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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