The Autism category compiles any blog related to Autism on the North Shore Pediatric Therapy website.  The blogs in this category are meant to help educate, inform and encourage parents of children with Autism. Readers will learn about Applied Behavior Analysis, Autism-friendly activities, school, appropriate toys, red flags, special needs lawyers, financial planning, multidisciplinary treatment options and more. If you are looking for any information related to Autism, this category will help you get started. If you need additional assistance, please give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

MORE Tips To Help Your Child with Autism Enjoy Halloween

Halloween is fun and exciting holiday for many children. It gives the opportunity to dress up in their favorite costumes and get a lot of candy. While these traditions seem easy and effortless for most children, for a child with autism it may not be so easy. With the proper preparation Halloween can be a very fun holiday for any child with autism and below are a few steps on how to make Halloween an enjoyable experience.

Help Your Child With Autism Have a Happy Halloween With These Tips:

  • Let you child pick out his costume so you know it is something he will want to wear.MORE Tips To Help Your Child Enjoy Haloween
  • Make sure your child is able to wear the costume around the house prior to going trick-or-treating. This will allow him to get used to how the costume feels and allow you to make any necessary adjustments to the costume to make it more comfortable for your child.
  • If you are planning on trick-or-treating, take walks around your neighborhood or wherever you plan on going in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Also, you may want to practice walking up to the doors of people you know and ringing the doorbell.
  • Read your child social stories about Halloween traditions and trick-or-treating.
  • Make a schedule of the events that will take place the night of Halloween. Show this schedule to your child frequently so they know what is coming next. You could even make a map of each house you will be going to and they can cross off each house they go to.
  • If your child has limited verbal skills, make a picture they can hold up that says trick-or-treat, or if possible have a sibling do all of the talking.

Click here for more simple tips to prepare your child with autism for Halloween.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanston, Deerfield, LincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Halloween and Autism

Simple Tips To Prepare Your Child with Autism for Halloween

 

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and children and parents alike are beginning to feverously plan Halloween activities and costumes. While this may be an exciting experience for most families, it can be a difficult and anxiety-provoking experience for families with children with autism.  Children with autism may interpret and react differently to Halloween festivities and costumes, which can be an overwhelming experience. However, this doesn’t mean that children need to sit on the sidelines and avoid Halloween activities altogether. With the following tips, parents and their children with autism can have a stress-free and enjoyable Halloween.

Costumes

Costumes are a quintessential part of Halloween. It is important to remember that costumes are possible for your Simple Tips to Prepare Your Child with Autism for Halloweenchild with autism, but should be safe and comfortable for him or her to wear. This is especially important if your child has sensory difficulties. Take into consideration how the fabric and the fit of the costume will affect your child: Is it a fabric the child is used to wearing? Is the fit too tight or too loose? A great way to decide if a costume works is by practicing wearing the costume around the house. This allows your child to become acclimated to the costume, and lets you know whether or not the child will be able to tolerate wearing the costume for extended periods of time. With practice and knowledge that a costume works, you can avoid meltdowns and last-minute costume changes on Halloween.

Social Cues

It is not everyday that we ask our children to walk up to a stranger’s house and socially engage with the stranger for candy. This is a break in typical social rules that children normally follow. This break in rules may be difficult for a child with a rigid understanding of rules and expectations of the world. One way to help your child overcome this change in rules is through setting a schedule and script that your child can follow for trick-or-treating. For example, the script and schedule may look like the following:

  1. Ring doorbell
  2. When an adult opens the door, say “Trick or Treat”
  3. Allow the adult to put candy in your candy bag
  4. Say “Thank you” and walk away from the house

This script and schedule allows your child to understand the expectations and rules of Halloween while also creating an easy timeline that they can follow and refer back to with parents. Similarly, you may want to practice this script with your child prior to Halloween at your own household. The child can put on his or her costume, and practice ringing the doorbell and asking for candy to simulate trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Know your Child

Even with extensive preparation, Halloween can be an overwhelming and tiring experience. Know and recognize when your child has had enough and is ready to call it quits for the evening. The point of Halloween is for your child to have an enjoyable time, whether that lasts 30 minutes or 2 hours. Halloween is all about maximizing your child’s fun while spending time together as a family.

With the right knowledge and planning, families with children with autism can have a successful and happy Halloween!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanston, Deerfield, LincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Increasing & Decreasing Behavior With ABA

What behaviors does ABA seek to increase or decrease?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) uses the principles of behavior for increasing and decreasing specific behaviors of social significance. Behaviors to increase or decrease are selected in collaboration with parents. Additionally, it is wise to involve other relevant stakeholders, like extended family or your child’s teacher.

When selecting ABA goals, it’s important to consider:

For challenging behavior, it’s crucial to consider how much is the behavior impacting the child’s functioning, learning, social opportunities, or ability to access the community. If parents cannot take a child to the store because of tantrums, it can impact a family significantly. (e.g., decreased access to social skills, difficulty completing common routines, or cost of childcare so the parent can go to the store). Similarly, if a child cannot communicate his or her wants or needs, this may cause problems for the family system as a whole.

It is important to consider the following points for increasing skills:

* What should the child be doing?

* How far outside of typical development is this behavior?

* Typically, what should a child this age be doing or expected to do?

* In what manner are these skills pivotal to future areas of development?

Small steps may lead to a larger goal

All goals should be prioritized based on some of the questions listed above. It is also essential to consider prerequisite skills and look at the larger picture. It may be that before you get to the big point of concern that there are other smaller goals to meet along the way. If your child cannot wait at home for five minutes, then waiting at a store for a toy may be more difficult. First, work on the smaller skills to build to the larger ones. With patience and practice, your child will be on their way to achieving their goals.

ABA therapy can be implemented in different environments, like home, our clinics, or in the classroom.

At NSPT, your child will receive 1:1 therapy along with the ongoing analysis of his/her progress to ensure he/she is continuing to progress and succeed.

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Neuropsychological Testing Day

Neuropsychological Testing Day at NSPT

We’ve put together a brief guide to what the day of a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation looks like at NSPT. Below you will find important details from what to bring to how to prepare. As always, if you have any questions simply get in touch.

What does the testing day look like?

  • The testing lasts approximately 4-5 hours.
  • Parents submit the parent and teacher rating scales that are provided during the intake.
  • Each testing battery is individually designed by the doctor based on your child’s specific needs.
  • Testing tasks include answering questions about various topics and requiring different skills including vocabulary, similarities between words, math, doing paper and pencil work, and doing work on a computer.
  • Lunch, snack, bathroom, and other breaks are given when needed, as well as at regularly planned intervals.
  • Note: Testing results are not available on the testing day, rather provided during the feedback appointment.

What to Bring on the Day of Testing:

  • Plenty of snacks and lunch
  • Rating forms and any paperwork that still needed to be completed
  • Any prior evaluations that were not brought to the intake

After testing is complete, you will return for a one-hour feedback session approximately two weeks later with the psychologist to review the testing data, any diagnoses determined based on your child’s profile, recommendations for home and school, and any intervention services to foster your child’s development.

How can I prepare for the evaluation day?

  • Please bring snacks and a lunch for your child.
  • Complete the parent/teacher rating scales that were provided during the intake.
  • If your child is under 4 years of age or not potty trained, we will ask you to stay in the clinic for the duration of the testing.

Q&A

Q: What if my child is sick the day of testing?
A: The appointment will need to be rescheduled as we want your child to test at optimal levels. Please contact us as soon as possible.

Q: Should my child take his or her regular medication(s) on the day of testing?
A: Yes, unless otherwise instructed.

Q; Should my child wear his or her glasses?
A: Yes.

What happens at the feedback appointment?

  • This is a parent-only session.
  • You will be given an explanation of your child’s testing results and, if warranted, a diagnosis. At this time, your doctor will identify the most appropriate interventions and accommodations for your child for the home and school settings.
  • A final copy of your child’s report will be mailed to you within two weeks of your feedback appointment. Should you need the report sooner, please let your doctor know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
  • Note: You will not receive a final report during the feedback appointment, because your doctor may need to add additional information from the feedback session to the report.
  • With parental consent, a copy will be sent to your child’s pediatrician.
  • We do not share reports with schools. Should you choose to share it, you will need to provide a copy to the school.

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what to expect in a neuropsychological exam

Neuropsychological testing for kids at NSPT

what to expect in a neuropsychological exam

A child receives a referral for neuropsychological testing when there are concerns about one or more areas of development. Certainly, these areas of concern can include cognition, academics, attention, memory, language, socialization, emotional regulation, behavioral concerns, motor difficulties, visual-spatial, and adaptive functioning. Testing can identify your child’s learning style and cognitive strengths. Lastly, through testing, our neuropsychologists can recommend accommodations to implement at school and at home.

What is a neuropsychological evaluation?

A neuropsychological evaluation aids the psychologist in determining a diagnosis.
Such as:

How do I know if my child needs a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation?

An evaluation is usually recommended if your child has a medical condition such as Down syndrome, epilepsy, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). So, the goal of the evaluation is to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses. With this information, we can provide the right treatment recommendations, determine progress and response to intervention, and monitor functioning.

After your pediatrician has made a referral for a neuropsychological evaluation, you need to schedule an intake appointment. Typically, each intake appointment is one hour long.

Is my child eligible for testing at NSPT’s neuropsychological testing center?

Due to our growing team, we are able to test a larger population. Most noteworthy, we offer three types of testing services:

      1. Early Childhood Developmental Assessment
        This is a multidisciplinary approach where our team works with a speech therapist and occupation therapist to assess children ages 15 months to 3 years, 11 months with developmental concerns ranging from socialization, language, and motor development. Each of the 3 scheduled testing appointments are typically on separate days.
      2. Neuropsychological Evaluation
        NSPT’s standard neuropsychological evaluation for individuals ages 4 through college-age.
      3. Adult ADHD assessment
        This is a new service we are now offering to adults who are interested in an ADHD evaluation. Typically, this is a one-day, 4-hour evaluation.

What should I expect during the neuropsychological intake?

  • Your first appointment is centered around talking with the psychologist about your areas of concern. Therefore, you will be asked to do the following:
    • Provide information about your child’s history.
    • Including medical, developmental, academic, attention, behavior, motor, and social history.
    • Inform the psychologist of any current, or past, services your child receives, such as:
      • speech-language therapy
      • occupational therapy
      • physical therapy
      • individual therapy
      • academic tutoring

What to bring to the neuropsychological intake:

  • You and your child
  • Completed intake paperwork
  • Similarly, any prior psychological/neuropsychological evaluation (if applicable)
  • Your child’s most recent 504 Plan or IEP (if applicable)
  • Additionally, any recent private intervention evaluation (e.g., speech-language therapy, occupational therapy)
  • Certainly, don’t forget your child’s most recent report card or standardized exam scores
  • Finally, any relevant medical information (e.g., EEG report, CT/MRI scan report)

Lastly, after the intake, you will schedule the testing session for your child.  Most of the time, testing is completed in one day (5 hours of testing). Occasionally, the testing will be completed over two days.  The psychologist will create a neuropsychological battery based on the areas of concern. However, the battery is subject to adjustment on the day of testing.  Typically, this occurs if another area of concern arises during the testing session.

To sum up, a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation can also help to determine any appropriate therapies such as speech or Applied Behavior Analysis. For more FAQ, click here

 

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes Plaines and Mequon! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (866) 815-6592 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

 

How to Teach Play Skills to a Child With Autism

Play skills are one of the most important areas that children, especially those with Autism, need to learn. These skills provide opportunities for the child to entertain themselves in meaningful ways, interact with others, and learn important cognitive skills. A successful way to teach play skills to children with autism is to initially teach the specific play skill in a very structured manner. Play Skills

  • Break the play skill into small, discrete steps and teach one step at a time. As the child demonstrates success in learning one step, add the next step. (After the child can add eyes to Mr. Potato Head, then add ears, then arms, etc.)
  • Use modeling to teach the skill (e.g. the adult builds a tower of Legos as the child watches, then the child builds his own tower).
  • Always provide reinforcement (behavior specific praise “Nice job putting the piece in the puzzle”, immediately following the child’s demonstration of the skill.). As the child exhibits improved accuracy of the skill, reinforce successive approximations.
  • The child should have plenty of opportunities to rehearse the skill in a structured setting. Practice, practice, practice!
  • In the structured setting, have the learning opportunities be short and sweet, so the task does not become aversive to the child.
  • Fade the adult prompting and presence out gradually, so the child can gain more independence. Systematically fade the reinforcement so that it is provided after longer durations.
  • Remember to keep the activity fun and exciting. You want your child to WANT to play with the toys and games.

Once the child masters the skill in the structured environment by independently completing the play tasks for extended periods of time, he or she can then begin to practice and develop the skill in more natural settings. Bring the toys and games into other rooms of the house, to school, and eventually have peers present, so the child can use the skills learned in a social setting.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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What Are Executive Function Skills?

Many of us have heard executive functioning used in terms of our children at school and at home. But what does it mean? Executive Function Blog

Executive Function – a Definition

Executive functions are necessary for goal-directed behavior. When we use the phrase “executive functioning skills,” we are describing a set of cognitive skills that control and regulate other behaviors and abilities. Our thought processes influence attention, memory and motor skills. (minddisorders.com).

Executive functioning skills help us to learn and retrieve information, plan, organize, manage our time, and see potential outcomes and act accordingly. When these processes work without difficulty, our brains do these tasks automatically, often without our awareness.

High Executive Function

In children and adults, those with high executive function skills are able to:

  • Initiate and stop actions
  • Make changes in behavior
  • Plan for the future
  • Manage time wisely
  • Anticipate possible consequences
  • Use problem-solving strategies
  • Use senses to gather information

For instance, the ability to initiate and stop actions may include working on a project for school or studying for an allotted time. Monitoring ones changes in behavior includes being able to act appropriately in a given situation and alter that behavior as needed. Planning for the future and managing time may include not procrastinating due to understanding the consequences of doing so.

Low Executive Function

When one is deficient in executive function skills, it may be difficult to plan and carry out tasks. The person may seem unable to sustain attention and feel overwhelmed by situations others find easier to navigate.

People with deficits in this area may also have comorbid diagnoses (meaning they go together). These include, but are not limited to: Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder, Autism, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Executive functioning deficits may run in families (learningdisabilities.about.com).

So, a child with executive functioning deficits may be able to pay attention to a lesson, until something new is introduced that requires a shift in their attention or that divides their focus. Children lacking in executive functioning skills also may have issues with verbal fluency.

Additionally, a child (or adult) with low executive function may have social problems. Executive functioning skills allow us to anticipate how others might feel if we do or say something. Those with low executive function may have difficulty interacting with others. Because they sometimes do not think things through before saying them, people with executive functioning deficits may blurt out inappropriate or hurtful comments, leading others to avoid them.

Working with your child, a therapist, and creating structure at home and accommodation plans at school are all ways to provide help for your child.

Increasing executive functioning skills will enable her to become a more organized, less stressed and less frustrated individual as she grows into a world of ever-increasing pressures.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, and Hinsdale! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Hand Flapping: When to Worry

Many people correlate hand flapping with only Autism, however this is not the case. All children could exhibit a hand flapping behavior when they are in a heightened emotional state including when anxious, excited, and/or upset.  Many believe that children with Autism will engage in hand flapping as a self-stimulatory activity, which can be accompanied by other stimming behaviors like rocking and/or spinning. Blog-Hand Flapping-Main-Landscape

Children with autism are often extremely sensitive to specific sensations and sounds that may not effect someone who is not on the spectrum. Environments in which there are multiple sounds, loud noises, and crowds can cause distress for some individuals with and even without autism. Hand flapping is seen as a way to escape the over stimulating sensory input present in the environment.

Other times when hand flapping can be observed in children (both verbal and non-verbal) is when they are trying to express or communicate to others around them. It is viewed as them trying to express that they are: happy, excited, anxious, or angry. In cases like these, families and professionals often feel that hand flapping should not be a concern, stopped, or corrected.

Hand flapping would be something to worry about when and if it impacts a child’s functional daily living ability, for example if it impacts their ability to navigate their environment safely.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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Here’s What You Can Expect from a Neuropsychological Evaluation

A child may be referred for a neuropsychological evaluation when there are concerns about one or more areas of development. This can include cognition, academics, attention, memory, language, socialization, emotional, behavioral, motor, visual-spatial, and adaptive functioning. Blog-Neuropsychological-Evaluation-Main-Landscape

A neuropsychological evaluation aids the psychologist in determining an appropriate diagnosis, such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disorder, Language Disorder, and emotional and behavioral disorders. An evaluation can also be recommended if your child has been diagnosed with a medical condition such as Down syndrome, epilepsy, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The purpose of the evaluation would be to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses in order to provide appropriate treatment recommendations, determine progress and response to intervention, and monitor functioning.

After your pediatrician has made a referral for a neuropsychological evaluation, you will need to schedule an intake appointment, which is typically an hour long.

What to Expect During the Neuropsychological Intake:

  • Inform the psychologist about your areas of concern
  • Provide information about your child’s history
    • Including medical, developmental, academic, attention, behavior, motor, and social history
  • Inform the psychologist of any current, or past, services your child receives (e.g., speech language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, individual therapy, academic tutoring)

What to Bring to the Neuropsychological Intake:

  • Completed intake paperwork
  • Any prior psychological/neuropsychological evaluation (if applicable)
  • Your child’s most recent 504 Plan or IEP (if applicable)
  • Any recent private intervention evaluation (e.g., speech language therapy, occupational therapy)
  • Your child’s most recent report card or standardized exam scores
  • Any relevant medical information (e.g., EEG report, CT/MRI scan report)

After the intake, you will schedule the testing session for your child.  Most of the time, testing is completed in one day (5 hours of testing), but occasionally the testing will need to be completed over two days.  The psychologist will create a neuropsychological battery based on the areas of concern; however, the battery could be adjusted on the day of testing.  Typically, this occurs if another area of concern arises during the testing session.

What to Bring on the Day of the Neuropsychological Test:

  • Plenty of snacks and lunch
  • Completed paperwork and rating forms
  • Any prior evaluations that were not brought to the intake

After testing is complete, you will return for a one hour feedback session approximately two weeks later, with the clinician to review the testing data, any diagnoses determined based on your child’s profile, recommendations for home and school, and any intervention services to foster your child’s development.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-A-Neuropsychologist