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A child’s first steps are both the scariest and the most significant. Overcoming that first fear sets the foundation to conquering future obstacles. From there, kids learn to run, ride a bike, and play soccer. Along with a child’s first steps they also discover a crowd of support as their parents cheer them on to keep going.

photo of parent holding child

Parents of children with Autism also have a vital first step to take: seeking the diagnosis.

No, it isn’t fun. The road will be bumpy. There will be obstacles. But it will put the child on the right path to reach their full potential. Parents will find the support of those who will advocate for their child, answer all their questions, and most importantly, celebrate the milestones.

 

The following steps will help guide parents during the diagnosis process:

  1. Consult your family doctor or pediatrician. They will refer you to an Autism specialist or a team of specialists, including but not limited to: a child psychologist, a child psychiatrist, a pediatric neurologist, a speech pathologist and/or a developmental pediatrician.
  2. Follow through with the evaluation. Getting evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder consists of parent interviews, a medical exam, a hearing test, and direct observations. Clinicians will assess the child’s level of social behavior, social understanding, speech and language, play behavior, motor skills and adaptive behavior (ex: eating, dressing and toileting)
  3. Gather resources to begin a treatment program as soon as possible. Research has indicated that undergoing intensive behavioral therapy as a toddler can significantly improve cognitive and language skills in younger children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autistic child being held by parent

 

With an early diagnosis, little ones with Autism can receive intensive therapy as young as 15 months old. Therapists, a part of the support team, develop unique, individualized treatment interventions to build onto the child’s strengths. From emphasizing eye contact to reinforcing every little sound as an infant, a 5-year-old with Autism will be prepared to play with peers, ask for help, or tell stories upon their first day of kindergarten. The greatest developments will come from prompt action and a readiness to learn.

“Growth is never by mere chance. It is a result of forces working together” – James Cash Penney

Written by: Tori Mason, Registered Behavior Technician

 

When Peter first became a client with Cayer Behavioral Group, he was three years old, made minimal eye contact, spoke only a few words, and could not sit in one spot for more than a couple of seconds.

Peter would engage in self-injuring behavior, in the form of pinching or grabbing his face, arms, and legs. He did this anytime he was denied access to desired items, or when he was told to do something he did not want to do.  The first day he was taught to use the bathroom on his own, he engaged in an hourlong tantrum because he did not want to take his diaper off.

Peter started preschool this fall where he attended half-days for three days per week.  He had never been in a school setting before, and he had a lot to learn, such as:

 

  • Standing and walking in line with peers
  • Sitting in a group
  • Following group demands
  • Complying with his teacher’s requests
  • Engaging in non-preferred activities
  • Learning all the school rules
  • Interacting with new children

 

Initially, his CBG therapists were with Peter the entire time he was at school to help him learn how to be independent and successful within his classroom.

Through effective and efficient ABA (applied behavior analysis) procedures and programs, his CBG therapists were able to phase out of his classroom setting entirely within four months.  Peter now attends his preschool five days a week for three hours a day, all by himself!  

Peter learned to appropriately use the bathroom on his own in three months and has not had any accidents within his school setting.  He learned to sit for an extended period of time, to follow classroom routine, and appropriately interact and share with his peers.  

As he continues to become more independent with his daily routine, his CBG therapists will continue to phase out until he no longer requires services.

Increased independence and success is always the goal at Cayer Behavioral Group, one student at a time.