Posts

5 Things To Consider Before Transitioning From ABA to Preschool

So, your child is doing well in ABA and you think that they’re ready to try out preschool. Luckily for you, when it comes to sending your child to school there are a lot of a lot of options! With these options, decisions that need to be made. Where does my child still need to improve? Where do they succeed? What does their ideal school look like?

The best place for your child to thrive is an environment that’s not restrictive. They should be in a classroom that supports them but also gives them some autonomy. But, just how autonomous should your child be? Depending on what your school district offers you may have a few classroom options. Some of those options will be more restrictive than others (the most restrictive being a self-contained special education classroom and the least being a blended classroom or general education classroom). The goal is ultimately to teach your child to be independent. In order to determine their best starting path toward that goal, here are a couple of things to consider.

  1. Is 1:1 support required to participate in activities?
    Is 1:1 support needed in order to participate in most activities? In Blossom Prep School, we pair all of the kids that participate with 1:1 Behavior Therapists that help to prompt them through the different activities and routines as well as take data on independent successes. With this model, we are able to teach kids how to participate while also systematically fading out the support so that they can be as independent as possible in a classroom setting. We use that data to determine when a child is ready for traditional classroom environment.
  2. Does your child generalize skills?
    Is your child able to generalize the skills that they have learned in a 1:1 setting? The two biggest skills that impact them is the classroom would be the ability to generalize following directions as well as imitation skills. One thing we work on in Blossom Prep School is the ability to follow generalized directions as well as imitation skills through dancing to different songs, lining up with our friends, turning the page of the book, participating in calendar time, raising their hand to participate, and completing various play or listener activities. We work with the supervising BCBA to make sure we know what skills have been mastered in a 1:1 setting so that we can immediately begin to work on them in a more natural setting.
  3. Can your child function on Generalized Conditioned Reinforcer (GCR)?
    A GCR is the fancy term for a secondary reinforcer such as a high five, social praise, or maybe even a token board system. In a 1:1 setting or the preschool readiness group it is a little easier to control reinforcers such as access to certain toys, games, videos, or edible reinforcers, but in a blended or general education classroom it is a little harder. It is important that your child can complete multiple activities for more natural social praise reinforcers or with delayed reinforcement that they can received after participating in several responses rather than accessing their reinforcer after each response. In the Blossom Prep School program, we work to fade tangible reinforcers and pair more generalized reinforcers such as praise from the teacher and peers or using the completion of a task as a reinforcer in itself.
  4. Does your child have any barrier to learning?
    Behavior Intervention Plans are something that are pretty commonly used in ABA programs. Most of the time, these plans are targeting behaviors that interfere with the ability to learn! So, when evaluating if your child is ready for a less restrictive classroom environment, it is also important to evaluate their ability to learn in a group format! Other barriers include severity of problem behavior, toilet training, self-help skills, prompt dependency, reinforcer effectiveness and motivation, and hyperactivity. There are several assessment measures BCBAs can use to help inform you of the barrier to learning as well as if those barriers pose a concern for transitioning into a group learning format.
  5. Can your child follow routines and schedules?
    One of the last things to consider is your child’s ability to follow common classroom routines and schedules. In any classroom if is expected that your child is at least able to follow some classroom routines with or without supports. We target this skill in Blossom Prep School by using repeated practice to practice specific routines such as lining up and transitioning from centers, snack time, using the bathroom, and circle time. We use strategies such as visual activity schedules and fading prompts to allow for independence.

As mentioned in the points above, At North Shore Pediatric Therapy we have a school readiness program called Blossom Prep School that can be offered as part of an ABA treatment plan to work on these very important skills. If any or all of these concerns seem like they relate to your child, do not hesitate to reach out to our main line to discuss your options for enrolling in Blossom Prep School today!

 

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Ways to Practice Imitation with Your Child

Think back to a time you were trying to learn a new skill… whether that be how to complete a math problem, re-create a recipe or craft you saw on Pinterest, or navigate the depths of Microsoft excel. One of the first things we do is ask someone to show us or model the steps for us (or if you are me, search YouTube for videos demonstrating the steps)! Developing the skill to imitate others is crucial to our development, especially for children with ASD. That’s why we’ve provided you with 5 ways to practice imitation with your child! 

  1. Dancing
    Imitating dance moves in songs is such a great way to teach your child to imitate gross and fine motor movements. You can play the song and demonstrate the moves yourself or find some videos where the person singing will imitate them on screen.
    We use this technique in our school readiness program at NSPT- Blossom Prep School and found it helped preschoolers not only learn the moves to the songs but also how to behave and collaborate in a learning environment. These were just a few of the songs we used.

  1. Playtime
    One thing some kids with ASD struggle with is the ability to functionally play with toys or games. Stacking blocks, rolling a car down a ramp, rocking or feeding a baby doll, stringing beads, or rolling playdoh, children may have trouble understanding what these toys are used for. One way you can teach this skill is through… You guessed it- Imitation! By teaching a kiddos to play with a toys according to its function you can open the door to so many more social play and independent play skills.
    This is something that we cover extensively in Blossom Prep School, taking our kids from station to station and modeling play with various toys and pretend scenarios, like they would with their peers.
  2. Daily Routines and Activities
    You can also use imitation to teach your child to complete tasks such as brushing your teeth, self-feeding, or washing their hands. By modeling the steps and having them imitate you during natural routines and activities, you can strengthen imitation skills while simultaneously teaching your child to independently complete important daily living skills.
    Here are a few fun ways we like to incorporate this type of teaching into Blossom Prep School:

    • Imitating a peer or adult using utensils to eat snack
    • Imitating a peer or adult while cleaning up an activity or game
    • Imitating a peer or adult putting on shoes or other clothing items
  1. Arts and Crafts
    Similar to teaching children to functionally play with toys and games through imitation, you can also teach them to complete different arts and crafts projects. You can do this by modeling each step or modeling multiple steps at a time for children with more established imitation repertoires.
    Here are a few fun examples of crafts that work well with imitation that we have used in Blossom Prep School:

  1. Singing Songs & Saying Fun Phrases
    Another form of imitation that is important is vocal imitation. The ability to vocally imitate others is needed not only to be able to learn to say or pronounce certain words and phrases, but to learn how to engage in social conversation! One way to work on this skill is through having your child vocally imitate you saying funny words and phrases or singing songs. In Blossom Prep School we work on vocally imitation throughout the lesson, repeating funny phrases in songs or books or repeating the teacher in order to teach a vocal response to a question.

For more information on the importance of teaching imitation and observational learning you can listen to a podcast by ABA Inside Track on the topic.

NSPT offers services in the Chicagoland Area. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

A Small Break from Therapy – What’s the Big Deal?

Written by: Erilda Borici and Olivia Smith

Now that warm weather has finally arrived, many children and families are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer break. Summer is the perfect time of the year to play outside with friends and to enjoy family time.  It’s also an excellent opportunity to add additional therapy sessions to maintain progress made during the school year or to meet goals. 

When your child is in need of counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA or physical therapy, an individualized treatment plan is created by your therapist. Therapists build a strong rapport and a trusting relationship with children through consistent time spent together.  A break in therapy disrupts their treatment plan and can delay progress.

There are multiple ways to maximize your child’s time in therapy during the summer months by participating in our multidisciplinary approach. If necessary, your child can receive various therapeutic services all under one roof. 

For children who have diagnoses of Autism, ADHD, or other developmental, cognitive, or mental health concerns, multiple therapeutic services are recommended to allow your child to reach their full potential. Apart from the convenience of having all  of your child’s services under one roof, therapists collaborate with each other to ensure consistency for your child. Coordination of care will allow your child to grow and gain skills as rapidly as possible.   

The summer months bring lots of opportunities for children to play at parks, learn to use/ride various gross motor toys such as bikes or scooters, or play at the beach. Therapy is play based so it’s fun! 

Many of our clinics have a sand table where children can learn how to build sand castles, or jungle gym equipment that they can learn to navigate safely. We teach bike riding!  Mastery of these skills during your child’s sessions provides confidence that they can participate in these activities safely and effectively outside of the clinic setting.  One of the most important goals in therapy is to have fun while skill building.

Here are some tips on maintaining consistency and getting the most out of treatment for your child.  

  • Since children are out of school, they have a lot more availability during the day to participate in therapy, and while camp and extracurricular activities are important, and great options for staying active, they cannot replace individualized therapy plans.   
  • Summer can be filled with unstructured time. For kiddos who struggle with ADHD, Autism, or Anxiety, this can be exacerbate some of their symptoms. Maintaining scheduled therapy hours provides children with consistency and routine to continue to work on their treatment goals.  
  • Rescheduling missed sessions is easier during the Summer months. (you might even be able to see a different therapist, depending on your child’s needs)  
  • Plan ahead and schedule additional sessions if you have an upcoming vacation or break, your therapist may have extra flexibility as well. 
  • Remember, school may be out, but kiddos who maintain their therapy schedules thrive when Autumn arrives! 

**Please keep in mind cancellations should be done at least 24 to 48 hours in advance, so other families also have the chance to reschedule.


NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines and Mequon! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

 

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Potty Training a Child with Autism

Potty training is a big milestone for any child. It definitely is an important milestone for parents as well! No more diapers!! However, there are some things to keep in mind prior to considering potty training as well as during potty training. Blog-Potty-Training-Main-Landscape

  1. When should you consider potty training?
    • On average you would consider potty training when the child is around 2.5 years of age and above, can hold urine for 60-90 minutes, recognize the sensation of a full bladder, and show some form of awareness that they need to go to the bathroom.
    • Do at a time when you can spend large amounts of time at home! Some parents find it best to do in the summer (less clothing!).
  2. What schedule should you use when potty training?
    • You want to take your child to the bathroom every 90 minutes, if your child urinates then you wait for the next 90 minute interval, if not you reduce the time by 30 minutes.
    • Consistency is extremely important to ensure success.
  3. While on the toilet what should we do?
    • Praise your child for sitting appropriately on the toilet.
    • You can do activities with them as long as they are not too engaging or involved.
    • If they do urinate you want to CELEBRATE!
    • You need to wait up to 15 minutes if there is still no urination, then you let them get off and bring them back after 60 minutes (this keeps decreasing by 30 minutes each time there is not urination).
  4. What should you do when there is an accident?
    • It happens! Make sure you have your child help you clean it up, this is not meant to be punishing but more a natural consequence of having an accident. Keep a neutral tone and assist your child if needed to clean up the mess.
    • If your child is having too many accidents you may need to shorten the intervals of going to the toilet, or it may be that your child is not ready to be potty trained yet. Always rule out any medical reasons as well!
  5. Things to remember!
    • When starting potty training you want to make sure you child can sit on the toilet for up to 15 minutes with minimal challenging behaviors.
    • The goal is INDEPENDECE, you want to work towards your child walking to the bathroom on their own and removing and putting on their underwear and pants independently as well as washing their hands.
    • Make sure you child is in underwear throughout potty training! NO DIAPERS/PULL UPS!
    • Diapers and pull-ups are okay during nap time and bed time.
    • Number one thing to remember is PATIENCE, try to be consistently upbeat and encouraging to your child and deal with accidents as calmly as possible!

It is important to ensure that potty training is as positive an experience as possible for your child! Maintain your positive energy and constantly praise appropriate behavior seen throughout the potty training process! This will encourage your child to become more independent as well as want to go to the bathroom more often on their own!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Help! My Child is Wetting the Bed

Wetting the bed is a very common issue that occurs with many children. Below are some preventative and reactive strategies to help decrease bed wetting from occurring. Blog-Wetting the Bed-Main-Portrait

Preventative Strategies for Wetting the Bed

Liquid Intake

It is important for children to drink liquid throughout the day to stay hydrated, but it is best to stop drinking liquids before bed time. This may prevent the bladder from having to be emptied while the child is asleep.

Bathroom Schedule

Scheduled bathroom breaks help empty the bladder when it may need to be emptied. Many times when children are engaged in a preferred activity they choose to not use the bathroom when it is needed. Bathroom breaks/schedules throughout the day can prevent other issues like infection or wetting pants during other parts of the day. Using the bathroom multiple times or at least one time right before bed may help the child from needing to empty the bladder while he or she is sleeping. Parents can also wake their children up when they are getting ready for bed and have them use the restroom one more time.

Reactive Strategies for Wetting the Bed

Waterproof bedding

When a child does wet the bed, use waterproof bedding, blankets, and padding to prevent any damage to mattress. Clean up will also be easier.

Alarms

Sometimes children are in such a deep sleep that the signal of wetting the bed does not wake them up. There are alarms that can be bought to help signal/wake the child when he or she needs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Open Communication

It is important to not embarrass your children or make them feel bad when they wet the bed. This can be a sensitive topic and it is important for open communication and to make you child feel comfortable when it happens.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Help for Defiance

Life can already be busy enough making sure your child gets through all of the tasks he or she needs each day. The last thing you need is your child refusing to follow directions. Here are some proactive and reactive strategies for when you need help with defiance. Blog-Defiance-Help-Main-Portrait

Preventative Strategies for Defiance

Clear Directions/Expectations

When asking your child to complete a task, make sure you are crystal clear with the directions. For example, if you ask your child to clean their room, your child may go pick up their clothes off of the floor and then say they are all done. When you go to check the room you say, “Your room is not clean.” This may cause an argument/conflict. To your child, a clean room means there are no clothes on the ground. To you, a clean room is a made bed, clothes folded and put away, and a clean desk. Clearly state your expectations to leave no room for confusion and make success more achievable for your child.

Offer Choices

Sometimes, your child may get overwhelmed and become defiant if they have numerous tasks to complete. Giving them the option to choose what tasks they need to complete each day may make them more compliant and successful. For example, give your child the option of making the bed or cleaning the clothes off the ground. Another example is giving your child the option of which homework assignment they would like to complete first.

Shortening Tasks

I know many teachers who use this tip when working with students who refuse to do their work. For example, they might give a student a math worksheet of 20 problems and ask them to complete 15. Another way to use this tip is asking them to work on one problem or one part of the task and then increasing the number of problems/parts of the task over time. Following strategies like this may feel like you are giving in to them, but in the end they are still completing part of the task, as opposed to refusing to address it at all.

Offer Rewards

Many children are motivated by rewards. When stating your expectations, ask them what they would like to earn after they complete the task or give them options of what they can earn. You want to make sure you do this while stating the expectations. If you do not, and your child engages in defiant behavior and you then offer the reward, it becomes a bribe. Bribes are dangerous for growth because they teach children that if they refuse to do something at first, they will eventually get something extra. We want them to learn that they get a reward by complying with the task.  For example, “What do you want to earn when you complete your chores? You can get 15 minutes on the iPad or a candy bar.” Make sure the rewards are activities or items that your child enjoys and will motivate them. If earning a reward is not enough, you can also present the consequences of what will happen if they refuse to do the task.

Reactive Strategies for Defiance

Reassess Motivation

After the child decides what they want to earn, they still may not complete the task. Their behavior shows that the reward may not be motivating enough for them. You can offer new choices or remind them what they are earning if they complete the task.

Stay Calm

When your child is engaging in defiant behaviors you want to stay calm. Use a neutral tone when you speak to them and make sure your facial expressions stay neutral, too.

Stay Consistent and Follow Through on Expectations

If you offer your child a reward after they complete a task, make sure you give it to them immediately. If you do not, your child may not be motivated by rewards because they will become skeptical. Additionally, you can’t give them the reward at a later time if they do not complete the task.

Deliver Verbal Praise for Appropriate Behaviors

When your child is being compliant instead of showing defiance, please deliver verbal praise!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Help! My Child is Biting

Biting can be a very challenging behavior to deal with. It can result in physical and emotional distress to all individuals involved. In order to accurately address biting situations, we must blog-biting-main-landscapedetermine why the individual is engaging in that behavior. In other words, we need to know the function of the biting. Like any behavior, biting has a history of reinforcement. This history plays a big role in the function of biting.

We can determine the function by analyzing what occurs immediately before the behavior (antecedent) and what occurs immediately following the behavior (consequence). Sometimes we may not be aware that our own behavior is impacting the child’s behavior. Once we are able to identify why a child is engaging in a behavior, we can change our own behavior which will lead to changes in their behavior.

There are many possible functions for the biting which can include: escape, attention seeking, gaining access to materials, or sensory stimulation. Below you will find a detail of the functions and suggestions to decrease biting given that particular function.

Functions and Working Tips for Biting:

  • Escape or Avoidance: The child might behave in a way to get out of doing an unfavorable task/activity or to remove themselves from a particular situation. The child might engage in biting in order to avoid doing something they do not want to do.
    • Working Tip: If you ask a child to follow your instruction, but they engage in refusal behavior and biting occurs, it is important that you continue to present the request for the child and follow through with your instruction. By not allowing the child to escape the demand, biting is no longer resulting in an inappropriate escape of demands.
  • Attention seeking: The child might bite as a way to gain the attention of others. When a child bites you or themselves it is natural to react in a certain way. You may raise your voice, make different facial reactions or pull away quickly. By providing this attention after biting occurs, the child may be more likely to repeat this behavior in the future to gain your attention.
    • Working Tip: If a child is biting to gain your attention, ignore this behavior by providing no facial or vocal reactions. Instead, provide attention for appropriate behaviors during periods of time when no biting is occurring.  If the child is engaging in self-injurious biting behavior, you can block the behavior without giving additional attention to the child to ensure safety.
  • Access to materials: The child might bite to gain access to preferred items or activities. If you are giving a child something they want after they bite you, you are likely reinforcing this behavior.
    • Working Tip: It is important to refrain from giving the child access to any preferred items or activities when this behavior occurs. Instead, provide access to these after they engage in other appropriate behaviors (i.e. asking appropriately, handing you the appropriate picture exchange card, etc) to tell you what they want.
  • Automatic (sensory stimulation): The child may be biting because it is something that feels good to them.
    • Working Tip: To address this behavior you can give the child something more appropriate that they are allowed to bite on like a rubber chewing item.

Things to Remember When it Comes to Biting:

  • Consistency is key: Once a function of the behavior is determined, it is important that everyone who interacts with the child addresses the behavior in the same way in order for the intervention to be effective. As long as the biting behavior is working for the child to get what they want, even if only on some occasions, they will continue to engage in this behavior.
  • Reinforcement: Reducing/eliminating the biting behavior is important, but at we also want to teach children appropriate behaviors to replace biting to ensure they are getting their wants and needs met. By applying the principles of behavior, you can teach your child more appropriate ways to gain attention, access to preferred materials, or to ask for a break from a non-preferred activity.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Creating SMART Goals for Kids with Autism

When it comes to creating goals for kids with autism, it can be overwhelming where to start. What goal do you pick? When should they meet their goal? How can everyone work on it together? blog-smart-goals-main-landscapeRest assured, creating effective goals is as simple as making sure it is a SMART goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Following these simple guidelines will help your child achieve the goals you set in place.

Specific

It is easy to have a general goal in mind for kids with autism, such as increasing their language or self-help skills. However, general goals are hard to work on since they do not have specific behaviors that you are looking to increase. Being as specific as possible with your goal is the most effective way to ensure your child will meet their goal.

Measurable

When we create a goal, we have to make sure we can measure a child’s success. If our goal isn’t measurable, we cannot accurately determine if the goal was met. The two most common ways to make goals measurable are frequency (e.g. 3 times per day, etc.) and accuracy (e.g. with 80% success, in 4 out of 5 opportunities, etc.).

Attainable

Before we start working on a goal, we have to make sure it is something the child can attain (i.e. a goal they can achieve). We need to look at prerequisite skills (i.e. skills the child needs in order to achieve the current goal). We also need to look at how realistic our goal is. We cannot expect a child to get dressed by themselves each morning if their underwear drawer is too high for them to reach.

Relevant

Relevant goals are goals that will make a difference in the child’s life. If the goal isn’t relevant to the child, the child will not be motivated to achieve it. If a goal is determined to not be relevant to the child or the one helping teach the goal, it will need to be adjusted to become relevant.

Time-bound

If all goals had an eternity to be achieved, there would not be a desire to teach and attain the goal in the near future. Making goals time-bound ensure that the goal is mastered in a realistic time-frame. Determining the time-frame of your goal should be dependent on the goal. The more challenging the goal, the longer the time-frame should be.

Example of a SMART Goal

Your goal is to work on your child asking you for help when you are in another room. At this time, your child does not ask you for help when you are in the same room consistently. Let’s go through each criterion to make our SMART goal.

Specific: Child will say “help me” while handing the object they need help with to the adult

Measurable: 4 out of 5 opportunities

Attainable: We will first work on when an adult is in the same room

Relevant: Your child frequently needs help when playing with new toys or opening and sealing food

Time-bound: 2 weeks

Now that you know how to write SMART goals, start making some and see your child blossom!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Introducing Your Child with Autism to Classmates

All parents hope that their children will meet new friends and have an active social life—this is not any Blog-Autism-Classmates-Main-Landscapeless true for parents of kids with autism! In fact, it is this very subject that is mentioned near the top of many parents’ wish lists when asked what their greatest hope is for their child on the autism spectrum!

It can occasionally be more challenging for friendships to occur naturally due to the reduced interest in social interaction demonstrated by kids on the spectrum. However, as with many of the academic, life, and self-care skills that are taught systematically to these kids, social interaction skills and rules of friendship may be slowly introduced and put into action!

In order for these skills to be taught and practiced, however, there are a few things that parents can do to set their child with autism up for success in this area:

  • Ask your child’s teacher about possible peers: There are frequently a few kids in each general education classroom that appear empathetic and interested in our kids with autism. These are great candidates for peer interactions and possible friendships! Your child’s teacher will most likely have a few ideas about whom might pair well with your child in this manner, within the first few weeks of school.
  • Observe your child’s classroom, if possible: Most schools have parent observation policies that designate times of day that are best suited to seeing what’s going on in the classroom. Take some time to notice which kids are approaching him or her and whether these might be kids to ask over for a play date!
  • Volunteer to present a mini autism lesson, if possible: There are countless resources online for helping typically developing kids understand autism spectrum disorders, and what they can expect from someone who is on the spectrum. One I particularly like outlines some amazing books to help peers understand your child and his or her diagnosis: https://www.angelsense.com/blog/10-great-books-for-families-of-kids-with-autism/
  • Reach out to parents: Upon observing a child approaching or interacting with your child (or upon recommendation from the teacher), attempt to contact that child’s parents, and set up a time for the kids to get together!
  • Plan your play date: It will be very important that both kids are having a great time! Try to think of activities that are of particular interest to your child, and bring that peer along. For example, if your child really enjoys going to the zoo, and has an interest in animals, plan to visit the zoo on the kids’ first play date. This will pair the typically developing peer with something that is your child’s absolute favorite thing, and could lead to a stronger relationship!
  • Speak to the BCBA/supervisor in charge of your child’s services about programming for peer interaction: This is very common, and should be an integral part of any child’s treatment plan. Ensure that this is being programmed for specifically, and that there are opportunities to practice the skills both one-to-one during therapy, as well as in vivo with another child!

With practice, patience, and mindfulness on the part of adults, kids on the autism spectrum can develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships with their typically developing peers!

For additional information, check out our other Autism and school blogs.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst
This blog was co-written with Rachel Nitekman.

Rachel Nitekman

Rachel is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over 10 years of experience working with children with autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental delays.  After graduating from the Blitstein Institute in 2011, she went on to receive her Masters in Psychology specializing in ABA, from Kaplan University, while working full time as a pediatric behavior therapist.  Rachel has worked with children in a variety of settings, including home, camp and school. She also worked for KESHET, an organization that provides services for children and young adults with varying developmental delays. Rachel is passionate about her work in helping children succeed to their fullest potentials in life.

Biting, Hitting and Pushing: Bad Behavior or Sensory Processing Disorder?

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I often have teachers and parents ask me if a child’s sensory Blog-Bad-Behavior-or-SPD-Main-Landscapeprocessing is causing them to behave badly in school. In kindergarten especially, we often see “bad behavior” manifest in many ways: kicking or hitting peers, biting friends, spitting, or yelling at others. In some cases, the child’s sensory system may be to blame. In others, bad behavior could be contributed to the child seeking out attention, or avoiding work or non-preferred play. Read below to help identify and understand the difference between the two.

Sensory Processing:

When a child’s nervous system cannot respond logically to incoming sensory input (such as loud talking in the cafeteria), the result may cause the child to appear disorganized, clumsy, or disobedient. Oftentimes, children who are seeking out movement (vestibular input) or body position (proprioceptive input) are often the children who crave bear hugs or body squeezes. These are the climbers, the explorers, and the daredevils as they are attempting to seek out extra information from the environment to feel more organized. When they are not given these opportunities, they may resort to inefficient ways to help seek out information which may manifest into tackling, hitting or biting friends. When these children are given ways to regulate efficiently, such as 10 minutes of heavy work activities on the playground, or intense proprioceptive or vestibular input before sitting down at the table to complete the day’s activities, they are much better able to respond and attend to the activities.

Behavior:

Behavior, which can be defined as the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially toward others, often is the result of a conglomeration of events. For example, a child’s bad behavior may be a response to a negative sensory experience, or it may be the child’s way of receiving more attention from parents, teachers and friends, or it may be both. A child with sensory concerns who often tackles peers or siblings may be attempting to receive feedback from the environment. However, it’s also possible he is looking for ways to get attention from others in his environment. When this is the case, it is important to follow up with a strategic plan. Experts recommend attempting to ignore the behavior as much as possible (not overreacting to the situation, ensuring the child follows through on the task required of them no matter what behavior they are exhibiting, ignoring disrespectful behavior and not responding until the child appropriately requests for help). Rewarding good behavior via a positive reinforcement chart, acknowledgement of a job well done, and praise for completing the task at hand are all examples of ways to reward good behavior.

There is no easy solution for recognizing the difference between bad behavior and sensory processing disorder. Oftentimes, parents and teachers may need to take each event on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not the breakdown occurred as a result of a sensory processing difficulty. To help decipher the difference between the two, I recommend keeping track of the specific behaviors in a journal to help identify any triggers or common events that provoke the child and cause the disruption.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Meet-With-An-Occupational-Therapist