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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

 

Having a child sit down and focus on homework after a long day at school can be an uphill battle. Kids with autism often have more problems at homework time than their peers. Please, have no fear. Cayer Behavioral Group is here to help you and your child get through homework scotch-free!

Before starting, make sure the homework assignment is understood by your child. Having clear instructions outlined (in tiny steps) may make a world of difference when they are trying to understand the purpose of their homework. Also, make sure the homework is in step with your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Don’t be afraid to refer to your child’s IEP for help when communicating with the teacher and the overall immediate goal.

Next, place your child in an environment where they can succeed. Establish a designated homework-spot and time for you and your child, or even the whole family! This way, everyone in the household is aware: it is time to focus and distractions and interruptions are very limited. This way, you and your child can focus on what’s important–their success!

Last but not least, motivate and reinforce your child’s accomplishments, no matter how big or small! And, don’t be afraid of taking breaks. If a five minute task is taking ten to fifteen minutes, thank them for focusing and give them a little, well deserved, breather. Thanking them for focusing or completing a series of problems and allowing them to walk away from the task at hand will make a massive difference in your child’s motivation and mentality about homework. If your child sees their efforts are noticed and appreciated, homework time is bound to be more enjoyable!

Homework time may not always be smooth sailing, but Cayer Behavioral Group hopes these tips lighten the load! Remember, you are never alone and everyone involved wants to see your child succeed! #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

 

          A strong parent-teacher relationship is always important. When you have a child with Autism, it is essential. Consistent parent-teacher communication can make a tremendous difference in your child’s learning and progress. As always, Cayer Behavioral Group is here to take a little bit of that weight of your shoulders and answer all your questions!

          To work toward a positive relationship with your child’s teacher, schedule a one-on-one appointment with them. That way you will be able to specifically talk about your child’s needs and what is expected of them.

          Before going to the meeting, have a list of questions prepared. There’s no such thing as too many questions! Some questions you can ask include:

  1. What is my child expected to learn this year?
  2. How will this be evaluated?
  3. How will my child’s progress be monitored?
  4. What is the best way for us to stay in contact?
  5. What types of tests and evaluations will my child have to take this year?
  6. Is my child participating in class activities?
  7. How are my child’s social skills?
  8. Does my child seem happy at school?
  9. Have you noticed any unusual behaviors?
  10. Do you think my child is reaching his/her potential?
  11. What can I do at home to help support his/her academic progress?

          Remember, don’t be afraid to continue to ask questions if you don’t understand something. Teachers understand that some things are hard to comprehend, and and it is their job to help.

          Throughout the meeting, be yourself! You and the teacher both want the very best for your child. After the meeting, talk with your child and give them an appropriate overview of what was discussed. Ideally, everyone involved should have a clear understanding.

          Don’t forget that you are not the first person to want specific information regarding their child’s education. Everyone involved wants to see your child succeed, and with a strong relationship with your child and their teacher, anything is possible!

 

          This weekend, August 4th-6th, 2017, is Florida’s Annual Tax Free Weekend! Knowing what to buy for your child diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may sometimes be a tall order! Cayer Behavioral Group is here to keep it simple!

Here are a few products that you may get some great use of:

Those marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for tax-free benefits!

  1. Markers, printer paper, notebook paper, pencils, pens*
    • Great to have for crafts and having extras for kids is never too much!
  2. 7-pocket file organizers*
    • Can be used to organize all of your students’ or child’s Individualized Education Programs (IEP).
  3. Construction paper*
    • Perfect for labeling and crafts!
  4. Notebooks, drawing pads, and journals
    • Great way for kids to keep up with their own notes and drawings while teaching personal responsibility!
  5. Personal white boards and Expo markers*
    • Great for individual instruction and practicing, reusable, and easy clean-up!
  6. Contact Paper-Clear Adhesive Roll*
    • Can be used to wrap around books to help prevent tears, and water damage.
  7. iPads or personal tablets*
    • Wonderful for increased communication and can offer many apps and programs to stimulate creativity!
  8. Large dry-erase wall calendar*
    • Perfect for keeping up with your and your kid’s busy schedule and is reusable for many months and years to come!
  9. Bean bag chairs
    • Great for a spacious room to add dynamic seating and personal space for kids or yourself!
  10. Brain-Break Cards
    • Offer fantastic and varying ways to either calm, focus, or energize kids! Noise-Reducing headphones*
  11.  Noise-Reducing headphones*
    • Helps students focus on the task at hand, and reduces external distractions
  12. Soothing Sands Sand Box
    • Sand often gives kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder awesome sensory input.  And hey, who doesn’t love sand?
  13. Pencil Grips*
    • Helps kids gently place fingers in the proper position for gripping, so they can master fine motor and handwriting skills!
  14. DNA Ball
    • A great tactile, fidget, and visual toy!
  15. Chewable Pencil Toppers
    • Helps kids with oral motor sensory needs and helps them maintain focus while writing!

          Shopping for school does not have to be a hassle! Here at Cayer Behavioral Group, we want to make getting ready for the new school year as easy and fun-filled as possible for the families and communities we serve! For more information on Tax Free Weekend, visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s website. Cheers to an awesome school year. Happy shopping!

#autismawarenesseveryday #cbg

Navigating insurance coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

gavel pounding

 

Florida enacted autism insurance reform on May 2, 2008, under the Steven Geller Autism Coverage Act. As a result, large group health insurance plans and HMO large group health plans provide coverage for diagnostic screening, intervention and treatment of ASD. However, coverage for ASD is not required by state law for small employer (50 or less employees) group plans or self-insured plans.

HOW DO I VERIFY WHETHER I HAVE ASD COVERAGE?

To verify whether your policy covers treatment for Autism, check your policy booklet under the terms “Applied Behavior Therapy,” “ABA Therapy” or “Autism Therapy.” If access to your policy booklet is not readily available, contact your insurance plan directly using the telephone number listed on the front (or back) of your insurance card. If you verify by telephone, make sure you  keep a record of the reference number for the call, and the name of the representative you spoke with.

 

INSURANCE & CBG

Calculator, receipt, and pen on a desk for insurance

After you have completed the new client paperwork, our billing department will take care of the insurance process. CBG will contact your child’s insurance company to verify benefits for ABA therapy. The billing department will compose an explanation of benefits and parameters of payment document detailing the cost for ABA therapy services.

Benefits will vary depending on the employer group plan. HMO plans generally have a copayment per day with a designated out-of-pocket maximum amount. Most PPO plans utilize a deductible which must be satisfied; afterwards, the plan will cover 80 percent of the allowed charges while you cover the other 20 percent. As with the HMO plans, the PPO policies have a maximum out-of-pocket amount that must be satisfied. With both policy types, once the out-of-pocket maximum has been satisfied, the insurance company will cover 100 percent of the allowed charges.

 

Cayer Behavioral Group’s billing procedure is as follows:

  • services are provided by your child’s therapist(s);

  • the following week, the services are submitted to the billing department for submission to the insurance company;

  • the claims are submitted electronically through the individual insurance carriers clearinghouse (or website);

  • your insurance plan generally remits payment within 10 business days; and,

  • CBG will send you an invoice for the copayment or deductible amount due on the 10th and 25th of each month.

Contact Cayer Behavioral Group today to let us help you find your new normal!

happy family laughing in the car