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Sensory-Friendly Tips for Children with Autism on July 4th

Navigating the Holiday with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Holidays in general can be overwhelming and overstimulating for children with autism. The 4th of July Holiday can be one of the more overstimulating holidays consisting of large social gatherings, fireworks, parades, festivals and more! Preparing for these upcoming activities is crucial.

There are various ways to ensure that the holiday is safe and memorable for children with autism. Here are a few tips for families and caregivers of children with Autism:

Prepare your child in advance

Prepare your child in advance by telling them what is going to happen at the fireworks display or celebration. Focus on the fun aspect and let your child know that you are excited for these upcoming activities. Engage your child in the excitement and get them excited! Tell them about the holiday and stories of the good food, friends, and activities.  You can read your child books about similar celebrations or show them videos online or even take them to the location beforehand to introduce and bring familiarity to the situation. Create a plan for activities including timing, location, safety, and helpful supplies. Have a plan B. It is important to understand your child’s limits.

Determine a location and create a safe space

Choose a location where your child can retreat easily, such as at home with a view of fireworks, where a quiet room is available if they need a break from the noise and lights or watch by distance from inside your vehicle. You can also create a special space for your child to make them feel more comfortable by bringing their favorite comfort items such as a pillow and blanket or a chair.  It is important that your child feels comfortable and safe and has a space to prevent overstimulation. Create an escape plan if your child becomes too overstimulated. Events like community fireworks can become hectic, fast. As the crowd’s swell, noise grows, and children on the autism spectrum become prone to meltdowns. That is why identifying an escape route to a quiet place is important.

Bring helpful supplies and favorite items

Pack a bag ahead of time with sensory toys, games, and familiar snacks. Also consider headphones for children who are sensitive to loud sounds. As we all know, fireworks can pack a lot of sensory stimulation. Sensory items and snacks can provide a crucial distraction if your child gets antsy while waiting for activities to start.

Make safety a priority

Put a strong focus on safety around fireworks. Wandering and accidents can happen at any time.  However, being in an unfamiliar environment can increase the risk.

Ask for help

Be clear with other adults around you about how they can help make the event comfortable for your child with autism. Make sure your child knows how to ask for help and how to ask for a break from the party or noise. If your child is verbal, they may only need a reminder.  However, many children on the autism spectrum do best with a visual aid. For example, provide your child with a special card to hand to you when they need a break from the stimulation.

Follow us on Facebook for more great content: https://www.facebook.com/LighthouseAutismCenter

 

Child with Autism | SSI Benefits

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.

A child on an indoor swing with a therapist.

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.

To prepare for your appointment, read through the SSA’s Child Disability Starter Kit to find out the exact paperwork you need.

Get the Best Therapy and Treatment for Your Child

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.

Contact us to get the best for your child.

Celebrating Halloween with Autism Spectrum Disorder

5 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!

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. Consider creating a visual schedule or countdown to the big day!

3.) Practice

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 at their homes.

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!

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:

https://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips

15 trick-or-treating safety tips to ensure a happy and healthy Halloween

https://www.cityofsouthfield.com/news/follow-these-halloween-trick-or-treating-tips-stay-safe-stop-spread

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/will-you-let-your-child-trick-or-treat-this-halloween-heres-how-the-cdc-says-to-do-it-safely-11633370865

 

 

ABA Therapy Tips for Taking Your Child with Autism to the Dentist

Taking Your Child With Autism to the Dentist

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/

 

Children with Autism: Boys Verses Girls

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Boys Verses Girls

According to the CDC, boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

But does this mean that boys are more likely to have autism or does this mean that girls are just being underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed? Signs of autism in girls can be easily missed, especially in cases of high-functioning autism. The signs and characteristics displayed by children with autism is more easily recognizable with severe and problematic symptoms, often observed among boys. Therefore, boys get referred for diagnostic testing and treatment services earlier in development than girls typically do and are more often diagnosed. Autism in girls and autism in boys do not always look the same. In fact, recent research suggests that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may look quite different in girls—so different, that it can be difficult to diagnose. It may not get noticed in girls until later teen or pre-teen years, when it becomes harder for a child to “cover up” their autism-related characteristics. As the gender differences among children with autism get more closely examined, many experts are beginning to observe that girls may be better at imitating socially appropriate behaviors and have fewer behavior problems than boys. This creates a masking of autism symptoms for girls that prevent them from being referred for services.

Some of the differences in girls with autism verses boys with autism based on resent research are:

  • Boys with autism often have very repetitive and limited areas of play. Girls with autism are less repetitive and have broader areas of play.
  • Girls with autism are more likely than boys to be able to respond to non-verbal communication such as pointing or gaze following. They are also somewhat more focused and less prone to distraction.
  • While boys’ social communication issues become challenging very early in their lives, girls may be able to manage the social demands of early childhood but run into difficulties as they enter early adolescence.
  • According to the Kennedy Krieger report, Boys with ASD may tend to engage in disruptive behavior to gain objects, while girls with ASD may tend to engage in disruptive behavior to get attention.
  • Girls with autism are more likely than boys to also suffer from anxiety and/or depression.
  • While girls with autism do have perseverative interests, they are more likely to choose interests (such as TV stars or music) that appear more typical than, for example, many boys’ perseverative interests in schedules, statistics, or transportation.
  • Girls with autism are less likely to behave aggressively and more likely to be passive or withdrawn.
  • It is fairly common for girls with autism to appear socially competent as youngsters because they are “taken under the wings” of other girls who enjoy mentoring their peers. These mentors often fade out of the picture as they enter adolescence and find other interests or groups of friends.

What is autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is defined as the broad range of conditions that include challenges with communication skills, social skills, motor skills, daily living skills and more. In the most recent study performed by the CDC, 1 in every 44 children are diagnosed with autism. Furthermore, boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

How to Identify Signs of Autism and Evaluating Your Child

Having a child tested for autism spectrum disorder is only something that a qualified professional will be able to do. However, knowing the signs of autism can help you decide whether or not to seek further evaluation for your child. The easiest way to be able to determine if a child should have further evaluation for autism spectrum disorder is to know the signs.

Getting an early diagnosis of ASD is key for proper treatment and early intervention. With that in mind, what are the characteristics of autism?

To learn more about the signs of autism, visit: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/children-with-autism/identify-signs-autism-evaluating-child/

 

Sources:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/differences-between-boys-and-girls-with-autism-260307

https://www.verywellhealth.com/signs-of-autism-in-girls-260304

https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-statistics-asd

https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2017/04/autism-spectrum-disorders-the-difference-between-boys-and-girls