Father’s Day: Why Special Needs Dads Need Extra Celebrating

Special guest blog by Kim Caifano, writer, speaker, life coach, and special needs mom. Learn more about Kim at kimcaifano.com “I walk around like everything is fine. But deep down, inside my shoe, my sock is sliding off.” Oh, how that quote (anonymous) penetrated my heart. It immediately made me think of dads of special needs children. For these dear men carry burdens that few people will ever understand or even begin to comprehend. This article shares why they need some EXTRA celebrating this Father’s Day.  My husband and I have had the pleasure of doing life with some fantastic…

Celebrating Individuality: Today’s ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is widely recognized as the gold standard therapy for autism. More than 600 scientific studies have proven its effectiveness in helping children on the spectrum learn age-appropriate behavior, communication, and social skills. ABA is also the only autism treatment endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Yet parents looking into ABA will quickly find adults with autism who criticize their childhood experiences with it. Common complaints include ABA using punishment, teaching every child the same skills regardless of his or her needs, not providing real-life learning, and trying to make children…

How to Help Family and Friends Build Relationships With Your ASD Child

As written for Autism Parenting Magazine, Issue 95 Author: Erica Crowley, BCBA, is the Manager at Invo Behavior and Therapy Services’ Belfort Oaks Therapy Center in Jacksonville, Florida. (a sister-company to PBC) Parents often worry that friends and extended family don’t spend enough time getting to know their children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and tend to overlook them at gatherings and parties. Many adults aren’t sure how to engage with a child who isn’t verbal or doesn’t respond to social cues. They might be uncomfortable when a child vocalizes, jumps or flaps his/her arms. As a result, adults often…

I See You: Moms of Special Needs Children

Special guest blog by Kim Caifano, writer, speaker, life coach, and special needs mom. Learn more about Kim at kimcaifano.com Every once in awhile I’m out in public and there is a child who catches my attention. Perhaps for a gross motor tic or a behavior that differs from his peers or an interesting use of language. Immediately after that my gaze goes toward the mom. Because while I may not know specifically what is going on with the child, I often know that there is “something” and that the child is quite possibly a special needs child. And I…

Stimming and the Child with Autism: Helpful Insights

Stimming is a common behavior for children with autism and a frequent cause of concern for parents. Called “stereotypy” in clinical terms, stimming refers to the flapping, rocking, humming, or otherwise repetitive behavior we often associate with children diagnosed with autism. In terms of function of behavior, stimming is included in the automatic reinforcement category. That is, children engage in stimming because it either feels good (positive reinforcement) or because it alleviates some discomfort or pain (negative reinforcement). We field many inquiries from parents of children with autism asking how to handle stimming. It’s a perplexing behavior that many parents…

Acting Out to Obtain Something Tangible

Sometimes when a child misbehaves, she’s trying to get attention from a parent. Other times, she wants a particular object, like a toy. Even though the tantrums may be the same, the difference in the reasons behind the tantrums are very important. A child who acts out to obtain something tangible should be dealt with differently than a child who acts out to get your attention. (Incidentally, the official classification of this behavior is called “socially mediated positive reinforcement.” We’ve written before about the different functions of behavior in this post here.) Let’s explore what parents can do to handle…

Acting Out To Avoid Something

A common cause of problem behavior in children with autism is the effort to avoid or escape something the child doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do – such as doing homework, cleaning up toys or brushing teeth. The official name for this type of behavior is “socially mediated negative reinforcement,” but in our practice we often call this “escape” behavior. Since so much of parenting involves teaching your children how to take care of themselves and be a helpful family member and citizen, escape behavior can be particularly frustrating for a parent. We’ve explored other functions of behavior in…

Acting Out To Gain Your Attention

As every parent knows, your child likes to be the focus of your attention. For children with autism, though, this natural inclination can lead to unwanted behavior, from simple tantrums to potentially destructive outbursts. Putting a stop to this behavior can be incredibly difficult, but there are some simple strategies that can help you and your child cope. In our own practice, we find that focusing on the function of the negative behavior, rather than the behavior itself, leads to the best results. In this case, the function of the behavior is to get your attention. (For more details on…

Toilet Training the Child with Autism

It’s the ultimate goal of any parent of a young child: to get the child off diapers as quickly as possible. As you may have guessed, toilet training can take longer for children with autism. However, don’t be discouraged. Almost all children, regardless of where they are on the spectrum, can be toilet trained. And for many children, toilet training can go more quickly than you’d think — within a week, if approached correctly. The trick lies in having the right system.   Is My Child Ready? First and foremost, all children – if they’re physiologically able to – should…

Understanding Functions of Behavior

“Why does my child do that?” For parents of a child with autism, this frequent question can have important implications. Behavior is never just about the behavior. Although it’s tempting to focus on how your child’s behavior manifests, it’s critical to look deeper and understand the reasons why the behavior exists. Understanding those reasons is the first step in understanding how to change that behavior and produce the results you seek. Fortunately, there is a framework for identifying the purpose behind your child’s behavior so we can develop the right approach.   What Are “Functions of Behavior”? Functions of behavior…

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