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autism spectrum disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Overview

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurobiological disorder that has three primary characteristics which are impaired social interactions, impaired communication and restricted and repetitive behavior. Children are usually diagnosed around age three, although many of the signs and characteristics of autism may appear prior to age three. The current prevalence of autism in 1 out of every 68 children and is more common in boys (1 in 42) than in girls (1 in 189).

Autism-A Spectrum Disorder:

ASD is known spectrum disorder which means individuals with ASD all have similar features, but rangeautism spectrum disorder in severity. Individuals with ASD do not typically have any defining physical characteristics that set them apart from other people.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

To receive an autism diagnosis a child must be evaluated and assessed by a licensed psychologist. There are several different diagnostic tools that are currently used when evaluating an individual with autism. Currently one of the most popular assessment is the Autism Diagnostic Observation (ADOS), this assessment combines observation with more interactive activities for the child. During the assessment the evaluator engages the child in some common childhood activities such as playing with dolls and having a pretend birthday party. Another popular assessment is the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), which is a behavior rating checklist.

Therapy for Autism:

Once a child receives an autism diagnosis, the parents must then find appropriate education and therapeutic service for their child which can be a daunting process. When considering how to help your child with autism, it is important to make sure that the intervention is evidenced based. Sadly there are many interventions that claim to “cure” autism, but there is no evidence supporting that intervention does in fact work. The “gold standard” of autism interventions is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA has many years of research proving its effectiveness with individuals with autism.

 

What to Expect When You Suspect Autism Download our free, 17-Page eBook

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview 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!

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

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Managing Time With ABA Therapy

Research has shown that children with autism who receive 20-40 or more hours a week of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services make significantly more progress and have improved long-term outcomes. In short, the more ABA a child can receive, the better. To a parent whose child is newly diagnosed, this many hours can seem very overwhelming. Obviously parents want to do what is best for their child, so they want to get as many therapy hours as possible, but how do you balance a therapy schedule and typical daily activities? Below are some tips on how to make sure you have a balance between your child’s ABA therapy schedule and your daily routine.

Balancing the time commitment of ABA therapy:

  • If you child is seen in a clinic setting, use the time they are in therapy to yourTime Management and ABA Therapy advantage. Take this time to run errands, catch up on email, etc. Same with home sessions. If you child is receiving therapy in your home you can catch up on household chores.
  • Ask your child’s program supervisor for suggestions on how you can carry over certain skills at home. If your child is working on things like eye contact or requesting his wants and needs, these are things that you can do at home to help. The more your child can practice targeted skills, the quicker he will master these skills.
  • Find a parent support group so you can connect with families who are in a similar situation. It is important to have a good support network as they can provide support and give suggestions on dealing with the day-to-day challenges of having a child with autism.
  • Be sure to make time for fun activities/outings with your child during times they are not in therapy.
  • Utilize respite services for some kid-free time away from home. A respite worker can come and play with your child at home while you enjoy a date night or spend some time with friends.

It is important to remember, that while the more hours a child can get the better, it is also possible for children to still make progress with fewer hours. Sometimes 20 hours a week just isn’t possible, especially for a school-aged child. As long as your child is getting consistent ABA therapy you will still see gains. It is also possible to add hours during times when your child is not in school such as winter and summer breaks.

Click here to read more on the importance of parent involvement in ABA.

NSPT offers ABA Therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview 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!

ABA therapy

The Importance of Parent Involvement in ABA Therapy

Applied behavior analysis therapy (ABA) is a well-known, scientifically proven intervention for increasing functional skills in children with autism or developmental delays. While children can make great gains with ABA therapy, the children who make the most gains are the ones who have parents who are actively involved in their child’s therapy. Being actively involved doesn’t mean you need to observe every session and/or attempt to run your own sessions at home. However, what you can do is to carry over the skills your child is learning in therapy and then practice them during your child’s everyday routine. For example, if the therapist tells you they are working on increasing your child’s receptive identification skills, at home you can look through picture books with your child and have them point to various pictures in the book.

The Importance of Parental Involvement in ABA Therapy:

Children are with their therapist for only a small portion of each day, so the more they can practice thethe importance of parental involvement in ABA therapy skills they are learning, the sooner you will begin to see progress.  Conversely, if you do not carry over what your child is doing in therapy, it will most likely take them longer to meet their goals. It can also be counter-productive if you are doing something completely different than what is happening in therapy. For example, if a child is working on a certain method of communication in therapy, but the parents/caregivers do not make the child communicate this way at home, the child is going to get very confused and consequently will not learn to effectively communicate in a functional manner.

For suggestions on what type of activities you can be working on at home with your child, ask the behavior analyst on your child’s team.  They can give you suggestions based on your child’s specific needs and goals.

Below is a list of some general activities that you can do with your child at home:

  • Have your child request preferred items and activities using their current mode of communication (vocal, signs, PECS, etc.). Keep their favorite items in sight but out of reach so they need to ask someone to get it for them. Or have preferred items in clear plastic bins that are not easy to open. So in addition to requesting the item, they can request “help” or “open.”
  • When your child requests something, have them make eye contact with you before you give them the item.
  • Look through picture books and ask your child to point to various pictures.
  • Ask your child to follow simple commands (e.g., clap, jump, find your nose, touch your toes).
  • Sing songs that have motions with them (i.e., Wheels on the Bus song). While singing do the different motions and prompt your child to imitate your motions.
  • Play a variety of developmentally appropriate games with your child to expand the variety of toys they find reinforcing.

Make the activities fun for your child. They are already probably receiving therapy multiple days a week, so you don’t want this to seem like work. If it seems like work, they will be more resistant to engage with you. Also follow your child’s lead and try to create “teachable moments” based off what they are currently interested in.

NSPT offers ABA Therapy services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview 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!