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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.   

Beyond the Diagnosis

“Autism is part of my child. It’s not everything he is. My child is so much more than a diagnosis.” -S.L Coelho

Do you have a child who was just diagnosed with autism? If so, you know exactly how easy it is to get stuck on the diagnosis…ASD! At Cayer Behavioral Group we urge everyone to look beyond those often, overwhelming words, and change your fear to motivation! Instead, focus on the autism diagnosis as an opportunity to access new found hope and understanding for you and your child. Correct steps immediately following the diagnosis will allow your child to grow and create goals of self-sufficiency which will help 100-fold in every aspect of their future.

The most effective therapy offered to children with autism is exactly what CBG specializes in. Applied Behavior Analysis! What exactly is ABA? In a nut shell, Applied Behavior Analysis focuses on behaviors that are meaningful and significant to YOU! Further the science of ABA allows us to better understand the function, or “why,” your child engages in the behaviors you are seeing on a daily basis. Through a series of assessments and behavioral techniques and principles our therapists are able to help you realize meaningful and positive changes in your child’s behavior across every environment in their life. Engaging in ABA is a life changer!!!

At CBG we offer an array of services to create the best-specialized care for each individual child. Calling CBG is an excellent first step! To learn more about the services we offer check out our website!

Remember accessing an autism diagnosis is the first step in accessing all the tools necessary for the brightest, possible future!

If you have any questions about the services that we provide, as always, feel free to contact Cayer Behavioral Group at 850-320-6555 or email support@cayerbehavioral.com for more information.

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

“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

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

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

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

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

On September 7th, we were fortunate enough to support one of our valued community partners: The Hang Tough Foundation! The foundation’s mission is to take care families who have a child affected by a chronic or life altering illness or special needs. This mission is very important and special to us as we do the same for our clients and families who are affected by autism. The Hang Tough Foundation held their third annual Cascades Goes Gold event last week to aid in fulfilling their mission!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the kiddos, face painting, giant Connect-Four, and gold Tallahassee Rocks painting were some of the fun activities provided at this wonderful event. Cayer Behavioral Group had a special visit from our friend Elsa, too! We loved playing with some Hang Tough heroes and their families as well as some of our clients and families who came to support such an amazing community. Commissioner Richardson issued a special proclamation to some of the Hang Tough Heroes from the City of Tallahassee! The proclamation officially declared September as Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month for the City of Tallahassee. Cascades was truly painted gold as the fountains and amphitheater glowed with a golden tint. The evening ended with a half-mile walk led by Heroes and their families to honor those who have faced and are facing childhood cancer.

Our partnership with the Hang Tough Foundation is one filled with joy. Throughout the month of September we will host a golden tricycle to honor the foundation and those affected by pediatric cancer, chronic illness, and special needs. As a business working and advocating for children and families affected by autism, we hope that events similar to the beautiful one hosted by the Hang Tough Foundation can shed a light on challenges and victories our children face daily. Please visit The Hang Tough Foundation’s website for more information and upcoming events! #autismawarenesseveryday #HTFGoesGold

Let’s talk about a full house! Unfortunately, we are not in San Francisco and Danny Tanner won’t be doing our spring cleaning. But, many of us do understand what it’s like to have a house full of excitement, and sometimes a bit of crazy. Adding a child with autism to the mix can bring just as many questions as there are good times. Each sibling is equally important, but sometimes the immediate needs of your child with autism seem to be a priority.  So, how do you make sure all the kids feel equally valued? Have no fear, CBG is here! We have some helpful pointers to make your family as happy as possible!

  1. Keep each child informed. Everyone in the family has the right to understand what your child with autism goes through. Do it early and do it often! Siblings may need help understanding that their brother or sister doesn’t process social interaction or sarcasm well. Therefore, if there is a situation where they want to play or tell a joke, and their sibling with autism doesn’t react how they hoped, they understand.
  2. Have open and honest conversation. Ask them how they feel; answer any and all questions; let them know they are heard. If they don’t want to talk at that moment, just let them know that you’re there for them. It will make a world of difference.
  3. Determine designated alone time for each child. Your child with autism needs special time with their parents, and so do their siblings. For example, have each child help with dinner one night a week or take them to the bookstore after school. Doing little things with one child at a time can help make them feel valued and important.
  4. Not everything has to be done as a family. Some events that involve high levels of sensory stimulation, crowds, and unknown variables may not be appropriate for your child with autism. That is completely okay! There are places that may be great for your child with autism that their brothers and sisters may not enjoy. Finding fun things to do as a family is important, but remember, it’s okay if that is not always the case!
  5. Find support for siblings. Those who will most understand what the siblings of your child with autism are going through are kids and adults who are experiencing the same thing. There are tons of resources available! Here are some that you may consider checking out:

Little bumps in the road may happen, and that is okay! The goal is to have everyone in your family feel equally important and valued, especially when autism is in the mix. The days may be long, but the years are short and time is precious! We hope that these tips can help strengthen the bonds in your family and beyond! #autismawarenesseveryday