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Technology as a Reinforcement Tool

While scientists work on finding the causes of autism behavioral specialists are making great strides in assisting child development through the use of technology.

The Benefits of Modern Technology

Computers in the classroom have evolved from a luxury to a necessity as communication technologies progress. As traditional classrooms have proven successful with the use of modern technology, autism specialists have been researching and developing therapies that use computers to improve communication means for children with autism.

How Does It Work?

Research has found that many children with autism are visual learners. Computers provide teachers and therapists the means to create visual presentations as well as the ability to use communication software that resonates with children who have autism. Because children with autism often communicate through images as opposed to words, computer language software programs provide a way for children to communicate their wants and needs in a way that makes sense to them.

What are the Benefits of Using Technology to Help Children with Autism?

Through this means of positive communication, children experience a more enjoyable, less stressful learning environment that increases their ability to break down their barriers and develop their social skills. One of the most widely used learning techniques with technology is practicing cause and effect. For example, if the child is hungry and wants to eat, he or she would be taught to draw, find or present an image of a food item. The child would then show their picture to their teacher or parent and receive the food they asked for.

Technology and computers can also be used to benefit those who seek to further develop motor skills. Working with a computer, iPad, video game or any technology requires children to practice and develop their fine motor skills, something children with autism often struggle with.

To learn more about the use of technology in ABA therapy or how ABA therapy can help your child, schedule a tour at one of our centers by calling 574-387-4313.

Eating Out with a Child that Has Autism

Something as simple as eating out with your child with autism can often be a stressful and anxiety inducing time for a family and child. Children can become easily over stimulated in the loud and sometimes busy and chaotic environment. Below, we have outlined what we hope will be some helpful and useful tips for taking your child with autism out to eat.

7 Tips for Eating Out with Your Child with Autism

  1. If possible, go at a quiet time of day. Think early dinners around 4:00 or 5:00 pm if your families schedule allows it. Consider a late afternoon lunch if you are going out on the weekends. Early dinners and late lunches tend to be less busy for restaurants and will provide a quieter and less stimulating environment for your child.
  2. Ask to not be seated next to the kitchen, bathrooms or main entrance to help minimize the number of people that are walking by your table. Additionally, if there are any large parties ask to be seated away from them.
  3. Sit in the corner; this will make it so that there are only two walls that are open to sound.
  4. If possible, ask for a booth instead of a table, this will help provide a more contained environment for your child.
  5. Ask your server to give you a heads up if there will be any singing for a birthday at a table close by so that you can take your child outside for a few moments while they sing.
  6. Should your child get overstimulated take your child outside and let him/her walk around for a few moments or go sit in the car so that they can calm down.
  7. Try to keep your child occupied while at dinner. This can mean coloring, playing with an iPad, bringing a favorite toy – whatever your child enjoys!

 

How to Best Advocate for Your Child with Autism

We understand firsthand the struggles that parents and caregivers face when trying to advocate for a child with autism. Believe it or not, children with Autism have unlimited possibilities. The degree of success a child with autism will have depends greatly upon early intervention and appropriate educational support.

Parents and providers should never view any challenge that they are presented with as hopeless. Everyone has hurdles to overcome in both collaboration and communication with the people you trust to treat your child, but it worth the effort.

Here, we want to focus on giving you the tools to effectively advocate for your child, specifically when it comes to their education.

1.) Remember, you are your child’s best advocate! Regardless of the school district, schools are limited as to what they can do for your child because of funding and staffing limitations.

2.) Make sure that your child has an IEP. The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a very powerful document, more powerful than most parents realize. IEPs that are well written can drive your child’s educational program as well as provide the documentation that is needed if a situation happens where your child is not making progress.

3.) Be informed and prepared. Learn as much as you can about autism, treatment, and the rights of your child. Many school districts do have funds for parent education. Inquire about parent training and educational opportunities.

3.) Communicate clearly. Make sure you understand what is being communicated to you by the schools. Try to communicate from a non-emotional place during IEP and other parent meetings and clearly state your child’s needs.

4.) IEP meetings can often become heated. Try to remain calm, clearly state your child’s needs, and focus on the present and future rather than the past. Remember, collaboration is key to your child’s success. All parties must remain calm, focused, and remember that the child’s needs  are what’s most important.

5.) Ask questions. If unfamiliar terms are being used, do not be afraid to ask questions. You need to understand policies and procedures as well as plans and interventions. The more you know, the less frustration there will be.

6.) Be proactive. Take the time to create a list of objectives and items hat you want to cover in the IEP meeting. This will help the meeting stay on track and ensure you do not forget anything you wanted to discuss.

7.) Know what your rights are. Know what alternative options you may have available to you. Remain confident and stay strong, so that you can passionately and persuasively represent your child.

For additional assistance and resources, contact Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313.

Autism Support Groups

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we understand firsthand the struggles that parents and caregivers face when raising a child with autism. It truly takes a village to care for a child with autism, but we understand that families also need support. We believe it’s important that a support network is in place for not only the individual with autism, but also for those who are helping care for them. Below is a list of local autism support groups. For more information, contact Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313..

*Lighthouse is not affiliated and does not officially support any of these groups.

Autism Support Groups:

Autism Society of Indiana

the VOICE Elkhart

Autism Support Group of Goshen

Lakes Area Autism Network (LAAN)

For a full list of Indiana Autism Support groups, visit https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/parent-groups