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Summer Time Sports Tips and Tricks

Have you been wanting your kiddos to get involved in a sport this summer?

If so, we know that this can often be a stressful and overwhelming task. As parents, you are focused on the health and safety of your kids! That’s why we have come up with some tips and tricks to help jump start their involvement in sports this summer. 

  • We recommend having a therapist go to practices initially. As time passes and your child becomes more comfortable, the therapist will fade out.   
  • Practice at home. Set up a similar field in your front or back yard. Maybe use a city park. Grab some neighborhood kids, snacks and bring a few adults along for reinforcement. Practice makes perfect and will aid in decreasing any anxiety your child may be feeling. 
  • Use the internet. YouTube offers a ton of videos that perfectly outline the playing rules for multiple sports/activities. Enjoy 15 minutes or so a day of mindless viewing with you child.  
  • Talk to the coaches. Most people volunteering as a coach have every child’s best interest in mind. Explain how your child learns best. Feel free to share your concerns…they will listen!  
  • Rally the other parents around your efforts. We often hear only the bad news through the daily outlets. Don’t let that scare you from talking to your teammates parents. The more you share, the more they’ll root for you and your athlete!  

We know that sports can be a very stressful topic especially for parents with a child that has autism. So, we hope that these tips and tricks can help diminish those fears. 

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.    

Autism Travel Guide

Here at Cayer Behavioral Group, we know that traveling with a child who has autism can be a very big challenge, but it can be done!

Success mainly depends on planning, preparation, and anticipating your child’s needs. We want to make your life a little bit easier this summer, so we have six  tips and tricks to help your trip run as smooth as possible! 

  1. Plan multiple airport visits ahead of the trip: This will help you desensitize your child to the sights and noises of the airport. It can also be a fun day trip where you can play a scavenger hunt with your child! 
  2. Use a calendar to build anticipation: You can use a calendar to count down the days until vacation and mark the days off as the trip gets closer. This will help your child get excited about going on a trip! 
  3. Explore airport resources for children with autism: Some of the larger airports may have some programs that help children with autism and can help prepare them and you for the flight. 
  4. Pack wisely: This is very important! Pack a carry on with your child’s favorite toys including an iPad and charger! It might also be a good idea to download some of their favorite games on the iPad so they have something to do! We also recommend having a change of clothes, in case there are any accidents on the plane. 
  5. Early boarding: While you are waiting to board the plane, be sure to go up to the gate and talk to the person about early boarding for children with a disability. They should be able to let you on the plane early, so your child does not have to wait in a long line. 
  6. Plan for sensory issues and comfort: If your child is going to be sleeping on the plane, be sure to have a blanket and another security item available. Consider bringing headphones and other items that are soothing and help regulate your child.  

Hopefully these tips and tricks help your summer travels go as smooth as possible, and give your child a fun new experience! 

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.  

 

“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

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

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 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