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365 Days of Autism Awareness

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.

Identifying Cold and Flu Symptoms in Non-Verbal Children with ASD

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!

School Safety 101! A Starting Point for Children with Special Needs

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.

Autism and Technology with Guest Bryan Gibson, Owner and Principal Consultant from i2xsolutions.

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

Why is Health and Nutrition Important for Your Child?

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