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

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 https://profectum.org/conferences/

 

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 https://www.autismspeaks.org

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 https://loveandautism.com

 

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 https://www.theautismproject.org

 

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 https://worldautismorganisation.com

 

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 https://autism.outreach.psu.edu/

 

 

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

Top Autism Podcasts for Parents

An autism diagnosis does not just affect the individual diagnosed, but the family, caregivers, and friends that interact with that individual or child. It is often challenging to find other people who understand what you are going through, or the daily challenges you may face caring for someone with autism. These top autism podcasts provide information as well as practical experiences of those who live, work and interact with those who have autism.

Joyriding in Autismland: Autism Podcast with Kid Gigawatt

“Launched by parents of an infectiously funny and mostly happy boy on the spectrum, the Joyriding in Autismland podcast chats with ASD parents, kiddos, therapists, writers, and artists about the unexpected, charming, and funny moments with Autism. Because laughing is the best vacation.”

Listen here: https://player.fm/series/joyriding-in-autismland-autism-podcast-with-kid-gigawatt

 

All Autism Talk

“Connecting the Autism Community One Podcast at a Time — Our podcast offers a friendly conversation with inspiring individuals in the autism community. Our aim is to provide valuable insights and information as well as access to support in communities throughout the United States. Join us!”

Listen here: https://player.fm/series/all-autism-talk

 

Autism Spectrum Radio

“Our show offers a great weekly conversation to inspire, inform and support families and individuals living with autism. We offer practical information for parents of children of all ages. The show explores treatment topics and recent research. We have a variety of guests to share their expertise, experience and resources.” Spectrum is leading the way on autism’s hottest research topics, so it comes as no surprise that their podcast is just as educational and intriguing as their other media. You can listen to it on Spotify. Check this one out for frequent summaries on the newest studies and opinion pieces related to autism.

Listen here: https://player.fm/series/autism-spectrum-radio-1243634

 

Early Identification of Developmental Delays in Children – Dr. Sharief Taraman

Dr. Sharief Taraman is a neurologist at Children’s Health of Orange County (CHOC). In this episode, he discusses how diagnostic screening can help identify developmental delays in children. Early identification and diagnosis, he says, can help families get the right treatment right away.

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0aSproOlGSUEgMuy2QGKao?go=1&sp_cid=702ee128ed4681e02aeaacfee7aebe53&utm_source=embed_player_p&utm_medium=desktop&nd=1

 

The Role of Genetics in Autism, Explained

Wendy Chung, MD, PhD, director of clinical research at the Simons Foundation Autism Research Foundation, works as a molecular geneticist and physician and is something of a genetic detective who traces an individual’s symptoms to a particular genetic anomaly. In this podcast, she breaks down what we know about the causes of autism.

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5Dhe3iMm8ueMbi6Tp8S2mC?go=1&sp_cid=49d57bbedd77e4ceccd64d83f55a34c0&utm_source=embed_player_p&utm_medium=desktop&nd=1

 

Autism Resource Mom – Autism Support and Information from the Best Expert, a Mom

A mother’s intuition and drive to advocate for her kids can make her the best expert when it comes to her child’s care. That’s something Debora Smith understands to the core. She’s raising a son on the autism spectrum, and she founded Autism Resource Mom, a nonprofit organization that helps families navigate the complex world of autism. Listen in to find out how she’s turned her passion into helping others.

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/465sTHtZN0n8b9C3OPvQKc?go=1&sp_cid=49d57bbedd77e4ceccd64d83f55a34c0&utm_source=embed_player_p&utm_medium=desktop&nd=1

 

Medical Insurance for Autism Treatment – Understanding the Changing Landscape

Will your health insurance cover your child’s autism treatment? In this podcast, Amy Weinstock, Director of the Autism Insurance Resource Center at the University of Massachusetts, breaks down tools that can help families find out whether they are covered.

Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/62JqtLHjBAOZu134X5N2HD?go=1&sp_cid=49d57bbedd77e4ceccd64d83f55a34c0&utm_source=embed_player_p&utm_medium=desktop&nd=1

 

All Autism Talk

“Connecting the Autism Community One Podcast at a Time” Our podcast offers a friendly conversation with inspiring individuals in the autism community. Our aim is to provide valuable insights and information as well as access to support in communities throughout the United States. Join us! Know an inspiring group or individual we should talk to? We would love to hear from you at allautismtalk@learnbehavioral.com

Listen here: https://player.fm/series/all-autism-talk

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Autism Support Groups

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

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

Autism Support Groups:

  • Autism Society of Indiana – Autism Society of Indiana (ASI) has Area Support Coordinators to assist individuals and family members living with autism. Coordinators are personally affected by autism (they may be a parent, family member, or an individual on the autism spectrum) and have a solid foundation of what it is like to have and manage an autism spectrum disorder. Because every part of Indiana has different needs, the coordinators work hard to know the services provided by local disability providers, community mental health centers, schools, hospitals, and state agencies. Also, check the ASI website for other programs they offer to support to families and individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • Autism Quality of Life- Indiana Families – Private group with focus on sharing information and resources around services and experiences regarding families of both children and adults on the autism spectrum.
  • Indiana ABA Parents (Parents Only) – Private group for parents and guardians of children who need intensive behavioral (ABA – Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy. Main focus of group is insurance funding for ABA therapy, but discussion may include other topics such as special education, speech, physical and occupational therapies and recreational activities. To be added to this group, request to join and answer the required questions.
  • Indy Parents Special Needs Community – Private group for parents of children with developmental delays or disabilities find support and resources in the Indianapolis area. To be added to this group, request to join and answer the required questions.
  • Columbus Autism Network Support Group – A support group of parents and caregivers in Columbus, IN, and the surrounding area.
  • Autism Support Group of Goshen – The purpose of this group is support and encouragement for parents of children and adults on the autism spectrum. Grandparents, caregivers, and others committed to the well being of individuals on the autism spectrum are also welcome.
  • Families United for Support and Encouragement (FUSE) – Families can engage with FUSE by phone, email social media or by attending any of their events. An online newsletter provides individuals and families with current disability news and information.
  • Easter Seals Crossroads Autism Family Support Group – Group for parents or caregivers of a child with autism to meet other parents and caregivers at Parent Support Group meetings held every 3rd Wednesday of the month in the Autism Family Resource Center.
  • TACA (The Autism Community in Action)- Indiana – TACA Indiana holds Autism Learning Seminars, Coffee Talks and family events throughout the year. Our seminars feature educational speakers on important topics for ASD families. Our Coffee Talks and family events provide more settings where families can informally network, share resources and speak with seasoned parents.
  • The Hazel Center – The Hazel Center offers a social group for children with high functioning autism/Asperger’s, a parent support group, a sibling group and a childcare option so that the entire family can attend.
  • Autism Speaks – Family members and friends of children and adults with autism are presented with many joys and many challenges throughout their lives. We hope these resources will help support you during the ups and downs and in between.
  • Hamilton County Autism Support Group – The mission of the Hamilton County Autism Support Group is to provide community awareness of Autism and help support our families where every day lives are challenged with a child in their family with Autism. Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. 

For a full list of Indiana Autism Support groups, visit:

https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/parent-groups

https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/articles/parent-groups.html

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Asperger’s Signs and Symptoms

What Are the Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome?

In this article, we take a look at Asperger’s syndrome, and describe its most common characteristics, how it differs from other autism disorders and how to treat it.

Asperger’s syndrome can be a difficult disorder for many parents to pick up since many children display Asperger’s characteristics as a normal part of their development. So it’s understandable why childhood Asperger’s is sometimes diagnosed a little later than other brain disorders on the autism spectrum.

We’re going to take a closer look at what Asperger’s syndrome is, along with some of its signs and characteristics, how it can be treated, 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.

Are Autism & Asperger’s Different?

As mentioned, Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, it is not the same as an autistic disorder. The disorders that fall into the ASD group include: 

  • Autistic disorder
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD; also known as Heller’s syndrome)
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

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

  • Difficulties in social interaction
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Repetitive behaviors.

What are the signs of Asperger’s?

It’s important to be aware of the Asperger’s signs and characteristics and how these set it apart from other diagnoses on the spectrum. 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 signs of Asperger’s to keep an eye out for:

  • Displaying unusual nonverbal communication: Asperger’s and eye contact rarely go together, so avoiding eye contact is one of the first symptoms; also a limited number of facial expressions or awkward body positions and gestures. 
  • Engaging 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 to not understand, be sensitive to, or empathize with the feelings of others.
  • Showing an intense obsession with one or two specific and narrow subjects such as the weather, snakes, basketball stats, or train schedules.
  • Difficulty “reading” other people or getting the gist of humor or sarcasm.
  • Speaking in a rigid, monotonous voice or speaking unusually fast.
  • Clumsy movement and poor coordination.

It’s worth noting that there are some characteristics of Asperger’s 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?

Although the cause of Asperger’s syndrome is not yet fully understood, there is a strong belief that it has a genetic basis and runs in families.

There are also some environmental risk factors associated with an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorders, including:

  • Older parental age
  • Low birth weight
  • Exposure to the drug valproate in utero. 

Treatment for Asperger’s

A holistic treatment program for children with Asperger’s is the best possible plan. The 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 compassionate, center-based ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy and services for children with autism disorders. Our one-of-a-kind approach 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.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Learn About CPI Training

What Is CPI Training?

We take a look at what CPI is and why it is so beneficial for de-escalating crises for children with autism.

At Lighthouse Autism Center, safety is our priority, and we take great pride in the safety of our centers. Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) training is one of many safety precautions implemented at all Lighthouse Autism Centers. All of our employees receive weeks of training before beginning therapy with a child and are certified in First Aid, CPR, and CPI.

We’re going to take a closer look at what CPI is, the benefits of CPI techniques, and why we use it at the Lighthouse Autism Center.

What is CPI?

CPI is a strategy used for crisis prevention for a wide variety of people, including those with autism spectrum disorders. CPI can best be described as non-violent crisis intervention training designed to teach best practices for managing difficult situations and disruptive behaviors in children with autism. Behavior therapists or Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) learn how to identify at-risk individuals and use nonverbal and verbal techniques to defuse hostile behavior. This type of training not only ensures the utmost safety of the children at our centers but also the safety of our staff.

CPI Training

The Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) is an international training organization that specializes in the safe management of disruptive and assaultive behavior. Since 1980, more than six million professionals have participated in CPI’s training, and thousands of organizations worldwide have successfully implemented CPI’s safe, non-harmful techniques and developed comprehensive crisis prevention and intervention plans. Only highly trained and certified CPI instructors are equipped to teach others CPI methods.

What is a CPI instructor?

A CPI instructor is someone who has gone through rigorous training at the CPI international training organization and has been certified as an instructor. They are taught the tools and techniques to instruct and teach others to implement CPI strategies where needed.

The Benefits of CPI at the Lighthouse Autism Center

There are a huge number of benefits when it comes to using CPI strategies. These are the most notable. 

  • Teaches staff to recognize and respond to a crisis appropriately: CPI teaches our staff imperative decision-making skills to effectively match their response to the level of risk in the crisis. They learn to focus on the least restrictive response to ensure crises are de-escalated with as little fuss as possible. They are taught how to recognize the different stages of an escalating crisis and how to use evidence-based techniques to de-escalate.
  • Safe physical intervention as a last resort: Staff are trained to respond appropriately to the level of risk. Sometimes de-escalation strategies don’t work, and the risk requires physical intervention. CPI teaches staff the best physical intervention strategies to ensure as little trauma as possible.
  • It’s fully accredited: CPI is an evidence-based training program that is also fully accredited. The training is reviewed bi-annually to ensure all interventions are up to international standards.

Why We Use CPI at Lighthouse Autism Center

While CPI is an excellent non-violent crisis intervention strategy for a wide range of people, it’s particularly effective for children with autism. People with autism have unique characteristics, and the nature of autism means that there are some special circumstances to consider when employing CPI techniques with them. 

Here are just a few of the CPI strategies we use for children with autism. 

Learn How Autism Shows Up in Individual Children

Autism shows up in every person differently, and there is no such thing as one size fits all. Our staff works closely with a child’s parents, teachers, and other adults in their lives to learn about their specific anxiety signs and triggers. For example, some children with autism can clench their fists when they are happy or excited. Others do this when they are starting to feel anxious or frustrated. How does a particular child show anxiety?

It’s important to understand what triggers every child has. Do they like to be touched? Or should touching be avoided? Do they like schedules, and if so, what kind of schedules? What are their very favorite things? What has helped calm this child down in the past? You can see the other important questions that are asked in our Tips for Parents blog post.

These types of questions allow our staff to intervene using the right type of support to avoid escalation.

Teach Communication Skills

Children with autism struggle to verbalize their needs and wants, which often leads to frustration. Our staff finds out how the child tends to communicate when they ask for things. They will also teach the child how to ask for specific things that might not be tangible.

We will figure out the best system for the child, whether that’s verbal, sign language, or something in between. Teaching children with autism these skills is an excellent way to avoid crises and escalating frustration.

Avoiding Reinforcement of Problematic Behaviors

It can be quite easy to accidentally reinforce a problematic behavior. For example, if a child throws everything off the table because they don’t want to do a particular task and you then immediately give them a break, this could be something they will use in the future to get what they want.

CPI strategies will instead call for a few more simple tasks that won’t stress the child out and then prompt the child to indicate they want a break using a productive communication skill that they have been taught.

Safely Using Holds as a Last Resort

CPI strategies only use physical interventions as the very last resort and only when the child’s behavior is posing more risk to their own safety than any physical hold does. We are taught to safely and effectively use physical interventions with children in a way that causes no harm and that also doesn’t reinforce problematic behaviors. Some children find the pressure of holds comforting and will resort to aggression if they know that they will be held as a result.

The Best Autism Treatment With Lighthouse Autism Center

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we believe that we can help every child reach their true potential with our innovative treatment approach to autism. CPI strategies are just a facet of the incredible work that our staff do throughout our centers.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to talk to someone about our treatments and how we can help your child.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Impact of Dropping Asperger’s from the DSM-V

Asperger’s syndrome no longer listed in DSM-V

A big change is about to take place in the soon to be released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly known as the DSM-V. Asperger’s syndrome has dropped from the manual and instead it will fall under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The name for Asperger’s Syndrome has officially changed, but many still use the term Asperger’s Syndrome when talking about their condition.

The American Psychiatric Association released a statement stating that, “The new criteria

Continue reading “Impact of Dropping Asperger’s from the DSM-V”

Siblings of Children with Autism

siblings_autism_1

Children with autism experience social delays, trouble communicating and various other developmental delays that can cause a family to experience extra stress and hardship. This can be particularly hard for siblings who may not understand that their brother and sister has autism and that may cause them to act, communicate or express themselves differently.

Below is a list of items a child who has a sibling with autism may experience. While some of them may be unavoidable, it is important parents are aware of these challenges and work to make sure extra care is not only taken for a child with autism but their siblings as well.

Challenges Siblings May Experience

Sibling Rivalry

It is natural to see rivalry’s develop between children in one household. Siblings may fight over toys, attention, or anything to feel like they are “first” or have “won.” This experience can particularly be heightened for a sibling for a child with autism who may be competing for their parents attention.

Feeling Left Out

Children with autism require extra care, time and attention from parents. This can leave other siblings feeling left out or not important. Parents should take extra care to make sure other siblings feel loved and cared for. This could take the form of picking an activity to do together each week or going on a special outing with each sibling every month.

Extra Responsibility

Siblings may feel like they have to pick up extra work around the house that their parents do not have time for due to the extra work of caring for a child with autism. While there is nothing wrong with siblings pitching in to help the entire family unit, be sure children aren’t taking on too much extra responsibility (or responsibilities that are inappropriate for their age).

Feeling of Rejection

Children may want to have a close relationship with their brother or sister with autism that may not be possible. Children with autism often struggle with touch (like hugging) or with social skills (like being able to express joy, sadness, etc…) which can make it challenging to develop a sibling bond or relationship. Be sure to educate fellow siblings that children with autism do not express needs, wants or emotions in the same way as them and that these things may take different forms depending on the child.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

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.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential