Winter in the Midwest is often unpredictable, cold, and filled with snow. For parents, finding winter activities for your child with autism can be a challenging. While the snow can be a fun and welcome activity for children, other times, the bitter cold can prevent children from playing outside. So, how do we keep children and children with autism busy during the cold winter months?
When the temperature is a lovely 35 degrees (which is quite warm in this area during the winter months!) and there is a fresh blanket of snow, here are just a few activities to try with your child with autism.
Build a snowman – this can be a wonderful activity that your child can do independently or as a family. Consider building a replica of a favorite character or naming your snowman. Be sure to always explain that a snowman is only temporary and will melt when it gets warmer!
Sledding – get your child active by finding a park (be sure to find a safe space!) where your child can enjoy a trip sledding down a hill. A favorite past-time of most, this is sure to be something your child with autism will enjoy as well. Consider getting a sled big enough for two people so your child can sled with the assistance of an adult.
Frozen Water Balloons – fill balloons with different color water (just add food coloring!) to make a fun and beautiful display in your yard. Fill the balloons with water and place them outside. Within a few hours you should have a beautiful display of frozen water.
Make Snow Angels – this can be a great sensory activity in the winter for children with autism!
Take a Drive – go look at all the Christmas decorations in your neighborhood.
Go for a Nature Walk – being outside in the winter can be one of the most calming activities for children with autism. It provides them an open space to run, play and explore without the stimulation of indoor environments. If the temperatures are agreeable, bundle up and head outside to a nearby park or trail.
Paint the Snow – a fun and creative alternative to playing in the snow is to paint it. Simply fill some squirt bottles with water and food coloring (make sure you use a lot!), then turn the snow into your canvas.
When the weather turns bitter cold or there are several inches of snow on the ground, you may find your child’s school closed and a house full of children. Here are a few ideas to keep your child with autism (and all of your children!) occupied when they are stuck inside:
Pajama Day – consider letting your child have a lazy day in pajamas. Make them their favorite breakfast and let them watch a favorite movie or TV show.
Mall Visit – If the kids (and you!) are itching to get out of the house, take a trip to the mall. Make a game of walking around the mall to get some steps in and energy out. If you are able, let your child pick out a new toy or item once you have done so many trips around the mall.
Movie Day – this can be done at a local theater or at home. If you want to get out of the house, take advantage of discounted matinee prices and take the kids to see a favorite movie. Pop some popcorn at home and bring that jumbo size purse to provide some affordable snacks at the theater.
Indoor Snowball Fight – you can buy fake snowballs or create them using crunched newspaper.
Make Pretend Snow – bring the snow inside by combining 2 ½ cups of pure baking soda with ½ cup of conditioner in a bowl and mix together. Show your child how to make snowballs and build a snowman together inside! Show them how to play with this new texture and encourage them to tell you what they are thinking as they touch and shape the pretend snow. This is a great sensory activity for your child with autism.
Build an Indoor Fort – gather your sheets, blankets, cushions and pillows for a magical afternoon at home. You can even create a “fort kit” box for that very purpose. Prepare your child’s favorites a snacks, read a few books, and even encourage a nap – everything is more fun in a fort.
For children with autism, on days when school or an ABA therapy center is closed, be sure to do your best to keep a routine and follow through on skills and activities they are working on at home. ABA is meant to be consistent, and can only be successful if parents do their best to practice many of the same ABA skills that your child does at their ABA center at home.
Sensory activities involve toys, games and activities that stimulate the senses. Sensory play is important for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who often struggle processing sensory information. Children with autism are often sensitive to certain sounds or lights, or even certain textures. Sensory activities for kids with autism are important to help regulate the sensory system. Engaging children with autism in sensory activities is beneficial for the development of several skills, including:
Language skills. Engaging in pretend play helps develop a child’s language skills by increasing their vocabulary as they discuss their experiences.
Fine motor skills. Manipulating small objects not only aids in hand-eye coordination, but it also helps strengthen the muscles in a child’s hands and wrists, which in turn helps develop their fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills. Encouraging kids to practice their running, jumping, and throwing skills through pretend sensory play is an excellent way to develop their gross motor skills by strengthening their large muscles through fun body movements.
Social skills. Engaging in pretend play with peers doesn’t just build little imaginations. It also teaches important skills like sharing and taking turns!
Self-control. Sensory play helps develop a child’s ability to respond appropriately to sensory stimulation, which helps enhance their self-control and self-regulation.
Try a range of activities to stimulate all of the five senses – touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing.
The list below has been compiled by Autism Speaks for children with Autism, Aspergers, and Sensory Processing Disorders. There are several sensory friendly toys as well as specific online games and activities designed for children with autism.
Animal Agentz Fun and interactive computer learning tool to help children manage and overcome stress, anxiety and poor concentration. Children interact with a family of bright and colorful animal characters who teach them important coping skills to help them manage stressful situations. www.animalagentz.com
Autism Toys and More Autism toys, books, puzzles, games, and resources for parents and professionals. Categories include: fine motor skills, focus and attention, cognitive development, sensory, social/pretend play, and more! www.autismtoysandmore.com
Automoblox Automoblox award-winning line of mix-n-match, wooden toy cars have been used as an important learning tool for children with autism. www.automoblox.com
Aven’s Corner Here you will find the web’s most unique online kids games. This is a free online preschool games site built specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. avenscorner.com
BionicBlox Award-winning BionicBlox invents building and construction products for 2D and 3D sensory and educational play. The open-ended, captivating press together blocks and connectors provide enhanced stimulation. The size and durability of children’s masterpieces promotes social processes through collaborative play. bionicblox.com
bluedominoes: Shaping A Healthier Playtime bluedomines’ Activity Dough and Finger Prints are the first art supplies product to receive approval from the Celiac Sprue and acceptance by the Feingold Association. Both of our products are gluten free, artificial color free, bromine free and heavy metal free. www.amazon.com
Discovery Toys: A Link to Learning for Children with Autism Discovery Toys interfaced with the famous Princeton Child Development Institute to develop an Autism Support Project. This project has created toys to develop independent play with some limited instruction, toys that promote sustained engagement, toys that build skills for cooperative play, toys that create opportunities for children to talk about their play experience, toys with obvious completion criteria and more! www.discoverytoys.com/autismspeaks
Fun and Function Fun and Function was founded by a mom who also happens to be an occupational therapist. Her goal in starting the company was to fill a void for a lack of high quality toys, games and therapy products geared towards special needs children. Funandfunction.com provides children with special needs outstanding products to enable them to reach their fullest potential. funandfunction.com
Give Me 5 Social Skills Board Game Give Me 5 is a fun, non-competitive social skills game covering 8 sub-domains of social skills: self-awareness, situational awareness, non-verbal communication, verbal communication, emotional awareness, perspective taking, manners, and understanding the big picture. It incorporates learning through analyzing social scenarios, using visual cues, role playing, problem solving, and the use of an emotional awareness model. High 5s are given along the way to support the children’s positive social development and nurture their self-esteem. thedevelopmentalgarden.com
Her Interactive: Nancy Drew Adventure Games Her Interactive is the leading mystery-maker and pioneer of fun and inspiring interactive entertainment. Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew games have sold more than 9 million copies. Nancy Drew players now include moms who have introduced their daughters to the girl detective, making her one of history’s longest-running iconic figures spanning generations. As the number-one PC mystery franchise since 2004, unit sales of the Nancy Drew series have exceeded those of Harry Potter, Myst and Tomb Raider. www.herinteractive.com
Infantino Smartly-designed products for happy parenting. Packed with smarts, full of fun and ready for the daily adventures of parenting, we’ve created a line of products to help you and your little ones grow together. They’ve all been thoughtfully designed and smartly styled, from tip to toe, to make this whole parenting thing less of a job and more of a joy. Here’s to happy! www.infantino.com
Make Beliefs Comix Come visit MakeBeliefsComix.com, where parents and children can create their own comic strips online and practice writing, ready and storytelling. Parents and teachers of autistic children are using the site to communicate more effectively with their children by creating comic strips to teach and convey information to them. makebeliefscomix.com
Me and My World™ Social Skills Board Games and Curriculum The set of 6 unique themed puzzle cut game boards (Dragon, Pirate, Space Alien, Castle, Zoo Adventure and Sea Life are interchangeable with any of the Me and My World Game Card Decks. The Me and My World Curriculum includes more than 50 lessons that are aligned with the American School Standards for Students. Each lesson addresses a specific objective, includes several activities and recommends children’s stories to use. www.joshuacenter.com
Melissa and Doug Over 2,000 unique and exciting products for children of all ages. Our promise is to make each and every customer a happy and permanent member of the Melissa & Doug family, while offering products with tremendous value, quality and design. Our line offers something for everyone! www.melissaanddoug.com
OZMO Fun Toys for Autism and Other Special Interests Created by parents of an adult with autism and OCD to encourage easy, safe, wonderful fun with toys, books, puzzles, sensory and special interest items all geared toward individuals with autism. www.ozmofun.com
Piano Wizard Piano Wizard is an amazingly simple video game that can teach anyone from 3-103 how to play the piano and read music in minutes. With a digital piano hooked up to your PC or Mac, you’re playing real keyboard within seconds of sitting in front of a song. The game’s 4-step method has won awards for its simplicity. Even a 3-year-old can play Step 1 and by the time you finish Step 4, you’re reading real musician notation. After Step 4, we’ve seen kids go straight to real piano, and find themselves playing the same song effortlessly. www.evenyoucanplay.com
Pick and Draw Pick and Draw is a fun, one-of-a-kind drawing game that teaches you how to make very creative cartoon faces. It is simple and easy to use providing endless hours of fun and learning. In five minutes or less you will know how to play! pickanddraw.com
PlayAbility Toys A world of special toys for special kids. PlayAbility Toys is THE source of fun, unique toys that are developmentally appropriate for all young children and in particular children with special needs! The company specifically designs and markets toys that have many sensory features that incorporate auditory, tactile, visual, and motor stimulation. www.playabilitytoys.com
Playtime with Zeebu Bring the world of Playtime with Zeebu home to play! Our goal at Thought Bubble Productions is to make the connection between you and your child/student purposeful. www.playtimewithzeebu.com
Raise Your Rainbow® Health Eating Tool Raise Your Rainbow® is an interactive game that motivates children to eat fruits and vegetables. Kids track the fruits and vegetables they eat throughout the day using the colorful rainbow band magnets – when all 5 bands have been raised to form a complete rainbow, they win! Raise Your Rainbow® is easy to play, fun for kids, and promotes healthy eating. Play right on the fridge or portable for tabletop – also comes with food list by color. www.raiseyourrainbow.com
SimplyFun Board Games Simply Fun offers award winning educational board games for all ages. Our board games are unique and can not be found in stores, they are easy to learn and fun to play, they are designed for learning and connecting, and they are high quality. We have a great deal to offer to parents and families of loved ones with autism and other special needs. www.simplyfun.com
Special Needs Toys We are providers of carefully selected fun products designed to help you or those in your care enjoy life, and achieve more. Use this site and our catalog to stimulate your imagination, begin programs, or reinforce encouraged behaviors. There is a lot that we can achieve…while having Fun. We are committed to offering the best customer service available. www.specialneedstoys.com
The Speech Bin We have tons of fun, new games to improve speaking and listening skills! www.speechbin.com
Stages Learning Materials was founded by a UCLA trained ABA Therapist in 1997, when Autism diagnosis first began to rise. Our top-selling autism education product, the Language Builder Picture Cards, was designed to specifically meet the learning needs of the individual with Autism. The Language Builder Series has become a staple in home and school programs across the world. Today Stages offers a full range of real photo products for autism education. Stages products are found in pre-schools, day care centers, early childhood classrooms, autism programs, speech language programs, and homes around the world.
Step2 The Step2® Company, LLC, headquartered in Streetsboro, Ohio, is the largest American manufacturer of preschool and toddler toys and the world’s largest rotational molder of plastics. Our mission is to be the leading innovator of children’s products that build imaginations and enrich the family’s celebration of childhood. www.step2.com
Topobo for Children with Autism and ASD Topobo is the world’s first construction toy with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion! Research studies with autistic children show that, in comparison to passive blocks, Topobo leads to far more cooperative & parallel play, increased observational behavior, and reduced solitary play patterns. www.topobo.com/autism-asd.html
Toys”R”Us Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids Toys selected by experts to aid in the development of children with physical and cognitive disabilities. https://www.toysrus.com
WonderWorx LLC WonderWorx invents products for musical, sensory and educational play – and unique pieces for parks, gardens, schools and museums. These imaginative creations combine splashes of sound, color, music or motion to stimulate the senses and encourage social, cooperative interaction. www.wonderworx.com
ZAC Browser: Zone for Autistic Children ZAC is the first web browser developed specifically for children with autism spectrum disorders. Come find the best environment on the internet for your autistic child! zac-browser.en.softonic.com/
Zigo Leader Carrier Bike System Our Mission is to provide human powered vehicles, strollers, and bicycle trailers for use by active parents or other caregivers along with their children. The Company’s first product, the Zigo® Leader™ Carrier Bicycle System,can operate as a three-wheeled carrier bicycle, a stroller, jogging stroller, urban bicycle, or trailer, converting among these modes in under one minute.
Below is a compiled list of camps and summer programs all over Indiana that cater to children with autism, as well as children and adults with other disabilities. Click on the links below to visit the website of a camp in your area.
Close to Leo, Camp Red Cedar is place that features everything camp has to offer – games, horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, arts and crafts, nature hikes and singing around the campfire. In addition to summer camps, enjoy year-around therapeutic and conventional horseback riding or rent our facilities. Of course, the entire camp is completely accessible and autism friendly. Discover a whole new world of possibilities within Camp Red Cedar’s 57 acres of meadows, woods, lake and trails.
Inspiring self-discovery in individuals with special needs through a safe, traditional camp experience. Camp Millhouse envisions a world where individuals with special needs are encouraged to realize their full potential and value to make a difference in their communities.
Jacob’s Place operates Youth Sports for Autism, a free program where kids are put on teams and allowed to play sports in a sensory and accepting environment! We also are opening the new Autism Rec Center for Indiana which will host gym nights, game and movie nights, clubs and other recreational activities, provide job training in a working candy store, and host parent and homeschool support!
At our Summer Day Camps, we can tap into the specific interests of each camper by targeting their individual skills and interests. Because we welcome youth with and without disabilities, our inclusive environment encourages everyone to learn, grow and have fun.
Life Compass Camp is 5 day, day camp that offers youth with special needs the chance to experience a more traditional summer camp setting that caters to their individual needs and uses games and activities to teach important life skills.
Jameson Camp began in 1928 when the leaders at Marion County Tuberculosis Association came together with the community to meet the need for a summer program that bridged a gap in health and nutrition for children. Since then, Jameson Camp has offered numerous camps especially for children impacted by physical and mental health diagnoses. Today, Jameson Camp is proud to offer a space where any child can feel welcome, safe, and accepted while they discover their strengths, build friendships, and experience nature on over 130 acres of forest, meadow, and streams.
Nestled along its namesake, the Anderson River in rural Southern Indiana, Anderson Woods was founded in 1978, and is a private, not-for-profit corporation chartered to provide summer camp experiences, as well as other services, for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Bradford Woods is Indiana University’s Outdoor Center. We provide experiential and therapeutic outdoor programs to people of all backgrounds and abilities on our 2,500-acre campus, located between Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Our vision is to be global leaders in delivering inclusive and experiential outdoor programming.
Our annual Summer Camp will consist of fun daily field trips in and around our communities for exploration, vocational skills, physical activities, life skills, creative experiences and more. A monthly calendar will be provided with daily field trips for information, planning and any cost associated.
My Summer Journey is a summer program for teens on the autism spectrum, ages 13-19. Our fun-filled days help keep kids in a routine that can make the transition back to school much easier. The focus of the program is to make new friends along with working on life and social skills.
For over 100 years Camp Crosley YMCA, located in North Webster, Indiana, has been making people feel like they belong through programs like Summer Camp (boys and girls ages 6-15), Group Retreats, School Groups, and Family Events. Located on the shores of Lake Tippecanoe in Northern Indiana, we serve the communities of Muncie, Chicago, Carmel, Fishers, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Valparaiso, and more. Our caring staff want to invite you to experience all that we have to offer.
In line with optimizing the quality of life for individuals with disabilities or special needs, Youth Services fosters a safe space to promote learning, growth, and acceptance among peers while encouraging compassion and friendship.
It is finally starting to feel like fall and we couldn’t be more excited. We love the colors of the changing leaves, the crisp air, ciders and donuts and of course the pumpkin patches and apple orchards. From u-pick pumpkin patches, to hay rides, corn mazes, and the best apple cider, we have compiled a list of the best fall activities in Michiana.
Here is a few lists of fall activities in South Bend:
Thistleberry Farm – this fall activity in South Bend, IN offers a pumpkin patch, bounce houses, a corn mazes and a petting zoo. Children of all ages can find something fun to do at Thistleberry Farms!
Knollbrook Farms – located in Goshen, IN, Knollbrook Farms has a corn maze, giant slide, petting zoo, train rides, pumpkin slingshot and more! This is a real working Dairy Farm that you can tour as well.
Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard – also located in Goshen, Kercher’s offers activities for the apple pickers and pumpkin pickers! Visit the farm for apple picking, pumpkin picking, hay rides, a corn maze and more. The farm is open for various u-picks all year round!
Ashley’s Pumpkin Farm – located on the North side of South Bend near the Michigan line, this small pumpkin patch offers affordable pumpkins, a corn maze and a petting zoo.
A-Mazing Acres – Located in Southern Michigan with 90+ A-Mazing acres — with a corn maze, pumpkin patch, and close to 100 attractions. Our farm opens each year in the Fall for a traditional harvest season… and more! We’re a real working farm located just 8 miles east of Edwardsburg in Cass County. Family entertainment at its best!
Lehman’s Apple Orchard – located in Niles, Michigan this u-pick orchard has offered apple picking for nearly a hundred years! In the Fall they offer apple picking, pear picking and blackberries!
Potawatomi Zoo – Zoo Boo – each year the Potawatomi Zoo hosts Zoo Boo, a three day event where children can see their favorite animals and trick or treat around the zoo. For this years dates visit their website.
Fall Foliage Tour– One of the best things about fall has to be the change of colors. Bright oranges and reds dot the landscape as trees prepare to shed their leaves before winter. And there are plenty of places to snap photos. Notre Dame’s campus, Potato Creek State Park, St. Patrick’s Park and Spicer Lake Nature Preserve are favorites in our Guide to Fall Foliage.
South Bend Farmers Market– Fall isn’t called harvest time for nothing. Stroll the aisles at the South Bend Farmers Market and see for yourself. Local farmers bring all sorts of produce to the market specific to the season — fresh apples, sweet corn, pumpkins, gourds and more. Don’t forget the handmade crafts, delicious sweets and local coffee. Odds are you’ll smell it before you see it.
Spooky Season Scares – Halloween isn’t complete without a scare or two. Fear Itself at Legend Park in Mishawaka is one of the largest scream parks in the country. With five terrifying attractions, you will be jumping right out of your shoes. Many locals consider the Niles Scream Park a must-visit for some frightful entertainment. It’s spread across 44 acres with multiple attractions, including a “Hooded” experience that’s not for that faint of heart.
Tips for Celebrating Halloween with a Child on the Autism Spectrum
1.) The Costume
Let your child pick out a costume that works for them. If they love soft things, try a fuzzy costume onesie, if they love dinosaurs, let them be a T-rex. Whatever it is that gets your child excited, channel that into a costume! Let your child practice wearing the costume at home to allow them to get used to it.
2.) What to Expect
Make sure your child knows what to expect. Talk about the trick or treating and exactly what your child should expect. Tell them several times in advance. Consider creating a visual schedule or countdown to the big day! Create a visual to show them or read them books about trick or treating to get them more familiarized with the process. If your child is overwhelmed with change, consider introducing activities and Halloween decorations gradually.
Help your child practice for the big day by practicing putting on their costume and going through the routine of the day. Enlist the help of a neighbor or friend and have your child practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Use role play to practice receiving and giving treats.
4.) Trick or Treat Alternatives
If your child does not enjoy trick or treating, or if you are choosing to stay home due to Covid-19 related reasons, consider other alternatives. Take them to other Halloween-related activities in the community or consider a “not-so-scary” night in with their favorite movie and treat.
5.) Have Fun!
Halloween looks different for every child on the autism spectrum and you know your child best. Use your best judgement and if you only stop at a few houses, that’s still a big win! Keep trick or treating short and comfortable if needed. Consider letting siblings (that might want to go longer) go trick or treating with a family member or friend. Whatever you choose to do and however you do it, remember to be flexible, do what is best for your child and family, and have fun!
To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center, visit: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/
Here are some additional links to tips on safety during Halloween:
Tips for Passing Out Candy at Home
Although awareness around autism spectrum disorder is growing, there may still be some households who do not have experience with children on the autism spectrum. Here are a few quick tips that you can share with your friends and family within your community to help support children with autism who may be out trick or treating.
Because of this broad spectrum disorder, autism looks much different in every child.
For the child who does not say trick or treat, please or thank you: They may be nonverbal or have delayed speech.
For the child who take more than one piece of candy at a time: They may have poor fine motor skills.
For the child who looks at your candy and appears disappointed: They may have allergies.
For those that don’t like the flashing lights: They may be prone to seizures or be overstimulated by lights or sudden movements.
For the child who is not wearing a costume: They might have sensory processing disorder and wearing a costume may be too overstimulating.
For the child who looks too old to be trick or treating: They may be developmentally delayed.
Please be patient, accepting and kind. Have non-food items available for children with allergies.
Tips to Make Halloween Allergy/Food Sensitivity Friendly
Some children may be unable to eat candy due to food allergies and/or other issues (e.g., oral motor challenges). It is, therefore, important to consider non-food treats for these children. The Food Allergy & Research Education organization launched the Teal Pumpkin Project, which raises awareness of food allergies, which the ultimate goal of helping all children feel more included during festivities. The organization encourages families to buy or paint a pumpkin teal (or simply print out a sign to post on the door) to let trick-or-treaters know that there are alternative snacks and goodies. For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Projects, please visit this link: https://connectingforkids.org/Teal-Pumpkin-Project. Below are some ideas of some non-food treats:
How a Child with Autism Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
We take a look at the requirements for the SSI benefits for children with autism and other key information. From financial requirements to starting a claim, find out what you need to know.
A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is not just emotionally difficult for parents; it also means they may have to make big lifestyle changes. There are many therapies and treatments to assist children with autism, but in most cases, a parent or caretaker will need to tend to the child full-time.
This need for full-time care can lead to financial turmoil in a family, especially one that relies on a two-person income to support themselves. With the loss of one income and the expense of treatments and therapies, parents are often under enormous pressure.
Many parents don’t realize that the Social Security Administration (SSA) program offers supplemental security income (SSI) to support children with disabilities. If your family qualifies, autistic child SSI benefits can be a significant relief from financial pressure.
What is the SSA Benefits Program?
The SSA offers monthly disability benefits to parents of children with disabilities. While most children with autism have no difficulty qualifying for the SSI benefits, there are some strict criteria, which we will cover in more detail below.
How To Qualify for the SSI Benefits Program
Is autism a disability under social security? Yes, autism is considered a disability that is eligible for benefits, providing the correct requirements are met. The SSA’s Blue Book covers what conditions children with ASD must have to qualify for benefits.
To be eligible for SSI benefits, children with autism must have:
Deficits in social interaction
Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication
Significantly restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
Parents must provide medical documentation to prove that their child has all three of the above deficits.
The child must also have an extreme limitation in one of these areas, or a severe limitation in two of these areas:
Understanding, remembering, or using information (ability to learn, remember, and use information, follow instructions, solve problems, and use reason to make decisions)
Interacting with others (ability to engage in interactive play, cooperate with others, maintain friendships, handle conflicts, initiate or sustain conversation, and understand social cues)
Focusing on activities (ability to engage in activities at a consistent pace, avoid distractions, and complete tasks in a timely manner)
Adapting or managing oneself (ability to regulate emotions, control behavior, protect oneself from harm, and maintain personal hygiene).
As mentioned above, parents must provide medical documentation to prove their child’s condition.
Financial Requirements To Qualify for Benefits
Financial limitations are the top reason why children with autism are denied SSI benefits. All parents with a child with autism that is under the age of 18 must meet the relevant financial requirements to access monthly benefits.
The SSA has an income cap that cannot be exceeded if a child is to qualify for SSI benefits. This cap increases with every adult that earns a wage, as well as the number of children in the household.
To prove that they qualify, parents must provide documentation such as a W-2 form or a federal tax return for each adult that earns a wage in the household.
How Much Does a Child with Autism Get From SSI?
So, how much is a disability check for autism?
There isn’t a simple answer to this question because every child and their parents will be treated as an individual case, and this will impact how much they receive each month.
Currently, the full benefit amount is $841 a month. However, the SSA will then apply a formula to work out how much to deduct from this once the parents’ income has been considered.
Starting a Claim
One of our biggest tips for parents is to get the claim for SSI benefits started as soon as possible. The process can take months, so it’s important to make an appointment at your local SSA office when you can.
The Lighthouse Autism Center offers the highest-quality therapy in a tranquil, play-based environment. Our innovative ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy model, Lighthouse Fusion, helps children make greater progress, faster.
We take a look at the most common autism symptoms in babies and toddlers, and the importance of getting children diagnosed as early as possible.
The signs and symptoms of autism are unique to every individual, and they vary in intensity from person to person. It’s a difficult disorder to pick up when children are young, but an early diagnosis can significantly impact a child’s quality of life and shape their development. Having an awareness of autism symptoms in babies and toddlers is critical.
Common Autism Characteristics
Although it’s specific to each individual, there are some more common autism characteristicsthat indicate a child could be autistic.
1.) Lack of smiling
Children with autism often display a lack of smiling. Does your child smile back at you when you give them a warm, joyful smile? Does your child smile on their own? By the age of six months, your infant should be giving you big smiles or happy expressions.
2.) Rare Imitation of Social Cues
Does your child imitate the sounds and movements of others? Do they share expressions back and forth? Infrequent imitation of sounds, smiles, laughter, and facial expressions by nine months of age can be an early indicator of autism in infants.
3.) Delay in Babbling and Cooing
Missed milestones of babbling and cooing can often be a leading indicator of autism in babies. Is your child making “baby talk” and babbling or cooing? Do they do it frequently? Your baby should typically reach this milestone by 12 months.
4.) Unresponsiveness to Name
Is your baby increasingly unresponsive to their name from 6 to 12 months of age? Parents who see this in their child are often concerned it may be hearing loss and are unaware it can be a sign of autism in babies. If you see this behavior in your child, be sure to monitor the signs and consult a doctor. Knowing the signs can be the key to early intervention and getting your child the resources they need to reach better outcomes and live a more independent life in the future.
5.) Poor Eye Contact
Lack of eye contact is a very common sign in those with an autism diagnosis. Does your child make limited eye contact with you and other loved ones? Do they follow objects visually? Severe lack of eye contact as the baby grows can be an early indicator, as it is a form of communication and comprehension.
6.) Infrequently Seeking Attention
Does your child initiate cuddling or make noises to get your attention? Do they reach up toward you to be picked up? Disinterest in seeking a loved one’s attention or bonding with a caregiver is a sign your baby may eventually have difficulty relating to others, which can be a struggle for those on the autism spectrum as they grow up.
7.) Lack of Gesturing
Does your child gesture at objects or people to communicate? Do they wave goodbye, point, or reach for things? This is a milestone that is typically reached by the time an infant is 9 or 10 months old. Lack of gesturing is a common sign in infants on the autism spectrum.
8.) Repetitive Behaviors
Repetitive behaviors are another highly recognized sign in children with autism. Does your child engage in repetitive behaviors such as stiffening their arms, hands, or legs? Do they display unusual body movements like rotating their hands on their wrists? Do they sit or stand in uncommon postures? This is a form of stimming or self-stimulatory behavior.
9.) Delayed Motor Development
Has your child experienced significant delays in motor development milestones, such as rolling over, pushing themselves up, and crawling? These could besigns of autism in newborns, but they may not be recognized as autism until much later. Early symptoms of autism in babies or toddlers often go unrecognized by parents or caregivers and are often put down as the child simply being a slow learner.
Why It’s Important to Recognize the Signs of Autism in Infants
One of the most important things you can do for your child after birth is to learn the early signs of the autism spectrum. While most children will start to develop symptoms as newborns, many are only diagnosed when they display the common symptoms of autism in toddlers.
Getting your child diagnosed as early as possible is the best decision you can make. Firstly, you could get peace of mind if the medical doctor tells you that what you are seeing are signs your baby is not autistic.If they do diagnose autism when your child is an infant, you’ll receive the following benefits:
Improved overall development: As parents, our single goal is to ensure our children’s lives are as easy and enjoyable as possible. The same goes for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The bottom line is that infants who receive autism treatment, support, and education at appropriate ages and key developmental stages are far more likely to gain the essential social and reasoning skills needed in society.
Diminished distress: Imagine a child at school who can’t talk to their classmates, finds it hard to make friends, gets frustrated at not being able to communicate what they want, and is great at math but can’t articulate that. Undiagnosed autistic children become incredibly distressed in social settings; they don’t know what’s wrong with them, and parents and teachers think they are just acting out. An early diagnosis can diminish this distress hugely.
Early understanding and acceptance: For parents, it can be hard to understand their child and accept that they are autistic, and it certainly takes time to get used to a new way of life. Getting your child diagnosed early means that you have more time to understand and accept their disorder and to become an advocate for awareness.
The Type of Therapy to Expect at the Lighthouse Autism Center
At the Lighthouse Autism Center, we use a unique approach to ABA therapy called Lighthouse Fusion™. This is a unique program for children on the autism spectrum fuses together ABA and speech therapy and helps children make greater progress, faster. ABA therapy helps children with autism develop new skills, as well as improve the skills that they already have and decrease problem behaviors.
Our therapy programs are tailored to each individual child, and achievable goals are set out for the child to strive for in different areas of skill. Some skills include:
Communication (including speech and language skills)
Improve attention, focus, and memory
Decrease problem behaviors
Self-care (such as showering and using the bathroom)
Play and leisure
Learning and academic skills.
ABA therapy is based on positive reinforcement, and it brings together a number of different disciplines to ensure that each child gets the greatest chance of becoming the best version of themselves.
Contact us at the Lighthouse Autism Center if you want to know more about our treatment programs, and we can create a custom therapy program for your child.
DUBLIN—Some employers increasingly are viewing autism as an asset and not a deficiency in the workplace.
A Germany-based software company has been actively seeking people with autism for jobs, not because of charitable outreach but because it believes features of autism may make some individuals better at certain jobs than those without autism.
It’s a worthy initiative, according to disability experts, since 85% of adults with autism are estimated to be unemployed.
Piloted in Germany, India and Ireland, the program is also launching in four North
SAP employee Patrick Brophy, right, with his co-worker and coach David Sweeney. Ciaran Dolan for The Wall Street Journal
SAP aims to have up to 1% of its workforce—about 650 people—be employees with autism by 2020, according to Jose Velasco, head of the autism initiative at SAP in the U.S.
People with autism spectrum disorder—characterized by social deficits and repetitive behavior—tend to pay great attention to detail, which may make them well suited as software testers or debuggers, according to Mr. Velasco, who has two children with the condition.
In addition, these people bring a different perspective to the workplace, which may help with efficiency and creativity as well, he said.
“They have a very structured nature” and like nonambiguous, precise outcomes, Mr. Velasco said. “We’re looking at those strengths and looking at where those traits would be of value to the organization.”
Autistic employees at SAP take on roles such as identifying software problems, and assigning customer-service queries to members of the team for troubleshooting.
One employee works in “talent marketing,” issuing communications to employees internally. The company is looking for someone to produce videos and is considering an applicant with autism who has experience in media arts.
SAP is also considering other positions, such as writing manuals to give clients very precise instructions on how to install software.
Individuals with autism might excel at going step by step, without skipping details that others may miss, said Mr. Velasco. The business procurement process, such as getting invoices or managing the supply chain, is another area in which an individual with autism might shine, he said.
SAP isn’t the only company to have such a program. In the U.S., mortgage lenderFreddie MacFMCC -1.12% has offered career-track internships since 2012, including in IT, finance and research.
The lender hired its first full-time employee from the program in January, according to a Freddie Mac spokeswoman. In IT, the company has found that interns often perform well in testing and data-modeling jobs that require great attention to detail and focus as well as a way of seeing things that might not have been anticipated by the developers.
“Harnessing the unique skills of people on the autism spectrum has the potential to strengthen our business and make us more competitive,” according to the lender’s policy.
To be sure, as with any group, people with autism have a range of interests and abilities. SAP is working with a Danish autism-focused training and consultancy firm, Specialisterne, which carefully screens and interviews the candidates to find the appropriate matches before sending them to SAP to evaluate.
Patrick Brophy, 29 years old, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science in software systems and a master’s in multimedia systems, which includes website development and editing. Mr. Brophy says he has Asperger’s, a term commonly used to describe a milder form of autism spectrum disorder.
He had been looking for full-tine work for a few years but said that in the handful of interviews he went to, he would sometimes stutter or misinterpret questions, which he felt reflected poorly on him in the interviews.
When he arrived at SAP for the screening day, however, he had the technical qualifications and he appeared to have skills to work in a corporate setting, according to Peter Brabazon, Specialisterne program manager. Mr. Brophy was hired by the quality assurance department in July, where he identifies glitches in software prior to it being issued to clients.
“Four weeks before joining, I was steadily more and more nervous,” said Mr. Brophy, who worried about his adjustment to a new environment. “Within a month, [the work] was second nature. I had found myself.”
Mr. Brophy said there have been challenges with his job, particularly when he has to revamp how he does a certain task.
From a social standpoint, he found it easy to integrate into his team, said both Mr. Brophy and David Sweeney, a colleague assigned to be his mentor.
About 1% of the population in the U.S.—or some three million people—is thought to have an autism-spectrum disorder. The latest figures issued Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one in 68 children have been identified with an autism-spectrum disorder.
Their lifetime employment rate is extremely low even though many want to work, said disability experts. Among young adults between 21 and 25 years old, only half have ever held a paid job outside the home, according to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Though many people with autism go on to higher education and are qualified for employment, they may have trouble getting in the door of a workplace because of difficulties with networking or interviews, according to Wendy Harbour, executive director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, at Syracuse University.
There are a number of companies and outreach efforts that aim to hire people with autism, seeking to tailor work to their abilities.
But SAP and employers like Freddie Mac said their effort is specifically a business decision to take advantage of what they see as unique skill sets.
SAP said that individuals being considered to work there usually have had at least some higher education.
In Dublin, the candidates arrive at the company’s software design center, dubbed the “AppHaus,” which features open spaces, movable desks and whimsical furniture. They are asked to work in pairs on a task building a motorized robot. Candidates are given the instruction manual and brief instructions.
Assessors from Specialisterne look to see if the candidates listen to instructions and pick up on cues, and how they react to challenges such as how the colors of the pieces to the robot look different from the instruction manual. “I want to see how they work together and their technical skills,” said Debbie Merrigan, one of the assessors for Specialisterne.
She wants them to be meticulous, she says. If they aren’t it doesn’t mean they aren’t employable, but they may not be a good fit for working at SAP. Sometimes candidates get overwhelmed and simply leave.
After Specialisterne identifies a candidate as being a good fit, SAP then conducts further interviews, as they would with any other applicant, says Kristen Doran, a program manager in human resources at SAP Dublin. At this facility, 15 candidates were screened and interviewed in order to hire the three who are currently placed as contractors. Mr. Brophy works in the quality assurance department while the other two individuals are in the troubleshooting division.
The candidates are paid market rate and if they succeed on the job, they will be hired as full-time employees after a year, said Liam Ryan, managing director of SAP Labs Ireland.
Difficulties with social interaction and inflexibility can sometimes pose significant problems for individuals with autism, and SAP has a mentoring system and in some cases has made changes to the work schedule to accommodate these new employees. The company also conducts a month of employee-adaptation training to increase employees’ comfort level at working with the team as well as another month or more of job training.
“It’s hard to go into a corporate space if you prefer order to disorder,” says Thorkil Sonne, founder of Specialisterne. “Our biggest effort is to work with them…to define and strengthen their comfort zone,” said Mr. Sonne, who has a son with autism.
For any child, and even adults, a trip to the dentist can often be filled with anxiety, fear, and discomfort. For a child with autism especially, these feelings can be even further heightened by sensitivities to noise, smell, and touch. In order to make this experience better for both the child and family, Lighthouse Autism Center has compiled a list of ABA therapy tips to make taking your child with autism to the dentist just a little bit easier.
Below is a list of tips that are commonly used during ABA therapy that may help your child with autism during their next trip to the dentist:
Tip 1 – Prepare Your Child for the Visit
Be sure to talk about the visit for days or even weeks before it is going to happen. Show your child pictures of the dentist office and explain to them what kind of things will take place there (ie: “you will sit in a chair, a nice man or woman will ask you top open your mouth so they can look and touch your teeth. They want to make sure that your teeth are nice and healthy!”).
Tip 2 – Consider Visiting the Dentist Before Your Visit
If your dentist office will allow it, consider making one, two or however many visits it may take to get your child comfortable with the atmosphere. Show them the lobby, waiting area, and if available, even the room or seat they may use for the teeth cleaning. The more your child is exposed to the space, the more comfortable they will become.
Tip 3 – While You’re at the Dentist
Bring along a favorite toy, activity or treat so as your child is attempting and engaging in new experiences you can provide them with that item.
Tip 4 – Be Flexible
A trip to the dentist can be challenging for anyone. If your child begins to experience difficulty at the visit, or is visibly frustrated, scared or uncomfortable, understand that your child simply may not be ready or able to complete the visit that day, and that’s ok. You as a parent or caregiver know your child best!
Tip 5 – Consider Requesting A Therapist to Attend the Visit
For those children who receive aba therapy, some centers, like Lighthouse Autism Center, will send a therapist to help your family and child during the dental visit. They can serve as a helpful resource for you and your child by applying aba therapy techniques.
To learn more tips for parents of children with autism, visit: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/parents-of-children-with-autism/tips/
Vaccines are a routine part of child medical care, but many parents face concerns that these routine vaccinations are unsafe and can even cause certain medical conditions in children, such as autism. So when did the concern that vaccines cause autism start? What do we know about vaccines and their connection with autism? Read below to learn more.
Vaccines and Autism: Where the Controversy Started
The idea that vaccines cause autism can be traced to a few sources beginning in the 1990’s.. For one, British researchers published a document in 1998 stating that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine could cause autism. Because there was a notable elevation in the number of children being diagnosed with autism at that time, the paper received a great deal of publicity.
Not long after the 1998 study with MMR and many other studies supporting that vaccines do not cause autism, a new concern emerged regarding the ingredients used in some vaccines: thimerosal. Thimerosal was, at the time, used to thwart the growth of fungi or bacteria in vaccines, and the agent contained fractional levels of mercury, something that was obviously concerning to medical providers and parents alike. While thimerosal was pulled from all child vaccines by 2001 due to the mercury present, no scientific evidence or study every suggested that thimerosal could cause autism.
What do we know about vaccines and autism?
Numerous scientific studies have examined vaccines and their ingredients to determine whether vaccines could cause autism. To date, these research efforts have not been able to identify a link between vaccines and autism.
In 2015, the largest study to date was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers extensively analyzed 95,000 health records of children — including 2,000 children already being at risk of autism due to other underlying factors. The study did not find any link between the MMR vaccine and the risk of ASD.
At least 25 other studies have examined a host of other possible links between vaccines and autism. Researchers have looked at several aspects of vaccine safety in children and how those safety concerns could be linked to autism.
Some of those research efforts have been on factors such as:
Antibody stimulating proteins
Vaccines and antigens
Immunization rates and neuropsychological outcomes
Immunization rates and metabolic errors
None of these studies were able to point out a link between vaccines and autism or conditions related to autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics compiled an extensive list of studies on vaccine safety and autism, but the list is not exhaustive. Each vaccine — existing and already in use and those in development — are continually being tested for safety and effectiveness.
What do we know about the causes of autism?
While at this time, no single cause of autism has been identified by researches, medical professionals have identified a significant number of risk factors that can make a child more likely to have the condition. These risk factors all appear to be genetic or environmental in nature.
Autism seems to run in families, which suggests a genetic factor. Certain familial genes and gene changes may heighten the risk that a child develops autism. Though people can have the genes that have been noted as risk factors for autism and never have the disorder. It is also worth noting that genetic changes can happen spontaneously during the initial stages of embryonic formation.
A few environmental risk factors for autism include:
Either parent being of an advanced age
Complications during pregnancy or birth, such as pregnancy with multiples or premature delivery
Close-occurring pregnancies less than a year apart
Risks should never be misconstrued as causes for autism. Neither environmental nor genetic risk factors definitively cause autism.
Vaccines and Autism
While there are many who believe that vaccines do cause autism, there is no research based or scientific evidence at this time to suggest a direct link between vaccines and autism. Parents should be aware that vaccinations are an ever-important and consistently safe way to help ensure the health and well-being of their children.
For an appropriate autism diagnosis, it is important to work with a qualified professional who specializes in autism spectrum disorder and knows the true signs of the condition. If you believe your child has autism or need to know more about the disorder, contact us for information.
Lighthouse Autism Center has some exciting news to share with you! This fall, Lighthouse Autism Center will open a new location in Noblesville, Indiana! The newest center will be part of the Access Together with Lighthouse Autism Center region and will be located at 15755 North Point Blvd.
The design of the Noblesville center will be consistent with other Access Together with Lighthouse Autism Center centers and will include curated materials and inspired spaces to promote language and learning. The space will feature therapeutic areas to enhance skill acquisition in older learners without intensive behavioral needs. Most importantly, the new clinic will house talented practitioners trained in typical speech and language development in addition to behavior analysis.
With an abundance of natural light, high ceilings, a gated outside play area, and plenty of parking, we have no doubt this center will be a beautiful and warm space where children are able to learn and thrive!
Find a Center Near You
Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.
In 2020, Lighthouse Autism Center established the Lighthouse Autism Center Autism Awareness scholarship. This scholarship is intended to provide financial assistance to an individual enrolled at a college or university as an undergraduate student in their junior or senior year, preferably in an area that we currently serve. While we had many impressive applications, Kaveh Moaddeli was selected as the awardee for this scholarship.
Kaveh currently attends Monmouth College where he is studying pre-med and plays water polo. Originally from California, Kaveh has a rather unique upbringing that has led him to where he is today.
The son of immigrants, Kaveh grew up living on a small boat in the harbor when his family could not afford a home. With a passion for water polo, he would travel into shore each day at 5:00 am to attend practices. His perseverance and commitment to his education and his team led him to Monmouth where he now studies pre-med and hopes to be an EMT.
During the summers, Kaveh returns home to California to teach surf lessons to children in his community. This past summer, he had the opportunity to connect with a boy who has autism who wanted to learn to surf. While he had never worked with a child who had an autism diagnosis before, Kaveh says it was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences he has had teaching.
The Lighthouse Autism Center Autism Awareness Scholarship is open to junior or senior students enrolled full-time at a college or university. Preference will be given to those who reside in the areas that we serve (please click here to view a full list of center location). Preference will also be given to students studying psychology, special education or a related field.
Who may apply?
The Lighthouse Autism Center Autism Awareness Scholarship is open to junior or senior students enrolled full-time at a college or university. Preference will be given to those who reside in the areas that we serve (please click here to view a full list of center location). Preference will also be given to students studying psychology, special education or a related field.
Part 1: Submit a one-page personal statement. This should include information about any work experience, internships, or volunteer activities you may have participated in. If applicable, please include any experience you may have with special needs families.
Part 2: Submit a one-page essay discussing your goals and plans following graduation