Lighthouse Autism Center Shining Example: Gaia

Lighthouse Autism Center Shining Example: Gaia

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Child Spotlight of the Month: Gaia.

Gaia has made so much progress since starting at Lighthouse Autism Center! When she first started, she struggled with vocal skills, walking without assistance, independent eating and identifying and sorting items.

Gaia’s Progress at Lighthouse Autism Center

  • Now, Gaia is vocally asking for preferred items up to 60 times per day.
  • Now, Gaia is walking an average of 850 feet per day in a gait trainer.
  • Now, Gaia is reliably feeding herself lunch using a spoon and fork without problem behavior.
  • Now, Gaia can receptively identify 40 objects.
  • Now, Gaia is reliably matching identical and non-identical objects, photos, and 2D/3D items from a field of 10.

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Perspective

“Gaia is one of the most resilient and self-motivated learners! When she is determined, the sky is the limit, especially in regard to her progress! Gaia has made significant progress in many areas, but the most notable is that Gaia is walking an average of 850 feet in her gait trainer daily. Her therapists are constantly encouraging her by singing and wearing silly costumes. If you know Gaia, she is always cheering, smiling, and taking one more step toward independence!”

-Brooke George, Program Manager at Lighthouse Autism Center

At LAC, we are seeing incredible progress made by our learners every day.

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Tayler

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight of the Month: Tayler

Tayler is a Client Support and Diagnostic Coordinator at Lighthouse Autism Center and has been with Lighthouse Autism Center since October of 2022. She previously graduated with a bachelors degree from Western Michigan University, double majoring in Criminal Justice and Sociology. Tayler is a mother of one daughter and a son on the way. She enjoys exercising, listening to music, traveling, and going on walks with her family.

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

I applied at Lighthouse because working with children with autism interested me. It was something that I felt like I would enjoy and would learn a lot from. 

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My favorite part of working for Lighthouse Autism Center is that I get to work with parents on the enrollment process and see learners start at our centers, getting the help that they need. I work in diagnostic testing and it’s amazing to see how many families we are helping.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

My experience working for Lighthouse has been great so far. I like working for a company that helps so many families. The people I work with are also great people and are doing great things. 

What advice you would like to share for those interested in a career at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My advice for those wanting to work for Lighthouse Autism Center is give your best every day with a great attitude and smile.

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

Lighthouse Autism Center Opens New Center in Daleville, Indiana!

ABA Therapy Center is Now Open in Daleville, Indiana

Lighthouse Autism Center (LAC) continues to expand, now with a network of centers in three states. It has been quite a journey. From its humble beginnings serving four families in one building, to now serving hundreds of families across multiple states for nearly a decade, it is truly amazing. Our newest state-of-the-art ABA therapy center is now open in Daleville, Indiana, providing autism services to 25 children and their families and creating 35 new jobs in the area. 

Our mission is to provide the highest quality autism services to children and families by opening our newest autism center near you. Lighthouse Autism Center has committed to continuing our mission in Daleville, Indiana as the need for ABA services continues to grow. Lighthouse is determined to fill that need by opening new centers in underserved locations with facilities that can accommodate a larger capacity of learners, helping more families and children with autism, reach their goals, with our new child development center in Daleville, IN, being testament of that.

Lighthouse Autism Center is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy provider

With beautiful facilities that promote natural and play-based learning, and a team of highly trained and compassionate clinicians, Lighthouse Autism Center brings together compassionate care and clinical excellence to offer the highest quality ABA therapy to children with autism.

Autism Center for speech and language

With a unique clinical model called Lighthouse Fusion®, children at Lighthouse are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. While other ABA centers typically keep ABA and speech therapies separate, Lighthouse Fusion brings these two therapies together into one enhanced therapy solution. We invite you to learn more about how this innovative clinical model is helping to unlock each child’s potential. 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center or enroll your child, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at 317-222-1242 or visit our website.

Daleville Center contact information

9301 S Innovation Dr. Suite 103

Daleville, Indiana 47334

Family Outreach Phone: 317-222-1242

Don’t see an autism treatment center listed near you? Contact us and let us know the area you are in, and we will notify you when we have a center opening near you!

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

Sensory Game Day at the South Bend Cubs

Lighthouse Autism Center Celebrates Autism Awareness and Acceptance with a Sensory Friendly Game at the South Bend Cubs

Saturday, April 15, 2023, 4:05PM at Four Winds Field in South Bend, IN. Learn more here:

Lighthouse Autism Center and the South Bend Cubs are partnering to host a sensory friendly day in support of autism awareness and acceptance. Gates opens at 2pm. First pitch is at 4:05pm. Home Plate Suite will be open as a sensory room.

Checkout this year’s t-shirt design below! This design will be featured on the South Bend Cubs special edition Autism Awareness shirts and hoodies, for the month of April!

These shirts and hoodies will be available for purchase from the South Bend Cubs, in-store and online:

The Cubs Den team store hours are Monday – Friday 10:00am-5:00pm and Saturday 10:00am – 2:00pm and is located at 420 S. William St in South Bend.

Join us for a sensory friendly game that will support autism awareness!

Learn More Here:

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Lighthouse Autism Center Dine to Donate at Wings, Etc.

Wings Etc. South Bend is donating 15% of all pre-tax food & soft drink sales on Tuesday, April 4, 2023 to Lighthouse Autism Center in support of autism awareness and acceptance month.

Come to Wings Etc. at 2051 E. Ireland Road in South Bend, Ind. between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Use code D2D0002 at checkout when ordering online at

Bring the flyer in and show it to your server so you can support the cause.

Wings Etc. Dine to Donate Program

At Wings Etc., we believe in Giving Back to the communities we belong to. We have a simple, easy-to-implement fundraiser program that fits into your busy schedule. Learn more here:

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Autism Awareness Month Sensory Film

Lighthouse Autism Center is sponsoring a Lights Up Sound Down Sensory Movie Screening with Yes Cinema in Columbus, IN in April 2023 in celebration of autism awareness and acceptance month.

The program provides a special opportunity for families to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment. The auditoriums dedicated to the program. They have their lights up, the sound turned down and audience members are invited to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing!

The idea for the program began with a request from a parent with an autistic child for a special screening at AMC Columbia Mall 14 in Columbia, MD. More than 300 children and parents attended the first screening.

AMC Theaters is thrilled to now offer the program at many locations nationwide. As a leading theatrical exhibition company, they are so proud to help make a difference in the estimated 1.5 million Americans living with an autism spectrum disorder by offering families a chance to see a movie together — often for the very first time.

For a list of participating theaters as well as upcoming shows and times visit

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Lighthouse Autism Center Gives Back Fiesta

Lighthouse Autism Center Gives Back Fiesta in support of autism awareness and acceptance!

Interested in eating delicious Mexican cuisine and having your money go to a good cause?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023
Hacienda Mexican Restaurant
3903 Portage Ave, South Bend, IN 46628

The Hacienda on Portage Ave in South Bend is having a fundraiser to raise awareness and acceptance for autism! Bring your appetites and the money will go towards assisting special needs families in the Michiana community!

When you bring a Hacienda Gives Back Token on Tuesday April 11th to Hacienda on Portage Ave, you can then donate 20% of your bill to the Maggioli Families First Foundation! You can also donate 20% of your bill by having the tokens viewable on your phone!

You must show your token when ordering.

We hope to see you there! Learn more here:

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Elopement – Prevention & Safety

Elopement presents a major risk to your autistic child’s safety. Find out the causes for elopement, what prevention strategies to use, as well as how to plan for a possible elopement.

Elopement – Prevention & Safety

Elopement or wandering can be defined as when someone who may require supervision leaves a safe area or a responsible caregiver. When that person is an autistic child, the consequences can be tragic. Autistic children who elope often fall victim to harm through traffic accidents, drowning, falling, extreme weather, or even encounters with predators (human or otherwise).  

When faced with such a terrifying prospect, it is no wonder that parents of autistic children can be tempted to employ extreme measures to protect them without considering whether their interventions will be effective or not.  

The fact, however, is that nearly 50% of autistic children have eloped at some point in their lives, often with tragic consequences, and many parents are left in a constant state of anxiety.  

According to the Organisation for Autism Research (OAR) following their Safety Planning Cycle helps parents to constantly equip themselves and their children with the tools and skills to secure their child’s safety through prevention and planning. 

Why do autistic children elope? 

Firstly, it is important to understand why many autistic children elope. In their review of the assessment and treatment of elopement, Dr. Megan Boyle and Dr. Reesha Adamson of Missouri State University describe the four most common reasons for elopement as follows: 

  1. To get away from a place, activity, or person (escape) 
  1. To obtain access to an item, activity, or person 
  1. To engage in an intrinsically pleasurable activity, such as running 
  1. To gain attention 

Understanding your child’s triggers makes prevention and safety much easier to manage. If it is not immediately apparent why a child elopes, consider keeping a log of every elopement, to help you identify trends.

Here are a few questions to guide what to log: 

  • What sequence of events preceded the elopement? 
  • Who was present? 
  • Can you remember any significant stimuli or obvious triggers? 
  • Where was the child going?
  • What happened after the elopement?   

Once there is a fairly good understanding of the reason for elopement, parents need to develop an elopement prevention plan that anticipates these triggers and mitigates the need for elopement as a response.  

The prevention plan may include some of the following interventions. 

The Safety Planning Cycle

There are five basic steps in the Safety Planning Cycle: 

1. Understand

What does your child need? What makes the child safe or unsafe in a particular situation?  

2. Prepare

What skills does your child need to practice in order to be safe? What resources do they need? What can be done to support your child?  

3. Practice 

Once you’ve created your plan and identified the various tools and skills, implement them and find effective ways to reinforce them. 

4. Share

This is a key step towards securing your wandering child. Share your plan, skills and tools with everyone entrusted with your child’s safety as well as those who form part of your support network. From school teachers to community safety personnel like police and firefighters and EMS, the more people who are aware of your needs, the safer your child is. 

5. Update

Work with your child to constantly assess the plan, tools and skills. See what works and what doesn’t then revise and update the plan accordingly.  

Behavior modification

Elopement prevention for children with autism should go beyond just locking the house down to create a gilded prison for your child. Remember that a child who feels safe, who feels that they have choice in their decisions, and who feels that all their physical and emotional needs are met, are far less likely to elope.  

Your prevention plan should therefore begin with behavioral interventions that reduce the need for your children to elope. These should also be supplemented with more practical interventions to inhibit them should they be overcome with the urge to run.  

A behavior intervention plan for preventing elopement should focus on addressing the triggers mentioned above. A key tool in this is to implement Functional Communication Training (FCT), a process of reinforcing alternative behaviors to elopement that meet the needs of the child as defined by the triggers. Here are a few FCT interventions that you can discuss with your professional support network to consider in your plan.  


In the case of a child seeking attention, parents should use visual aids to teach the child how to get their attention without running away. Parents, who are often the preferred person, should be the ones using visual aids to reinforce the alternative behavior. It might also help to give increased fun and exciting attention in spaces where you want your child to stay.   

Parents should avoid overly angry responses in response to elopement as this will make it even more reinforcing for attention. Instead, provide positive reinforcement for all things you want your child to do, other than elopement.


Trying to escape

First, try to identify what would trigger a child’s need to escape a particular situation. This could be overstimulation, change in environment, or even just a chaotic or noisy environment.  

Parents need to teach their children how to ask for a break from whatever the trigger is rather than elope. If they run anyway, it is important to bring them back, safely and then review better strategies for escape in the future. 

Once back, parents should adjust the task or change the environment to reduce the stress on the child by introducing breaks or moving to a quieter room. This should then be followed by positive reinforcement of getting back to the task. Again, meeting elopement with anger will trigger further elopement or in this circumstance, turn it into a game.  

Doing something pleasurable

Sometimes referred to as “automatic reinforcement or maintained behavior,” autistic children often elope simply to engage in something they enjoy doing, like running or the feeling of the breeze outside.  

In cases where automatic reinforcement is the trigger, parents need to provide more regular access to that activity in a controlled environment. This will reduce the impulse to elope to access it. For example, a child who loves running should have additional access to a gym or track with supervision.  

Desire to access an item, person, or area

Where the trigger is a desire to gain access to an item, person, area, or activity, parents need to teach their children how to ask for it or access it in a safer way. It is also important to establish a routine for access and explain when they will get access and reinforce this by making absolutely sure that they get it on schedule. A break in routine will definitely encourage elopement.  

Teach your child essential skills

Here are some situational elopement strategies on how to prevent autistic children from wandering off, as well as ways to protect them should they succeed.  


Swimming lessons for children with special needs can be difficult to find. The YMCA in many locations across the country offers this specialized service at affordable rates. 

How to navigate traffic

Teach your child basic traffic navigation skills like what traffic lights mean, when and where to cross the road, and how to avoid moving vehicles.  

Stay with you in public spaces

Teach your child to understand the difference between walking and running. Reinforce holding hands or to walk within 6-12 inches of an accompanying adult as well as words like “go, walk, stop”. Reinforce things like staying by the cart in a grocery store, or keeping a hand on the cart in a parking lot.   

How to communicate contact information

Verbal children can be taught to memorize parents’ phone numbers, addresses, and other critical information and should be taught how to provide the answers. This may be difficult or impossible for non-verbal children so alternative means may be necessary in the form of an ID bracelet or card. Even in verbal children, this is a useful tool.  

Practical interventions

Behavioral interventions will only go so far towards mitigating the underlying reasons for elopement while skills are usually employed once in distress. Even if you have a high-functioning autistic child, there may still be a risk of elopement, which requires parents to take very practical steps towards preventing a child from wandering off and to be in a state of readiness should the child elope.  

Create an emergency plan

There are many resources available with templates for an emergency plan in the case of elopement. This plan should include emergency contact information and a step-by-step guide on what to do should your child wander off.  

Your emergency plan should include things like a Google map of the area, a 911 emergency call script, highlights of dangerous areas like bodies of water and high-traffic zones, possible points of interest for your child, etc.  

You should have multiple copies of the plan stored in your home, car, office, school, etc. Be sure to share the plan with key people in your safety network like neighbors, schools, EMS, and others, especially if your child has a history of elopement in the past.  

Secure the home 

In instances where your child routinely wanders, you may need to consider securing your home with locks for your doors and windows, home alarms, printed STOP signs around the house, and even fencing off your yard. It would be a great idea to discuss these options with your local emergency responders to determine what is most appropriate, but also safe.  

Explore a tracking device 

There are numerous wearable tracking devices that use different methods. Some use radio frequencies and triangulation while others use GPS. Consider the right wearable for your child. Some may prove irritating and be removed.  Many devices double up act as elopement prevention devices by alerting parents when a child leaves a predetermined radius or location.  

ID bracelets

Traditional medical ID bracelets will include your name, telephone number, and other important information. They may also state that your child has autism and is non-verbal, if applicable. If your child will not wear a bracelet or necklace, consider other means of ensuring that critical information is located on your child.  

Establish a safety network 

Informing those around you and your child of your child’s vulnerabilities will go a long way to preventing wandering into extremely dangerous situations.  

Introduce your child to your neighbors 

Creating a safety network starts with those in closest proximity. Introduce your child to the neighbors and try to establish a rapport where possible. Provide them with a picture of your child so they will recognize them.  

Introduce your child to first responders

Providing first responders with key information before an incident occurs may improve response. Informational handouts should include all pertinent information and be copied and carried with caregivers at all times. Circulate the handout to family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and first responders. See the tool kits below for resources to use to alert them. 

Work with your child’s school

Ensure that your child’s school has a crisis plan in place in anticipation of possible wandering and elopement of autistic children.  

What to do if your child elopes

Should your child manage to elope, follow these steps to reduce the possibility of harm and ensure a speedy recovery.  

  • Call 911. 
  • Locate your emergency plan and follow the action steps.  
  • Alert first responders in your area and request an amber alert.  
  • Explain to first responders that your child has autism and, if applicable, that their cognitive impairment makes them unaware of danger. Explain how they should interact with your child and what may trigger a flight response or paralysis. Give them suggestions of what to do and what not to do specific to your child’s needs.
  • Request that your child’s information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.  
  • Alert neighbors and enlist them to help search for your child.  
  • Distribute prepared materials with the following details: child’s name, communication level, how to calm your child if they are distressed, a recent picture of your child, caregiver’s contact information, and places your child is likely to go to. Distribute this information to individuals in your search party as well as public authorities. 

Lighthouse Autistic Center

The Lighthouse Autism Center is the Midwest’s leading autism therapy institution, which also provides world-class autism resources and is the proprietor of their unique, ground-breaking Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy program, which fuses the best practices of ABA and speech therapy into a one-of-a-kind clinical model to deliver better outcomes for autistic children. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Autism: Navigating Child’s School Refusal

We look at the best ways to navigate your autistic child’s school refusal. Find out how to work with the school and how to aid your child.

Navigating Autistic Child’s Refusal To Go to School

School can be a frightening and overwhelming place for many kids, especially autistic children. This can cause a child to refuse to go to school. With all of our knowledge and autism resources, we will navigate the reasons and how to address autistic children’s school refusal in a positive and proactive way. 

What is school refusal?

School refusal can occur when children become distressed thinking about going to school. Although allistic (non-autistic) children may also struggle with this problem, it may be more pronounced in autistic children. Autism and school can lead to a tough environment as factors such as sensory challenges, difficulties with reading and verbal comprehension, and executive functioning fine and gross motor skills all play a part.  

School refusal can go from being reluctant to go to school to not being able to leave home or go to school at all. This will result in the child missing some or even all of their school days.  

What are the signs and symptoms?

The signs of school refusal are similar between autistic and allistic children. Knowing what to do when your child refuses to go to school can be difficult as you try to navigate the reasons. Let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of school refusal:  

  • Your child begs and pleads not to go 
  • Trouble sleeping the night before school 
  • Increase in complaining of being sick and feeling unwell before a school day 
  • An increase in anxiety  
  • More meltdowns and avoidance behaviors 
  • Difficulties following morning routines 

When it comes to learning how to help a child with anxiety about school, it is important to understand the reasons behind these heightened feelings. Here we will look at the reasons behind school refusal. 

The reasons behind autistic children’s school refusal

Some children may find it difficult to cope with the demands that the school environment can place on them. It is very important for the parents to get to the root cause of the problem. It’s very important to act quickly on these signs that suggest your child’s school refusal. School refusal will not go away on its own. Let’s take a look at some of the added pressures of the school environment and what your child could be experiencing. 

  • Your child may lack social skills, which could cause them to struggle to make and keep friends, or they might experience some form of bullying. 
  • The school curriculum could be a bit difficult for them to cope with. Autism support in schools may not exist. 
  • They might struggle to cope with the school timetable. 
  • The sensory differences in the school environment could be overwhelming, such as noises, lighting, and smell. 
  • They might get into trouble with their teachers for unintentionally being inappropriate or not respecting authority. 
  • Sudden changes in their routine could be difficult. 

How to strategize with the school

Autism  support in schools is needed to ensure that autistic children can thrive in the school environment. You can use your understanding of your child to identify coping strategies that can be used in schools. Here are some ways to strategize with the school: 

  • Make sure to utilize your child’s IEP (individualized education plan) to get the supports needed.  
  • Request the school to make some reasonable adjustments at the start and end of your child’s school day. A staff member your child feels comfortable with could meet them at the school entrance. 
  • Ask the school if extra breaks could be allowed for your child throughout the school day. This will allow your child to redirect their attention and energy to different activities. 
  • Ask the school if they are willing to reward your child for some small improvements in achievement. 
  • Find out if autism support in the school for staff is an option. More autism awareness will ensure that your child’s needs are met. 
  • Be sure to set up a regular meeting with your primary contact at the school. This is often the teacher of record on his/her IEP, but could be the home-room teacher, principal, counselor, or student support group. 

Working on school refusal strategies at home

Of course, there are some practical strategies that you can implement at home!  

  • Acknowledge their feelings: show your child that you understand their feelings and anxiety about going to school. 
  • Make it clear and reassure them that things will be okay at home if their biggest fear is leaving home. 
  • Regularly remind your child about activities that can help them feel calm, such as using a fidget toy or practicing deep breathing. 
  • Set up a routine for the morning to set your child up for success for the day 
  • Set a plan for reinforcement right when your child gets home to make a successful day a big deal 

Lighthouse Autism Center is here to help

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we provide the highest quality therapy! Compassionate care meets clinical excellence in a beautiful play-based environment. Contact us and find out about all our services, such as Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy and so much more! 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Elopement – What Is It?

We often hear the term elopement when talking about autistic children. Find out what it is, why autistic children elope, how to prevent it, and what to do should your child elope. 

Elopement – What Is It?

Running away is a fairly well-known behavior in neurotypical children and is often romanticized by a cute image of the little boy with his stick and wrapped lunch draped over his shoulder, moping along the railway tracks in an act of benign defiance.  

The reality, sadly, is much grimmer. Every year, we are confronted with stories of children escaping the relative safety of their homes and schools with their pictures ending up on the proverbial milk carton or worse.  

This scary and dangerous behavior is known as wandering and elopement. Though elopement isn’t uncommon for children in general, it is seen more often in people with autism, and is often more of a safety concern.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Autism Association (NAA), the statistics on how many individuals with autism display elopement behavior are alarming: 

  • 49% of autistic children elope 
  • 35% attempt elopement at least once a week 
  • 33% of autistic elopers cannot communicate basic information like name, address, or phone number 
  • 90% of elopement deaths are drowning related 
  • 42% of autistic elopements aged nine or younger end in death 

These numbers are enough to drive any parent of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to despair. That said, you are not completely without options to reduce your child’s risk of becoming one of these statistics.  

To mitigate the risk of losing your child or avoiding any harm, you need to be clear on what eloping is, know why ASD kids elope, watch for signs of elopement, take steps to prevent it and, perhaps most importantly, know what to do if it does eventually happen.  

Why do autistic children elope?

The underlying reasons for both autistic and allistic (non-autistic) children to elope are fairly similar. Usually, a child is either trying to get away from something painful or pursuing something desirable.  

According to a review of the assessment and treatment of elopement, Dr. Megan Boyle and Dr. Reesha Adamson of Missouri State University broke these two primary causes into four distinct reasons: 

  1. To get away from a place, activity, or person (escape) 
  1. To obtain access to an item, activity, or person 
  1. To engage in an intrinsically pleasurable activity, such as running 
  1. To gain attention 

While these may seem fairly universal to all children, some children with ASD, depending on age and developmental level, may lack the mental acuity, awareness, and intuition to avoid danger and discern a threatening situation from a safe one.  

This becomes even more dangerous when autistic children are non-verbal or non-responsive to unfamiliar stimuli, making it difficult for them to communicate with concerned passers-by or even potential predators.  

Prevention is better than cure

It is never guaranteed that you can prevent your child from eloping. However, there are a number of strategies that you can implement to reduce the risk of elopement in high functioning autism, or autistic individuals with excellent social skills. 

Be vigilant

In most cases, caregivers or parents miss nuanced tell-tale signs that a child is about to elope. Keep an eye out for the following, especially if there is a history of elopement: 

  • Persistent glances at the door or exit 
  • Signs of sensory overload or overstimulation 
  • Fixation on objects, activities, or people outside or away from the safe environment 
  • Plays for attention 


If you are aware that your child is an elopement risk, it is crucial to inform all caregivers and provide them with a list of elopement signs and signals to watch out for. In some cases, a child with ASD may display consistently calm and complacent pliant behavior, leaving  caregivers with a false sense of security. Let them know that regardless of your child’s compliance, there is a high risk of elopement.  

Functional Communication Training

Functional Communication Training (FCT) is a process in which autistic children are given alternatives to problematic behavior like elopement to get what they need.  

For instance, if they previously eloped to get attention, use FCT or communication tools to ensure they receive the right kind of attention in similar situations, from their preferred person, possibly using visual aids as needed.  

In the case of escape, do not reprimand or punish the child for eloping, but rather assess what about the situation triggered the elopement and change the situation accordingly.  

Where the child simply enjoys a particular item or activity and elopes to engage with it (like running or trying to access a  particular toy), consider introducing scheduled events so that the child can anticipate it without indulging the impulse to elope to fulfill the desire.  

How to prepare for elopement

As mentioned earlier, elopement can be almost completely unavoidable despite your best efforts to prevent it. Thankfully, the CDC has created a list of tips to help you prevent elopement and aid in a prompt recovery should your child elope:   

  • Never leave your child unsupervised.  
  • Install specialized locks and alarms on doors. 
  • Attach GPS tracking devices that will trigger an alert if your child wanders from a specific location and track their whereabouts. 
  • Inform neighbors, caregivers, family, etc., of your child’s propensity to elope. 
  • Sew all basic information into your child’s clothing, such as their name, address, and phone number. 
  • Increase vigilance when your child is exposed to a change in environment. 
  • Help your child familiarize themselves with your environment so that they know of safe places and trustworthy adults in the area in case they get lost. 
  • Set up an emergency response plan. 
  • Walk your child through their portion of the emergency plan so that they know what steps to take in case they are separated from you for any reason. 
  • Teach your child safety commands such as “stop.” 
  • Teach your child to swim. 
  • Teach your child how to cross a street. 
  • Meet with any healthcare providers who understand your child’s unique situation and ask for their expert advice. 
  • Keep a current photo of your child at all times. 
  • Immediately call first responders. 

Let Lighthouse Autism Center help you and your child

As the Midwest’s leading autism therapy institution, Lighthouse Autism Center provides world-leading autism resources alongside our groundbreaking  Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy program which fuses the best of ABA and speech therapy into a unique clinical model to help you and your child navigate the world. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Lighthouse Autism Center Shining Example: Wyatt

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Child Spotlight of the Month: Wyatt.

Wyatt has made so much progress since starting at Lighthouse Autism Center! When he first started, he struggled with tantrums, self-injury, emotional regulation and communication skills. Additionally, Wyatt needed help with improving his social skills as well as his safety skills.

Wyatt’s Progress at Lighthouse Autism Center

  • Now, Wyatt has significantly less tantrums as well as a decreased duration of his tantrums.
  • Now, Wyatt has increased in all vocal communication and can vocally request his wants and needs.
  • Now, Wyatt has improved social skills with his peers, adults and siblings.
  • Now, Wyatt has improved emotional regulation and his self help skills such as becoming potty trained and eating independently.

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Perspective

“Wyatt started at LAC almost a year ago with high magnitude tantrums and a large barrier in communication and receptive language skills. Since then, Wyatt has become completely toilet trained, has learned to dress himself, count items in front of him, request his wants, attempts to try new foods & goes to the dentist without a big fight, receptively identify his favorite things and a few of his favorite people. He has grown into such a little man in such a short time and I am so excited to see his progress in the future!”

-Madison Haverly-Binder, BCBA

At LAC, we are seeing incredible progress made by our learners every day.

Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Maranda

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight of the Month: Maranda

Maranda is a Registered Behavior Therapist Trainer at our Decatur center. She previously worked as an Assistant Trainer and started as a Registered Behavior Technician. Maranda has been with Lighthouse Autism Center since October of 2022. As a mother of two, she has always enjoyed working with kids. Maranda enjoys spending time outdoors, exploring new areas, camping, and her two guinea pigs, Harry and Lloyd.

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

Working with kids has always been a passion of mine, and learning to understand the functions of behavior intrigues me, so combining the two really drew me in to apply for my position at Lighthouse Autism Center. There is so much creative freedom in working as an ABA therapist. Each client learns in their own unique way, and I love helping them discover that; particularly, using arts and crafts, sand volcanoes, bubbles, and singing.

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

Working with Lighthouse has provided me with, what feels like, infinite resources on applied behavior analysis and the intricacies of behavior. I know if I have a question, my supervisors and BCBA’s, Katie Ingram and Madeline Fletchall, are readily available. Training at the Champaign center was incredible, and I am grateful for everyone who shared their experience, knowledge, and support with me.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

My favorite memory is shortly after I’d transferred to the Decatur center from Champaign. A client slowed his swing in front of me, looked my way, signed “more” and very clearly vocalized the word “more” after working on requests for wants and needs for a few days. I am so proud of him, and all of my clients, every single day.

What advice you would like to share for those interested in a career at Lighthouse Autism Center?

If you’re considering a career at Lighthouse, my advice is to apply. These kids have a lot to teach you! 

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?