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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.  

 

Wrapping up the School Year | Evaluating Your Child’s IEP

It’s that time of the year again to meet with teachers, principals and other ESE folks to wrap up your child’s IEP.

The good news is, this is a sure sign that summer is right around the corner! Before you meet, Cayer Behavioral Group would like you to ask yourself these three simple questions: 

  1. Has the classroom met my child’s needs? 
  2. Were the goals listed in my child’s IEP meaningful and the methods used to teach the goals effective? 
  3. Has my child benefitted from this year’s IEP? 

If your answer is no to any of these questions, we encourage you to answer the 5 W’s. 

Who was responsible for your child during their school day? 

What were the obstacles your child faced this year? 

When were the individual goals supposed to be met?         

Where was the location and person in charge of helping your child meet their goals? 

Why weren’t you notified that progression wasn’t occurring?  

Having a true heart to heart with your educator and your family will help you recognize and ACCEPT both the good and bad the 2017-2018 school year delivered and will be helpful in developing next year’s plan.  Cayer Behavioral Group wishes you nothing but love and luck as you tackle the often dreaded IEP meetings. Hang in their mama’s and daddy’s. Longer days and hours of fun filled sunshine are right around the corner! 

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.

365 Days of Autism

As the month of April begins to wind down, we would like to take a minute to say “thanks!” for another successful Autism Awareness Month!

This year our staff has truly enjoyed getting out into the community to spread awareness and make new connections. As you know, Cayer Behavioral Group’s mission is to have 365 Days of Autism Awareness (#AutismAwarenessEveryDay). With a little over a week left in the month of April, we are encouraging everyone to keep up the good work and spread the good news and good works that are happening in our community.

Attend events: There is still plenty going on! Cayer Behavioral Group is proud to sponsor the 2nd Annual Kickin’ It for Autism Soccer Clinic on April 28th at 10am, hosted by the FSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. Stop by the FSU Soccer Fields and make a pitstop at our booth. We would love to meet you! Next, don’t forget about the All About Autism Resource Fair on April 29th from 1-5pm. Cayer Behavioral Group will be representing there as we are the best in the business. This event is hosted by the Tallahassee Autism Community and will be held at Bannerman Crossings.

Learn more: Continue following our blogs and Autism in Action Vlogs. Calling all pirates and princesses! CBG is hosting a summer camp for kids: Contact your BCBA to learn more!

Volunteer: What better way to spread awareness than to volunteer? Cayer Behavioral Group encourages you to get out into the community and volunteer with us or our community partners. Tallahassee is a great city with a heart lit up blue for autism awareness month! Thanks for allowing us to be part of your community experience.

We hope you enjoy these three simple ways to help bring 365 Days of Autism Awareness. If you have any questions, 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

Keep your disinfectant close, and your tissues closer, because cold and flu season is due to stick around until May 2018, #boo!

While the flu is miserable for everyone, it has proven to be worse for those on the spectrum. According to the CDC, “Children of any age with neurologic conditions are more likely than other children to become very sick if they get the flu,” because of many reasons… some complicated and others simple. In light of this scary fact please keep in mind these pointers which may assist in an earlier flu diagnosis for friends who are developmentally disabled and specifically non-verbal.  These pointers may seem obvious to our seasoned mama’s, however for those of you who are new to the land of developmental disabilities, we’re hopeful they will lead you to the doctor’s office quickly, which ultimately will provide your child and your family well deserved respite from the dreaded influenza.

  • Notable changes in your child’s behavior. If you see your little one acting out by kicking, hitting, or biting (others or themselves) more than usual, they may be communicating they are not feeling well. You above anyone else know your child and the way they typically act on a day-to-day basis. If something seems off, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician as soon as possible! Don’t forget, always bring your notes to the doctor. All too often care takers become overwhelmed while at the pediatrician and certain events or behavioral anecdotes are overlooked. Having notes can be extremely helpful!
  • Watch what they are eating and changes in their appetite. If you notice any unusual changes in your child’s eating habits, this may be a cue they are trying to relay they are not feeling well! It may be helpful to keep a spiral in the kitchen and document what your feeding your little one, the time of the feeding and your child’s response. If you see something strange going on, reach out to your doctor!
  • Hydration is key! Has your child’s liquid intake increased or decreased? Your child’s age gauges the amount of liquid they should (ideally) receive on a daily basis. If there is a marked change this is a sure sign something is off. Dehydration and overhydration is also apparent in your child’s output. If their urine or bowl movement production has changed please contact your pediatrician.

Last, if your pediatrician questions your concerns, don’t give up! You are your child’s greatest advocate. As a reminder, please reach out to Cayer Behavioral Group at (850) 320-6555 for any concerns you may have! We are here to help you fight the terrible cold and flu season and hope this week’s information helps you and your little ones!

Just seven weeks into 2018, there have been eight shootings at US schools that have resulted in injury or death.

In light of the unthinkable tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Cayer Behavioral Group would like to take a moment to discuss conversation points for parents to have with their child’s teacher regarding their school/classroom safety plan. For those of us who live, breathe, walk and LOVE a child on the spectrum, it is especially important to have an open and honest conversation covering the who, what, where and when of safety.

Conversation starters:

  1. How will the school communicate with me in a crisis situation?
  2. Is there a crisis hotline?
  3. What is the role of the teacher in the crisis? Will he or she remove my child from the classroom, or do they engage in “lock down” procedures? If they remove my child from the classroom, where do they go? If the policy is to “lock down” the classroom what does that procedure look like and how often is it practiced?
  4. What other school personnel will be responsible for my child with special needs?
  5. My child is on medication. How is the medication transported in a crisis situation?
  6. Has my child had access to community helpers (police, fire and emergency responder men and women) in a non-crisis environment?
  7. Will my child have an identifier on his or her clothing?

We are hopeful you will utilize the following 7 talking points to begin a necessary conversation with your child’s teacher. It’s unfortunate our world causes us to pause and react to thoughtless violence. At times like this we must remember there is more good in the world than bad. At times like this we must remember we are our child’s protector. Cayer Behavioral Group is hopeful you will find peace in the following quote:

“You protect what you love.” – Jenna Ryan

Cayer Behavioral Group will continue to protect your child and we are exceptionally grateful for the opportunity to work with your sweet kids in our fantastic community. For more information on Cayer Behavioral Group please visit our website at www.cayerbehavioral.com or contact the office at 850.320.6555.

Krista Cayer, MA, BCBA

CEO and Founder, Cayer Behavioral Group

 2331 Hansen Court

Tallahassee, FL 32301

850.320.6555.

“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

Who hasn’t had concerns about the children we love and today’s technology?

Technology is a major part of our children’s socialization, education and realization of what we call life.  Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay!

Today’s blog features a special guest, Bryan Gibson. Bryan functions as the Cayer Behavioral Groups Virtual CIO and has been working with CBG for 5 years. He is also the Owner and Principal Consultant of i2xsolutions, a local Tallahassee tech company. Bryan has an in-depth understanding of technology, which is helpful when discussing safely navigating our everyday tech-world.  Bryan recently spent a few minutes with us providing insight into different devices, avoiding app pitfalls and pairing positive parenting with screen time.

  1. As a parent, what are a few devices you feel are worthy of an investment?

Bryan recommends the use of tablets for children, especially those who are on the spectrum. As you know, we all strive to find outlets where our children are able to express themselves while learning.  Tablets can prove useful for children who are verbal or non-verbal.  The mobility found in tablets allows parents to teach their children whether they are at school, home, or with their BCBA’s. By using these devices, your child is able to use his/her senses and visualize different things happening within the device. Here are some tablets available for you and your children: the iPad, Microsoft Surface, Samsung tablet, Amazon Fire for Kids tablet, Leapfrog, and the Nabi tablet.

  1. How should parents monitor their children on the apps and the devices they use on a daily basis?      

The safety of our children on tablets and applications is something we should all view as most important. Bryan explained on all devices, tablet or PC, there are family security suites. This suite is an application that monitors what your children are doing and places that data into a “cloud” so you, the parent, can see what they are up to. From the cloud, a parent can authorize the use of various applications. Bryan highly recommends using the family suite if you are considering letting your children run solo on a device as this is one of the only ways you will be able to fully monitor their internet habits.  The suite acts as a parental monitor and can be found in general settings in any device. Using the family suite puts parents in the driver seat, seeing first-hand the who, what, when and where of their child’s virtual activity.

  1. How can you tell if the app you are downloading is “real” and will be useful for children?

Yes, there are apps out there that can prove to be phony. Parents must engage in due diligence to ensure they’re not downloading dangerous material. The primary key is educating yourself on the app before you purchase. Make sure the app has a lot of reviews (not only by the developer, the developer’s mom and a few of her book-club friends). And, check other online platforms to see if it was useful to other parents. According to Bryan, and this is unfortunate, there really is no true way to know if the app is legit until you install and open. Bryan suggests monitoring the download and opening of the application in real time. If it looks fishy, immediately delete the app. His advice to tackling this real-world problem is to do what we have always done as parents, investigate everything before making any purchases. And, do not shy away from a hard “no” when it comes to purchasing an application which doesn’t pass the smell test.

  1. Is it worth it to pay for the apps?

Bryan 100% recommends paying for any and all apps you or your children are downloading. Free version of applications tend to have off topic “pop up” ads. One click and your children could be on a completely different site, possibly a dangerous site.  If your children have a history of wandering the internet please make sure they are using apps verified and paid for you, by you.

  1. Would you recommend children have their own device?

Bryan recommends having a family device for your children to use. He suggests giving your children their own device is if it is locked down to the point where they could only access what you are wanting them to see and hear. While there are some devices made for everyone to use, they do make children specific tablets, such as the Leapfrog, Amazon Fire for Kids, and Nabi tablet. On the Nabi tablet, Bryan explained how it has different modes the parents can “lock” down and remain fairly secure. These modes include children modes but also “daddy” and “mommy” modes. Through these different modes, parents can review their child’s history and if necessary tweak their level of “locked” security.

Lastly, Bryan recommends sticking to a schedule outlining when your children can have access to these devices, as too much access is never good. In 2016,  The American Academy of Pediatrics published new guidelines that all parents should take into consideration when deciding on the amount of screen time for their children. The AAP recommends children from the ages of 2 to 5 have one hour of screen time a day while children older than 6 have limited use of screen time per day. The latter guideline is nebulous at best. Essentially, the less screen time, the better!  Further the AAP recommend parents sit with their children while they are on the devices and explain the different visuals they are seeing. If you are interested in creating a media plan for you and your family, check out the AAP Media Plan at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx.

An important piece to draw from this post is, “devices do not take away the need for parent involvement, in fact, they reinforce the need for parents.” Devices are excellent catalysts for communication, learning and exploring. Not an absolute replacement for the irreplaceable parent/ child teachable moments.  Please remember to reach out to Cayer Behavioral Group  at (850) 320-6555 or your BCBA for more information on this subject! We are glad to help you and your children benefit from using these devices and becoming familiar with assistive technology! We also want to thank Bryan for taking the time to sit with us and give us some new insights about the realm of technology!!

#AutismAwarenessEveryDay #WeCayer #AutismandTechnology #AssistiveTechnology

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