Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome – Lighthouse Autism Center

Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome – Lighthouse Autism Center

Asperger’s syndrome is a neurodevelopmental condition considered part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder. It’s important to note that Asperger’s syndrome was once considered a separate diagnosis within the autism spectrum but was later folded into the broader category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). As a result, the term “Asperger’s syndrome” is no longer used clinically. Learn more about common signs and symptoms below.

A child wearing a white t-shirt, a black skirt and pink boots sat on a swing holding the chains

Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnosis is Now Being Diagnosed as Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Asperger’s syndrome is part of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), Asperger’s syndrome is no longer considered a separate diagnosis. Instead, individuals who would have previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are now typically diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). If someone has already recieved an Asperger’s Diagnosis, it does remain, unless they are re-evaluated and a new diagnosis is given in it’s place.  

Within the ASD diagnosis, the DSM-5 introduced a severity level system to help clinicians gauge the level of support an individual may require based on the severity of their symptoms. This system is divided into three levels: 

  • Level 1: Requiring support 
  • Level 2: Requiring substantial support 
  • Level 3: Requiring very substantial support 

Many individuals who would have previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome would likely fall under Level 1 of the autism spectrum, which indicates that they require some support due to challenges with social communication and interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive behaviors, but they generally have relatively mild impairments compared to those at Levels 2 and 3. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects an individual’s ability to interact socially and communicate effectively. People previouslt diagnosed with Asperger’s often have difficulty understanding social cues and can have focused, sometimes intense, interests in specific subjects. They may also exhibit repetitive behaviors and adhere to routines with rigidity.  

Identifying Autism Spectrum Disoirder typically involves paying attention to an individual’s social interaction patterns, communication style, interests, and behaviors from an early age, often with a professional assessment for a formal diagnosis. 

Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome and How to Identify Them

Asperger’s syndrome, now formally ASD – level 1, can be difficult for many parents to pick up since many children display some of these characteristics as a normal part of their development. So it’s understandable why childhood Asperger’s or Level 1 ASD is sometimes diagnosed a little later than other disorders on the autism spectrum. 

Join us as we take a closer look at what Asperger’s syndrome/ASD is, its signs and characteristics, how it can be managed, and more. 

What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that falls into the autism spectrum. It’s a more mild type of brain disorder that affects behavior and makes it difficult for a person to communicate, interact, and form relationships with others. Individuals who would have previously been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are now typically diagnosed with level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

Are Autism & Asperger’s Different? 

As mentioned, Asperger’s is autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are general terms used for grouping complex disorders affecting brain development.   

  • Autistic disorder 
  • Rett syndrome 
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD, also known as Heller’s syndrome) 

In general, these disorders are characterized in varying degrees by: 

  • Difficulties in social interaction 
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication 
  • Repetitive behaviors 
  • Sensory sensitivities 

What Are the Signs of Asperger’s/Autism Spectrum Disorder? 

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome/ASD. Keep in mind that it is perfectly normal for toddlers to exhibit some of these symptoms, such as repetitiveness or one-sided conversations. 

These are some of the most common ASD symptoms in children to keep an eye out for: 

  • ASD and eye contact rarely go together, so avoiding eye contact is one of the first symptoms.  
  • A limited number of facial expressions or awkward body positions and gestures is also often associated with autism.  
  • Individuals with autism tend to engage in one-sided and long-winded conversations without noticing if the listener is paying attention or if the listener is trying to change the subject. 
  • Appearing not to understand, be sensitive to, or empathize with the feelings of others can be a sign of autism spectrum disorder. 
  • Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific and narrow subjects such as the weather, snakes, basketball stats, or train schedules can be an indication of Asperger’s syndrome/ASD. 
  • Those with autism spectrum disorder often display difficulty “reading” other people or getting the gist of humor or sarcasm. 
  • Speaking in a rigid, monotonous voice or speaking unusually fast can be signs of an individual with Asperger’s syndrome. 
  • Lastly, individuals with Asperger’s syndrome/ASD may display clumsy movement and poor coordination. 

It’s worth noting that there are some characteristics of autism spectrum disorder that should be considered strengths. These include (but are not limited to): 

  • Strong ability to focus  
  • Persistence  
  • Ability to recognize patterns 
  • Attention to detail 

What Causes Asperger’s Syndrome/ASD?

Although the cause of Asperger’s syndrome or ASD is not yet fully understood,  research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental, influences. 

Genetic Factors

Research tells us that autism tends to run in families If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child (even if the parent does not have autism). Families with one child with autism have an increased chance of having another child with autism compared to the general population. 

Environmental Factors 

Research also shows that certain environmental influences may further increase – or reduce – autism risk in people who are genetically predisposed to the disorder. Scientists believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to autism. 

Ongoing research aims to understand whether factors such as viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder and how these factors interact and influence the development of ASD. 

No Link Between Vaccines

One of the greatest controversies in autism spectrum disorder centers on whether a link exists between the disorder and childhood vaccines. scientists have conducted extensive research over the last two decades to determine whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research is clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics has compiled a comprehensive list of this research

Treatment Options for Asperger’s Syndrome

A holistic treatment program for childhood Asperger’s or level 1 autism is the best possible plan. A combination of speech therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, along with the right support and medication, will benefit your child the most. 

Get the Best Treatment for Your Child

Lighthouse Autism Center provides center-based ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy and services for children with autism disorders. Our one-of-a-kind approach, Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy, combines compassionate care with clinical excellence to give every child the best possible treatment. 

Contact us for more information on how we can help your child, and be sure to view our autism tools for parents and other autism resources

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

The Lighthouse “Team Approach”

We understand that it truly “takes a village” to provide the best care to autistic children. Taking a “team approach” by working in collaboration with various therapy providers will help your child achieve the best possible outcomes. Discover more.

The Lighthouse “Team Approach”

When it comes to caring for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, we understand that it truly “takes a village” to provide the best care. ABA centers like Lighthouse Autism Center are pivotal in the world of autism treatment. They serve as the hub for concerted efforts, creating cohesive environments that facilitate communication between therapists, educators, and families.  

Adopting a team approach to your child’s autism therapy services will provide comprehensive and individualized care, helping them achieve the best possible outcomes. At our autism therapy centers, this collaborative strategy involves a variety of therapy providers, caregivers, and other professionals who work together to address the multifaceted needs of each child. The synergy of professionals working together enhances the effectiveness of each therapy, tailors interventions to individual needs, and fosters consistent progress. This team can include: 

  • Lighthouse Autism Center professionals 
  • Family Doctor or Pediatrician 
  • Dentists 
  • Teachers 
  • Caregivers 
  • Outside Therapists 
  • Family 
  • Friends 

The rationale behind this approach to autism support services is rooted in the understanding that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can affect numerous aspects of a child’s development. By assembling a multidisciplinary team, autism care therapy providers ensure that all developmental challenges — whether in communication, social skills, sensory integration, or motor skills — are simultaneously and effectively addressed, leading to more holistic outcomes for your child and family as a whole. 

The Importance of Teamwork

The significance of collaboration within the framework of ABA treatment cannot be overstated. At Lighthouse Autism Center, the coordination between specialists is more than a practice; it’s a cornerstone philosophy. Here, behavioral therapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and educators come together to deliver a multifaceted treatment plan. By linking their expertise, the professional team dedicated to your child’s development can deeply understand and address their unique challenges. We welcome and often seek out collaboration with your child’s pediatrician, any other therapists they might work with, educators from their future school placements, and others that might be interacting with supporting your family on a regular basis.  

Benefits for Autistic Children and Their Families

In addition to therapy, our center for collaborative care aims not only to assist your child but to provide support for parents with an autistic child as well as increase autism awareness and education in the community to promote an attitude of inclusion. Autism tools for parents can range from regular meetings with therapists to discuss progress and strategies for extending the work done in therapy sessions into the home environment to workshops and autism resources for caregivers and teachers on how to best support autistic children in their daily lives. This comprehensive approach not only benefits your child, it also equips parents and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to better understand and assist the child’s development. 

The Lighthouse Difference 

Our team approach is strides ahead of traditional one-on-one methods. This collective expertise leads to more dynamic, individualized treatment strategies, in contrast with traditional methods that may lack this holistic advantage. Moreover, families benefit from the comprehensive support network, reducing the stress and isolation often felt in navigating autism treatment.  

Discover Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy at Lighthouse Autism Center, where we encourage the involvement of each and every team member to collectively work as a unified force in helping your child reach their fullest potential.  

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

The Lighthouse Autism Center Difference

While Lighthouse Autism Center is unique in many ways from other autism therapy centers, one of the most important components of the therapy we provide is the one-on-one care each child receives and by fusing speech into daily therapy with our innovative approach to speech therapy called Lighthouse Fusion®. 

The Lighthouse Autism Center Difference 

Lighthouse Autism Therapy Centers

While Lighthouse Autism Center is unique in many ways from other autism treatment centers, some of the most important components of the therapy we provide is the one-on-one care each child receives and the daily opportunities for our learners to practice language during during therapy.

Lighthouse Fusion® is an innovative and one-of-a-kind approach to speech therapy that provides children with greater opportunity for speech development. By Fusing speech therapy directly into a child’s daily programming, learners are making greater progress, faster, all while having fun. 

During Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy, each child is assigned to a “pod” of therapists consisting of five to seven professionals, each of whom learns the child’s unique ABA and speech therapy goals and objectives. By assigning a child to a pod, therapists learn the behaviors, triumphs, struggles, and skills of the children within their pod. Through one-on-one therapy, a child not only receives individualized attention from a therapist who is familiar with their programs and dedicated to their ABA therapy and speech therapy goals, but it also significantly increases the safety of each child at the center. 

On a typical day at Lighthouse Autism Center, a child will move among therapists within their pod every 3 to 4 hours. This prevents children from only learning how to do specific skills with a certain person and empowers them to transfer skills between different people – something that is incredibly important for autistic children. It is this individualized attention and commitment to quality therapies for autism that make the Lighthouse difference. 

All Lighthouse learners also benefit from speech co-treat sessions. These are sessions where a SLP/BCBA, BCBA, and RBT all collaborate to work together on your child’s speech, language and vocabulary goals. Co-treat sessions can take place with all three clinicians present, or with a SLP/BCBA participating virtually. This allows each child to access highly trained and skilled clinicians wherever they are.

Discover more autism resources and autism tools for parents from Lighthouse

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

My Child & Autism: The Lighthouse Goal

ABA therapy at Lighthouse is to provide each school-age child with the skills to transition back to the classroom setting that is appropriate for them. Discover how your dedicated team at Lighthouse Autism Center assists both children and families in this transition.

My Child & Autism: The Lighthouse Goal

Transitioning from a therapy center back to an appropriate classroom setting can be a challenging and overwhelming experience for both child and parent. Careful planning, effective communication, and collaboration between therapists, educators, and parents is crucial to ensure a smooth transition that meets the individual needs of the child. 

The Importance of Transitioning

Autistic children often require specialized therapies to help them develop social, communication, and behavioral skills. These therapies are usually provided in a controlled environment, such as a therapy center, where your child can receive individualized attention and support. 

However, it is essential for autistic children to eventually transition back to a classroom setting where they can apply and practice the skills they have learned in therapy. This allows them to interact with their peers and develop important social and communication skills that will help them in the long run. 

Moreover, attending a classroom setting also provides autistic children with a sense of normalcy and inclusion, helping them feel like they are part of their community. 

Supporting Autistic Children Transition Back to School

At Lighthouse Autism Center, the ultimate goal of our therapy is to provide each school-age child with the skills to transition back to the classroom setting that is appropriate for them. Our interventions are customized to meet the unique needs of each child and are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a scientifically validated approach to understanding and teaching new behaviors. 
While the majority of children participating in Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy for autism are enrolled for an average of two years, each child is unique, and some are enrolled for a shorter or longer period before they reach the goal of transitioning from a specialized autism treatment center back to school. 
When a child is ready to transition back to school, LAC continues to offer ongoing support services to families by playing an active role in the transition. We do this through attendance at IEP meetings, observing children in the classroom, and educating teachers and families about how to support each child in the classroom for a successful transition. 
While this can be a scary and challenging time for families, LAC is there to provide autism support to both the child and family. We want families to know that the entire LAC team is there to help them make this transition and be fully equipped with the right autism resources. We will continue to serve as a support, providing valuable autism tools for parents, in order to help your child reach their fullest potential. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Speech Therapy at Lighthouse Autism Center

Autistic children often require a multi-faceted approach to therapy. As a result, Lighthouse Autism Center sought to refine our approach by offering speech therapy in conjunction with ABA therapy.

Speech Therapy at Lighthouse Autism Center

Autistic children often require a multi-faceted approach to therapy. Typically, a child will need a combination of therapies, including ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc. As a result, Lighthouse Autism Center sought to refine our approach to therapy by offering speech therapy in conjunction with ABA therapy.

What is speech therapy for autism?

Speech therapy is a crucial intervention that aids autistic children in improving their communication skills. Individuals with autism often face challenges in verbal and non-verbal communication, which speech therapy seeks to address. Speech therapy is an essential autism resource that focuses on enhancing an autistic child’s abilities to express and comprehend both verbal and non-verbal language. 

Furthermore, speech therapy can assist autistic children in developing speech pragmatics, which refers to the appropriate use of language in social situations. This includes understanding non-literal language, like sarcasm and irony, and using appropriate tone and intonation during interactions. Autistic children often struggle with social cues and may have difficulty understanding and expressing emotions effectively, making this an essential skill.

The connection between autism and speech therapy is vital as it can significantly improve the quality of life for autistic children, enhancing their social interactions and fostering independence. It is beneficial not only to autistic individuals but also to their families and communities, helping to foster healthy communication and providing caregivers with the tools and strategies needed to make daily interactions easier and more enjoyable.

How speech therapy supports ABA therapy

Speech therapy, which focuses on developing language and communication skills, complements ABA therapy, which uses positive reinforcement to encourage behavior changes. These therapies support and enhance the overall development of children with autism, specifically when practiced in conjunction. Consistent reinforcement in different contexts helps children generalize their communication skills beyond the therapy room into real-world settings. The collaboration can, therefore, provide a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach.

The challenge of multiple therapy requirements

Before moving to Lighthouse Autism Center, many families found themselves on a six- to eight-month waiting list for autism spectrum speech therapy services while their child was receiving ABA therapy. When they finally gained access to speech services, parents had to navigate the logistical challenge of transporting their child to multiple appointments throughout the week. Not only is this incredibly demanding on families, but it also results in children missing out on time they could have spent in ABA therapy.

The Lighthouse Autism Center Difference

As a center founded by parents, for parents, Lighthouse Autism Center decided to integrate speech therapy into our services by creating Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy—an innovative approach to ABA speech therapy that combines the best practices of each modality into a unique clinical model that delivers improved outcomes for autistic children. It serves as a valuable autism tool for parents by creating a less stressful, more efficient approach while providing autistic children in need of autism speech therapy with the tools they need to reach their fullest potential.

Does your child have ABA and speech therapy needs?

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Consistency versus Chaos

Predictability and consistency with visual schedules, organized activities, and clear routines can help to reduce anxiety and support learning. Autistic children can thrive when parents or caregivers create structured environments.

A child wearing a red and white striped shirt with his eyes and mouth wide open in front of an orange background

Consistency Versus Chaos

In general, children thrive on routine. But for those with spectrum and developmental disorders, it becomes difficult to process all the sensory information that is coming at them. The world inundates us with billions of information bits that require processing on a second-by-second basis. There is information that comes in through our senses about the function and structure of everything one experiences. Qualities, movements, quantities, and objects are all processed simultaneously by the senses. When a child has a difficult time processing this information quickly, they may act out, start to withdraw from the world and retreat into a world of their own thoughts. 

Learning New Information

Pretend for a moment that you are sitting in a calculus class, and this is the very first time you are exposed to math. How long will you sit there before you understand what is being taught? It’s a safe bet to say for many that it would be a long time. At first, you would be so overwhelmed that you try to pay attention. However, slowly, you would stop. You might start looking around the room, doodling on some paper, or humming your favorite song in your head. The point is that very little of your attention will be directed at what is being taught, and instead, you retreat into the sanctuary of your own mind, where things are familiar and understandable. 

Conversely, now pretend that you are sitting in your very first calculus class, but before you got there, you learned everything needed to understand the class and be successful. Chances are pretty good that now you find the class more interesting. It holds your attention. 

The point here is that if you have acquired the skills needed to take the next step forward, you will be more willing to take it and have greater success at it. Now consider this reality for autistic children. 

When parenting an autistic child, we are often faced with the dilemma of whether or not we should add more structure to our child’s life. (This is true really of parenting children on and off the spectrum, but when parenting an autistic child, it has a different importance.) Deciding whether to create more routines for them to help them be more successful or to allow them to struggle so they can adapt to the world around them can be difficult. Let’s face it; the world stops for no one, and that isn’t going to change. Sensory processing disorder and autism can make it even more challenging to take in all these senses. Many of us set up visual schedules for our children to help make their lives easier. 

Visual Schedules and Autism

The real question is, do we adapt structures and schedules for our children, or do we start to teach them the real world? 

There is no clear answer. However, adding structure helps when you want to teach an alternative skill or introduce a new or complex activity. But why are visual schedules important for autism? A visual schedule structure helps make information processing easier for the child. There is a time and place for adding structure. Adding structure means that there are pre-requisite skills or other skills that are important to teach. 

Whenever you plan on adding structure, keep in mind that it should always point to a plan of decreasing that structure in the future so that your child can get used to the unpredictability of the world. A structured environment should never be the goal. Once the pre-requisite skills are learned, the structure needs to be decreased. Yes, this can create some temporary turmoil, but if you do it correctly, it will help teach new skills in a more natural environment. 

How To Create a Visual Schedule 

Creating a visual schedule for autistic children can help enhance their understanding and organization when it comes to daily activities. Virtual parent training can help identify key activities in the child’s routine. It’s important to remember that autistic children are often visual learners, so pictures of the tasks may help them better understand what they are asked to do. A visual card with a picture for each step will outline the rules of the activity to make it easier to understand. When the child completes the task, remove the picture card from sight so that they know the step is completed. When it is time to teach a new skill, add more structure. As the skill is learned and mastered, the structure can be faded. 

The Benefits of Structured Play

A structured environment for people with autism provides many benefits, including:  

  • Building coordination and strength. 
  • Increasing fine motor skills. 
  • Learning new tasks through instruction. 
  • Helping a child develop turn-taking and self-regulation skills. 

Of course, there should be a balance between unstructured and structured environments. The autism tools for parents can help you create an equal amount of both structured and unstructured play activities, as both can help a child’s social, emotional, and physical environment.  

Routine and Autism

A daily schedule can benefit autistic children in so many ways. It can help them foster stability and comfort in their lives. Some of the more prominent benefits that a routine can foster include:  

  • Reducing stress and power struggles: When an autistic child becomes more familiar with their surroundings and expectations, these routines can help them navigate their life with more confidence. 
  • Improving motivation and cooperation: It can help reduce stress levels, which can ultimately lead to strengthening existing skills and being receptive to learning new ones. 
  • Creating an environment of security and comfort: Autism and sensory issues go hand in hand. It can be overwhelming for autistic children to make sense of new sounds, behaviors, or events. By creating a secure environment, order is established, allowing children to excel in comfort. 
  • Consistency: With autism, consistency is key to an effective, productive routine. Parents or caregivers should complete every step in their routine in the same order. Once the child is consistent with their routine, changing things can cause them to become upset. 

It is vital to remember that autistic children all learn differently. This is why it is important to consult with an autism specialist to understand what skills your child has, what needs to be developed, and how your child learns. A team of dually certified clinicians designed the Lighthouse ABA fusion therapy to help parents. You can find out if this approach would suit your child. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

My Child & Autism: How Long is Therapy?

One of the most common questions parents ask when approaching the idea of therapy for a child with autism is “how long will my child need therapy?” Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or one solution for a child with autism. Each child is unique in their skills and goals. This means that each child’s therapy plan and programs, and the length of that therapy plan, will vary.

A young boy holding a tablet sat at a table with a Lighthouse Autism Center staff member helping him

However, on average, most children are enrolled at a center for two years. While a child may only be enrolled for two years, that does not mean they only need two years of therapy. At Lighthouse, the goal is to transition children back to a classroom setting where some form of therapy continues. This may mean having a classroom aid work with them or setting up an IEP with the school. Other children may not need any support at all.

Autism Spectrum Therapies at Lighthouse

ABA therapy programs at Lighthouse Autism Center are full-time or part-time programs. This is based on the recommendation of the clinical team following an assessment of each child’s unique needs. A part-time program is 20 hours per week and can be mornings or afternoons. A full-time program is 40 hours per week and does replace school for a child.

Full-time ABA Therapy for Autism

A full-time program allows for a more thorough approach to therapy for the child. By enrolling them in a full-time program they are receiving the maximum amount of therapy they can. This is often recommended for young children with a focus on early intervention. If a child is enrolled in a full-time program at a young age, they significantly increase success in leading a more independent life. While every child is different, most children will begin to see improvements beginning their first week of therapy. It’s important to remember that ABA therapy involves taking large goals and breaking them into very small, measurable, and attainable goals for your child. These small goals will build on each other until they culminate in the achievement of a larger goal.

Center-based ABA Therapy for Autism

Center-based ABA therapy is when the therapy sessions take place inside an autism treatment center (as opposed to in another setting such as the home or community). Center-based therapy offers more consistency and more learning opportunities as well as opportunities to prompt different learning opportunities. This environment ultimately leads to better outcomes for children with autism.

Ultimately, there is no “cookie-cutter” approach when it comes to your child. At Lighthouse, we understand that and are dedicated to giving your child a unique and personalized experience that will help them to unlock their unlimited potential.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Top Autism Conferences for Parents

When facing the challenges of parenting a child with autism, it is important to know the resources that are available to you. Not only are there many local services available for parents, but there are also several national conferences that seek to teach parents to navigate the challenges of raising a child with autism. Check out these five conferences to learn more about how they can help you help your child with autism.


Profectum is an “organization committed to gathering the most cutting-edge practices in autism,” helping to teach families how best to use them with each unique child, and building a community of families affected by autism. They hold various conferences throughout the year all over the country. Check out their website to see when a conference may be happening near you.

To learn more, visit


Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is a national foundation dedicated to raising money and awareness for the treatment and prevention of autism. It also seeks to bring together friends, families, and concerned community members to build a supportive network.

To learn more, visit

Love & Autism

While Love & Autism is an organization dedicated to autism awareness and community like the others, its main focus is the annual conference. One unique aspect of Love & Autism is many of the events that take place, including musical and art presentations, are performed by individuals with autism.

To learn more, visit


The Autism Project

The Autism Project is an organization dedicated to connecting researches and practitioners with families affected by autism. They seek to help the entire family unit by teaching the latest practices regarding autism and by providing a supportive and collaborative community.

To learn more, visit


World Autism Organisation

The World Autism Organisation was founded to create a global autism community. The group seeks to gather research and practices from around the world and create a common space where professionals and families can collaborate at an international level to share best practices, research, etc…

To learn more, visit

National Autism Conference

This conference is made possible by the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education in partnership with Penn State Outreach and the Penn State College of Education.

Penn State offers online programs in behavior analysis through Penn State World Campus, including a Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Educating Individuals with Autism, a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis, and a Master of Education in Special Education with emphases in autism or applied behavior analysis.

To learn more, visit

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

What is Verbal Behavior Therapy – Lighthouse Autism Center

Verbal Behavior Therapy is a vital tool used to help those with autism improve their communication skills. Learn more about this approach to teaching communication and the benefits it offers to those with autism.

What is Verbal Behavior Therapy

Lighthouse Autism Center uses the Verbal Behavioral (VB) branch of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Verbal Behavior Therapy (VBT) is used to teach communication and language skills by focusing on why we use language, the purpose of words and how they can be used by the speaker with characteristics of autism to get their needs met or to communicate ideas. 

VB is derived from the same philosophy of behaviorism, employs basic scientific methodology and is concerned with the development of an individual’s socially and educationally significant behaviors. Its examination stresses the use of language in the environmental context within a verbal community.

An image of writing that says “Because social skills are necessary for growing relationships, academic success & functional life-skills”.

How Verbal Behavior Therapy works

VBT uses verbal operants, or types of verbal behavior, to teach autistic children how to better communicate, and can be very effective as a part of early intervention. A few of these operants are:

  • Mand: When a person or child uses language to make a request. For example, the child is thirsty, says “water”, and receives a glass of water to drink.
  • Tact: When a person or child labels something in the environment. For example, the child sees a glass filled with water and says “water”. 
  • Intraverbal: When a person or child is able to respond to a question. For example, a teacher asks “Would you like a glass of water to drink?” and the child responds “Yes”.
  • Echoic: When a person or child repeats what another person said. For example, a teacher says “water” and the child repeats the word “water”.

The History of Verbal Behavior Therapy

The research and practices of VBT are based on the book Verbal Behavior, published in 1957 by a very influential behaviorist, B.F. Skinner. Skinner discovered operant conditioning, which is the fundamental idea that behaviors that are reinforced will tend to continue, while behaviors that are punished will eventually end. 

While the analysis of VB is extended from lab experiments of operant conditioning, it involves not only the environmental variables but also the behavior of other people who also use the same language. In other words, VB operates at the level that both the listener and the speaker are taken into consideration along with any and all other factors in the environment.

VB is different from other language theories that emphasize the cognitive or physiological process inside the living organism. B.F. Skinner’s analysis of verbal behavior turns the focus to controlling variables in the environment that impact the cause or function of language. 

This means that VB is not only for vocal verbal language but also non-vocal use of language such as gestures, eye contact, pointing and the use of other nonverbal cues. VBT is not too concerned with the forms or structures of language, but these are important in the analysis of linguistics.

A therapist working with an autistic child.

The Pros of VBT

There are a number of benefits to the Verbal Behavior approach to ABA.

  1. Enhances analysis of the way we learn to speak in a natural environment. (Language acquisition can be natural but should not be confused with being innate.)
  2. Allows language to be broken down into small sections for in-depth analysis.
  3. With the analysis, specific instructional sequences can be systematically developed for an autistic individual.
  4. When learning issues occur, the analysis allows us to pinpoint possible sources.
  5. Allows for individualized instructional strategies based on what the individual needs.
  6. Helps create intensive and systematic intervention plans for individuals who have difficulties with communication and/or intellectual disabilities.
  7. Intervention plans for individuals with difficulties with language and/or disabilities can be incorporated into natural and artificial settings.
  8. Advances empirical research due to operational definitions that can be precisely defined, and each small component can be isolated to pinpoint the primary controlling variables.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Using Visual Language – Lighthouse Autism Center

Communication can be challenging for children with autism. We take a look at how using visual language can help a child with autism communicate and grow their independence.

Communication and Autism: Using Visual Language

How Does Autism Affect Communication Skills?

There are many theories, but it is not yet known what causes autism and why children with autism struggle with communication. What we do know is that autism affects their communication skills, with communication difficulties being one of the key characteristics of autism

Children with autism may struggle with verbal and nonverbal communication methods in various ways. For example, they may have difficulties with:

  • Understanding and using words
  • Learning how to read and write
  • Understanding and using gestures
  • Understanding facial expressions or tone of voice
  • Engaging in conversations

Thankfully there are ways to help them manage these challenges. One such method is visual language.


What is Visual Language?

Research tells us that children with autism are able to better communicate their wants and needs through images rather than words. With this knowledge, many autism therapy providers have started creating learning programs and software that focus on allowing children with autism to communicate with familiar and consistent images. This helps increase their understanding of basic communication and more easily communicate their wants, needs, and emotions.  This “visual language” method of learning has proven incredibly successful in helping children with autism develop communication skills and achieve developmental milestones.


Using Visual Language to Communicate with Children Who Have Autism

Communication can be a major problem for families. It accounts for an estimated 60% of all family-related stress experienced on a daily basis. It is also the main reason that some children are slower to develop their social skills. Autism communication strategies are vital to help those with autism and their families. By using visual communication tactics, families and autism therapy providers can give the child the tools they need to communicate their needs effectively. Once the child has these skills, it often alleviates many problems for families.

So, what are some of the visual communication techniques and visual supports your child with autism can use? Here are some of the visual systems and communication devices for autism:

1.) Dry-Erase Board – The child can use a piece of paper or dry-erase board to draw objects that symbolize their wants and needs.

2.) Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) – This is when a child has several pre-made (and often laminated) cards with images that communicate everything from needing to go to the bathroom to requesting a snack and telling someone how they are feeling. The parent can then react or provide the item to fulfill the need they are expressing.

3.) Tablet – Children can use communication software downloaded to a tablet such as an iPad and use a system similar to a PECS system. This allows children to select images that express their wants and needs in a way that a parent or adult can understand.

These are three of the ways you can overcome the challenges of autism and communication. To learn more about visual communication and about your child with autism, contact Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313. We also have a variety of autism resources for parents who are looking for additional advice.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Parental Involvement is Key – Lighthouse Autism Center

Early intervention is vital to assisting a child with autism, but this doesn’t only include professional help. Parents play a key role in helping their children in a variety of ways. Join us as we take a look at how.

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, parental support is arguably the most important.

How Increased Parental Involvement Helps Children with Autism

As a parent, it’s important to understand the key benefits your involvement will have for your child. Research has shown that increased parental involvement will often help a child with autism manage their symptoms or improve any skills they are struggling with. 

A study titled “Parent-mediated social communication therapy for young children with autism (PACT): long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial,” which was completed by the University of Manchester in 2016, has more good news for parents. 

This study has also shown that early intervention from parents offers general improvements in a child with autism’s symptoms and that this reduction is long-lasting, highlighting how beneficial parental intervention is for the child.

How Parents Can Assist Their Children

Here are some ways parents can help their autistic children.

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, and lack of expression (happiness, smiling). If you suspect that your child may be exhibiting these signs, 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, the next question a parent will ask is how to support a child with autism. 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 see children achieve great outcomes through this type of therapy. 

Therapy At Home

It is equally important that parents work to provide a child with the autism support they need outside of therapy sessions. This can be achieved by implementing 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 and 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. We also have various tools for parents to help their children with autism.

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

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Importance of Memory – Lighthouse Autism Center

Rote memory is one of the most important strengths that autistic children develop. We take a look at the role this skill plays in an autistic child’s life and the benefits it offers.

Autism Symptoms: The Importance of Memory

Autism is appearing more often among American children. In the last ten years, the number of children born with one of the various forms of autism has doubled. With so little known about what causes autism and its symptoms, it is important that parents understand their child’s developmental milestones and how the child learns rather than search for a cure. 

Rote memory is one such development that autistic children acquire at an early age and critically affects the way they learn. It is essential to understand in-depth the role rote memory plays in your child’s personal learning style so that it can be nurtured in the right educational environment.

What is Rote Memory and How Does it Affect Children with Autism?

A powerful rote memory is one of the significant strengths of any autistic child. Rote memory is a learning technique that focuses on memorization through repetition or routine. It differs from other learning techniques, such as active learning, associative learning, and meaningful learning, which are more focused on the connection between meaning, understanding, and the relationships between things. Many autistic children have the ability to memorize entire television scripts, book passages, or facts about their favorite hobby but might have trouble carrying on a conversation or making eye contact when speaking to people, or recalling what took place earlier that day.

The reason behind the memory advancement is that autistic children develop through “splintered” learning. What this means is that children with autism develop their rote memory early while other skills take longer to manifest.

What are the Benefits of a Rote Memory?

Autistic children with a strong rote memory have the ability to do things such as:

  • Remember entire conversations without hesitation
  • Learn to sing songs forward and backward
  • Recall and solve complex math formulas
  • Master concrete and literal thinking
  • Display increased development through visual learning techniques

What are the Disadvantages of a Rote Memory?

Autistic children who can only learn using rote memory techniques may struggle with:

  • Correctly understanding a concept
  • Developing a deeper understanding of a particular subject
  • Developing social skills that are strengthened with other learning styles
  • Growing their problem-solving skills
  • Linking existing and new knowledge

How Learning and Rote Memory Work Together in Autistic Children

Compartmentalized learning is one of the other learning techniques for a good rote memory in those with autism. Autistic children who learn this way learn things in chunks. This is both a benefit and a downside in the development of rote memory. Learning information in chunks helps to speed along the advancement of learning, but learning so much at one time can make it difficult for children with autism to separate useful information from random information picked up during their learning.

Encouraging Well-Rounded Learning

While every autistic child shows impressive advancement in one or another educational sector, it is important to remember that it is not a “savant” capability, otherwise known as an extraordinary talent, in one particular area. This misconception often impairs the development of other areas in a child’s education because the parents focus on the one gift instead of creating a well-rounded educational environment.

Speak to our Specialists to Find Out More about Learning and Memory

It is important for parents of children with autism to remember that each child learns differently and will develop some skills earlier than others. That is why it is crucial to speak with an autism specialist to determine what skills your child has, what needs to be further developed, how your child learns, and how to help increase the rote memory that is important for your child’s development.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

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