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Clinical Corner – Keep a Summer Routine

Summer vacation for many children means a break from school — and its strict schedules. But for children with autism, a change in daily routine can be a source of great stress.

Julie Mower, executive director at the Phoenix Center, a not-for-profit school in Nutley serving the educational, therapeutic and behavioral needs of students ages 5 to 21 with autism, said keeping some type of routine is important. Many children with autism crave a schedule that is the same every day.

She offered parents or caregivers some tips for a less stressful summer:

• Create an anticipatory schedule, basically a laundry list of events of a particular day.

• If a family is taking a trip or vacation, talk about that vacation with the child in advance. Look on the destination’s website with the child so he or she can see what the new environment is going to look like.

• Summer camps are a great way to engage an autistic child. Mower said it’s important to visit the camp and visit the counselors ahead of time so the child gets used to the new environment.

• A timer or an alarm is also crucial. Some children respond better to auditory cues than visual ones. So for example, Mower said if a family is getting to leave an event in 10 minutes, have the child set the alarm so he or she understands it’s time to go when the alarm goes off.

• Swimming can be a fantastic fun summer activity for a child with special needs. Mower said it’s important to pick a pool that can accommodate a child’s needs. She said an indoor pool can amplify sound and trigger auditory sensitivities that outdoor pools may not. An outdoor pool may not have the echo effect, but factors like temperature and chlorine may affect a child’s experience in other ways.

• Headed to the beach? Mower said sand can provide a totally different sensory experience for children who are not used to having bare feet. Have them use water shoes so their feet are not directly exposed to the sand. She suggested towels for them to sit on and for those with tactile defensiveness, bring digging tools for them.

Mower said the bottom line is not to get stuck in maintaining the same routine — but if a family is going on a trip, create a new routine. Embed some normal routines such as consistent dinners and bedtime. Have activities planned and take some breaks — with those tips, families with autistic children will be able to better enjoy the summer months together.

To read the full article, visit https://nj1015.com/children-with-autism-spectrum-should-keep-a-summer-routine/

Shining Examples – Avery

Avery enrolled at Lighthouse Autism Center nearly two years ago. When Avery first came to Lighthouse, he was a very different boy than he is today. “Avery was a very shy and quiet boy. He did not want anyone to look at him or interact with him in any way,” said his Program Manager. With consistent ABA therapy, supportive therapists and a highly qualified BCBA designing unique programs just for Avery, he has made huge strides in school readiness skills, social behavior, and daily living skills.

When asked about Avery’s progress, Program Manager and BCBA, Krissi Borkholder said, “Avery has made incredible progress. He can work independently, read at a third-grade reading level, has full conversations and even requests to play with his peers!” Avery continues to work on other school readiness skills such as writing short stories, typing, learning math concepts and working appropriately on group activities.

Avery’s parents could not be more happy with his progress. “We have had the opportunity to see him grow and blossom in virtually every aspect. Being able to see him come into his own and be able to express himself, articulate his feelings, and express his emotions has almost been like we’ve really gotten to know Avery for the first time. Words are not enough to express our appreciation to the incredible staff at Lighthouse for all of their had work and support along the way.

My Child & Autism: Early Intervention

Studies have long suggested that early intervention leads to the best outcomes for children with autism. If your child is not reaching developmental milestones, or is exhibiting possible signs of autism, a parent should immediately have their child tested. For your convenience, Lighthouse Autism Center has a list of these signs on their website.

A child’s brain develops rapidly between birth and three years of age. As a result, the earlier the intervention for your child with autism, the more effective ABA therapy can be. If your suspect your child may have autism, schedule an appointment with your provider to have your child tested. If your child does have autism, you can contact Lighthouse Autism Center and enroll your child at one of our centers. The earlier your child develops a treatment plan with one of our Board Certified Behavior Analysts, the better we can help your child reach his or her fullest potential.

Do you suspect your child may have autism? Contact Lighthouse for assistance today!