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Reinforcement vs. Punishment

Reinforcement and Punishment

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Difference Between Reinforcement and Punishment

The first difference between these two terms commonly seen in applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy is that reinforcement increases behavior while punishment decreases behavior.

Some common examples of reinforcement included getting a cookie for good behavior, winning a prize in a race, or getting bubbles after doing chores. In contrast, some examples of punishment include sitting in time out for calling out, getting your phone taken for bad grades, or being reprimanded for bad behavior.

Reinforcement vs. Punishment

As a parent, you may consider whether you should use reinforcement or punishment with your child. Using reinforcement or punishment depends on the individual’s preferences and what motivates them more. It can be helpful to put yourself in the child’s shoes and consider how they might perceive these preferences. For example, as adults, do we find that we are more motivated by bonuses for our hard work or by not getting reprimanded? In this instance, it depends on the person!

Assessing a person’s motivation in instances like these is extremely helpful because it can determine whether reinforcement or punishment would be the most beneficial. You can try either method to see which generates the best response, but ultimately choose whichever one works best for that child.

If you start with reinforcement, it is also beneficial to ensure that the child receives the proper support for their behavior goals. For example, if as an adult, if you were to work 8 hours with a high-five as your reward, this likely isn’t a great enough reinforcer for you to continue to work 8 hours again.

When implementing reinforcement with children, this is very similar to rewarding them for their good behavior. If the reward is motivating enough, the child will be more likely to continue the behavior of interest again.

What to Do When Punishment Does Not Work

Although you can use punishment in ABA, positive reinforcement is the more effective strategy to help increase behaviors. When we use ABA, we want to reinforce behaviors while teaching replacement behaviors for unwanted actions. Teaching replacement behaviors is not a strategy in punishment procedures, which is why certain punishment strategies don’t work!

If the punishment procedure does not work, it would be best to stop since it is most likely not benefitting the person if there is no progress. Instead of using punishment for exhibiting unwanted behaviors, use rewards and praise for performing the correct behaviors. Another alternative if punishment does not work is helping the person de-escalate from the unwanted behavior, including coping techniques such as deep breaths and counting. After this, remind the person, prompt, or coach them through the correct behavior.

Reinforcement vs. Punishment

Is Punishment as Bad as It Sounds?

Although some punishment procedures may appear to be working, such as time-out, scolding or reprimands, they may be harmful to the individual. Sometimes punishment procedures can exclude a person or cause the person to become indifferent towards the person implementing the punishment. Using punishment may decrease the unwanted behavior, but it does not give the person an opportunity to learn new skills or replacement behaviors to use as future tools.

Before considering punishment, it is best to try all other evidence-based strategies such as reinforcement and appropriate replacement behaviors, as punishment can be harmful if implemented incorrectly. Some helpful considerations are to pair positive reinforcement with punishment, use only techniques you know will work, including the person’s considerations if applicable, do not exclude, and always monitor to see if what you are using is working.

Key Tips to Follow When Using Punishment or Reinforcement

After determining a goal behavior for your child, you may decide to try out using punishment or reinforcement to see which one creates a better response. No matter which strategy you use, it’s important to be consistent to help the child maintain or decrease a behavior. Some tips for using these strategies effectively include:

  • If punishment procedures don’t work, try reinforcement!
  • With reinforcement, remember to provide a reward and lots of praise for the behavior of interest.
  • Helping the individual with coping strategies to redirect from the unwanted behavior can be useful.
  • Remind the person of what the behavior should have looked like after the unwanted behavior to help the person correct themselves in the future.

Schedule a Free Consultation at Early Autism Services Today!

At Early Autism Services, we’ve been helping children reach their potential with our applied behavior analysis therapy program for over a decade. One of the many benefits of our services is that we provide various therapy options to best suit your child’s needs. Some therapy options include in-home, center-based, and telehealth therapy. Since our founding, we’ve expanded to open multiple offices across the United States and several locations in Australia and India.

Our knowledgeable team is ready to answer any questions about our programs, costs and insurance. After speaking with our team, if you would like to use our services, the next step will be a free consultation. You and your child will meet with one of our experienced clinicians to discuss your family’s needs and learn more about our programs. Afterward, we will meet again to create a personalized therapy plan to help develop their current skills while learning new ones.

If you’d like to take advantage of our wide range of therapy services, schedule a free consultation today!

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Tips for Teaching Children With Autism

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Tips for Teaching Children with Autism

Every child is different, and some have unique learning needs that make traditional learning methods less than ideal. Teaching kids with autism requires extra guidance and support to help them successfully learn academically and socially. Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you may have questions about how to teach kids with autism to better help them grow and develop. Fortunately, there are many different ways to help your student with autism and provide them with a positive learning experience, from fostering better communication to eliminating extra stress and many things in between.

Parent Tips for Teaching Children with Autism

Teaching Tips for Parents

Having a child with autism can be challenging. However, teaching does not have to be difficult. Find out ways to provide the best learning environment for your student at home with these helpful tips.

Use Direct Language

Teaching kids with autism means speaking with them in a way that they will best understand. Many people living with autism struggle with any kind of figurative language. Instead, they interpret everything concretely, word for word.

Think about the idioms you use every day — for example, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” or “I could eat a horse.” You can see how phrases like these would be bewildering when interpreted literally. That’s why it’s crucial to speak plainly with your child. Also, try your best not to rely heavily on nonverbal cues like facial expressions or gestures, which are confusing and hard to read.

Predictability Is Critical

Students with autism often face anxiety about unpredictability. Unexpected changes can make things frustrating for you and your child. Help keep them at ease by creating a consistent routine and sticking to it. That way, your student will always know what is coming next, like when they need to do homework or get ready for dinner. Having a plan will take away distractions and worry to make room for your child to focus on learning.

Give Simple Instructions

If an assignment or project comes with a long list of steps, simplify it as much as possible. Kids on the autism spectrum may have trouble processing complex directions. You can help them understand by breaking the instructions down into one or two steps at a time to complete. Be sure to use brief sentences and plain, straightforward language to reduce confusion.

Challenges Are Opportunities

As your child continues on their learning path, things may often feel overwhelming. Your attitude as a parent can make a dramatic difference for your student with autism. Reframe challenges as opportunities, instead of roadblocks. This mindset will help them face obstacles with a positive, can-do outlook and prepare them to overcome anything that may come their way.

Teaching Tips for Educators

Teachers in every grade level know that every child with autism requires individual attention to help them succeed. Discovering what works best for each student may require some trial and error. Discover several approaches you can take when teaching kids with autism to enhance the teaching and learning process in your classroom.

Lead Inclusive Activities

With some extra preparation, children on the autism spectrum can enjoy group activities just as much as their more neurotypical peers. Learn your students’ play preferences and what they are comfortable doing. Some students with autism are nonverbal, so preparing alternative ways to communicate with them is crucial. Learn more in our video, “Behavior Strategies for the Group Environment: Leading Inclusive Activities for Children With Autism.”

Recognize and Avoid Sensory Overload

Teachers are well aware that students can become distracted, and students with autism are no exception to this rule. However, what may be a short-lived interruption for their peers could become overwhelmingly bothersome to an autistic child.

For students with autism, things most people might never notice — such as smells, lighting, echoes and even bright colors — can be intensely triggering. When in the classroom, try to keep everything as calm and relaxing as possible. You can also present your autistic students with sensory tools to help them process information and reduce stress.

Offer Natural Rewards

Since kids with autism do not process verbal praise and attention the same way others do, you must take a different approach to rewarding their efforts and progress. Offer your students natural rewards that directly connect to their desired behaviors, such as interacting with peers. For example, if your student is fascinated by trains, you can distribute multiple train cars among their peers and fellow educators. Reinforce the idea that they will get to play with a portion of the train as a reward for positive interactions with others.

Maintain a Structured Learning Environment

Structure can make a significant difference when teaching children with autism. Set up a well-structured classroom that is easy for them to navigate. Create a schedule that can become a comfortable, familiar routine and do your best not to deviate from it. As an educator, you will find classroom structure helpful for reducing stress and boosting focus by showing students with autism what to do next, when and for how long before moving on to the next task.

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids are invaluable for students with autism because they can model so many different things. They can serve as reminders of classroom rules, where items belong within the classroom and help them find available resources. Creating infographics-style schedules can serve as a tool students can follow by easily identifying what each picture represents throughout their daily classroom routine. Visual aids can dramatically simplify communication for you and your students.

Encourage Social Interactions With Others

Learning how to socially interact with peers is one of the most critical skills a student can learn. Sometimes, it may take a little extra guidance and encouragement from teachers to help students with autism feel comfortable enough to participate in social interaction. A classroom setting that provides natural opportunities for social interaction between educators and peers is an ideal way to encourage social interaction.

Be Patient

All kids learn at a different pace, and some children need a little more grace than others. When teaching kids with autism, give them plenty of time to process your instructions. Trying to hurry them along will only lead to frustration and disappointment from everyone involved, which you want to avoid as much as possible. Set them up for success by providing them with the patience they need.

Passionate About Potential

At Early Autism Services, we help families and caregivers of children with autism by teaching foundational skills. Our accredited, licensed professionals offer personalized applied behavior analysis therapy, an evidence-based autism treatment recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association. Our compassionate, professional team works with children and families throughout the United States, Australia and India. Contact us to request your complimentary consultation.

The ABC's of Behavior

The ABC’s of Behavior

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What Are the ABCs?

Molly’s daughter, Sarah, suddenly started running away when it was time for bed. Molly would chase her around the house, and this would cause bedtime to be much later. Molly thought this was because Sarah didn’t want to go to bed. However, after learning about antecedent, behavior, consequence data, or ABC, she realized Sarah was running away because she wanted her mother’s attention.

After this realization, Molly stopped chasing Sarah and would instead announce that it was time for bed and, without much ceremony, guide Sarah to her bedroom to put on her PJs. ABC data changed how Molly reacted, which in turn, changed Sarah’s behavior.

The purpose of ABC for autism is to record events or actions that occur before and after someone exhibits a behavior.

Some of you may be wondering, what even is an antecedent? Allow us to explain.

An antecedent is an event or behavior that occurs before a target behavior (i.e., the behavior of interest) occurs. Another way to think of an antecedent is as the “trigger” for a targeted behavior. Common triggers include sensory sensitivities to noises/lights, new routines, demands, transitions, and denied access to something preferred, such as a toy.

For the behavior portion, it means any action that a person exhibits following the antecedent. The last part of the term is consequence, which is what occurs immediately after the behavior. These consequences help practitioners determine what is maintaining a behavior. For example, if every time a child cries (behavior), he gets a chocolate bar (consequence), gaining the chocolate bar after crying would be the maintaining consequence.

The ABC's of Behavior
Practice the ABC with your child

The Purpose of ABC Data Collection

After learning about what the ABCs stand for, you may be wondering what the purpose is for this data. Recording ABC data is critical in applied behavior analysis (ABA) because it helps determine what leads to a child’s behavior. ABC Data collection allows us to recognize what the behavior can look like and whether it is positive or negative.

With more in-depth ABC data, we can also get an idea of how long the behavior may last, a certain time of day the behavior is more likely to occur, and it can help us be more in-tuned to environmental triggers that may cause the behavior at hand.

For practitioners in the field, using ABC data can help hypothesize the function of the behavior. In other words, this helps providers create an intervention plan for the person to target a behavior. It also helps with examining any patterns in what comes before and after the behavior.

For example, each time Jim sees the cookie jar (antecedent), he begins to scream and cry (behavior), which leads to his babysitter giving him a cookie to reduce his screaming and crying (consequence)

From an ABA viewpoint, recording ABC data in this scenario is extremely helpful because it can help a practitioner determine that Jim’s behavior is due to wanting a cookie. His behavior continues because he knows his babysitter will give him a cookie if he screams and cries.

Instead of screaming and crying, using ABA Jim can learn to ask for a cookie politely. From this data, his babysitter can also receive information about scenarios when it would be appropriate to give Jim a cookie but to not do so when he screams and cries.

How to Take ABC Data

Parents, teachers, caregivers, practitioners, and therapists are examples of the many individuals who can record ABC data. Not everyone has prior experience using ABC data, so keep reading for helpful tips on making the process (especially if it is your first time)as smooth as possible.

You can easily access and print many data sheets on the internet. All ABC datasheets will include separate boxes labeled “Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence,” but it is best to choose a data sheet that is the most user-friendly to you!  There are also tons of video resources on YouTube and via Google search that explain how to take ABC data.

When beginning to take data, it is best to not overwhelm yourself and take data for the whole day. Start by taking data a few times through the day when you anticipate the behavior or while it is happening. Once you begin writing down what you witness, you want to be as clear and descriptive as possible while keeping in mind that you’ll be looking for what comes before the behavior, what the behavior looks like, and what comes after the behavior.

After becoming comfortable with tracking these three steps, you can start recording how long the behavior lasts, the time of day, and how many times a day it occurs. Parents should take ABC data until they feel they have enough to form conclusions about the behavior.

The ABCs may be unfamiliar at first, but it helps us track behaviors, and learn more about a child’s needs and areas of improvement. Ultimately, getting to know the ABCs allows us to be one step closer to progress!

Tips for Taking ABC Data

There are multiple ways you can approach recording ABC data. Some people prefer more detailed sheets where you can write down specific actions and the time they occurred, others prefer a simplified sheet where they can jot down a few notes about the behavior.

No matter which method you prefer, here are a few general tips to guide your ABA data collection:

  • Record objective data: Recording a challenging behavior can cause you to feel frustrated or upset as you try to understand why your child is acting this way. Try to leave your personal feelings out of your recordings and record the behavior you are observing objectively.
  • Write down direct observations: It can be tempting to guess your child’s motivations behind their actions. Write down only what you observe to improve the accuracy of your data.
  • Don’t interpret the behavior: It can be tempting to analyze why your child is acting in a certain way. However, if we knew this motivation, there would be no need to record this data. When recoding, write down what you see or hear and leave your interpretations for a later time.

The ABC's of Behavior & Functions of Behavior

Looking for Behavioral Therapy? Try Early Autism Services Today

If you’re looking for additional ways to help your child improve their behavior, Early Austim Services is here to help. We offer a variety of applied behavior analysis therapy options that can take place either in your home or at one of our centers across the United States, Australia, and India. Our primary goal is to help your child reach their full potential, and we will cater our programs to fit your child’s exact needs.

To take advantage of our services, please schedule a free consultation today!

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Potty Training Tips for Children With Autism

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Potty Training Tips for Children with Autism

Potty training is an obstacle all parents and their children must navigate together. Children with autism have varying skills, needs and abilities that may pose unique challenges in the potty training process. However, you can reach this milestone step by step with time, patience and the right resources.

While toilet training a child with autism can be challenging, it’s worth the effort to help them become more independent. This guide will explain when and how to potty train your child and offer tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Things to Consider Before Potty Training

When you compare yourself to others, it’s easy to become frustrated or disappointed if potty training doesn’t go as smoothly as you anticipated. It’s important to remember that every potty training experience is different, and children with autism may require more patience and attention than other kids. Here are some obstacles you could face:

  • Creating new routines: If your child is used to a rigid schedule in a consistent environment, introducing potty training can be a challenging adjustment.
  • Overcoming communication barriers: Depending on your child’s ability to communicate verbally, they may have trouble telling you when they have to use the bathroom.
  • Understanding bodily functions: Some children need time to understand the connection between the feeling of having to urinate and actual urination.

How to Know When It’s Time to Start

There is no specific age to start potty training. Children on the autism spectrum have unique needs and abilities that will impact their potty training timeline. Children with autism rarely demonstrate toilet readiness at the same age as their peers, and most aren’t ready to learn until they’re several years older.

Potty training too early can be ineffective and frustrating. Waiting for the right time ensures your child is willing and able to learn these new skills. Your child might be displaying signs that they are ready to potty train if they:

  • Tell you or gesture when they’re wet or dry.
  • Try to take off their diaper when it’s soiled.
  • Cry or seem uncomfortable in a dirty diaper.
  • Urinate and have bowel movements on a consistent schedule.
  • Can stay dry for at least one hour.
  • Can follow simple directions.
  • Can communicate their needs.
  • Feel comfortable in the bathroom.
  • Are willing to sit on the toilet.

Children who exhibit these signs recognize when they have soiled themselves and no longer enjoy wearing diapers. They show that their body is ready to use the bathroom on a consistent schedule, which is crucial for toilet training. They understand directions and can communicate their needs somehow — verbally, using pictures or with a device.

Some children may feel weary of the bathroom at first. It’s important for your child to feel safe and comfortable in the bathroom before you start potty training. When you reward your child for spending time in the bathroom with candy or an exciting toy, they will begin to see it as a fun place. Listening to music or playing a game will also help them feel happy and at ease in the space.

The final step before potty training is making sure that your child is comfortable and willing to sit on the toilet. A large toilet seat isn’t designed for tiny bottoms. Look for a child’s potty seat that fits on top of the existing seat. They come in fun designs with your child’s favorite characters, and some even play music. Letting your child choose their own seat will help them get excited about potty training.

If that isn’t enough to make them want to sit on the toilet, you can gradually build this skill. Place them on the toilet and let them get up right before they start crying or acting upset. This helps them learn that getting up is dependent on them sitting calmly.

As they start to feel more comfortable, you can slowly increase their time on the toilet by a few seconds until they can sit there for long enough to urinate or have a bowel movement. It’s crucial to praise and reward your child as they master each skill, so they have a positive experience and are willing to continue learning.

Praise your child for going potty

When your child shows all of these skills, you can start the potty training process.

How to Prepare for Potty Training

Potty training is a process that takes several days to initiate. If your child has autism, it can take even longer. When you’re ready to start potty training, it’s helpful to prepare in advance to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Here are some important steps to take before you begin:

1. Clear Your Schedule

Starting the process for toilet training a child with autism requires at least one dedicated week of your time. Many families choose to start the process over the summer or during a holiday break when they can take off work and children are out of school.

It’s crucial to clear your schedule so you can give your child undivided attention during this time. You should devote the entire week to following your potty training routine and rushing your child to the toilet if needed to prevent accidents in between sit times. Choose the best time that works for your family to focus on reaching this important milestone.

2. Let People Know

It takes a village to potty train a child. Let your child’s teachers and care providers know that you’re starting potty training. They may be able to help you through this process.

The principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help increase the success of your toilet training process. If your child has an ABA provider, they can work with you to create a program that works for a child with autism. The potty training process included in this guide incorporates many ABA strategies.

3. Protect Your Home

When you start potty training, accidents are bound to happen. Preparing your home ahead of time can help protect carpet and furniture and make cleanup easier. Some people use plastic to cover fabric surfaces or rent a special cleaning device. Consider keeping a stockpile of cleaning supplies and paper towels on hand. It’s important to remember that, while potty training can be messy, it’s worth it to help your child learn a lifelong skill.

4. Gather Supplies

During potty training, children are encouraged to drink more liquids so they have extra opportunities to practice urinating on the toilet. Parents can stock up on their favorite drinks and maybe a few snacks, so their child is more likely to consume fluids.

While you’re in the food aisle, grab some small candies or treats that you can use to reward your child when they use the bathroom successfully. If your child isn’t food motivated, you could also motivate them with small, inexpensive toys. It’s essential to choose something that they don’t usually get and are excited to earn.

You should also consider stocking up on underwear, socks and clothing that may become soiled during this time. If your child has several accidents, it helps to have a stockpile of fresh clothes. It’s also a good idea to purchase extra laundry supplies and stain remover to wash soiled clothing.

Another helpful tip is to purchase a few activities or toys to entertain your child while they’re sitting on the toilet. You can use items you already have around the house, but sometimes new things can make the child’s experience a little more exciting.

5. Prepare Your Child

One of the most important steps to prepare for potty training is getting your child ready to start the process. Spend time talking to them about potty training and answer any questions they may have. Children’s books with pictures can help explain the process in a way kids can understand. Animated videos featuring your child’s favorite characters can be even more effective.

After introducing them to potty training with books and other resources, you can take them into the bathroom so they get used to spending time there. Showing them their new toilet seats and bathroom toys can help them get excited about learning how to use the potty. You can also show them the treats they can earn for using the toilet.

Use books and resources on the potty

Another method some people find helpful is to model going to the bathroom in front of your child. If you feel comfortable with this strategy, it can provide real-life exposure to help your child learn.

The Potty Training Process

When your child is ready and you’ve finished the preparations, the toilet training process can begin! The following strategies will help you successfully potty train a child with autism:

1. Getting the Day Started

Potty training begins the moment your child wakes up. Take them to the toilet right away and set a timer for 10 minutes. If they empty their bladder before the 10 minutes is over, they earn a reward and get to leave the toilet for the remainder of those 10 minutes plus an additional five-minute break. If they don’t urinate within those 10 minutes, they still get to leave the toilet for a five-minute break, but they don’t receive a reward.

2. Push Food and Liquids

It’s important to give your child plenty of liquids during the day to ensure they need to urinate frequently. Fibrous foods are also a good idea to encourage bowel movements. They’re going to spend a lot of time on the toilet, so it helps to give them maximum opportunities to use the bathroom successfully.

3. Repeat the Process

When the first five-minute break is over, praise your child if they stay dry and take them back to the toilet to sit for another 10 minutes or until they urinate. You’ll repeat this process until your child has been successful for one hour.

Be patient if your child doesn’t urinate or if they have an accident during their break. Some children take more time to learn than others. It’s important not to scold them for having an accident. Potty training is a process, and it may take a while before you start to see the results of your hard work.

4. Move Up a Level

There are 12 different levels to this potty training procedure. As your child progresses, they will spend less time on the toilet and more time off, as they gradually become more successful staying dry and eliminating on the toilet.

In the beginning, it can seem like you’re constantly switching back and forth between the bathroom and taking breaks. While some levels require significant effort, they’re necessary to give your child plenty of opportunities to use the toilet with a short enough break that they can stay dry between intervals.

When they’re successful with an interval for one hour, you can progress to the next level. For example, if your child successfully urinates within 10 minutes of sitting on the toilet and stays dry during the five-minute break for an entire hour, they can progress to level 2. If they’re successful at level 2 for one hour, they can move to level 3 and so on until they reach level 12. Here is the schedule for all 12 levels:

  • Level 1: Spend 10 minutes on the toilet and 5 minutes off
  • Level 2: Spend 10 minutes on the toilet and 10 minutes off
  • Level 3: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 15 minutes off
  • Level 4: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 25 minutes off
  • Level 5: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 35 minutes off
  • Level 6: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 45 minutes off
  • Level 7: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 60 minutes off
  • Level 8: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 90 minutes off
  • Level 9: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 2 hours off
  • Level 10: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 2.5 hours off
  • Level 11: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 3 hours off
  • Level 12: Spend 5 minutes on the toilet and 4 hours off
Potty Training Schedule

Tips for Potential Challenges and Setbacks

Here are some additional tips to help you overcome some challenges that you may experience:

  • Getting stuck at a level: If you’re having trouble moving past a certain level, try reducing liquids back to a typical amount to help your child stay dry. You should also consider if the rewards you’ve chosen are motivating enough. Make sure you offer plenty of praise and encouragement when your child stays dry and uses the toilet. They may need more time to adjust to that level of skill.
  • Incorporating real-life activities: During the first six levels of potty training, it’s best to stay in the home where your child can quickly get to the toilet. When they can stay dry for at least an hour, you can start incorporating real-life activities back into your schedule. If they go to school, their teacher or care provider can help maintain their bathroom schedule.
  • Training regression: It’s normal for some children to backslide for many different reasons. If your child starts having consistent accidents at a certain level, you can shift them back to the previous level for several hours until you think they’re ready to try the next level again.

Get Help From Early Autism Services

When you’re ready to take your first steps toward potty training, Early Autism Services can provide you with effective strategies to assist you through the process. We understand every child with autism is unique, which is why we take time to get to know your child and create a personalized program tailored to their needs and abilities.

For more information on potty training children on the autism spectrum, check out our free self-guided courses for parents. If you’re interested in ABA therapy services for your child, request a free consultation today!

Request a consultation for ABA services
Father Teaching Child to Bruch His Teeth

Teeth-Brushing: Helpful Tips for Teaching Your Child to Brush Their Teeth

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Ensuring your child’s hygiene is up kept is one of the main tasks in our parenting role. However, important tasks such as toothbrushing can be difficult for many children with autism spectrum disorder. Tooth brushing prevents plaque, cavities, endless trips to the dentist, so how do we teach our kids to brush their teeth independently while also staying engaged? Early Autism Services has some teeth-brushing tips that will make the process easier for you and your child.

Father Teaching Child to Bruch His Teeth

Break it Down Into Small Steps

When beginning to teach your child how to brush their teeth, it is best to start by breaking it down into smaller steps. When breaking these steps down, get creative! Find ways to make it engaging for your child to remember all the steps to teeth-brushing.

Some suggestions include creating visuals in the bathroom to indicate where to brush or an eye-catching step-by-step list. Even making up a song or finding one online can make things fun for kiddos. Children that have difficulty knowing how long to brush can now brush their teeth for the song’s duration.  Planning a set time for children to brush their teeth is an easy way to help your child reach their twice-a-day teeth cleaning requirement.

Find a child-friendly toothbrush to increase their interest, it can feature their favorite character. Most toothbrushes and toothpaste have the recommended child’s age on them which can make purchasing one easier.

Reward Your Child’s Progress

As you begin to teach your child how to brush their teeth, remember to use lots of praise and rewards for appropriate behavior. Rewards can be songs, tickles, bubbles, or whatever your child prefers best as they improve. With these essential tips, your child should be able to brush their teeth independently in no time!

More Tips You May Find Helpful

Finding a tooth brushing method that works best for you and your child may take some time. Keep trying new techniques and approach each tooth brushing session with an open mind. Some additional tips that may help your child include:

  • Use a timer: Seeing how much time your child has left may improve their focus as they brush their teeth.
  • Look for different toothpaste flavors: Finding mild flavors such as bubblegum, orange, or even flavorless if your child does not enjoy mint toothpaste.
  • Use a power toothbrush: After mastering a manual toothbrush, the next step is to try a power toothbrush that does the brushing for your child.

Contact Early Autism Services Today

At Early Autism Services, we are passionate about helping your child reach their full potential. We offer various applied behavior analysis therapy services in many locations across the United States, Australia, and India.

If you have any questions or would like additional information regarding self-help skills, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and schedule a free consultation. Our team is more than happy to walk you through our programs, answer questions, or talk through costs and insurance.

During your free consultation with us, one of our clinicians will sit down with you and your child to explain our programs. After this consultation, we’ll create a personalized therapy program to help your child develop their skills and learn new ones!

Schedule a free consultation today. We look forward to helping your child grow to their full potential.

Snowmen at Night: Storytime Read-Along with EAS

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EAS Story Time: Snowmen at Night: A fun read along story about snowmen that includes themes about understanding and identifying emotions. This story is a great book for children with autism who are learning about emotions.

Book Description: “Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered, “What do snowmen do at night?” Witty, imaginative verse offers many amusing details about the secret life of snowmen. An entertaining read-aloud for bedtime sharing or winter storytimes.

This delightful wintertime tale reveals all! Caralyn Buehner’s witty, imaginative verse offers many amusing details about the secret life of snowmen and where they go at night, while Mark Buehner’s roly-poly snowmen are bursting with personality and charm. From the highly successful team that created such winning titles as Fanny’s DreamSnowmen at Night is fabulous, frosty, and fun!”

Parenting Tips for Story Time

Author:

Jessica Goldberg | Autism Parent & Behavior Therapist/Outreach Specialist
Early Autism Services

Emotions and Autism Therapy

Helping Your Child Manage Their Emotions

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Learning to identify and regulate emotions can be very challenging, especially for young children on the autism spectrum. While emotions can feel overwhelming, there are tools that can help your child learn to identify, and regulate, their emotions.

Use Familiar Books & Videos

Using fun books and videos to identify facial expressions and label emotions is a fun way to teach your child to, eventually, label their own emotions.

  • Here is a fun example video you can watch with your child where we read a story called “Snowmen at Night”. Using the illustrations in the book, we point out different expressions and emotions: EAS Story Time: Snowmen at Night

Parenting Tips for Story Time

Zones of Regulation

Another way you can help your child learn to identify and manage emotions is using Zones of Regulation. Identifying facial expressions can be challenging for some individuals with autism, so Zones of Regulation teaches emotions in the form of colors. Once kids learn what behaviors and emotions fall under each color, they start learning how other people feel when they are in certain zones.

How it Works

There are 4 colors: Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red. (This section will have photos)

  • Blue Zone means you’re tired, bored, not quite ready to work, etc.

  • Green Zone means you’re calm, relaxed, ready for the day, eager to learn, etc.

  • Yellow Zone means maybe you’re annoyed, getting frustrated, or maybe starting to feel a little out of control, but not quite there yet

  • Red Zone means you’re out of control, furious, terrified or devastated

How to Teach Zones of Regulation at Home

Imagine your child is upset after losing a game of monopoly with his friend. He’s frustrated and starting to lose control.  He stops talking to his friend and stomps away. This would be the “yellow zone”. Using the zones approach, consider asking your child, “How do you think your behaviors are making your friend feel?” “What kinds of things are they thinking?” “What might they say to you?” These kinds of questions teach a child how their behaviors affect others. Soon after, they’re learning about appropriate responses to different events in their lives. Some problems are really big, but some are really small. Red Zone responses may be appropriate for huge problems, but they aren’t appropriate for tiny problems. Zones of Regulation focuses the rest of the curriculum on teaching appropriate replacement behaviors in the form of coping strategies. There are tons of different strategies, from breathing exercises to physical activity to requesting breaks.

Ultimately Zones of Regulation can be a great tool for teaching emotional regulation to your child. If you’d like some help in teaching the Zones to your child, reach out to your child’s BCBA. They can assess your child’s needs and build an individualized program for them. If your child does not currently have a BCBA, and you’d like to speak with a clinician, please give our team a call to schedule a free consultation.

Authors:

Heather Snodgrass | Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Early Autism Services

Jessica Goldberg | Autism Parent & Behavior Therapist/Outreach Specialist
Early Autism Services

Enjoying the Holidays: Tips for Parents of Children with Autism

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Holiday Tips for Parents of Children with Autism

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, full of family traditions and seasonal favorites. The holidays can also be overwhelming, especially for children with autism and their families. 

This year, with the added consideration of COVID-19, there are different challenges to consider, but with a little preparation and a lot of patience, you can create a holiday experience that your entire family can enjoy.

1.) Pre-game Prep

Take time to prepare your kiddo for the holidays and new experiences you have planned.  Reading books and watching videos about the holidays are fun ways to get into the holiday spirit.  If you are planning to travel or gather with family and friends, the following are a few tools I have found helpful with my kids:

  • Social Stories – Create a basic story of what your kiddo will be doing and steps they can take to feel balanced and regulated.  This is a link to Personalized Social Story Templates from Autism Speaks
  • Pictures of Friends & Relatives- If you are going to be socializing with friends and relatives, show your kiddo pictures of the people they will be visiting with and label the photos with each person’s name.
  • Let Them Help- As you are preparing for the holidays, encourage your kiddo to lend a hand.  Remember, participation is different for everyone.  For some, arts & crafts or cooking is a fun way to help, while others may be content with being in the same room with you.

2.) Manage Expectations 

Keeping plans simple and managing expectations are essential in enjoying the holidays with my kids.  It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  In order for me to model the behavior I want to see in my kids & stay calm, I’ve learned to keep things simple.  ere are a few other tips I find helpful during the holidays:

  • Keep Routines & Consistent Schedules- Keeping schedules and routines consistent, will help your kiddo feel balanced. Try to plan holiday meals during a time that works best for your family.
  • Pick Your Battles-  If the goal is to enjoy stress free holidays, this may not be the time to introduce new foods, goals or challenging activities.  Set your kiddo ( and yourself) up for success and keep it simple.

3.) Plan Ahead

Creating a game-plan in advance is a great way to reduce stress for you and your family. Take some time to identify what your family needs to enjoy a successful holiday experience and be sure to ask for help. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful in planning for the holidays:

  • Timing – From planning mealtimes to duration of visits, timing is everything.  Choose times that work best for your family and plan around them.  I find that “short & sweet” is best when socializing with my family and plan our departure early, to avoid sensory overload.
  • Divide & Conquer –  Identify your kiddo’s needs for support and create a plan with your spouse, partner or family members.  Teamwork makes the dreamwork!  Take turns giving your kiddo the support s/he needs while visiting with friends and family.
  • Identify a Quiet Space – Whether you are hosting a gathering at home or visiting friends and family, it’s helpful to identify a quiet space that your kiddo can go to and take a break.  Remind your kiddo where the space is & encourage him/her to take regular breaks to chill out & reset.

4.) Be Present and Enjoy!

The holidays are a time to be with friends and family, express love and gratitude, and celebrate! Take this time to enjoy your family favorites like listening to music; cooking a special meal (or ordering takeout); or taking a quiet walk together. Take it easy- keep it simple & enjoy your beautiful family!

Author:

Jessica Goldberg | Autism Parent & Behavior Therapist/Outreach Specialist
Early Autism Services

How to Motivate My Child with Autism

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  • Children with autism are not typically socially motivated.
  • We must then find any physical item, food, or activity that motivates them.
  • Finding that item will make it easier to teach your child new skills.
  • Avoid thinking that your child will become too dependent on these items. If it helps them learn, then let’s use it to teach new skills.

Two ways to find items your child likes include:

  1. Watch them during their free time. During free time, put your child in a spot that has all their favorite things. If needed, you can add extra stuff your child likes in the room.
  • Write down what they did during their free time.
  • Write down how long they did that activity for.
  • Watch out for behaviors your child engages in- this can include staring at a fan, hand flapping, rubbing their hands together, looking at the wheels of cars.
  1. Grab all the items and activities your child enjoys.
  • You will present two items at a time as a choice. Ask your child to “pick one.”
  • You will then rotate which items you present together.
  • Present each item equal amount of times.
  • Write down which item your child chooses most often.
  • The item your child chooses the most is his/her most preferred item.

 

Learning new skills can help any kid get through their day to day life.

Getting Through the Wait List

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If you suspect your child might need a diagnosis to receive extra support and services, it is important to receive proper therapies ASAP. You will soon find yourself stalled by waiting-lists upon waiting-lists.

Getting through the wait list as quickly as possible is your goal!

Tips on obtaining a quick diagnosis:

  • Call your insurance provider to obtain a list of locations that provide diagnosis.
  • Ask your insurance provider to give you diagnostic centers up to an hour away from your home. Provide them with a remote area (less likely to have a wait list).
  • Call all of these diagnostic centers and tell them to place you on the waiting list (if they have one).
  • Ask how long the wait list is.
  • Intermittently call the diagnostic centers to see if they had any cancellations. This increases your chances of obtaining a quicker appointment.
    • “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”

 

Another method on getting through the wait list:

  • Research what type of therapies your child will benefit from once they obtain the diagnosis you suspect.
  • Call local agencies that provide those services.
  • Ask them if they refer any diagnostic centers with a short wait list- mention you are willing to drive up to an hour or two away (if possible).

If you would like to find out more about the services that EAS offers, please visit our website at earlyautismservices.com or call  (312) 965-2997.