If you have a child with autism, you know that one of the biggest challenges can be trying to get them to stay on task. One way to help make this easier is by using visual schedules to help them see how their day will go.
Visual schedules are a great way to show kids on the spectrum what their day will look like and when certain things are happening. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of visual schedules for kids with autism and how you can use them at home!
Benefits of Visual Schedules
The benefits of using a visual schedule are numerous and here are a few examples of how they can be helpful to both you and your child:
- Helping Kids Stay on Task
When you use a visual schedule, you are giving your child a way to see what they need to do and when they need to do it. This can be a great way to help them stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed. By giving the child time to process the order of what their daily activities will be, we can help them focus on accomplishing the current task without having to worry as much about what comes next.
- Decreasing Anxiety Around Transitions
Many kids with autism experience social anxiety and visual schedules can help them feel more in control. In general, since the COVID-19 Pandemic, there has been a universal uptick in anxiety in kids and our kiddos on the spectrum can be feeling especially anxious during these times.
Often times, transitioning between activities or new places can be a major source of anxiety in kids on the spectrum. When you use a visual schedule, you are giving your child a way to see what is coming up next and what they need to do. This can help them feel more prepared and decrease stress about what is going to happen next throughout their day.
- Generalization and Play
By controlling the anxiety through the use of a schedule and allowing our kiddos to know what’s coming next we are able to work on generalizing various skills such as using toys for imaginative play to help them learn.
Visual schedules also help kids with autism better prepare for school where they will have to get used to certain routines and complete academic tasks throughout their day. Schedules can also provide structure to help kids with ASD which can give them the confidence to engage with peers and lead to an increase in social skills both in school and at home with their siblings.
Visual Schedules at Home
If you are interested in using visual schedules at home, there are a few things you can do to get started.
- How to get started with a visual schedule – Typically clinicians will use pictures as a way to create storyboards that can help your child make associations between pictures and their upcoming activities. Check out this link on Pinterest to help give you some ideas and get started: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/694609942543303915/ and while you’re there be sure to check out the Blossom Children’s Center page for more information on tips for your child https://www.pinterest.com/BlossomChildrensCenter/_created/
- Have the visual schedule in a location that is easy to access for the child – This makes it easier for your child to use as a resource and helps them get used to using their visual schedule to think about and plan for their day.
- Establish the routine – Remember to start small (3-4 activities at first). Routines are beneficial for any child but it can be especially helpful for kids on the spectrum. To learn more about how routines can be a huge benefit see a previous blog for more information: https://blossomchildrenscenter.plugdigital.io/2020/08/06/the-benefits-of-routines-for-children-with-autism/
- Have your kiddo help you make the schedule – By allowing our kiddos to participate in making the schedule we can get them interested and engaged with whatever activities you have coming up for them.
- Model the visual schedule – Modeling is the best way to teach “how to” use a visual schedule. When transitioning from one activity to the next, point to, remove or cover up the task you’ve completed or are currently working on. Label the activity (ex- we are brushing our teeth!) out loud so you pair the picture with the word for the activity.
The more you model and narrate using the schedule, the greater chance your child will catch on
- Consistency is key –We all know the old saying about practice makes perfect. So While it may be more work to carry around and use the schedule in the beginning, it will become second nature if you incorporate it into everyday routines. Model and narrate until your child starts to approach the schedule themselves and make it part of their own daily routine.
Now that you have these strategies to get you started you can work with your child on achieving their goals. However, it’s important to remember that we all need a little help sometimes. So if you’re feeling like you could use some extra guidance be sure to reach out to a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who can offer you more help!
What is the Proprioceptive Sensory System?
Many of our kids require support with regulating their proprioceptive sensory system. Proprioceptive senses help children understand where their bodies are in space and how much force to use when moving.
The proprioceptive system is a powerful regulator and can help calm a child or energize a child depending on their own sensory needs. Think of how many kids you know who are constantly in motion/fidgeting or need support with balance and coordination as they seek to satisfy their sensory-stimulating needs.
Conversely, some kids require a lot of sensory input to stay in an up-regulated state. By tweaking the proprioceptive system, the receptors in our joints send messages to the brainstem to inform us about our body position in space. Most importantly this helps us feel safe
The Sensory Perspective:
When we feel unsafe or disorganized because of dysregulation, the areas of the brain that control attention, thinking, and emotions may not function properly. Consider how dysregulation often occurs when children are faced with new or unfamiliar environments, tasks, or people. This same dysregulation can occur as a result of being unaware of their body positions in space.
Heavy Work and Occupational Therapy
From an Occupational Therapist lens, we promote the use of heavy work to help with the regulation of the proprioceptive system. Heavy work activities require effort from our muscles, and these tasks usually involve lifting, pushing, or pulling.
The movement activities create resistance input to our joints and muscles, and this feedback is ultimately what calms and regulates the sensory system. Once a child reaches this state, they can feel more oriented in space. In turn, these sensory strategies help kids self-regulate and sustain a calm state. This allows them to feel more comfortable to interact with the world around them.
Now that it’s summer, we wanted to share additional activity ideas that our clients and their families can do at home:
- Riding a bike or tricycle
- Digging up dirt/garden
- Digging up sand at the beach or sandbox
- Climb up slides and playground equipment
- March in place
- Monkey bars
All of these things can be great ways to help work on getting your child to engage with their proprioceptive senses. And of course, if you would like more help with your child’s sensory needs reach out to one of our Occupational Therapists at Blossom for more info!
What is Art Therapy?
According to the American Art Therapy Association, “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” – What is Art Therapy? – art-therapist.org
There is no single way to provide art therapy; as a result, it can look very different when practiced by and with different individuals. It can be free-flowing or structured, open-ended, or goal-oriented.
How Is Art Therapy Different From Art Classes?
Art therapy is a tool for helping people access their emotions as a form of mental health counseling. Emphasis is on the artmaking process instead of the product. By contrast, art classes are intended to provide students with instruction on how to achieve specific artistic effects or goals.
While art classes may be appropriate for those who enjoy art and want to improve their skills, they are not a substitute or the same as art therapy. Certified Art Therapists are credentialed by the American Art Therapy Association.
What is a Comfort Box?
A comfort box is a special container that holds a collection of items that help you during times of stress and difficult emotions. The goal of a comfort box is to help with our emotional regulation. It can hold items that remind you of important people or things, your favorite places or hobbies, and sentimental items.
How Do I Make a Comfort Box?
Choose a container that stands out to you. It can be as large as a storage container, or small enough to carry in your pocket. You can decorate the outside of the box, or choose to leave it plain.
What Do I put in My Comfort Box?
At least one item that will soothe each of your five senses: sight, scent, touch, taste, & sound. Include your favorite art material, affirmations or your favorite quotes, sentimental items from loved ones, and a list that includes healthy coping strategies that help you when you are dealing with stressful life situations or difficult emotions.
Using Our Senses for Our Comfort Box
A helpful way to get thinking about what to include in our comfort box is to use our five senses as a guide to help with our emotional regulation skills. Using one’s senses can bring about feelings of being present and feeling grounded. Here are some examples:
- Scent: candle, perfume, essential oil,
- Sight: pictures of loved ones or favorite place, motivational pictures, drawings
- Touch: stress balls, clay, silly putty, stones
- Sound: a mixtape CD, jingle bells, any items that make comforting sounds
- Taste: a favorite candy or gum, herbs, tea bags, coffee grounds
Mindfulness is one of the key reasons to have a comfort box. The goal of using these items in the box is to remind us to pay attention to our environment in order to remember to stay present.
Listen to certain sounds, observe the cause and effect relationship of what you do in your environment, observing certain smells. By utilizing our senses we can get back to a place of calm and peace.
Grounding Techniques with a Comfort Box
As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog the purpose of making a comfort box is to have something that we can refer back to during times of stress. One of the most important techniques for dealing with negative emotions can be to make sure that we are grounded.
Making notecards that can remind you of ways to practice feeling grounded can be a great tool for when we are having emotional responses to a situation. For example, you could use the notecards in your comfort box to remind you of your favorite grounding techniques such as breathing deeply, or the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. (5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety – University of …https://www.urmc.rochester.edu › bhp-blog › april-2018).
These techniques work well especially during times of extreme anxiety or panic by helping us to feel grounded in the present and help our minds recalibrate instead of bouncing around from one disaster scenario to the next.
Want to Learn More?
If you find yourself struggling with chronic anxiety or other mental health issues we suggest that in addition to seeking out an art therapist please consider talking to professional counselors, social workers or other licensed professionals who may be able to help you further with other emotional regulation strategies.
To learn more about the amazing benefits of Art Therapy and how art therapy sessions can help you or your child check out our other blogs listed here:
Expressing Feelings Through Art Therapy
A Guide to Art Therapy
Art Therapy for Children with Autism
If your child has been recently diagnosed with a disability, one of the next steps you will take is to create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This blog post will outline the specific educational needs of your child and how they will be met.
It is important to understand who makes up your child’s IEP Team members and what their roles are. In this blog post, we will discuss the different IEP Team members and how to work with them to get the best outcomes for your child.
What is an IEP
- An Individualized Education Plan (IEP): written document explaining how a child’s special education program will be designed to meet his/hers educational needs and goals
- Written when a child qualifies for special education
- Ages 3-25 and outlines services the district will provide to help the student make educational and academic progress
- Amendable at any time
- In 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was passed. This act granted the right to a “free and appropriate public education” to all children with disabilities
Initial IEP: If it is determined that a student needs special education services, they may be referred for a REED (Review of Existing Educational Data) and a MET (Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team).
zSource: What are the different kinds of IEPs
Annual Review IEP: Must be held every 365 days. No extension beyond 365 days is allowed. A parent or school team member may request an IEP prior to the annual 12-month meeting
Re-Evaluation IEP: A student who is currently eligible for special education must be present for re-evaluation at least every three years.
Transition IEP: If a student will be 16 or older within the next year, a transition IEP must be created. This IEP must be updated every year until the student leaves school. The student must be invited to participate in creating this IEP.
The IEP Team
Who is involved: responsible for developing an IEP:
- Parents of the student
- At least 1 general education teacher of the student
- At least 1 special education teacher who has direct involvement with the student
- A representative of the school district
- Someone who can offer an interpretation and evaluation of the results
- At the discretion of the parent, other individuals who have knowledge of the child (outside SLP, OT, BCBA etc.)
How does my child receive an IEP?
- IDEA requires all schools to have a referral process for identifying and evaluating children 0-21 who may qualify for special education
- You, your child’s teachers can request an education evaluation from the school. No matter who requests this, the school needs your permission to evaluate
- When to do the IEP: The IEP must be completed and notice given within 30 school days of consent for the child’s evaluation. Eligibility is determined at the initial IEP meeting, based on the evaluation results.
IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Federal Level)
IEP – Individualized Education Plan
LRE – Least Restrictive Environment
REED– REVIEW OF EXISTING EVALUATION DATA
MET– MULTIDISCIPLINARY EVALUATION TEAM
My child is in special education and would benefit from attending a private school. What do I do? Mandates regarding special education are only applicable to public schools and offered for kindergarten through high school. Therefore, private schools are under no obligation legally to provide special education resources, and therefore they do not have to implement an existing IEP.
I do not agree with the services my child’s school is providing. What do I do? You can negotiate with the IEP team if you feel your child needs a certain service that the school is not providing. Services are based on the child’s evaluation results, teacher input, test results, and medical data.
If you do not want your child in special education, you have the right to choose and do not have to give consent for an evaluation or services. Negotiations typically begin at the school level. If for whatever reason the scope of services can not be agreed upon between the school and the parents negotiations then take place at the district level. The next step would be some form of mediation with the final step resulting in a hearing.
I do not want my child in special education, but my school is insisting? What can I do? Parents have the right to choose not to place their child in special education and do not have to give consent for an evaluation or services. The IEP process requires parents to give consent twice so you can consent to having your child evaluated and then choose not to give consent for services.
What if my child is not found eligible for special education services? Children who are not eligible for special education services may still receive services through a 504 Plan, which provides services and accommodations to children with disabilities or other medical conditions
- Center for Parent Information and Resources | Your Central Hub for Parent Centers Serving Families of Children With Disabilities (parentcenterhub.org)
- Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) (michigan.gov)
- Archived: Guide to the Individualized Education Program
- Special Education FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions (understandingspecialeducation.com)
- Finding Out If Child Is Eligible for Special Education | IEP | IEE | Understood
If your child is a late talker, you may be feeling a little lost right now. Speech therapy for kids can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. In this blog post, we will give you some tips on how to help expand your late talker’s language. Keep in mind that every child is different, so don’t worry if your child doesn’t follow the same pattern as other late talkers.
Children learn at their own pace. Just focus on providing opportunities for them to communicate and learn!
The best way to help expand your late talker’s language is to provide opportunities for them to communicate. This means giving them chances to practice using their words and sounds.
You can do this by talking with them throughout the day, reading books together, or even playing simple games that involve communication. It’s important to make sure that they are getting plenty of chances to practice using their words so that they can start to help develop their early language. Here are some speech therapy tips to get you started.
Strategies to Encourage Language:
One way to encourage your child to use more words is by offering them choices.
For example, you can offer your child a choice such as “What would you like to eat? An apple or a banana?” When your child makes a choice be sure to reinforce the choice by offering praise after they have made that choice in order to encourage them the next time they are presented with another choice.
For more ideas on how to offer choices for your child check out this blog: https://www.speechtreeco.com/blogs/therapy-ideas/offering-choices-in-speech-therapy
Another great way to help get our kids talking is by presenting them with challenges. We can do this by placing a toy or part of a toy just out of their reach. This will encourage them to ask you for help or maybe even get them to say the word and label the toy.
Again, we want to encourage our kiddos by providing them plenty of praise for even trying to point or look at the toy. This will help encourage them to communicate more.
Check out this blog to discover some fun ways to integrate STEM concepts into fun speech activities: https://speechisbeautiful.com/2017/08/incorporate-stem-challenges-speech-therapy/
One of the best things we can do is give our kiddos plenty of words so they can absorb everything happening in their environment. We can do this during a familiar routine or while our kiddos are playing. Remember to use simple and repetitive language because our kids really enjoy having those opportunities.
For more information on modeling language you can refer to this blog post:
While it can be hard and challenging for parents, one of the best things we can do is give our kiddos a chance to take a few seconds to process what’s being told to them and have an opportunity to come up with an answer.
So if you ask them: “Are you hungry?” Try counting in your head to three, and if they don’t respond the first time, feel free to ask again. The repetition can eventually help them craft a response.
For more tips on how to use the wait time to help with language see this blog post:
Another way to help expand your late talker’s language is to give them opportunities to learn new words. This can be done by introducing new vocabulary in a variety of ways. You can point out new words when you’re reading books together, or you can teach them new words through songs and games.
You can even just have conversations with them about new words that you’ve learned. The important thing is to provide opportunities for them to learn new vocabulary in a way that is fun and engaging for them.
What to do Next?
Speech therapy can be a great way to help expand your late talker’s language. If you’re looking for more ideas on how to help your child, we recommend talking to a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). They can give you specific tips and strategies that are tailored to your child’s specific needs.
Children develop at a different pace and if you’re worried about a speech delay it may be best to talk to your pediatrician and see if they recommend a speech therapy evaluation.
We hope these tips have been helpful! Remember, every child is different, so don’t worry if your child isn’t following the same pattern as other late talkers. Just focus on providing opportunities for them to communicate and learn, and they will make progress in no time.
It has happened to all of us. We ask our child to do something, and instead of responding with a “yes,” we get a “no.” It can be frustrating, but with the right approach, you can turn that “no” into a “yes.”
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is one approach that can help achieve this goal. Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA) is another technique that can be used to encourage positive behavior. In this blog post, we will discuss some strategies and how they can help you get more yeses from your children!
ABA Therapy and using DRA
ABA therapy is a type of behavioral therapy. One common ABA technique is called differential reinforcement. Differential reinforcement involves reinforcing good behavior so that we can avoid tantrums in the future.
For example, if you want your child to stop hitting, you might give them a sticker every time they refrain from hitting for a certain period of time. This also helps teach them emotional regulation skills.
Differential reinforcement can be an effective tool for changing behavior, but it’s important to use it correctly. If you reinforce the wrong behavior or punish the wrong behavior, you will not see the results you want.
BCBAs (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) are trained in using differential reinforcement and can help you determine the best way to use it with your child.
Parenting and how it plays a factor
It goes without saying that the way you parent can have a major impact on your child’s behavior. Using techniques and strategies like DRA and positive reinforcement can be a great tool for parents to help positively impact a child’s behavior and get the desired behaviors we want as parents.
If you are consistently angry or critical and an authoritative parent, your child is more likely to behave in an aggressive or defiant manner. On the other hand, if you are patient and loving, your child is more likely to respond positively to requests and be well-behaved overall. It is really important to remember that our kids are always learning and understand a lot more than we think.
Think about your own life as an adult. If you have an overbearing boss who is constantly critical of you and pointing out your flaws you start to feel defeated and there is no motivation for you to do better.
So, let’s take a look at some real-life scenarios and how you can use differential reinforcement to help your child learn.
Using DRA In Daily Life (Parenting Tips)
Many times when you tell your child no it is due to something related to safety. For example, if a child is reaching for the stove your initial reaction will be to tell them no so that they don’t hurt themselves.
However, it’s important to take the time to explain to your child why you told them no, and by using DRA you can offer an alternative behavior. So instead of just saying no, you can tell your child something like “Hey let’s stand behind this line” and once they are standing behind the line it is important to reinforce that behavior by cheering them on and letting them know that you appreciate them staying safe.
A lot of children also have a hard time transitioning from doing something that they are having a good time doing such as leaving the parks or other fun places. This often results in a child throwing a tantrum and can be difficult for any parent to deal with.
Reframing this scene can play a big role in getting your child to transition. So instead of telling your child “Get up, let’s go, it’s time to go, we have to leave.”
You can offer choices to promote an alternative behavior like “Do you want to race to the car or would you rather walk?” This gets your child engaged and more interested in what you are asking them to do. And again, it’s important to offer praise as reinforcement for this good behavior.
Often times in public our kids may struggle with being overstimulated and this can lead to some difficult times for parents. For example, think about a trip to the grocery store. It’s a fun place for our kids with all of the choices and exciting things happening. But, it’s important to set boundaries.
One way that you can set boundaries is again by giving your child options. So instead of saying “No you can’t have that toy.” you can try reframing the situation by saying something like “Hey buddy right now we aren’t going to buy a toy, but what can you do is help me pick out this cereal. Do you want Honey Nut Cheerios today or do you want Rice Krispies?”
By using this reframing you’re offering your child an alternative behavior and still letting them participate in the shopping experience at the grocery store.
What have we learned?
Using Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior can be a great way to help with a child’s emotional regulation which can help them lessen tantrums and other bad behaviors by offering engaging alternatives and being reinforced when they display good behavior.
It can be tempting and easy to say no to your child. But remember, that it’s exhausting for you as a parent and exhausting for your child as well. Instead, use those moments as teaching opportunities to tell them what they CAN do, versus what they can’t.
If you are struggling to find a parenting style that works for you, there are many resources available to help you. BCBAs, counselors, and other professionals can all help to provide guidance and support.
If you’re interested in learning more about the science behind Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior we suggest checking out the link to the research done in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (Kunnavatana, S. S., Bloom, S. E., Samaha, A. L., Slocum, T. A., & Clay, C. J. (2018). Manipulating parameters of reinforcement to reduce problem behavior without extinction. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 51(2), 283–302. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaba.443).
Self-stimulatory behavior, or stimming, is a common occurrence in children with autism. Many people don’t understand what it is or why it happens, so we’re going to take a closer look at self-stimulatory behavior in children with autism. We’ll discuss the causes and effects of stimming, as well as some strategies for managing it.
Examples of Stimming
Self stimulatory behavior is characterized by repetitive and often rhythmic movement or vocalization. Children with autism often use it as a way to self-regulate their sensory input and output. Stimming can be very calming for children with autism, and it can also help them focus on a task.
Examples of self-stimulatory behavior often include one of or a combination of the following:
- Rocking back and forth
- Flapping the hands
- Repetitive behavior or speech
These types of behaviors are for the most part harmless and should not be discouraged. However, sometimes stimming can also be disruptive to the child’s environment and to the people around them. Less common stimming behaviors include self-injurious behavior such as head-banging or biting oneself.
It’s important to understand the various aspects self-stimulatory behavior so that you can effectively manage it and make sure that your child is safe even when they may be in a heightened state trying to regulate emotions.
What Causes Stimming?
There are many different causes of self-stimulatory behavior. It may be a way for children with autism to deal with anxiety, boredom, or stress. It can also be a way for them to self-soothe or self-regulate their sensory input. Sensory processing can be especially difficult for our little friends on the spectrum and many times they are looking for an outlet to reduce their anxieties from their environment.
Can we “fix” Stimming?
Now that we have a basic understanding of what stimming is you may be asking yourself if you should worry about your child’s self-stimulating behavior. For the most part many of these behaviors such as hand flapping are harmless and we should not be trying to “fix” this behavior through therapy or any other type of means.
We need to accept that the child may engage in certain types of behaviors as a way of coping with their environment and for emotional regulation. These behaviors need to be accepted and the more people understand them the more they will be accepted by society at large and our friends on the spectrum can be allowed to be themselves.
When most of us are experiencing nerves or anxiety of some kind we engage in forms of self-stimulatory behavior ourselves and we may not even realize it! Things like tapping our feet or twirling our hair can all be considered forms of stimming because we are doing them to help soothe ourselves.
However, when it comes to the more dangerous self-stimulatory behaviors such as engaging in self harm these do need to be addressed.
Who can help address potentially dangerous forms of stimming?
ABA Therapy and the strategies used by BCBAs can be a great way to help decrease some of the more dangerous behaviors that our kiddos may be engaging in.
This does not mean that we need to punish the child in any way. Instead, the best strategy involves replacing the potentially dangerous behavior with another behavior that can provide the same type of comfort but in a safer way. Using strategies that involve reinforcing the safer alternative behavior can be a great way to help get your child motivated to try a different way to help with their emotional regulation.
Occupational therapists can also play a crucial role in helping children with ASD reduce their anxieties through sensory integration strategies as well. These strategies will help your child feel more at ease in what can be a busy or challenging environment.
Counseling and talk therapy can also have a major impact on helping children with ASD understand the intense emotions they may experience. Counselors can teach important emotional regulation skills to help process thoughts and emotions more clearly.
Ethical Questions about Stimming
In the past the it was common practice in fields such as ABA Therapy to try to get children with autism to stop stimming. However, over time people in the neurodivergent community have talked about how they felt that the stigmas associated with stimming and trying to get them to stop have led to trauma. Much of the controversy around the history ABA Therapy has led to a reckoning and thankfully the field has changed.
If you have decided to enroll your child at a center that provides ABA Therapy or any type of therapy it will be important for you to make sure that the therapists there are adhering to these new standards in their fields. As we have discussed in this post most forms of stimming are relatively harmless. In fact, if you focus on trying to decrease these behaviors you may even be encouraging your child to replace that harmless behavior with a more dangerous one.
It is important to listen to the adults who have lived through and experienced various forms of trauma so that we as educators and parents can do better for our children. To learn more about the views about stimming from autistic adults we suggest you check out the following links:
Toddler tantrums can be one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. They seem to come out of nowhere and can be very frustrating. It’s important to remember that tantrums from toddlers are a normal part of child development and usually peak around 18 months old.
What Causes Tantrums?
A tantrum is the expression of frustration and anger from not being able to get one’s way. Perhaps your child has trouble figuring something out or completing tasks; maybe they don’t have enough words to describe a feeling at that moment, leading to temper outbreaks. These include yelling and crying when things don’t go as expected.
Here are some tips on how to deal with tantrums from toddlers.
Be consistent in your expectations and rules. This will help your child know what to expect and what is expected of them. It’s simple but effective.
Try to anticipate tantrum triggers and plan ahead. This could mean having a backup plan for when your child gets overwhelmed or avoiding situations that are likely to trigger tantrums.
Let Your Child Make Choices
Give your child some control by letting them make appropriate choices. This could mean letting them choose between two options for an activity or allowing them to choose their outfit for the day.
Praise Good Behavior
When your child is behaving well, be sure to praise them. This will help reinforce good behavior and let your child know that you are pleased with their actions.
Avoid Tantrum Triggers
As much as possible, try to avoid tantrum triggers. This could mean not bringing your child to a crowded place if they are prone to tantrums or avoiding situations that are likely to be overwhelming for them.
How to Respond to a Toddler Tantrum
When dealing with a tantrum-prone child, the best way to respond is by staying calm and utilizing distractions. This will help reduce any behavior that may be copies of our own emotions or reactions!
If they’re throwing themselves around physically (and we can’t avoid this), try not to shout; instead, offer other activities like drawing pictures. For example, anything that takes their attention from what’s going on in front of us rather than engaging in an angry debate.
If you have tried these tips and your child is still having tantrums, it may be time to seek professional help. Tantrums can signify other underlying issues, such as anxiety or sensory processing disorder. If you are concerned about your child’s tantrums, please contact Blossom Children’s Center—we’re always here to help.
The Benefits of Using Natural Environment Teaching
ABA therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis) is a data-driven and evidence based form of therapy that helps children with autism develop skills and habits that will allow them to be more independent in their daily life.
There are several approaches to ABA therapy. The most popular method within ABA Therapy is Discrete Trial Training (DTT). This involves teaching a variety of skills through trials that are ran at a table and in a more controlled environment. Another popular method that is growing in the field of ABA is natural environment teaching, or NET.
NET involves teaching skills in a natural setting, as close to real life as possible. There are many benefits to using NET in ABA therapy.
Benefits of Natural Environment Teaching
- Desensitization to potentially scary environments such as a hair salon or dentist’s office
- Learning daily habits for personal hygiene
- Therapy is provided in an environment that allows for more opportunities to develop social skills
- NET, when done in a child-led format, teaches the child problem-solving skills
- Children can be more motivated to learn in a natural environment vs. a controlled environment
- Greater emphasis is placed on using the interests of the child to learn
- Core principles of NET are rooted in positive reinforcement
Over the years, using the NET method meant that a child would be learning specific skills in a more natural environment as opposed to at a table in a more traditional style of ABA using the DTT method discussed earlier.
For example, if a child is learning how to brush their teeth, a board certified behavior analyst may be teaching them this skill in a bathroom in front of a mirror. This would certainly qualify as a form of NET because the bathroom is a natural environment.
However, as NET has evolved and new studies have come out showing positive outcomes associated with it (Natural Environment Training | SpringerLink), researchers and clinicians have expanded on ways to use NET learning to expand their therapy sessions.
Centers like Blossom have taken the next step and have set up their entire center and programs in a completely natural setting that looks like a school and/or home setting. This allows the child to generalize skills that are being learned at the center.
Because of this exposure the child can be more independent and use these skills in their daily life outside the center. For example, if a child learns how to greet others in a grocery store, they are more likely to greet others in other places, such as at school or at a friend’s house.
What is Generalization Anyways? How Can NET Help?
Generalization in the context of ABA should be seen as the end goal of your child’s therapy journey. The journey starts with the child lacking certain skills or not being able to do daily tasks on their own. Through ABA and other therapies children can get the help they need to reach these goals as they relate to specific tasks.
However, what many families unfortunately experience is that when their child is asked to complete these tasks outside of the center where they are receiving services, the child can often struggle. This usually happens because the child is used to being in a controlled environment at their center.
Because a child is used to being at their center they develop a level of comfort at the center. There is less uncertainty because they know who will be with them and typically will know what to expect and what their surroundings will look like.
This is why generalization is so important to a child’s growth. If a child is able to learn a certain skill or do an activity in a specific situation, they should be able to utilize that skill or do that activity in another context. NET offers more opportunities for children to practice those skills in a variety of environments and social situations.
By putting the child in different settings and allowing them to practice the skills and activities they’ve learned they can develop a sense of comfort. That comfort will set your child up for success beyond their therapy center!