Posts

Tracking Devices for Children with ASD

Tracking Devices for Children with ASD

I think we can all relate to the heart-stopping feeling you experience when “BREAKING NEWS” blares from the TV to announce, yet again…another school shooting.

Distasteful, but a reality in 2018. Considering our feeds are packed with news of homemade bombs, school shootings and bulletproof backpacks, Cayer Behavioral Group would like to take a moment to discuss the benefits of using tracking devices for our children diagnosed with ASD and other related disabilities. Simply clipping this device to your child’s belt loop may be part of the recipe to a better night sleep, knowing you have the ability to locate your child 24 hours of the day.

In hopes of helping you find the best match for your family, we have compiled a list of popular tracking devices on the market for you to consider:

AngelSense

Price: Tracker costs $150, with a monthly service plan of $45.

Pros:

  • Provides GPS tracking with detailed location history, and a feature that alerts you when your child arrives or departs from any location.
  • Provides voice monitoring that allows you to listen in on your child’s surroundings.
  • Compact product created with durable material that allows for multiple wearing options that were designed with sensory sensitivity in mind.
  • Allows for a chosen group of people to be alerted if child goes missing.

Cons:

  • Short battery life; however, the AngelSense app alerts you when the device needs to be charged.
  • More expensive monthly fee compared to similar products.
  • Not waterproof.

PocketFinder GPS Child Tracker

Price: Tracker is $129, with a monthly service plan of $12.95.

Pros:

  • Waterproof and extremely durable GPS tracker that updates your child’s location as frequently as every two minutes.
  • Provides option of setting up unlimited number of geofences so that you can be alerted when your child wanders off pretty much anywhere they aren’t supposed to be.
  • A unique feature about this product is that it gives you the option of modifying your services to accommodate your travel plans with international service at $29.95 per month, if necessary.

Cons:

  • No SOS button; however, wearer can tap the device three times on a hard surface to send an emergency alert to the parent’s phone.
  • No calling or listening-in features.

Trax Play GPS Tracker

Price: Tracker is $99, with three different prepaid plans to choose from, ranging from $4-$9 depending on which the plan you decide on.

Pros:

  • Small yet reliable GPS device that easily slips into pockets or is clipped onto a belt.
  • Updates several times per minute and can be set to monitor a specific area during certain times of the day.
  • Unique features about this product include the option to draw geofences in any shape, not just typical square or circle options, as well as an augmented reality feature that allows you to view the direction your child is located by panning your phone camera around you.
  • Reasonably priced.

Cons:

  • Short battery life.
  • No SOS alerts, calling, or listening-in features.
  • No activity log.
  • Less durable than similar products.

We hope that this list was helpful in guiding your choice of tracking devices, and that the device you choose provides you and your family comfort and peace of mind in times of panic and stress.

Please remember that you can always reach out to us at 850.320.6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com if you have any other questions or concerns regarding assistance for your little ones on the spectrum.

#TrackingDevicesforASD #AutismAwarenessEveryDay #CayerBehavioralGroup #We Cayer

Identifying Cold and Flu Symptoms in Non-Verbal Children with ASD

Keep your disinfectant close, and your tissues closer, because cold and flu season is due to stick around until May 2018, #boo!

While the flu is miserable for everyone, it has proven to be worse for those on the spectrum. According to the CDC, “Children of any age with neurologic conditions are more likely than other children to become very sick if they get the flu,” because of many reasons… some complicated and others simple. In light of this scary fact please keep in mind these pointers which may assist in an earlier flu diagnosis for friends who are developmentally disabled and specifically non-verbal.  These pointers may seem obvious to our seasoned mama’s, however for those of you who are new to the land of developmental disabilities, we’re hopeful they will lead you to the doctor’s office quickly, which ultimately will provide your child and your family well deserved respite from the dreaded influenza.

  • Notable changes in your child’s behavior. If you see your little one acting out by kicking, hitting, or biting (others or themselves) more than usual, they may be communicating they are not feeling well. You above anyone else know your child and the way they typically act on a day-to-day basis. If something seems off, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician as soon as possible! Don’t forget, always bring your notes to the doctor. All too often care takers become overwhelmed while at the pediatrician and certain events or behavioral anecdotes are overlooked. Having notes can be extremely helpful!
  • Watch what they are eating and changes in their appetite. If you notice any unusual changes in your child’s eating habits, this may be a cue they are trying to relay they are not feeling well! It may be helpful to keep a spiral in the kitchen and document what your feeding your little one, the time of the feeding and your child’s response. If you see something strange going on, reach out to your doctor!
  • Hydration is key! Has your child’s liquid intake increased or decreased? Your child’s age gauges the amount of liquid they should (ideally) receive on a daily basis. If there is a marked change this is a sure sign something is off. Dehydration and overhydration is also apparent in your child’s output. If their urine or bowl movement production has changed please contact your pediatrician.

Last, if your pediatrician questions your concerns, don’t give up! You are your child’s greatest advocate. As a reminder, please reach out to Cayer Behavioral Group at (850) 320-6555 for any concerns you may have! We are here to help you fight the terrible cold and flu season and hope this week’s information helps you and your little ones!

School Safety 101! A Starting Point for Children with Special Needs

Just seven weeks into 2018, there have been eight shootings at US schools that have resulted in injury or death.

In light of the unthinkable tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Cayer Behavioral Group would like to take a moment to discuss conversation points for parents to have with their child’s teacher regarding their school/classroom safety plan. For those of us who live, breathe, walk and LOVE a child on the spectrum, it is especially important to have an open and honest conversation covering the who, what, where and when of safety.

Conversation starters:

  1. How will the school communicate with me in a crisis situation?
  2. Is there a crisis hotline?
  3. What is the role of the teacher in the crisis? Will he or she remove my child from the classroom, or do they engage in “lock down” procedures? If they remove my child from the classroom, where do they go? If the policy is to “lock down” the classroom what does that procedure look like and how often is it practiced?
  4. What other school personnel will be responsible for my child with special needs?
  5. My child is on medication. How is the medication transported in a crisis situation?
  6. Has my child had access to community helpers (police, fire and emergency responder men and women) in a non-crisis environment?
  7. Will my child have an identifier on his or her clothing?

We are hopeful you will utilize the following 7 talking points to begin a necessary conversation with your child’s teacher. It’s unfortunate our world causes us to pause and react to thoughtless violence. At times like this we must remember there is more good in the world than bad. At times like this we must remember we are our child’s protector. Cayer Behavioral Group is hopeful you will find peace in the following quote:

“You protect what you love.” – Jenna Ryan

Cayer Behavioral Group will continue to protect your child and we are exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to work with your sweet kids in our fantastic community. For more information on Cayer Behavioral Group please visit our website at www.cayerbehavioral.com or contact the office at 850.320.6555.

Krista Cayer, MA, BCBA

CEO and Founder, Cayer Behavioral Group

 2331 Hansen Court

Tallahassee, FL 32301

850.320.6555.

Communicating Love on the Spectrum

“Love is expressed in many ways, and as nice as the words are to hear, they are unnecessary to express true love.” –Lauren Casper

It’s no secret people with autism communicate differently than those who are neurotypical. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember this applies to their love language too. Though we may want to hug, squeeze and smother our special little ones with kisses, it is important to keep in mind this might not always be the best way to express love to a child on the spectrum. Additionally, just because your little one doesn’t always want to hug, squeeze or shower YOU with kisses, doesn’t mean they don’t love and appreciate you just as much! They just communicate their love in a different way. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’re going to discuss how to detect the other ways (verbal and nonverbal) children with autism are expressing their love for you, as well as how to best express your love for a little one on the spectrum.

According to an article published by SpringBrook Behavioral Health about Adapting Love Languages to Meet the Needs of Kids with ASDthere are five languages of love: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and gifts. As a parent, it’s your duty to decipher what love language(s) your child prefers and to reciprocate your love by imitating these languages and meeting them where they feel comfortable. Do they gift you their drawings, sit near you on the couch, or suggest a favorite shared activity? These are all ways your child is expressing their love for you without explicitly saying it, you may just need to look a little deeper to discover them.

A more proactive tip this article suggests is to give your child some love language options and closely observe which ones they choose. For example, when it comes to play time you might ask if they would rather horseplay (physical touch), help you cook dinner (acts of service), or participate in a favorite shared activity (quality time)? Their response will be indicative of their preferred love language and might help you to more clearly identify their next gesture of love.

For severely impaired children, the combination of sensory sensitivities, lack of joint attention skills and poor communication may make it especially difficult for you to pick up on expressions of love. But don’t be mistaken—they do feel love. Whether it’s evident in the tone of their vocalization, the squeeze in their grasp, the sniffing of your hair, or just their tolerance of you beside them, it is important to understand detecting their love takes more than just listening with your ears! Regardless of how troubled or overwhelmed your child may feel, there are sensory avenues that comfort and sooth them, and it is your job to identify them through trial and error, patience, and practice.

So, the next time you may feel frustrated that your child is not making eye contact with you, take a moment to realize they may just be trying to listen—really listen. The next time they close their eyes and lean on your shoulder, draw you something, repeat lyrics to a song you like, or choose you to accompany them for a specific activity, know this is their unique way of showing you they love you.

We love our children at Cayer Behavioral Group, and we know you do too. On behalf of our team here at CBG, we wish you a happy and love-filled Valentine’s Day!

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have. CBG is just a phone call or email away.

#CommunicatingLove #AutismAwarenessEveryDay #CayerBehavioralGroup #WeCayer #HappyValentinesDay

Happy Black History Month!

Acclaimed African-American poet, storyteller, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, once said, “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

Maya Angelou

Every February we reflect on the many notable contributions and achievements of African-Americans throughout our nation’s history. Today, Cayer Behavioral Group would like to divert your attention to a conversation that has been pushed aside all too often: the recognition and celebration of people of color within the autism community.

It is said that autism rates among African-Americans are the same as rates among whites. Yet African-American children are often diagnosed with autism at an older age than white children, causing them to miss out on potential years of valuable treatment. Additionally, resources are extremely limited, if any, in primarily African-American and low-income communities.

Fortunately, there are organizations like The Color of Autism and The Answer Inc. who have committed themselves to serving this cause, and work hard to assist and educate African-American families with children on the spectrum.

In honor of Black History Month and the celebration of people of color within the autism community, we’d like to take the opportunity to remind you of something The Autism Pastor Dr. Lamar Hardwick said in a beautiful written article about disabilities and diversity:

“Diversity is beautiful, diversity is needed, and diversity is what will make our society stronger.”

Happy Black History Month!

With love,

Cayer Behavioral Group

#BlackHistoryMonth #AutismAwarenessEveryDay #CayerBehavioralGroup

#WeCayer

Assistance Dogs for Autism

When you think of a service dog, you’re probably not imagining one trotting alongside a person with autism…

However, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are no longer limited to just the blind! Service dogs, along with therapy dogs and even companion dogs, can all provide emotional, social and physical support for your little one on the spectrum.

  • According to the ADA, an official service animal is defined as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. These special dogs receive extensive training and official certification to earn the privilege of accompanying people with disabilities everywhere in our community. Dogs that serve children with autism are trained to provide comfort during sensory overload, find family members or community helpers for those who tend to wander, help decrease stimming behavior, and increase social interaction!
  • On the other hand, therapy dogs are used to provide psychological and physiological affection and comfort in therapeutic situations. Some therapy dogs are encouraged to forgo formal training, while others simply use their naturally stable and friendly temperaments to help children on the spectrum.
  • Lastly, a companion dog is a typical family dog that may or may not have formal training but is simply well-behaved. According to a post from Autism Speaks, an affectionate companion dog can provide unconditional love and friendship, a calming influence, and a great model for important social skills like caring behavior and consideration of a friend’s needs. Additionally, caring for the dog can teach responsibility and other practical skills.

Now that you know a little bit more about your assistance dog options, Autism Speaks suggests you consider a few more things before bringing home the first furry friend you find!

  1. Does your child/family like dogs?
  2. Might your child or anyone else in the household have allergies that could be aggravated by a dog?
  3. Is your family prepared and ready to take on the long-term commitment and expense of caring for a dog in sickness and in health?
  4. Are you comfortable handling a dog while caring for your child and other family members?

If you’ve answered “yes, no, yes, and yes” to these questions, then you may just be the perfect candidate for an autism assistance dog!

Whether you decide to choose a service, therapy or companion dog for your family, the most important thing to keep in mind is that every child and dog is unique, and selecting the right animal just means finding the right match for YOU. Cayer Behavioral Group hopes that this information helped to inform and guide your choice in assistance animal, or at least that you learned something interesting and new!

Remember that you can always reach out to 850.320.6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com if you have other questions or concerns about ways to help your little one on the spectrum.

#AutismAssistanceDogs #AutismAwarenessEveryday #CayerBehavioralGroup #WeCayer

Why is Health and Nutrition Important for Your Child?

Have you ever had concerns about your child and what they are eating?

Health and nutrition is something that every parent needs to consider when looking after their child. Challenges come with making sure your child is getting the proper nutrients they need. According to an article written by Autism Speaks, researchers at Marcus Autism Center at Emory University School of Medicine, found children with ASD are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges. Fortunately, there are some strategies to help you and your family navigate picky eaters and unusual food habits!

Here are some tips, suggested by Autism Speaks, Independent Nutrition Consultant, Melissa Roessler. Before jumping into this weeks blog, please know we understand and see on a daily basis, children on the spectrum learning and acquiring skills at different levels and different paces. Cayer Behavioral Group realizes these tips may not ring true to you or your kiddo but don’t give up! If this isn’t helpful, PLEASE reach out to your BCBA. Board Certified Behavior Analysts are trained specifically to understand your family’s needs. Never give up! Hang in there, mamas! Also, always check with your pediatrician and pre-determine any food allergies before tackling the challenges your picky eater brings to the dinner table.

  1. Be a role model for your children: Children pick up on your behavior. If they hear mommy or daddy complain about a food, they will usually follow.  Personally make healthier choices for YOU. When your child recognizes you making these decisions they just might copy. You can also utilize your BCBA to help teach and guide you, your family and your persnickety eater ways to positively reinforce food.
  2. Avoid having battles over food: While bribing children with food may seem like a good idea, it is recommended family’s avoid this approach. Bribing is a temporary fix where using positive reinforcement results in LONG term, behavioral changes. Think outside the box, take deep breaths, and do not engage in bribery battles with your child. You will lose.
  3. Listen to what your child is telling you about food: Don’t forget, if your child isn’t verbal it doesn’t mean they aren’t “telling” you about their food. Watch their behavior, take notes, and gently slip in the non-preferred food in tiny amounts. Pair those yucky bites with their faves. If your child is a traditional talker, ask them what it is they don’t like about the food. Also, take your child to the grocery store. Listen, look and learn from your precious little one. Remember tiny amounts of the yucky, larger amounts of the yummy and reinforce their acceptance of the not-so-good-stuff on their plate!
  4. Have family meals: Meal time should be a positive experience for the whole family! Family meals allow you to connect with all your children, family and friends  and practice healthy eating habits. Simple strategy for dinner: Put your child’s favorites on his/hers plate, paired with samplings of their non-preferred items. Praise your child when he/she touches, holds, smells even looks at the non-preferred items. Do your best to ignore the “junk” behavior often seen during meals. Keep in mind that dinner is not the only opportunity that you have to engage in food preferences during your child’s day. There are many, many other opportunities between waking up and bedtime to practice nibbling on food items they may typically snub. Try not to cause stressful situations for other siblings/partner/spouse during dinner. You, the parent, deserve a stress-less dinner. Pick your battles!
  5. Make the plate fun, colorful and entertaining for your child: The more color on the plate, the better for your child.  Present lunch/dinner/breakfast with a colorful variety of food. Kids are often intrigued by the colors of the rainbow, and through multiple opportunities of seeing similar foods, parents increase the likeliness of their child actually eating!  This also presents a beautiful opportunity to work on naming colors, pointing to foods, and identifying family members and the important role they play in your sweet, child’s life.

Picky eaters are at every home, during every meal. You are not alone, and you are supported! Please keep in mind the Behavior Analysts at Cayer Behavioral Group are here to help you and your picky eaters 😊

Call us at 850.320.6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com with any questions or concerns that you have!!

#WeCayer #CayerBehavioralGroup #HealthandNutrition

Setting Healthy Goals for Your Family in 2018

Congratulations, you made it through 2017 and into the new year!

As we kick off 2018 and clink our glasses to new beginnings, we start to consider our New Year’s resolutions—the changes we’d like to make to our routines, and things we hope to accomplish in 2018. As a parent of a child with autism, that includes planning and setting healthy and attainable goals for you and your child. We know it can be difficult to get back into the groove of things after the hectic holidays, so Cayer Behavioral Group (CBG) has gathered some tips and tricks for making this year the best one yet!

  1. Take an interest in your child’s interests. Being a parent of a child with autism and having to juggle work, school, appointments, and therapies can make it very difficult to get quality bonding time. Making the small, conscious effort to take a personal interest in your child’s interests can go a long way in bringing you closer together. I bet you’ll find that their passion is contagious, fun and inspiring. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even teach you something new!
  2. But also take time for yourself. This one is difficult for a lot of parents, because their children tend to come first in most aspects of their life. That’s why it is important to remember that we give can only give our children our best, when we ourselves are at our best. So make your needs and well-being a priority in 2018, guilt-free, knowing you have your child’s best interest in mind. Take 3 to 4 days to blow off some steam at the gym, schedule a date-night for you and your spouse, or even just a few minutes to read a new book, listen to your favorite song, or take a hot bath!
  3. Don’t beat yourself up! Everyone has bad days, and there will likely be a few along the path to accomplishing your goals. But perfection is boring and unattainable, so give yourself the credit you deserve. Take a moment to reflect on 2017’s feats, and pat yourself on the back for surviving another year despite its mishaps. You are a devoted parent who works hard to take care of your special needs child, and thanks to you, their needs are being met with love and care. That in itself is something to be celebrated!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Being open and honest about our struggles can be difficult. Maybe you don’t want others to see you as weak or inept, or are worried about being a burden, or just don’t know how to properly convey your emotions. But asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. There is an entire community out there of people who have been in your shoes, and who are not only willing, but eager to welcome you with open arms—CBG included! So don’t be afraid to reach out to your team at CBG and ask for support when you need it. You are resilient and resourceful, and asking for help will only make you more confident when facing stress next time around.

Wishing you and your family a prosperous 2018!

Two Kids Playing

Managing Insurance Open Enrollment: Pro-tips and Advice

Fall is finally here!

As the cool air blows and light jackets emerge out of our closets, open enrollment is just around the corner. Insurance can be tricky. While making sure you are getting the right plan for you and your family, take these ideas into consideration:

  • How often you tend to visit the doctor
  • If a member of your family has a special need
  • Whether you anticipate a change in your health care needs
  • Whether you have more dependents to cover, like a new baby
  • If you take regular prescription medications
  • How much the plan will cost you

These concepts are very important when considering new insurance plans, because you want to make sure your family is taken care of in an affordable way. To verify if your prospective or current plan covers autism treatment, review the policy booklet for the terms: Autism Therapy, Applied Behavior Therapy, or ABA Therapy. If your booklet isn’t readily available, please contact the provider and ask if they provide services.

Cayer Behavioral Group (CBG) works with a variety of insurance plans and we handle all of the processing and billing for your child’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) services. Cayer Behavioral Group accepts the following insurance plans:

If your insurance is not listed, please contact our office and we will be able to discuss other potential options for services. Once you fill out CBG’s new client paperwork, our billing department will contact the insurance provider to verify benefits for therapy, will submit services outlined by therapists to the insurance company, and send an invoice for the copayment or deductible amount due on the 10th and 25th of every month.

We are dedicated to serving our clients and their families to the best of our ability. If you have any questions pertaining to CBG’s behavior therapy services or billing process, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Happy insurance shopping! #autismawarenesseveryday

Storm Preparedness Tips – Be Ready and Be Safe

Whew! Happy October, everyone! Can you believe we are already here? While reflecting on the past month, we realized that Mother Earth showed us her wrath with many, many storms! In Tallahassee were lucky enough to bypass much of the damage from major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, and Maria. However, we know that many were not so fortunate. We want to make sure as many people are as safe and aware as possible. Preparing for a storm while acknowledging the needs of your child with autism can be a hard pill to swallow, but that is why we are here to give some tips and tricks to make the process easier!

A great start to preparing for a storm is to have open conversation with your kiddos. In case they have a fear of storms, make sure to always validate their fears while assuring them that they are safe. You could even show them that the sounds of thunder and lightning by mimicking the sounds with pots and pans or other items around the house. Once they realize they can make the sound on their own, it won’t be such a scary unknown.

Having open conversation and presenting information in a way your kids can understand is another great way to ease anxiety. Weather Wiz Kids is a wonderful website that explains all aspects of weather in a fun way not only your kids, but for you, too!! You can check out their website here.

Prepping for picky eaters can be a doozy when storms come around. Make sure you have enough of your child’s preferred foods for all necessary food groups. Ensuring they have plenty vitamins and protein is always important, but finding these in non-perishables can be tricky! The key is to prep early and prep a lot. If your child’s favorite veggie is green beans, don’t be afraid to get 10 cans of green beans because there is no such thing as too much!

Finally, make sure you and your family are having fun! Stock up on card games, board games and your kiddo’s favorite sensory toys. Mad Libs, flashlight tag and charades are fun ways to engage the whole family if there is no power. Check out this website for 100 things to do with your family when there is no power!

Storms can bring many unknowns, so we need to make sure we have done everything in our power to prepare. Once that is done, the rest is up to Mother Nature herself! If you are in the projected path for Tropical Storm Nate, please stay safe! We want to extend our thoughts to all those affected by the 2017 storms. If you would like to help those in need, please visit the Red Cross for more information. #autismawarenesseveryday