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All posts by Gregg

The Importance of Parental Involvement

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we believe in a team approach to helping your child reach their fullest potential. While every member of the team (parents, caregivers, therapists, educators, doctors, advocates) play a part in your child’s success, a parents role is arguable the most important.

Support Starts from the Beginning

While the causes of autism are still unknown, it is important to start looking for the signs of autism early. Studies have shown that catching the signs of autism early in a child’s life can lead to better outcomes. Some of these early signs include missing various developmental milestones, no babbling, no eye contact, no response to name, lack of expression (happy, smiling). If you suspect that your child may be exhibiting the signs of autism, it is important you contact your healthcare provider to determine if your child has autism.

Support Through Therapy 

Once a child receives an autism diagnosis, it is crucial that parents and caregivers seek appropriate therapy services for their child, which may include, ABA therapy, Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, or a combination of these and other therapies.

Specifically, ABA therapy is the only therapy recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General for the treatment of autism. With individualized treatment plans designed by Board Certified Behavior Analysts and the work of a trained Registered Behavior Technician, we sees children achieve great outcomes through this type of therapy.

Therapy At Home

It is equally important that parents work to implement the same skills their child is working on in therapy at home. For example, if a child works on using utensils as part of a therapy program, but parents do not work with the child to use utensils at home, that child may learn they only have to use utensils when they go to therapy, but not at home. Consistency and follow through are key to a child’s success and that requires the commitment and work of parents and caregivers to follow through at home.

Lighthouse Autism Center

For parents and children at Lighthouse Autism Center, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts provide parent training’s and will often go into a child’s home to assist parents. We want to make sure that parents have the tools and knowledge to follow through at home and help their child achieve their highest potential.

 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center, call 574-387-4313.

Center-Based ABA Therapy

In June of 2012 there was a major federal policy change that took place that provided more families living with autism access to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy. Now, nearly all states require health insurance plans to cover ABA therapy.

Many people will agree that ABA therapy is something that can be done in a variety of environments, including a school environment, home environment and center-based environment. However, studies show that ABA is most effective when done 1 on 1 in an intensive, center-based environment.

Because ABA therapy is highly individualized and each program is uniquely designed for a child, it becomes difficult to implement these programs in a school environment. Schools often are dealing with budget and staffing constraints which makes it challenging to implement ABA therapy in a school setting.

A center-based program also allows children to interact with other children and therapists, work on not only social and communication skills, but also daily living skills, and it provides the opportunity to work on further “real world” situations outside of the classroom.

So what are some factors you should consider when looking for an ABA center?

  • Safe and welcoming environment
  • Educated staff (credentials and experience as well as passion matter)
  • Child-to-therapist ratio
  • BCBA caseload size
  • Open communication
  • Parental involvement

Always request a tour and ask about the process for enrollment. See if they offer assistance to the family such as support groups and education.

If you would like to learn more about center-based ABA therapy, please contact Lighthouse Autism Center’s Family Outreach Coordinator at 574-387-4313.

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!