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Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese Visits Newest Center in Elkhart, IN

Mayor Visits Elkhart ABA Center
Elkhart Mayor meets student at Elkhart’s newest ABA center.

On Wednesday, September 25, 2019, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese visited Lighthouse Autism Center’s newest center in Elkhart, IN. Mayor Neese met with founder and Executive Director, Gregg Maggioli, to learn more about Lighthouse and the ABA services being offered to the Elkhart community, as well as the 30 additional
jobs that will be created through the opening of the new center. Following their meeting, Mayor Neese toured the center, visiting therapy rooms, the playroom, and group therapy spaces. The Mayor also had the opportunity to meet some of the kiddos who attend Lighthouse Autism Center in Elkhart and provided them with a small token to commemorate his visit.

Lighthouse Autism Center in Elkhart is currently enrolling. To learn more or schedule a tour of the new center, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at outreach@lighthouseautismcenter.com or 574-387-4313.

Technology as a Reinforcement Tool

While scientists work on finding the causes of autism behavioral specialists are making great strides in assisting child development through the use of technology.

The Benefits of Modern Technology

Computers in the classroom have evolved from a luxury to a necessity as communication technologies progress. As traditional classrooms have proven successful with the use of modern technology, autism specialists have been researching and developing therapies that use computers to improve communication means for children with autism.

How Does It Work?

Research has found that many children with autism are visual learners. Computers provide teachers and therapists the means to create visual presentations as well as the ability to use communication software that resonates with children who have autism. Because children with autism often communicate through images as opposed to words, computer language software programs provide a way for children to communicate their wants and needs in a way that makes sense to them.

What are the Benefits of Using Technology to Help Children with Autism?

Through this means of positive communication, children experience a more enjoyable, less stressful learning environment that increases their ability to break down their barriers and develop their social skills. One of the most widely used learning techniques with technology is practicing cause and effect. For example, if the child is hungry and wants to eat, he or she would be taught to draw, find or present an image of a food item. The child would then show their picture to their teacher or parent and receive the food they asked for.

Technology and computers can also be used to benefit those who seek to further develop motor skills. Working with a computer, iPad, video game or any technology requires children to practice and develop their fine motor skills, something children with autism often struggle with.

To learn more about the use of technology in ABA therapy or how ABA therapy can help your child, schedule a tour at one of our centers by calling 574-387-4313.

Shining Examples – Vance

Vance has been attending Lighthouse Autism Center in Warsaw for just under a year and has made incredible progress in his time at the center. When Vance first came to Lighthouse, he had no communication skills and struggled with many daily living skills such as brushing his teeth and feeding himself. Clinical Director of the Warsaw center, Nicole Smoker, said, “it has been so inspiring to see how much progress Vance has made in such a short time.” Fast forward ten months and Vance can now use a PECS system to communicate his wants and needs. He can also brush his teeth independently and even will go to the dentist for a cleaning without any behaviors. Vance has also made huge progress with feeding himself. When he first started, he would only eat with his fingers and refused to eat off of a plate or bowl. Now, Vance eats independently using utensils as well as serving ware. When asked about Vance’s experience with Lighthouse, his mom said “Lighthouse has been the answer to so many prayers for our family. Vance has grown and progressed in ways unimaginable in the short time we’ve been apart of the Lighthouse family! We went from being non-verbal to vocal manding for everything. Behaviors have minimized and affection has blossomed! All things as parents we’ve always wanted for him! The love and support from the staff as well as knowing my child is loved beyond measure, even when away from home, are so comforting. We are so thankful to have Lighthouse as part of Vance’s success and accomplishments.”

Clinical Corner – How a Visual Test Can Help Screen for Autism

A Dartmouth-led research team has identified a non-verbal,
neural marker of autism. This marker shows that individuals with
autism are slower to dampen neural activity in response to visual
signals in the brain. This first-of-its kind marker was found to be
independent of intelligence and offers an objective way to potentially diagnose autism in the future. The results are published in Current Biology. “Autism is hard to screen for in children, when the first signs are present. A trained clinician may be able to detect autism at 18-months or even younger; yet, the average age of a diagnosis of autism in the U.S. is about four years old,” explains lead author Caroline Robertson, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth, and director of the Dartmouth Autism Research Initiative. “We need objective, non-invasive screening tools that don’t depend on assessing a child’s behavior. One of the big goals of the field is to develop objective neural markers of autism that can work with non-verbal individuals. This neural marker is just that,” she added. The research revealed that neural data could be used to predict whether or not an individual had autism with 87 percent accuracy. The findings were striking and tracked with clinical measures of autism: participants with a higher level of autism had a slower rate of binocular rivalry, where the brain was slower in switching from one image to the next. The research offers new promise for the way autism is diagnosed. “This visual test may be a non-verbal marker of autism in adults. Our next steps are to learn whether this test could potentially be used to detect autism in pre-verbal children and nonverbal adults and develop it into a screening tool for the condition. In the meantime, this result
gives us new insight into the brain in autism, showing that visual regions of the brain are affected,” says Robertson.

To read the full article from Science Daily, visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190815113730.htm