Navigating IEPs: Setting Expectations for the Public School Setting

 [Disclaimer: The following content is intended to provide helpful insights only. Positive Behavioral Connections does not present itself as an advocate for you or your child during the IEP development process.] If you have a child with autism, at some point you will likely need to create an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. The IEP is a legally-binding contract between you and your child’s school that identifies the specific special education services the school will provide for your child. However, sometimes there can be a gap between the services you seek and the services the school wants or is able…

How to Avoid Power Struggles with Your Child with Autism

Ah, power struggles – the bane of every parent’s existence. Add to that the challenges of dealing with a child with autism, and you end up with a recipe for disaster. Or do you? With a few smart, well thought-out strategies, you may be able to put a stop to these battles before they even start. Drop the Rope Ask anyone who’s been there and they can tell you, power struggles can slip in before you realize what’s happening. The back-and-forth volley to see who’s calling the shots may involve simple verbal banter, or it can be physical as well….

Setting the Pace: How Long Does Autism Therapy Take?

As parents with newly diagnosed children review the steps involved in the Applied Behavior Analysis therapy model, parents often begin to wonder how many hours will be involved in a typical ABA treatment plan.  As with many broad questions like this, the answer is simply, “It depends.” For a child over the age of three, if the goal is to remediate skills – that is, to help close the gap between the child’s actual developmental level and the typical level for the child’s chronological age – 30 to 40 hours of intervention per week is typically recommended. For a child…

Social Skills Training: Navigating the Nuances

All parents want their children to grow into a healthy and happy adults. But when a child with autism struggles to “fit in” socially, for many parents, their sense of worry kicks into overdrive. Suddenly, social skills training may become the parents’ top priority for the child. Parents may find themselves continually prompting their child to say “please” and “thank you”; they may set up play dates with typically developing children, or they may sign their child up for the local Park District soccer team. In truth, perhaps the wisest thing parents can do is to step back and take…

Food for Thought: Autism and Picky Eating

It’s a fact of life: Every parent has dealt with food preference issues at one time or another. The refrain, “This is a house, not a restaurant!” has, throughout time, become a common utterance at dinner tables around the world. But picky eating – called food selectivity – is a particularly significant hurdle for many kids with autism. If not properly addressed early on, food selectivity can develop into a lifelong issue with serious consequences. Increasingly, mainstream medicine is recognizing the connections between the stomach and the brain. (See this article for more information.) For any child, and particularly for a…

The VB-MAPP: An Overview

For parents coming upon autism therapy for the first time, the alphabet soup of acronyms can be disorienting. The VB-MAPP is one such acronym that plays a crucial role in ABA therapy, which is why we’ve put together this brief overview to help answer some common questions. VB-MAPP stands for Verbal Behavior Milestones and Placement Program. It’s one of the most comprehensive assessment and skill-tracking tools our field has for skills in the 0- to 48-month old level, and it helps us develop an appropriate curriculum that is tailored for that child’s specific needs.   What is the VB-MAPP? The…

From A to ZZZ: Autism and Sleeping Problems

Few things in life feel as terrific as a really great night’s sleep. And while sleep can have an enormous impact in a child’s ability to learn, frequently, parents don’t think to bring sleeping issues to our attention. From getting to sleep to staying in bed, sleeping problems for children with autism can come in many forms.  Fortunately, we can help. First, though, it’s always recommended that parents start by consulting with a pediatrician to ensure that the root of the problem isn’t medical in nature. Once we have your physician’s okay, we can try a number of tactics to…

What to Look for in an Autism Treatment Provider

As you begin to research options for autism treatment provider, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to consider as you make this incredibly important decision. What are your “must haves”? You are going to have a long-term relationship with the autism treatment provider you choose. It’s critical that this be a good match – for the both of you. Stop and take a good hard look at your child’s needs, your family’s goals and your overall circumstances. For example, you might prioritize that your child is seen at a specific time. Your circumstances…

The Shadow Debate: Is Shadowing Right for My Child?

Sending any child to school can be a stressful time for parents. How will he or she get along with the other children? How will he or she react to the order and discipline imposed by someone other than mom or dad? These questions – and many others – can loom even larger for the parents of a child diagnosed on the autism spectrum, which is why many may consider the possibility of a shadow, or helper, for their child during the school day.   But is a shadow at school the right option for every child?   Consider both…

Overview of ABA Therapy Service Providers

When your child first starts to receive ABA therapy, you may be surprised by how many people are involved in your child’s treatment. This model, called “tiered delivery,” helps to ensure that your child’s treatment plan is developed and implemented in the most efficient, effective way possible. Here’s a look at the different service providers who may be involved: ABA Therapy Behavioral Technicians This person does the lion’s share of the work with your child, under the direct supervision of the BCBA. There may be multiple behavioral technicians involved in your child’s care. These individuals are responsible for implementing all…

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