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Happy Fall Y'all

The weather is finally cooling down and although the leaves may not be changing color, the smell of pumpkin spiced lattes is in the air… Fall has found the south!

Fall in Florida is the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors. Cayer Behavioral Group wants you to take advantage of all this season has to offer. In honor of this spooky season’s arrival, we’ve gathered some fun activities for you and your family to enjoy.

  • Head to your local pumpkin patch and spend the day outdoors enjoying hay rides, corn mazes, farmer’s markets and petting zoos! Then pick your own pumpkins to take home for more fall fun. Check out fun4tallykids to find a pumpkin patch near you.
  • Bake delicious pumpkin treats. Get creative: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin crumb bars… the list goes on and on! In fact, here’s a list of 65 ridiculously good pumpkin desserts to make this fall. Let your little ones participate by stirring the batter, adding ingredients, and icing/decorating the finished product. But make sure you save extra pumpkins for…
  • Pumpkin painting! While pumpkin carving may seem like a daunting task for a parent of a child with autism, pumpkin decorating is a fun and safe alternative. Grab some paint, glue, glitter and stickers, and get to work! Use the leftover paint from your pumpkin masterpiece for…
  • Handprint turkeys! Nothing says fall like a classic handprint turkey. Prepare to get messy finger painting some cute Thanksgiving themed keepsakes. If you’re feeling extra crafty, add some feathers for the ultimate finishing touch!
  • Go for a nature walk/hike. Go outside and get moving to make the most of the beautiful fall weather before it’s gone! Enjoy some quality family time in nature (away from technology) and revel in some much-needed exercise after all those delicious pumpkin treats.
  • Settle in for a movie. After a long day of family fun, cuddle up and watch some kid friendly, Halloween classics. Head to Halloweentown, hang with Casper the friendly ghost or enjoy The Nightmare Before Christmas to get in the holiday spirit!

We hope you fall into fall and find time to enjoy your family and friends! As always, feel free to reach out to us at 850.320.6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com.

Cheers to chunky sweaters and fall weather!

#AutumnwithAutism #CayerBehavioralGroup #AutismAwarenessEveryDay #WeCayer

Rearranging the Sleeping Game for the Upcoming School Year

Sound the alarms! With our kiddos heading back to school in a few weeks, comes the dreaded early mornings.

This summer you might have been enjoying an alarm free summer, but all of that is going to change very shortly. Transitioning to a school year sleep schedule is your best bet to make the first few days of school as enjoyable as possible. To help make your mornings as pain free as possible we have come up with a few helpful hints. 

  • Make slight changes to their sleep schedule. Do not try to make a drastic change in one night. Slowly rearrange their sleeping schedule by thirty minutes a night, until you are at their ideal sleep schedule by the time the first day of school arrives.  
  • Limit late night electronic use- We know how much we all love using our electronic devices. But using these devices before bed actually disrupts our body’s natural transition to sleep. By limiting the use of these devices an hour or two before bedtime, this will allow your kiddos to get to bed earlier. 
  • Be wary of sleeping in- Although we are all enjoying the last few days of summer…be cautious! You’ll want to keep their time schedule as consistent as possible. 
  • Make sure all your kiddos are getting the recommended amount of sleep- The amount of sleep needed for each child varies by age. Children ages 3-5 should be sleeping 10 to 13 hours, children ages 6-12 should be sleeping 9 to 12 hours, and teens 13-18 should be sleeping between 8 to 10 hours. By getting the right amount of sleep your kiddos will be rested and ready to learn! 
  • Breakfast! Breakfast! Breakfast! There is a reason this is called the most important meal of the day. You want to make sure that this meal is a priority each school morning. Insuring a substantial meal each morning will supply your children with enough energy to start out the school year strong.  

We’re sure you and your fam have been enjoying many leisurely mornings. Alas, it’s time to change!  Making even slight changes in the upcoming weeks will make the world of a difference come the first day of school. 

 

As always, if you have any questions contact Cayer Behavioral Group at 850-320-6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com for more information.   

Best Dog Breeds for Children with Autism

Have your kiddos been asking for your family to adopt a fury friend?

If so, you might be worried about what dog is the right fit for your family. Lucky for you, we have come up with the top four dog breeds that we think are the best fit for a child with autism.  

  1. Golden Retriever– These dogs are more than just a pretty face! These dogs are gentle and love being around children! Golden Retrievers also serve as incredible guard dogs. Your kids will be sure to fall instantly in love with these lovable dogs. 
  2. Newfoundland– These dogs are truly gentle giants. Allowing your kids to sit down and groom these friendly balls of fur, will not only be calming, but also serve as consistent activity that they can take responsibility for. 
  3. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel– These dogs are the definition of a lap dog. Cavaliers make sure to love every person they meet and would be an incredible addition to any family.  
  4. Poodle– Not only are these dogs incredibly smart, they are also one of the most kid friendly dogs around! These are the perfect dogs to have your kids help train and take to the park. 

Making the decision about what type of dog to adopt can be stressful, especially making sure to account for your child’s needs. We hope that this helps make the decision a little less stressful.  

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Cayer Behavioral Group at 850-320-6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com for more information.   

Who hasn’t had concerns about the children we love and today’s technology?

Technology is a major part of our children’s socialization, education and realization of what we call life.  Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay!

Today’s blog features a special guest, Bryan Gibson. Bryan functions as the Cayer Behavioral Groups Virtual CIO and has been working with CBG for 5 years. He is also the Owner and Principal Consultant of i2xsolutions, a local Tallahassee tech company. Bryan has an in-depth understanding of technology, which is helpful when discussing safely navigating our everyday tech-world.  Bryan recently spent a few minutes with us providing insight into different devices, avoiding app pitfalls and pairing positive parenting with screen time.

  1. As a parent, what are a few devices you feel are worthy of an investment?

Bryan recommends the use of tablets for children, especially those who are on the spectrum. As you know, we all strive to find outlets where our children are able to express themselves while learning.  Tablets can prove useful for children who are verbal or non-verbal.  The mobility found in tablets allows parents to teach their children whether they are at school, home, or with their BCBA’s. By using these devices, your child is able to use his/her senses and visualize different things happening within the device. Here are some tablets available for you and your children: the iPad, Microsoft Surface, Samsung tablet, Amazon Fire for Kids tablet, Leapfrog, and the Nabi tablet.

  1. How should parents monitor their children on the apps and the devices they use on a daily basis?      

The safety of our children on tablets and applications is something we should all view as most important. Bryan explained on all devices, tablet or PC, there are family security suites. This suite is an application that monitors what your children are doing and places that data into a “cloud” so you, the parent, can see what they are up to. From the cloud, a parent can authorize the use of various applications. Bryan highly recommends using the family suite if you are considering letting your children run solo on a device as this is one of the only ways you will be able to fully monitor their internet habits.  The suite acts as a parental monitor and can be found in general settings in any device. Using the family suite puts parents in the driver seat, seeing first-hand the who, what, when and where of their child’s virtual activity.

  1. How can you tell if the app you are downloading is “real” and will be useful for children?

Yes, there are apps out there that can prove to be phony. Parents must engage in due diligence to ensure they’re not downloading dangerous material. The primary key is educating yourself on the app before you purchase. Make sure the app has a lot of reviews (not only by the developer, the developer’s mom and a few of her book-club friends). And, check other online platforms to see if it was useful to other parents. According to Bryan, and this is unfortunate, there really is no true way to know if the app is legit until you install and open. Bryan suggests monitoring the download and opening of the application in real time. If it looks fishy, immediately delete the app. His advice to tackling this real-world problem is to do what we have always done as parents, investigate everything before making any purchases. And, do not shy away from a hard “no” when it comes to purchasing an application which doesn’t pass the smell test.

  1. Is it worth it to pay for the apps?

Bryan 100% recommends paying for any and all apps you or your children are downloading. Free version of applications tend to have off topic “pop up” ads. One click and your children could be on a completely different site, possibly a dangerous site.  If your children have a history of wandering the internet please make sure they are using apps verified and paid for you, by you.

  1. Would you recommend children have their own device?

Bryan recommends having a family device for your children to use. He suggests giving your children their own device is if it is locked down to the point where they could only access what you are wanting them to see and hear. While there are some devices made for everyone to use, they do make children specific tablets, such as the Leapfrog, Amazon Fire for Kids, and Nabi tablet. On the Nabi tablet, Bryan explained how it has different modes the parents can “lock” down and remain fairly secure. These modes include children modes but also “daddy” and “mommy” modes. Through these different modes, parents can review their child’s history and if necessary tweak their level of “locked” security.

Lastly, Bryan recommends sticking to a schedule outlining when your children can have access to these devices, as too much access is never good. In 2016,  The American Academy of Pediatrics published new guidelines that all parents should take into consideration when deciding on the amount of screen time for their children. The AAP recommends children from the ages of 2 to 5 have one hour of screen time a day while children older than 6 have limited use of screen time per day. The latter guideline is nebulous at best. Essentially, the less screen time, the better!  Further the AAP recommend parents sit with their children while they are on the devices and explain the different visuals they are seeing. If you are interested in creating a media plan for you and your family, check out the AAP Media Plan at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx.

An important piece to draw from this post is, “devices do not take away the need for parent involvement, in fact, they reinforce the need for parents.” Devices are excellent catalysts for communication, learning and exploring. Not an absolute replacement for the irreplaceable parent/ child teachable moments.  Please remember to reach out to Cayer Behavioral Group  at (850) 320-6555 or your BCBA for more information on this subject! We are glad to help you and your children benefit from using these devices and becoming familiar with assistive technology! We also want to thank Bryan for taking the time to sit with us and give us some new insights about the realm of technology!!

#AutismAwarenessEveryDay #WeCayer #AutismandTechnology #AssistiveTechnology

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

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

Diagnosis autism! The diagnosis itself is is certainly a sliding scale. Your child may face varying challenges and varying degrees of those challenges depending where they land on the spectrum. We understand the difficulty of wrapping your head around the shock, especially when it pertains to someone you love! Coupled with acceptance of the diagnosis is an added layer …children who are non-verbal.

Merriam-Webster defines non-verbal behavior as communication “involving minimal use of spoken language”. One common misconception about non-verbal communication is that the person is deaf. A majority of children with autism can understand those who are verbally communicating with them, but have difficulty mirroring what they think and feel in a spoken way. There is no clear-cut formula to “cure” non-verbal tendencies, but that is where we come in. We offer a list of techniques and strategies to help teachers and parents communicate with their non-verbal kiddos in a way they understand and can mirror the communication.

Cayer Behavioral Group offers the following resources to teachers and parents who love and educate those who are non-verbal.

  • Tools to learn: Sign Language. Sign Language is a wonderful way for kids who are non-verbal to communicate their wants and needs. We provide parents and teachers with resources to learn the basics of sign-language so they and the students can communicate.

  • Tools to teach: Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. AAC devices include flashcards, tablets, or computers to convey thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Pictures, interactive games, and voice help children with autism overcome barriers. These devices can rapidly increase the child’s brain stimulation by using pictures, interactive games and voice to make communication easier and fun for everyone involved! Cayer Behavioral Group assists teachers with the use of these devices and how to implement them into the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

  • Tools to implement: The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). PECS gives children who are non-verbal the opportunity to communicate using a series of pictures. Children, adolescents and adults using PECS are taught to approach another person and give them a picture of a desired item in exchange for that item. This way, the “speaker” appropriately and effectively initiates communication.

  • Apps: There are many apps available to parents and educators. The primary objective across these tools is to increase reciprocal communication between kids living with autism and those who aren’t. A few apps available to children with autism are:

  1. Bag Game: This game is a spin-off of 20 questions, but with pictures instead! It is perfect for social skills and playing with peers because each individual playing chooses  their own level of difficulty. Verbal description, auditory memory, and question-asking are a few of the many skills that this app can help improve.
  2. Learn with Rufus: This app uses a child-friendly character to teach emotion words, facial expressions associated with emotions! Using this app can help someone who communicates non-verbally to appropriately convey their emotions through expressions and understand others’ non-verbal communication.
  3. Articulation Station: Just as it’s titled, this app assists with articulation. Images are used to represent target words. Kids can practice words, phrases, sentences, and stories all in one place!
  4. Grid Player: This app allows users to create sentences and hear them spoken. Each “grid” contains a sentence starter (adjective, noun, verb, etc).  “Grids” are also animated with pictures. The animation paired with the written word allows the child or adult using the app to recognize the action or item they want to communicate, place them in contextual order, and hear it played out loud!
  5. Baby Sign and Learn: Please don’t be fooled by “baby” in the title of this app. It is fun for all ages! The app provides images that correlate with Sign Language. Then, a character in the game demonstrates the sign for that particular image. It provides a fun and easy way to learn with your non-verbal loved ones!

Verbal communication is always the primary goal as it is and will be the most preferred method of communication worldwide. However, all is definitely not lost if your little one with autism best communicates through sign, an augmentative communication device or PECS. Hang in there parents! Dreaming new dreams and finding your new normal is often an uphill battle but keep in mind: “normal” is nothing but a dryer setting. You got this! #autismawarenesseveryday

 

          A parent hearing their child  has been bullied is often the beginning of an all too common nightmare. Pair this with the unending uncertainty associated with their child being on the spectrum the double whammy is nothing short of a kick in the gut. According to Dr. Sameer Hinduja there are a few key ideas which may help open the door to communication and future problem solving. At Cayer Behavioral Group, we take bullying and the physical and emotional safety of our clients and families very seriously. If you would like any additional information on bullying or cyberbullying, we encourage you to visit Dr. Hinduja’s website, LinkedIn and The Cyberbullying Research Center for more information.

    1. Make sure you stay very, very calm – The child may not be able to fully comprehend what is happening to them. As a parent, teacher, or friend, make sure your emotions are collected
    2. Give them time and space – Avoid crowding them!
    3. Provide reassurance – Let them know that they didn’t deserve what happened to them, and that you are here to help them. Do this repeatedly if needed!
    4. Be aware of their personal preferences – Make sure they are comfortable in the area before you need their full attention.
    5. Sequentially explain what is happening – Let them know why you are sitting down with them, what happened to them, and that you will be asking them some important questions.
    6. Ask questions – But, keep them simple! Provide no more than TWO options at a time, so they don’t get confused or overwhelmed.
    7. Be sensitive to their reactions – If they become frustrated, try redirecting their attention to something that you know they enjoy. Once they have reinforcement from a preferred outlet, they may be more likely to comply.
    8. Provide them with helpful strategies to cope – Get your child involved in something that makes them feel empowered or less isolated. Drawing, playing with friends, and being active are all ways to help your child excel.

          Having your child be a victim of bullying is the last thing a parent wants to hear, especially if they are on the spectrum.  As always, Cayer Behavioral Group is here to help. We hope that with the right mindset and resources, you and your child may be able to effectively cope and transcend in the face of bullying! #autismawarenesseveryday