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Better Mealtimes For Your Child With Autism

Children are notoriously picky eaters which can make mealtimes very frustrating, and children with autism are no exception. Just like typically developing children the range of pickiness with food varies from child to child. Some children are great eaters and eat a wide variety of foods, while others will only eat certain foods and will engage in negative behaviors when those foods are not available. Another mealtime issue that can arise with children with autism at mealtimes is not being able to sit at the table for an extended period of time. Below are some suggestions on how to make mealtimes more successful.

 Better Mealtimes For Your Child With Autism:

  • Determine what your end goal is and then start small – If your goal is to have your childBetter Mealtimes with Your Child With Autism eat an entire meal at the table with the family, then start by determining what they can already do. Once you know what they can do, begin building on those skills.
  • Ideally it is best to work on sitting at the table first. While practicing sitting at the table, allow your child to engage in preferred activities so they learn to associate sitting at the table with fun activities.
  • Have reasonable expectations – If your child has difficulty sitting and only likes very specific foods, do expect them to sit for 20 minutes and try new foods. If you child is only able to sit for 5 minutes, then have him sit and eat for 3 minutes and reward that behavior. Gradually have him sit for longer and longer periods of time. Always reward the behaviors you want to see increase.
  • After your child is able to sit calmly for at least 10 minutes, you can then work on introducing new foods.
  • Introduce new foods slowly – Allow him to eat preferred foods, with the new foods it sight. It usually takes several exposures to new foods before they will try it.
  • Be sure to reinforce any attempts at trying new foods, or even touching new foods.
  • If you can see your child is starting to get upset about sitting at the table or trying a new food, prompt them to say they are all done and then excuse him from the table. It is better to end on a good note, then to have him have a melt down and then be allowed to leave them table. If this occurs he will learn if he gets upset, he can leave.
  • Make mealtimes fun – Try to do fun things with food, if your child has a favorite TV show or movie, use plates and cups with those characters. If your child will only sit with the TV on, watch TV in the beginning and then you can work on gradually fading it out.

 

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

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, 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!

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

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

The Importance of Choosing Evidence-Based Treatments for Children with Autism

Your child just received an autism diagnosis and you want to get them started in some type of therapy, but how do you chose from the vast number treatments that claim to help children with autism?  In addition to the seemingly endless list of treatments you can find on the internet, there is also many fad intervention that occasionally pop up, which claim to “cure” autism.  These fads do not have evidence supporting their claims, and can be potentially dangerous. So how exactly do you sort out the good treatments from the bad? The answer is to remember these three words: Evidence-Based Practice.

Evidence-Based Treatments for Autismevidence based treatments for autism

What is evidence-based practice? Evidenced-based practice means that the intervention is based on scientifically valid and reliable research. The best example of an evidence-based intervention for individuals with autism is applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA has over 40 years of research supporting the use behavior analytic interventions to improve the lives of individuals with autism.

 Non-Research-Based Treatments for Autism

There are currently many popular treatments for autism which have little to no scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness, but are still widely used. These treatments include the following:

  • Special diets (Gluten-free and casein-free)
  • Biomedical interventions
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Therapeutic horseback riding
  • Music therapy
  • Facilitated communication

Dangers of Using Non-Evidence-Based Interventions for the Treatment of Autism

  • Wasting valuable time – I have heard many families say they are just going to “try” out a specific intervention to see if it works. While this may seem harmless, it can in fact waste very valuable time for the child. Any time spent on an ineffective treatment is taking away time where the child could be developing functional skills.
  • Wasting money: Most autism treatments are expensive, even those which are evidenced-based. Insurance companies are now beginning to cover more evidenced-based interventions such as applied behavior analysis. They do not however, cover those interventions which are not scientifically valid. Families have been known to shell out thousands of dollars for treatments which will have no lasting effect on their child.
  • Causing harm to the individual with autism: There many are current treatments that claim to “cure” autism by doing a number of potentially dangerous acts. A few of these interventions include: Chelation therapy, Bleach enemas, Chemical castration, and Miracle mineral solution (MMS). These treatments can all cause serious, life-long health issues, or worse yet death.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or are having trouble sorting out non-evidenced-based treatments, contact an autism professional to help you with this important decision. Always be weary of treatments which claim to “cure” autism, and remember if a treatment seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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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!

More information about autism treatment can be found at:

http://www.asatonline.org/for-parents/learn-more-about-specific-treatments/

References:

neuropsychological testing at north shore pediatric therapy

Diagnosing Your Child on the Autism Spectrum: Fact or Fiction?

Many times parents fear an autism diagnosis because they do not want a stigma for their child. However, it is important to understand that an appropriate diagnosis is the first piece of the puzzle. For those brave souls who don’t stop until they have the correct answer, the payoff is worth the effort and pain. A good diagnosis and evaluation should serve as a means of identifying appropriate and practical recommendations as well as a basis for progress monitoring from the intervention. At North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Neuropsychological Center in Illinois, we utilize clinical testing to help identify the most appropriate diagnosis.

The Autism Testing Process at NSPT-Diagnosing Your Child:

Neuropsychological testing is an empirically supported way of assessing a child’s cognitive, academic, and social-neuropsychological testing at north shore pediatric therapyemotional functioning. The evaluation occurs over three days with an intake session, the actual testing day, and the feedback session.

  • Intake: The intake session is when the parents and child attend a formal meeting to discuss concerns. It is important that child attends the session as the neuropsychologist would want to attain some basic information regarding the child’s verbal functioning, social skills, and attentional regulation. Parents understandably do not want to speak in front of their child about concerns they have. We understand that and will ensure our best that the child is in a separate room when parents are talking about specific concerns.
  • Testing: The testing session consists of ascertaining information from a variety of resources including parents, teachers, outside practitioners (any therapist working with the child or family), behavioral observations, as well as the child’s performance on a variety of assessment measures. Testing is intensive and lasts upwards of four to five hours. The focus is to provide quantified information regarding the child’s functioning across a variety of domains and also to look for consistent patterns across performance.
  • Feedback: The feedback session is the most important aspect of the evaluation. This is the meeting in which the parents are provided information regarding the diagnosis that is given as well as what the next steps are to ensure that the child is able to progress to his or her potential. Read here for more on what to expect after neuropsychological testing.
  • Follow-up: The next step is for the neurologist to re-evaluate the child in six month’s to one years time (depending on the intervention that was prescribed) in order to monitor progress the interventions and to help progress monitor if additional supports or services are needed.

Be a Smart Detective When Seeking an Autism Diagnosis for Your Child:

For those parents with the courage to dive into discovering the diagnosis behind your child’s challenges, I say kudos to you! Those parents are the real child-advocates. Kick start your child’s success with a deep dive into your child’s diagnosis by seeking a neuropsychologist. I, Dr. Greg Stasi along with my colleague Dr. Amy Wolok provide in depth Autism Spectrum testing at our Neuropsychology Center in Chicago, IL. Our Center works alongside the many other therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Glenview, Highland Park, Bucktown, Evanston and Lincolnwood Clinics to provide a comprehensive team all working together to help your child reach his or her potential. The neuropsychological evaluation is designed to help identify what specific strengths and weaknesses a child is exhibiting which leads to the best diagnosis and most importantly the most efficacious intervention.