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Communicating Love on the Spectrum

“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

Happy Black History Month!

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

Assistance Dogs for Autism

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

Setting Healthy Goals for Your Family in 2018

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

Pool Time Summer Safety Tips

In Florida, a giant alligator is generally a frightening occurrence – unless it’s a giant pool float and can be used for splashing, riding, and laughing!

kids playing in big floaties in a pool

 

As Tallahassee days reach their humid summer peak, aquatic activities are a family favorite. This summer as you venture out to keep things cool, keep in mind some important tips for pool safety.

two kids with sunglasses playing in the pool with floaties

 

  1. Take swimming lessons as a family! The Red Cross offers water orientation and swim lessons for all ages. Bond with your child as you show them the importance of safety and independence.Consider first aid and CPR/AED classes.
  2. Before heading out to the pool, have a talk with your family. Encourage awareness and caution. Discuss with children how to recognize signs of danger and that if they are at all unsure, a trusted adult or a lifeguard should be made aware immediately.
  3. Encourage the buddy system. Place an emphasis on the importance of not swimming alone.
  4. Establish clear rules such as asking for permission before approaching the water. Discourage dangerous games such as breath holding contests.
  5. Believe it or not, lifeguards aren’t only around to blow that whistle when someone is running. They keep a close watch over your loved ones and can mean the difference between a fun day and a traumatizing experience. Find an area with lifeguards who can help keep watch.
  6. Equip young children and inexperienced swimmers with life vests. Discuss with them appropriate and inappropriate swimming areas depending on depth.
  7. The large bodies of water are not the only ones to be concerned about. Keep yourself and your family hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol and caffeine.
  8. Prepare yourself for a possible emergency. If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or injury.

 

The city of Tallahassee offers some fantastic facilities for you and your family to take advantage of. With proper preparation and communication, pool time can be a wonderful addition to your summer.

Navigating Insurance Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

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