Halloween is fun and exciting holiday for many children. It gives the opportunity to dress up in their favorite costumes and get a lot of candy. While these traditions seem easy and effortless for most children, for a child with autism it may not be so easy. With the proper preparation Halloween can be a very fun holiday for any child with autism and below are a few steps on how to make Halloween an enjoyable experience.
Help Your Child With Autism Have a Happy Halloween With These Tips:
Let you child pick out his costume so you know it is something he will want to wear.
Make sure your child is able to wear the costume around the house prior to going trick-or-treating. This will allow him to get used to how the costume feels and allow you to make any necessary adjustments to the costume to make it more comfortable for your child.
If you are planning on trick-or-treating, take walks around your neighborhood or wherever you plan on going in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Also, you may want to practice walking up to the doors of people you know and ringing the doorbell.
Read your child social stories about Halloween traditions and trick-or-treating.
Make a schedule of the events that will take place the night of Halloween. Show this schedule to your child frequently so they know what is coming next. You could even make a map of each house you will be going to and they can cross off each house they go to.
If your child has limited verbal skills, make a picture they can hold up that says trick-or-treat, or if possible have a sibling do all of the talking.
https://secureservercdn.net/188.8.131.52/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/pumpkins.png?time=1582639879186183Shannon Taurozzihttps://secureservercdn.net/184.108.40.206/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngShannon Taurozzi2019-10-08 12:40:102019-10-11 11:20:01MORE Tips To Help Your Child with Autism Enjoy Halloween
It’s that time of year again: the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and children and parents alike are beginning to feverously plan Halloween activities and costumes. While this may be an exciting experience for most families, it can be a difficult and anxiety-provoking experience for families with children with autism. Children with autism may interpret and react differently to Halloween festivities and costumes, which can be an overwhelming experience. However, this doesn’t mean that children need to sit on the sidelines and avoid Halloween activities altogether. With the following tips, parents and their children with autism can have a stress-free and enjoyable Halloween.
Costumes are a quintessential part of Halloween. It is important to remember that costumes are possible for your child with autism, but should be safe and comfortable for him or her to wear. This is especially important if your child has sensory difficulties. Take into consideration how the fabric and the fit of the costume will affect your child: Is it a fabric the child is used to wearing? Is the fit too tight or too loose? A great way to decide if a costume works is by practicing wearing the costume around the house. This allows your child to become acclimated to the costume, and lets you know whether or not the child will be able to tolerate wearing the costume for extended periods of time. With practice and knowledge that a costume works, you can avoid meltdowns and last-minute costume changes on Halloween.
It is not everyday that we ask our children to walk up to a stranger’s house and socially engage with the stranger for candy. This is a break in typical social rules that children normally follow. This break in rules may be difficult for a child with a rigid understanding of rules and expectations of the world. One way to help your child overcome this change in rules is through setting a schedule and script that your child can follow for trick-or-treating. For example, the script and schedule may look like the following:
When an adult opens the door, say “Trick or Treat”
Allow the adult to put candy in your candy bag
Say “Thank you” and walk away from the house
This script and schedule allows your child to understand the expectations and rules of Halloween while also creating an easy timeline that they can follow and refer back to with parents. Similarly, you may want to practice this script with your child prior to Halloween at your own household. The child can put on his or her costume, and practice ringing the doorbell and asking for candy to simulate trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Know your Child
Even with extensive preparation, Halloween can be an overwhelming and tiring experience. Know and recognize when your child has had enough and is ready to call it quits for the evening. The point of Halloween is for your child to have an enjoyable time, whether that lasts 30 minutes or 2 hours. Halloween is all about maximizing your child’s fun while spending time together as a family.
With the right knowledge and planning, families with children with autism can have a successful and happy Halloween!
https://secureservercdn.net/220.127.116.11/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/girl-and-pumkin-feature.png?time=1582639879186183Racheal Smetanahttps://secureservercdn.net/18.104.22.168/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngRacheal Smetana2019-10-06 10:21:492019-10-11 11:20:22Simple Tips To Prepare Your Child with Autism for Halloween
What behaviors does ABA seek to increase or decrease?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) uses the principles of behavior for increasing and decreasing specific behaviors of social significance. Behaviors to increase or decrease are selected in collaboration with parents. Additionally, it is wise to involve other relevant stakeholders, like extended family or your child’s teacher.
When selecting ABA goals, it’s important to consider:
For challenging behavior, it’s crucial to consider how much is the behavior impacting the child’s functioning, learning, social opportunities, or ability to access the community. If parents cannot take a child to the store because of tantrums, it can impact a family significantly. (e.g., decreased access to social skills, difficulty completing common routines, or cost of childcare so the parent can go to the store). Similarly, if a child cannot communicate his or her wants or needs, this may cause problems for the family system as a whole.
It is important to consider the following points for increasing skills:
* What should the child be doing?
* How far outside of typical development is this behavior?
* Typically, what should a child this age be doing or expected to do?
* In what manner are these skills pivotal to future areas of development?
Small steps may lead to a larger goal
All goals should be prioritized based on some of the questions listed above. It is also essential to consider prerequisite skills and look at the larger picture. It may be that before you get to the big point of concern that there are other smaller goals to meet along the way. If your child cannot wait at home for five minutes, then waiting at a store for a toy may be more difficult. First, work on the smaller skills to build to the larger ones. With patience and practice, your child will be on their way to achieving their goals.
ABA therapy can be implemented in different environments, like home, our clinics, or in the classroom.
At NSPT, your child will receive 1:1 therapy along with the ongoing analysis of his/her progress to ensure he/she is continuing to progress and succeed.
https://secureservercdn.net/22.214.171.124/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pexels-photo-296308.jpg?time=15826398797501088Erin Shoshanahttps://secureservercdn.net/126.96.36.199/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngErin Shoshana2019-03-13 02:26:282019-05-15 09:43:37Increasing & Decreasing Behavior With ABA
We’ve put together a brief guide to what the day of a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation looks like at NSPT. Below you will find important details from what to bring to how to prepare. As always, if you have any questions simply get in touch.
Parents submit the parent and teacher rating scales that are provided during the intake.
Each testing battery is individually designed by the doctor based on your child’s specific needs.
Testing tasks include answering questions about various topics and requiring different skills including vocabulary, similarities between words, math, doing paper and pencil work, and doing work on a computer.
Lunch, snack, bathroom, and other breaks are given when needed, as well as at regularly planned intervals.
Note: Testing results are not available on the testing day, rather provided during the feedback appointment.
What to Bring on the Day of Testing:
Plenty of snacks and lunch
Rating forms and any paperwork that still needed to be completed
Any prior evaluations that were not brought to the intake
After testing is complete, you will return for a one-hour feedback session approximately two weeks later with the psychologist to review the testing data, any diagnoses determined based on your child’s profile, recommendations for home and school, and any intervention services to foster your child’s development.
How can I prepare for the evaluation day?
Please bring snacks and a lunch for your child.
Complete the parent/teacher rating scales that were provided during the intake.
If your child is under 4 years of age or not potty trained, we will ask you to stay in the clinic for the duration of the testing.
Q: What if my child is sick the day of testing? A: The appointment will need to be rescheduled as we want your child to test at optimal levels. Please contact usas soon as possible.
Q: Should my child take his or her regular medication(s) on the day of testing? A: Yes, unless otherwise instructed.
Q; Should my child wear his or her glasses? A: Yes.
What happens at the feedback appointment?
This is a parent-only session.
You will be given an explanation of your child’s testing results and, if warranted, a diagnosis. At this time, your doctor will identify the most appropriate interventions and accommodations for your child for the home and school settings.
A final copy of your child’s report will be mailed to you within two weeks of your feedback appointment. Should you need the report sooner, please let your doctor know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Note: You will not receive a final report during the feedback appointment, because your doctor may need to add additional information from the feedback session to the report.
With parental consent, a copy will be sent to your child’s pediatrician.
We do not share reports with schools. Should you choose to share it, you will need to provide a copy to the school.
https://secureservercdn.net/188.8.131.52/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/evaluation-day.jpg?time=158263987913652048Erin Shoshanahttps://secureservercdn.net/184.108.40.206/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngErin Shoshana2019-02-04 06:04:292019-04-29 14:31:37Neuropsychological Testing Day
A child receives a referral for neuropsychological testing when there are concerns about one or more areas of development. Certainly, these areas of concern can include cognition, academics, attention, memory, language, socialization, emotional regulation, behavioral concerns, motor difficulties, visual-spatial, and adaptive functioning. Testing can identify your child’s learning style and cognitive strengths. Lastly, through testing, our neuropsychologists can recommend accommodations to implement at school and at home.
What is a neuropsychological evaluation?
A neuropsychological evaluation aids the psychologist in determining a diagnosis.
How do I know if my child needs a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation?
An evaluation is usually recommended if your child has a medical condition such as Down syndrome, epilepsy, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). So, the goal of the evaluation is to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses. With this information, we can provide the right treatment recommendations, determine progress and response to intervention, and monitor functioning.
After your pediatrician has made a referral for a neuropsychological evaluation, you need to schedule an intake appointment. Typically, each intake appointment is one hour long.
Is my child eligible for testing at NSPT’s neuropsychological testing center?
Due to our growing team, we are able to test a larger population. Most noteworthy, we offer three types of testing services:
Early Childhood Developmental Assessment This is a multidisciplinary approach where our team works with a speech therapist and occupation therapist to assess children ages 15 months to 3 years, 11 months with developmental concerns ranging from socialization, language, and motor development. Each of the 3 scheduled testing appointments are typically on separate days.
NSPT’s standard neuropsychological evaluation for individuals ages 4 through college-age.
Adult ADHD assessment This is a new service we are now offering to adults who are interested in an ADHD evaluation. Typically, this is a one-day, 4-hour evaluation.
What should I expect during the neuropsychological intake?
Your first appointment is centered around talking with the psychologist about your areas of concern. Therefore, you will be asked to do the following:
Provide information about your child’s history.
Including medical, developmental, academic, attention, behavior, motor, andsocial history.
Inform the psychologist of any current, or past, services your child receives, such as:
What to bring to the neuropsychological intake:
You and your child
Completed intake paperwork
Similarly, any prior psychological/neuropsychological evaluation (if applicable)
Your child’s most recent 504 Plan or IEP (if applicable)
Certainly, don’t forget your child’s most recent report card or standardized exam scores
Finally, any relevant medical information (e.g., EEG report, CT/MRI scan report)
Lastly, after the intake, you will schedule the testing session for your child. Most of the time, testing is completed in one day (5 hours of testing). Occasionally, the testing will be completed over two days. The psychologist will create a neuropsychological battery based on the areas of concern. However, the battery is subject to adjustment on the day of testing. Typically, this occurs if another area of concern arises during the testing session.
To sum up, a pediatric neuropsychological evaluation can also help to determine any appropriate therapies such as speech or Applied Behavior Analysis. For more FAQ, click here.
https://secureservercdn.net/220.127.116.11/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/pediatric-neuropsychological-evaluation.jpg?time=1582639879627940Erin Shoshanahttps://secureservercdn.net/18.104.22.168/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngErin Shoshana2019-01-15 06:03:422019-04-29 13:56:28Neuropsychological testing for kids at NSPT
This fun-loving friend is the newest member of one of our favorite childhood shows. The only difference with Julia is that she has Autism. In an attempt to increase awareness and provide resources to families of individuals with Autism, Sesame Workshop created Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. These resources include videos from all different points of view, visual supports for daily routines, a visual storybook of Julia and Sesame Street friends, tips for anyone who wants to learn more about Autism, as well as, an outlet to share your own story.
Here are some things everyone can learn about Autism from Julia:
Communication comes in all different forms. Individuals with Autism may use several different means to communicate their wants and needs. These may include vocal communication, sign language, picture communication systems, voice out-put devices, simple gestures or eye contact, or a combination of several. No one way is better than the next, it all depends on the child.
Sometimes less is more. Speaking in fewer, more succinct words, can help individuals with Autism process the information more quickly. It’s important to allow people to be successful in their environment.
Be patient. All learning takes time. Once skills are learned, that time is worth it.
Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Just because someone has a diagnosis of Autism, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as different as each other individual to the next. Finding and incorporating what makes them happy can create better and more long-lasting relationships.
Sometimes everyone needs a break and time alone. Just like all children, sometimes individuals with Autism enjoy receiving attention from others, and sometimes they want to enjoy more simple things in life like calm and quiet. Be respectful to all of your friends and family and just remember, we’re all amazing.
https://secureservercdn.net/22.214.171.124/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/julia.png?time=1582639879168299Carolyn Houzehttps://secureservercdn.net/126.96.36.199/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngCarolyn Houze2015-10-22 18:00:302019-09-03 21:16:345 Things We Can Learn From Julia: Sesame Street's New Friend With Autism
When we think of learning in childhood, we often think of what happens in the classroom, but learning starts very early on in life. A child’s early learning includes a combination of watching the world around them, seeing how the world then responds, and imitating what is seen. However, these tasks can be more difficult for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Let’s take a look at how children with ASD may interact differently with the world around them:
More focus is on the non-social environment vs. the social environment: A child throws a toy while in a crib and waits for the loud crash. The child may have learned that this noise attracts her parent’s attention, and then anticipates her mom or dad walking in the room. The child may then look intently at her parent’s facial expression in order to create additional meaning. A child with ASD may ignore the toys altogether and be focused on the moving fan in the room. If the child’s mom walks in the room, the child may continue to express interest in the fan rather than look over to see who has entered the room. As a result, the child has missed an opportunity to learn and practice communication and socialization.
Likelier to be more interested in objects vs. people: A child with ASD may tend to explore objects in unusual ways (i.e. smelling, looking at an object at an angle) while typically developing children tend to be more interested in facial expressions, gestures, and words.
Imitation: When the natural instinct of a typically developing child is to imitate, children with ASD tend NOT to imitate. A child with ASD has difficulty with copying others’ behaviors, sounds, movements, and does not understand that her behavior effects the behaviors of others. In typically developing children, this is the primary source of learning.
Behaviors that interfere with learning: Children with ASD tend to become unusually interested in objects and may engage in repetitive behavior or play (lining up toys for hours, stacking blocks, spinning the wheels of a toy car). They can also become irritated when their play is directed to something else, which can lead to a tantrum. These difficulties with transition or rigidity are commonly observed in youth with ASD, which makes it difficult for these children to focus their attention on the learning opportunities that are happening around them!
So what can we do to help children with ASD become more engaged with their environment and enhance their learning?
Research has shown that areas of the brain that are responsible for socialization, learning, and language are underdeveloped in children with ASD, making it difficult for children with ASD to make sense of the world around them. These studies have indicated that early intervention is key to fostering an environment that will be conducive to learning (Rogers, S.; Dawson,G.; Vismara, L., 2012). This and other great information can be found in the book, An Early Start for your Child with Autism by Drs. Sally Rogers, Geraldine Dawson, and Laurie Vismara.
https://secureservercdn.net/188.8.131.52/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/rainbow-autism-FeaturedImage.png?time=1582639879186183Megan Pearsonhttps://secureservercdn.net/184.108.40.206/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngMegan Pearson2015-09-09 11:12:512019-09-03 21:23:53Fostering EARLY Learning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The Atkins Diet. Weight Watchers. Paleo. Coconut oil. Gluten Free. Casein Free. You may be familiar with some of these diet trends. People are constantly on a quest for the perfect diet that will shed the pounds and keep them off. Others are looking for diets that regulate their digestive systems and keep their stomach calm. And if you are a parent of a child with autism, you may have heard people maintain that a gluten-free or casein-free diet can be used to help manage behaviors associated with autism.
With the idea of placing a child on a diet for management of symptoms, many questions arise. Does a gluten-free diet make a difference for children with autism? What does the research say? How do you know if it’s working?
Let’s back up a little bit and look at why specific diets for children with autism are being considered. Gastrointestinal problems are often described in children with autism, however the prevalence of these issues has not been consistently proven to be higher than in the general population.
Unfortunately for the sake of determining benefits of a gluten free diet, every child with autism presents differently and will likely have different responses to dieting. Also, unfortunately, the literature is extremely limited and providing conclusive evidence that a specific diet improves behaviors associated with autism has yet to be done. Some studies have yielded positive results (improvements in symptoms), while others have yielded negative results (no improvements noted). It is important to note that none of these studies have provided conclusive evidence; studies reporting positive results were merely suggestive (the lowest level of certainty).
Now you may be thinking, what will it hurt to place my child on a gluten-free or casein-free diet? According to Mulloy et. al, these diets may put children at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Further, this population of children often encounters challenges to ingesting a typical diet to begin with, such as sensory processing difficulties that lead to limited food intake and restricted diets. This can make feeding your child difficult if they are already only accepting chicken nuggets and string cheese. Additionally, implementing a diet of this type is costly and time-consuming.
Should you decide to try a gluten-free diet for your child with autism, here are some important things to remember:
Keep objective measures: It will likely be hard for your child to accurately report how they feel given commonly associated language deficits in children with autism. Ask yourself, “How do I know that my child’s sleep is improved?”, or “How do I know that attention is improved?” Find a way to measure data for these questions, such as counting naps taken each day or minutes spent engaged in a task.
Involve others: Ask for help from people that spend a lot of time with your child. Ask them to objectively measure behaviors as best they can, and seek their results.
Keep a food diary: Track what your child eats for every meal, and any notable behaviors or improvements for each day. This ensures accurate implementation of the diet and gives you the ability to reflect on the weeks and months.
Be committed: In a systematic review, more positive results were yielded with longer implementation of the diet. For example, studies yielding negative results were implemented for an average of 5 weeks while studies yielding positive results were implemented for an average of 18 months.
Keep other factors in mind: It is challenging to prove that improvement is due to one factor vs another. For example: If your child experiences improved sleeping patterns, perhaps eliminating sugary foods in general is the cause as opposed to the removal of gluten. Always think twice before determining cause, and consider all potential variables at play.
If you are exploring diet options for your child, seek the guidance of a dietitian or nutritionist to ensure healthy implementation.
Having a child with autism requires a lot of time, patience, and planning which can take a lot of effort. Sometimes a child with autism takes so much effort that any siblings they have may at times be overlooked. Siblings of children with autism may deal a variety of different feelings, which if not addressed may turn into larger, more serious issues.
Common feelings siblings of a child with autism experience may include:
Anger – Feelings of anger may emerge when your neuro-typical child misses out on planned events that get changed at the last minute. They may also feel anger because they may be witnessing problem behaviors on a daily basis which can create a stressful home environment.
Guilt – You child may feel guilty that their sibling has autism and they do not. They may also feel guilty that their sibling has difficulty doing simple tasks that come easy to others.
Confusion – Young children especially may not fully understand why their sibling is acting the way they are, or why they don’t want to play with them.
Worry – Common worries may include, who will take care of my sibling when my parents are gone? Will my sibling ever be able to take care of themselves?
Embarrassment – It is natural for kids to feel embarrassed by their sibling that is different than other kids and who engages in behaviors that others, especially their peers do not understand.
Jealousy – Children with special needs require a lot of attention, which may cause any typically developing siblings to feel left out or neglected, which in turn can cause jealousy.
How to help:
Acknowledge your child’s feelings and listen to how they are feeling without placing judgment.
Be open and honest with your child. Do not hide the diagnosis and make sure that when they are old enough, to let them know exactly what autism and the associated characteristics.
For younger children, find books relating to the topic that you can read to them and then talk through it with them in a developmentally appropriate way.
Be sure you designate time to spend with your children who do not have autism so they do not feel left out or neglected.
Look for local sibling groups or support groups for your child to give them the opportunity to meet other children who are in the same situation.
Even if your child seems like they are doing well, it is important to take some time each day to sit and talk and let them know that you are always available to listen and support them in any way.
https://secureservercdn.net/220.127.116.11/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/siblingsfeatured.png?time=1582639879186183Shannon Taurozzihttps://secureservercdn.net/18.104.22.168/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngShannon Taurozzi2015-05-27 11:00:262019-09-03 21:30:23Supporting Siblings of a Child With Autism
Over the last 10 years the word autism has become a very well-known term. With the rates of autism steadily on the rise, most people are now at least somewhat familiar with it. But many people probably don’t know when autism officially become a recognized disorder, and how it evolved into what we know today? Below is a time-line of the history of autism.
Early 1900’s – The term “autism” was first used by Swiss psychiatric Eugen Bleuler to describe a certain a sub-set of patients with schizophrenia who were severely withdrawn.
1940’s – Researchers in the United States began using the term autism to describe children with emotional and/or social issues.
Leo Kanner – A psychiatrist from Johns Hopkin’s University studied 11 children with normal to above average IQ’s who had challenges with social skills, adapting to changes in routine, sound sensitivities, echolalia, and had difficulties engaging in spontaneous activity.
Hans Asperger – Also studied a group of children who were similar to the children Kanner studied except the children did not present with any language problems.
1950’s – Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist coined the term “refrigerator mothers.” These mothers were described as mothers who were cold and unloving to their children. He claimed children of cold and unloving mothers were more likely to develop autism. This has since been disproven as a cause of autism due the total lack of evidence supporting such a claim.
1960’s – 1970’s – Researchers began to separate autism from schizophrenia and began focusing their attention more on understanding autism in children. Autism also started to be considered a biological disorder of brain development. During this time, treatments for autism included various medications, electric shock, and behavioral modifications, most of which focused on punishment procedures to reduce unwanted behaviors.
1980’s – 1990’s – Early in the 80’s the DSM-III distinguishes autism as a disorder separating it from schizophrenia. During this time, behavioral modification became more popular as a treatment for autism. The way behavior modification was delivered began to rely more on reinforcement instead of punishment to increase desired behaviors. In 1994 the DSM-IV expands the definition of autism to include Asperger Syndrome.
2000’s – present day – Rates of autism begin to rise and various campaigns have been launched to increase the awareness of autism. The prevalence of autism has increased from 1 in 150 in the year 2000, to 1 in 68 in 2014. Children are now able to be reliably diagnosed as young as 2 years of age. Due to years of research, the effectiveness of different intervention used to treat autism is better understood. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is currently considered to be the “gold standard” treatment for individuals with autism.
https://secureservercdn.net/22.214.171.124/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Autism-FeaturedImage.png?time=1582639879186183Shannon Taurozzihttps://secureservercdn.net/126.96.36.199/fnf.6b5.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/nspt_2-color-logo_noclaims.pngShannon Taurozzi2015-04-22 14:47:352019-09-03 21:32:01The History of Autism