheartened or overwhelmed when they first learn that their child has nonverbal autism. After all, every parent only wants what’s best for their children. 

The good news is that the autism level that your child is initially diagnosed with is not a life sentence. Children with autism can improve their communication functions with the right assistance from evidence-based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

Developmental delays in language and nonverbal communication are common among children with autism. ABA helps children on the spectrum work through their developmental issues using scientifically proven therapeutic techniques.

This therapy is based on the use of rewards to reinforce desired behavior. It encourages nonverbal children to speak rather than relying on nonverbal cues.

Consider ABA therapy as an alternative option to help your children develop better communication skills. Check for available facilities in your area and select one that fits your and your child’s needs.


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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