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Parenting Tip Foster Social Skills

Navigating the world of social interactions can be both exciting and challenging for children with autism. Here are some valuable insights and strategies to help your child develop essential social skills:
 
🧩 Playdates That Work: Organize playdates with peers who understand and embrace differences. Keep them short and structured initially to reduce overwhelm. Gradually extend the duration as your child becomes more comfortable.
 
🤝 Group Activities: Encourage your child to participate in group activities like art classes, sports, or hobby clubs. These settings offer opportunities for teamwork, sharing, and learning the art of cooperation.
 
🗣️ Speech and Language Therapy: Speech therapy can be immensely beneficial for improving communication and social skills. Working with a therapist can help your child learn how to initiate conversations, maintain eye contact, and understand non-verbal cues.
 
📚 Social Stories: Create or find social stories that illustrate various social situations and appropriate responses. These visual aids can be a great way to teach your child about social norms and expectations.
 
🎲 Board Games and Role-Playing: Engage in board games or role-playing activities that require turn-taking and communication. These games make learning social skills feel like play.
 
👫 Sibling Support: Encourage siblings to play a crucial role in your child’s social development. They can model appropriate behavior, provide companionship, and create a sense of familiarity and comfort.
 
💬 Peer-Mediated Interventions: Explore peer-mediated interventions where neurotypical peers are trained to support and include children with autism in social activities. This can create a more inclusive and supportive environment.
 
📅 Consistency is Key: Consistency in social opportunities and interventions is crucial. Regular practice and exposure can lead to significant improvements in social skills over time.
 
🤗 Celebrate Small Wins: Recognize and celebrate every small social achievement your child makes. Whether it’s making eye contact, sharing a toy, or initiating a conversation, these milestones are important steps toward growth.
 
🌟 Be Patient: Remember that building social skills is a gradual process. Be patient with your child, and provide a nurturing and non-judgmental environment where they can learn and grow at their own pace.
By fostering social skills in your child with autism, you’re helping them build the tools they need to connect with others and navigate the social world. Share your experiences and success stories with the #SocialSkills and #AutismParenting communities to inspire and support fellow parents on this journey. Together, we can help our children thrive socially and emotionally. #SupportEachOther #AutismAwareness
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Ten Things a Parent Can Do to Help Their Child with Autism

1) Encourage community engagement for your child’s leisure activities and long-term development. 
 
2) Join parent groups and special education PTAs to build connections and gather valuable information. 
 
3) Consider hiring an advocate to evaluate your child’s school program and provide support during IEP meetings. 
 
4) Volunteer at school functions or become a class mom to foster relationships with teachers, administrators, and other parents. 
 
5) Take advantage of babysitting offers to give yourself a break from the challenges of autism.
 
6)  Address major issues one at a time, seeking help from professionals such as BCBA therapists. 
 
7) Educate friends and family about your experiences with raising an autistic child and seek their support. 
 
8) Schedule overdue doctor appointments for yourself to prioritize your own health and well-being. 
 
9) Participate in autism walks in your community to connect with other families facing similar challenges.
 
10) Prioritize self-care, as taking care of yourself is essential for both you and your child’s well-being. 
 
Autism is a long journey, and it’s important to prioritize your own health and happiness alongside your child’s needs.
 
 
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Meal Time Tips

When it comes to mealtime, children with autism may have sensory issues that make it difficult for them to eat certain foods. These sensory issues may include being sensitive to certain textures, smells, or tastes. Here are some meal ideas that are sensory-friendly for children with autism:
  1. 1) Soft Foods: Many children with autism prefer soft foods that are easy to chew and swallow. Some examples of soft foods include mashed potatoes, yogurt, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and pureed soups.
  2. 2) Finger Foods: Children with autism may prefer to eat with their fingers rather than using utensils. Finger foods such as chicken nuggets, fish sticks, veggie sticks, and fruit slices can be appealing and easy to eat.
  3. 3) Mild Flavors: Children with autism may be sensitive to strong or spicy flavors. Mild, simple flavors such as plain pasta with butter, grilled chicken or fish with no seasoning, and fresh fruit can be a good option.
  4. 4) Simple Meals: Children with autism may feel overwhelmed by complex meals with lots of ingredients or textures. Simple meals such as grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, or plain pizza can be an easy, comforting option.
  5. 5) Smoothies: Smoothies can be a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into a child’s diet. They can also be customized to be sensory-friendly by adjusting the texture and flavors to suit the child’s preferences.
It’s important to remember that every child with autism is unique and may have their own preferences and sensitivities. It’s essential to work with your child and their healthcare team to develop a meal plan that is tailored to their specific needs and preferences. With patience, creativity, and a little trial and error, you can find meal ideas that work well for their child with autism.
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Back to School Tips for Parents with Kids Who Elope

If you are the parent of a child who elopes, you might have mixed emotions about sending them back to school. After a long summer, you are excited for your child to get back into their regular routine. You are also looking forward to them seeing their friends and being around other children. You might also feel an overwhelming amount of stress. The thought of your child eloping from school can trigger emotions of fear and anxiety. Here are some tools and tips that might help you feel more at ease sending your child back to school:

Communicate with the school

Set up a meeting with your child’s teacher or IEP team prior to the start of the school year. Include anyone that will be working with them on a regular basis. Communicate all your concerns with elopement. What does elopement look like at home or when you are out in public? Let them know of any incidents that happened over the summer and what triggered them. Are there certain things that cause your child to feel stressed or anxious? Are there any behavior patterns that you’ve noticed leading up to an elopement? Discuss any tips and strategies that help at home that they can utilize at school. Once you have communicated your concerns with your child’s school team, it is important to have a plan in place.

Create a plan

If a student is at risk for elopement, it is crucial to request 1:1 support on their IEP. They should always have an adult with them who can help redirect them. In the classroom, position their desk away from any exterior doors. If they are outside during recess or P.E., make sure multiple adults are present to help keep an eye on them. The school should have a team of staff members designated to help in the event of an elopement at school. They should all be equipped with walkie talkies. If an incident occurs where your child elopes off school property, they should immediately alert the local police department. Many police departments have programs where you can add your child’s information to their database incase they were to go missing. The database includes a picture, physical description, disability information, emergency contacts, and any helpful information that you want to include. Include places of interest and any tips that can be useful in locating your child. You can also include information like their favorite food, drink, toys, songs, or movie which can be helpful in assisting and calming your child.

Medical IDs

If you have a child who is non-verbal or has trouble communicating, it is important to have them wear some form of medical ID. Invest in a form of ID that your child will be comfortable wearing and cannot remove. If they are sensitive to wearing bracelets, I recommend purchasing the shoe ID from ROAD iD. Their ID tags are made from medical grade stainless steel, and they provide a lifetime warranty on their engravings.

GPS Tracker

The best tool to invest in is a GPS tracker. Having access to your child’s location at anytime of day can give you real peace of mind. If your child rides the bus, it is comforting to know exactly when they get to and from school. There are many brands and models of GPS trackers to choose from. Important features to look for in a GPS tracker include real-time location updates, size, durability, water-resistance, and long battery life. Some trackers include 2-way calling and listen-in features. Prior to purchasing a tracker, check with your school principal to make sure they don’t have any restrictions on certain features. For example, AngelSense is banned from certain school districts for their listen-in feature. One GPS tracker I highly recommend is the Jiobit from Life360.

Jiobit offers multiple ways to attach to your child’s clothing including a Pin-Lock Pouch that cannot be removed without a key. This is a great option for parents who worry about their kids removing their GPS trackers.

 

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How a Sensory Space can help with Back to School Transitions for Kids with Autism

Coping with change can be especially troubling for children with Autism. Returning to school after an extended break can feel unsettling. But there are ways that we can support our kids to help them to have a smooth transition.
 
 Providing a Sensory Space at Home
Schools by their very nature can feel like a bombardment to the senses. They are often loud places with bright lights and a lot of movement. And because children with autism can experience having a range of sensory needs, school can feel overwhelming. At the end of the school day, children with autism may need some downtime. Providing an area in your home where your child can spend some quite moments after school might help. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a big area. It could be a designated corner of their room.
 
 What does a Sensory Space look and feel like?
Depending on your child’s needs and their age you might like to try a few different things. For example, why not try a soft, squishy rug that feels nice to sit on. Or maybe your child would like a furry, warm rug. Perhaps a sensory table could provide a place to play and manipulate different items you have available. What about trying a sensory swing can be a comforting place for your child to lay and relax after school.
 
Experiment and Do What Works
All families have a variety of challenges to navigate. Don’t be afraid to try something new. With time you will find what works best for your child and your family.
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What are you reinforcing?

      One of the easiest ways to change behaviors is by using reinforcement. Reinforcement follows
immediately after a behavior. Reinforcement increases the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. So,
for example, if you give your child time to play after they complete a work task, they are more likely to
complete work tasks. People often use this system more when they are trying to increase behaviors.
What is less known is that you may inadvertently be reinforcing those problem behaviors causing them
to remain or even increase. This is especially true if we are reactive versus proactive or when our
emotions get the best of us. If you give a piece of candy to quiet a screaming child, you have just
reinforced the screaming. Attention can also be reinforcing. If you turn and talk or even yell to the child
when they are doing something you don’t want them to do and the behavior continues, providing that
attention may be reinforcing that behavior. If a person is engaging in attention seeking behaviors, they
do not care if it is positive or negative attention. If that is the case, try ignoring the behavior and see if it
decreases. We call this planned ignoring and it is quite effective for the attention seeking behaviors.
Remember to provide them lots of attention when they are doing what you want them to do!

      In order to be proactive versus reactive, think about the behaviors you want to change/decrease and
those you want to increase or teach. You need to also know what is motivating to your child and what
they seek out (it may be attention, access to a tangible, or to escape a task). A clear criterion or
 statement in which a child can access reinforcement must be set. The child needs to know
what they need to do in order to get what they want. Once you have those clear in your mind, decide
how you want to reinforce the behaviors to teach or increase. You can use tangibles such as small prizes,
stickers, candy, etc. If your child uses the potty, immediately give them a tangible (if this is what you
chose to use). You can provide positive praise and attention. Tell your child what they did right
immediately after they did it. “I love how you shared your toy with Suzy! Nice job!” You can also provide
escape from non-preferred tasks. An example of this would be if your child does not like to do a
particular task, you can reinforce another behavior by eliminating that task. Little Johnny does not like
to buckle his own seat belt and has trouble transitioning to the car. If Little Johnny walks to the car and
gets in without a tantrum or other problem behavior, you could provide positive praise and buckle his
seat belt for him. This would increase the likelihood of him transitioning to the car in the future without
a problem. Later you can shape the behavior of buckling himself.
Pick and choose your battles! You can decide what behaviors you want to reinforce but be aware of the
behaviors you don’t want to reinforce and are!  Be sure to know what you are reinforcing.

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Five Parenting Tips for Parents with Kids with Autism

Receiving a autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis for your child can trigger many emotions.
Fear, stress, anxiety, and worry are all normal. 
As a parent, you want what is best for your child. If you have recently learned that your child has
autism, you might be looking for some tips and tricks on how to support them. 
Here are five pieces of advice for parents with kids with autism: 

#1 Stick to a routine 
Structure, consistency, and predictable routine can do wonders for your child. Set up a schedule
that accommodates your lifestyle with regular times for meals, school, homework, and bedtime.
You should stick to that schedule as much as possible as children with autism do best when they
follow a highly-structure routine. 
Sometimes, life gets in the way, and there will be days when you cannot follow your regular
schedule. If you must change your child's routine, prepare them in advance. They should not
learn that their schedule will not be the same as usual on the day of because they may find it very
distressing. 

#2 Work on non-verbal communication 
Bonding and communicating with a child with ASD can be challenging. Some children are non-
verbal, and others do not want you to touch them. For those reasons, finding other non-verbal
ways to communicate can strengthen the relationship with your child. 
Pay attention to their nonverbal cues, like sounds, gestures, and facial expressions. For example,
your child may always make the same sound when hungry or uncomfortable. Recognizing those
can make it easier for you to understand their wants and needs. 
Every parent loves to hug their child, so it is normal to feel sad if your child does not want you to
touch them. However, know there are other ways to bond and connect with them. You can
communicate your love by the way you look at or speak to them. 

#3 Teach emotional regulation strategies 
Emotional dysregulation is normal for all young children but causes more anxiety for those with
autism. Therefore, you can help your child by teaching them emotional regulation strategies. 
Validate their emotions and offer the comfort they need. If you see the tantrum coming, try
redirecting them with a calming activity, like breathing exercises, or offer them choices to make
them feel more in control. 

#4 Establish good sleep hygiene                        

Many children with autism have problems sleeping which is why it is essential to establish good sleep hygiene. Their bedtime should always be the same, and the routine should be predictable.
Avoid any caffeine, intense physical activity, or electronics right before bed. Finally, ensure the
sleeping environment is cool, dark, and quiet.  

#5 Find a support network 
Raising a child with ASD can be challenging and emotionally draining, so you should surround
yourself with a strong support system. Find other parents going through the same as you and
exchange advice. 
Bright Achievements assists parents and their teenagers with autism (up to 21 years old). We
work on their communication skills and show them things like navigating social media so they
can live a more independent life. Contact us to learn more about our services and book your
consultation today.

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3 Tips For Making Mornings Easy For Parents of Children With Autism

As parents to children with autism, getting through the mornings can be one of the most difficult
tasks. Children on the autism spectrum tend to have trouble with finishing tasks and
sequencing, which can cause them to feel confused and stressed out in the mornings. This can
lead your child to resort to screaming, pushing, and tantrums. All of which makes life more
difficult for parents. Here are our top 3 tips for making mornings easier for both you and your
child.
Set Regular Sleep and Wake-up Times
When it comes to children with autism, consistency is key. Setting regular times for going to
sleep and waking up can help your child feel more rested and secure. This helps them ease into
their days and get a full night of rest. Children with autism also tend to have difficutly falling and
staying asleep, but by having a regular schedule, their bodies will be used to getting the rest
they need.
Complete Activities in the Same Order
The best way to get through as many morning activities as you can, is to make them part of your
routine. Make sure to keep all the activities in the same order and try to stray from it as little as
possible. Children with autism tend to have difficulty understand the world and the logical order
of events. This makes it hard for them to go complete daily tasks such as brushing their teeth,
washing their face, and eating breakfast. Having your child complete these tasks out of order
could cause them to feel frustrated.
Create a Visual Schedule
One of the most effective ways to help children with autism is to show them visual models of
what they will have to do and when. Creating a visual schedule of their morning will help them
understand what is expected of them. You can create a visual schedule by putting together a
poster with an images of your child doing things like eating breakfast, getting dressed, and
going to school. Each image should be paired with the time each task will be completed.

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Making a Difference in the Lives of Autistic Children and Teenagers

Making a Difference in the Lives of Autistic Children and Teenagers

If you’ve ever wondered how much of a difference the proper form of therapy can make, Danny Reich is an excellent example of that. He was born early in life and experienced numerous developmental delays at an early age. Because of his special needs, he started to attend a particular school and appeared to have trouble expressing his thoughts and feelings. While he spent most of his time unaware of others, there were times when he’d get aggressive and begin shutting down around different people.

Danny’s mother remembers those difficult days. Each day was a new challenge full of destructive behavior and frustration for all. Because he was a middle child, his behavior impacted his parents and siblings. However, a positive change would eventually come. Danny started to receive ABA therapy and would eventually outgrow the aggressiveness and destructive behavior. He’s now thriving and living a better quality of life because his parents took the initiative to seek professional help for his autism diagnosis. The treatment you choose to seek today could lead to a positive difference in your child’s behavior months from now.

With the proper help provided by professionals, those with autism can make a shift in their behavior. Our goal is to make that shift happen sooner instead of later. If we can get the change to occur with continued exercises and therapy backed by science, we can improve your child’s life. And, when your autistic child lives a happier and more fulfilling, meaningful life, everyone else around them can do the same.

It’s not too late to make a difference in your autistic child’s life. So, reach out to us today to book your consultation! Our autism experts are ready and available to work with patients between 0 and 21 while providing ABA therapy in a warm and welcoming environment that leaves our patients and their families feeling comfortable.

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Open Enrollment for Autism Therapy Programs

Open Enrollment for Autism Therapy Programs

If you have a child with autism and live in New Jersey, consider inquiring about the different therapy programs and services we have available to help improve your child’s way of living. In addition, we provide behavior support and accept children ages 0 to 21. Our skilled team members work with children to help them gain necessary life skills while learning to handle their emotions better and overcome inappropriate behavioral habits.

We work with our patients to improve communication while getting the children to listen to directions, meet new people, socialize, and make friends. The goal is to help children live a better quality of life. When autistic children live a better life, the parents and siblings in the household can also have a better experience. As a result, the family unit experiences less stress and more togetherness.

Not only are we helping the autistic children, but we’re also helping their loved ones understand the tools needed to manage different situations with their autistic relatives. Our professionals specialize in providing Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, which has become the standard approach to treating children and teens with autism. We combine this therapy with a welcoming and fun approach that parents and their children can appreciate. Make sure your child’s future looks bright by reaching out to us to consult with one of our team members.