Why Can't Jack Flap his Arms?

Why Can’t Jack Flap his Arms?

12 years ago, I was studying for my LSAT and filling out applications to law school. But then a little boy with Autism in my children’s school group who always prayed for chicken nuggets and thanked God for pokemon stole my heart. Growing up in a small town, I had never heard of Autism. When I started to google what it was, I found that there were more questions than answers and in that moment, I decided to dedicate my ...
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4 Affordable products that can Help keep your child with Autism Safe in an Emergency

4 Affordable products that can Help keep your child with Autism Safe in an Emergency

As a parent, you want to believe that you will always be ready and able to protect your child. There is no greater bond than that between a parent and child. Most parents would give their lives to save their child without even hesitating. However, a time could come when you are rendered incapable of being able to take care of your child. For example in an accident or a house fire. In this case, the best way you can ...
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What are the verbal operants and why do they matter?

What are the verbal operants and why do they matter?

Verbal behavior seems like the newest buzz word in the world of Autism. Parents ask me almost every day what it is and how it is different from applied behavior analysis (ABA). Truthfully, it is usually used interchangeably. Technically speaking though, it is the part of ABA that teaches children how to use language to communicate. Verbal behavior was developed by Skinner back in the 1950’s. Contrary to what many people think, it is not a new term. Truthfully in ...
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Tips for an Autism Happy Halloween

Tips for an Autism Happy Halloween

Halloween is many children’s favorite day of the year. However, for children with Autism it can be more spooky than a treat. They are being forced to communicate with potentially dozens of unknown strangers which can be both challenging and stressful. Children with Autism often like routines, may have sensory preferences that make costumes difficult and may not fully understand why people are dressed in costumes. Many Halloween costumes and decorations can even be scary for neurotypical kids. The good ...
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Just Freaking Eat It- 5 Steps for Exhausted Parents to get your Sensory Child to Eat!

Just Freaking Eat It- 5 Steps for Exhausted Parents to get your Sensory Child to Eat!

5 Steps for Frustrated Parents to Get Your Sensory Child to Eat What is food selectivity disorder? A child has food selectivity disorder when they have a very limited selection of foods that they are willing to eat. Having food selectivity disorder is not the same as a child being a picky eater. Usually children with food selectivity wind up being underweight and/or malnourished as a result of eating such limited foods. Food selectivity looks different for all children. Some ...
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Starting School With Autism

Starting School With Autism

Congratulations! Your child is about to start school. It is exciting, but it can also be scary. Sending any child to school for the first time is hard for any parent, sending a child with special needs to school, especially one that has a difficult time communicating can be even scarier. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make the transition easier for you and your child. Here are my best 10 tips. Tip 1--Prepare Your Child Ahead ...
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An interesting "spin" on Reinforcement.

An interesting “spin” on Reinforcement.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most well researched and scientifically validated methods for teaching children with Autism new skills.  It is based upon the behavior principle that what happens before a behavior and what happens after a behavior will determine if it happens again. If a person engages in a behavior and they do not get what they want, they are far less likely to engage in the same behavior again. Conversely, if a behavior results in a desirable ...
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How to get Your Child with Autism to tell You what's wrong when He is Sick

How to get Your Child with Autism to tell You what’s wrong when He is Sick

Last week, my dog Lucky got sick. I figured he ate something he shouldn’t have and didn’t think too much of it. So I curled into bed and fell fast asleep. A couple of hours later I woke up when I heard him getting sick again. I went to get a towel to clean it up and to my horror, there were five piles of vomit on my kitchen floor. Now I knew something was wrong. We drove to the ...
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Why Kids With Autism Often Have Behavior Regressions Right After They Acquire More Language

Why Kids With Autism Often Have Behavior Regressions Right After They Acquire More Language

Does it feel like every time your child takes a step forward in one area, he takes a step backwards in another? Do you find yourself time and time again being confronted with old behavior problems you thought you had gotten past? Have the strategies that were effective before seemed to stop working? Are you wondering what you are doing wrong? The answer may be both frustrating and a relief -- Nothing-- This is a common experience that is reported ...
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What to do If Your Child Keeps Getting Bored of Their Reinforcers!

What to do If Your Child Keeps Getting Bored of Their Reinforcers!

This week’s blog post is based upon a conversation I had this week with a friend who has a young child with Autism. With her permission, I will share a bit of her story. Her son has been fully potty trained for almost six months but recently started having accidents again. It is definitely not a medical issue. It is intentional and a behavior issue. She called me and asked what I suggest she do.With her permission, I will share ...
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3 Seriously Important but Overlooked Questions to Ask When Choosing an ABA Therapist

3 Seriously Important but Overlooked Questions to Ask When Choosing an ABA Therapist

Finding the right therapist for your family is one of the most important decisions you will make as a parent. You are trusting your child’s progress, education and future in the hands of the person that will be working for them. The good news is-- there are a lot of really great providers out there. There are a lot of resources with the obvious questions that you would ask a provider. This blog post will highlight three really honest questions ...
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Teach Your Child an Alternative Communication System While He Is Learning to Talk

Teach Your Child an Alternative Communication System While He Is Learning to Talk

Communication is difficult for all children with Autism. After all, it is part of the criterion for diagnosis. The goal for all parents of children with Autism that they will learn to talk. For many children with Autism, this is possible. However, sometimes talking comes much later for children with Autism than it does for most other children. However, just because a child with Autism can’t talk, does not mean they have nothing to say. Not being able to expresses ...
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3 Strategies to Help Your Child With Autism Be Successful in The Community

3 Strategies to Help Your Child With Autism Be Successful in The Community

One of the most common complaints I get from parents is that their children can have a great deal of difficulty when out in the community. This can range from something relatively benign like touching things on the shelf or far more serious like running away from parents or throwing themselves on the floor in the street. Frankly, it is not frustrating for parents when their children struggle in the community but, it can also be very dangerous. Here are ...
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The Number One Reason Why Behavior Plans Don’t Work!

The Number One Reason Why Behavior Plans Don’t Work!

Let’s face it. Most children with Autism have very limited communication. For some kids, this results in a lot of wanted behaviors -- tantrums, crying, hitting, sometimes even self injury. Whether or this sounds like it applies to you, if your child has an Autism diagnosis, at some point they will likely have a behavior plan to help reduce a behavior. IF written correctly and applied consistently, a behavior plan works every time. But- that’s a pretty big IF. To ...
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Who Would Benefit From Applied Behavior Analysis?

Who Would Benefit From Applied Behavior Analysis?

Last week, a parent asked me if ABA was only for children who are aggressive. I promptly answered her with a Facebook Live. Later that day, in a meeting I was asked if ABA was only for younger kids who can’t talk. After being in the field of Autism and using ABA as my main modality of practice, I often take for granted that parents know if ABA would be helpful for their children but more and more I am ...
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How to Make Christmas Morning a Success for Your Child With Autism!

How to Make Christmas Morning a Success for Your Child With Autism!

Christmas morning is the most wonderful day of the year-- right? It can be… or it can send you running for that champagne chilling in your fridge for New Year’s Eve a little early! Let’s be honest -- the success of this holiday will be defined by one thing and one thing alone -- Will your child tantrum on Christmas morning …. Here are 3 Practical Tips That You Probably Haven’t Thought of That Can Make or Break Your Holiday ...
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5 Tips for Making Travel Easier For Your Family.

5 Tips for Making Travel Easier For Your Family.

Summer is in full swing! -- At least here in the United States!  Summer is a time for barbecues with friends and vacations with families. But, traveling with children with Autism is often more daunting than rewarding.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are from my family vacations. I am sure you can think of some fond memories yourself. Every parent wants to create unforgettable experiences for their children. But vacations aren’t relaxing or fun when you have to worry ...
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How Do You Change a Behavior Using ABA?

How Do You Change a Behavior Using ABA?

In simple terms, ABA therapists change a behavior by changing what happens before and after the behavior occurs to make it either more or less likely to occur again. The idea is to make sure when desirable behavior occur, they result in a favorable outcome and when undesirable behaviors occur, they do not result in a favorable outcome. The technical tool for changing behavior in ABA is the 3 term contingency or ABC. This stands for antecedent (what happens before ...
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What is a Language Delay

What is a Language Delay

You sit on the park bench and wave as your child plays in the sand box. Your child smiles back…. Just then a little girl, who looks to be about the same age as your child, comes to the woman sitting next to you and says, “Mommy, I want juice.” You smile politely but secretly, inside it feels as tho someone has kicked you in the gut. You are lucky if your child says juice. You look at your perfect ...
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Why is Autism a Spectrum?

Why is Autism a Spectrum?

One of the mostly common questions parents with a child with Autism asks is what it means that Autism is a Spectrum Disorder. Essentially, it means that every child diagnosed with Autism is different. No two children have the exact same interests, strengths or weaknesses. Some children will develop into talented artists and musicians. Some will excel in math while others may have challenges learning to read. Some children with learn to talk to communicate as well as you or ...
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Using Antecedent Modifications to Reduce Tantrums

Using Antecedent Modifications to Reduce Tantrums

When dealing with tantrums, it always helps to be proactive rather than reactive. Tantrums are unpleasant for everyone, including your child. It is always better to just to avoid them. Us behavior analysts have a fancy term for proactive strategies-- antecedent modifications. Antecedent modifications are things that you do before a behavior occurs to make it either more likely or less likely to occur.  Whenever a tantrum occurs, to some degree it is reinforced. This means that just having a ...
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Know the Function of a Behavior When Delivering Consequences

Know the Function of a Behavior When Delivering Consequences

Know the Function of a Behavior When Giving Your Child Consequences It is natural for a parent to want to give their child a consequence for having a tantrum. This is never a bad idea. It will help make sure that it does not occur again. However, it only works if consequence matches the function of the behavior or the reason the behavior occurred. Parents often consider what a child does when deciding on a consequence. In contrast, a behavior analyst looks at why a child engaged in a behavior or the function of the behavior. There are five main functions of behavior: Social positive reinforcement in the form of access to tangible objections Access tangible means that a person wants an object, item or activity. Basically, ...
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What Does Your Child Have to Do With A Vending Machine?

What Does Your Child Have to Do With A Vending Machine?

Imagine the following scenario. It is is a hot summer day and you have a million errands to do. You have been running back and forth from store to store trying to get home in time to get your child off the bus. You are parched but there is no way you have time for to stop and get an ice cold latte. Then, from the corner of your eye, you see it, a little gift from heaven - a ...
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How Do I Potty Train My Child With Autism?

How Do I Potty Train My Child With Autism?

If your child is like many of the dozens I have potty trained, you can probably relate to my friend Renée. Her son is just about to turn four and while most of her friends are carrying around posh new handbags, she is still stuck lugging around a diaper bag! Her son Benjamin has Autism. If you are reading this post, I don’t need to tell you that like your child,  Benjamin has a much more difficult time communicating his ...
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