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Monthly Archives

November 2022

Detecting early autism steps and treatment

Processing Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis: Next Best Steps and Treatment Options

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Receiving your child’s autism diagnosis can be unnerving. Maybe you had an inclination or perhaps, the official diagnosis came as an absolute shock to you; either way, it can be challenging and anxiety-inducing to reimagine your little one’s future with the pervasive presence of a serious developmental condition. 

But remember, you are not alone, and it is absolutely normal to feel this way. An autism diagnosis does not change who your child is or what they are capable of accomplishing. 

The important thing here is to understand that autism can be managed. To date, there is no known ‘cure’ for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, there are myriad treatment options for ASD, through which your child will be able to grow, learn, and acquire new skill sets within the realm of their unlimited potential, just like typically developing children. Hence, some of the most essential steps to take, following your child’s diagnosis, is to thoroughly educate yourself as well as your immediate family members about the extent of the condition while modifying and regulating your home environment to ensure that your child’s unique needs can be adequately met. And of course, it is of utmost importance to seek professional treatment services for autism by reaching out to evidence-based approaches such as Early Autism Services (EAS)

Autism Diagnosis: What to Expect

As the name suggests, children with ASD can display a ‘spectrum’ of symptoms varying from lower functioning to higher functioning. Based on the condition’s severity and where they are on the spectrum, the symptoms experienced by your child can fit into one of these diagnostic levels, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5):

Level 1 – Considered the mildest form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), children at this level are ‘highly functioning’ and have mild symptoms that don’t necessarily impact academic performance or interpersonal relationships substantially. However, they do require a certain degree of support. Also, these kids may not experience significant impairments in terms of their cognitive or communication skills. Children formerly diagnosed with PDD-NOS or Asperger’s Syndrome would now be categorized under Level 1.

Level 2 – Level 2, or the middle-range of autism, necessitates ‘substantial support,’ and the severity of symptoms is relatively more intense compared to Level 1. The issues faced by children include restricted interests and trouble with vocal communication, in addition to repetitive behaviors. Moreover, they may also experience difficulties in using or understanding non-verbal communication, including gestures and facial expressions. 

Level 3 – As the most impairing level in terms of symptom severity, children that are classified under Level 3 need ‘very substantial support’ and are considered ‘lower functioning.’ They also depict significant impairments in their cognitive and vocal abilities and, as a result, are unable to live independently. 

Therapies & Treatment Options for ASD

After your child’s diagnosis, it is important to communicate with experts about designing a strategic treatment plan for the best results. Over the last few decades, research pertaining to treatments for autism has also grown exponentially, thus presenting parents and professionals with new support ideas and strategies. Accordingly, the treatment options for autism spectrum disorder may include the following – 

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) 

Applied behavior analysis, or autism ABA, is one of the most widely accepted and researched forms of behavioral therapy for children with ASD. At Early Autism Services, our center-based ABA therapy services offer a fun and inviting environment for your child to learn, explore, and grow! With board certified behaviour analysts, well-developed ABA therapy techniques, and in-home ABA therapy sessions, your child will truly receive the support needed to thrive in every aspect.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy (OT) is of significant value when addressing underlying issues associated with physical, cognitive, sensory, motor, and social skills consistent with developmental conditions like autism. And in this regard, an occupational therapist can greatly help your child enhance their quality of life in school as well as at home! With a core focus on promoting the development of essential life skills, your kid will be able to learn daily life skills, such as dressing up on their own, brushing, toilet training, and others.

Educational Therapy 

Children diagnosed with ASD typically respond very well to highly structured academic plans. Some of the most successful educational programs used by professionals include various activities in order to improve communication, behavioral, and social skills, coupled with the steadfast efforts of an experienced team of specialists.

Mental Health Services

Children with autism spectrum disorder are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems, including phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Your child’s pediatrician and mental health professional can provide you with the right resources and assistance required to manage ASD-related mental health issues and conditions. 

Medication Management 

Presently, there is no specific medicine for treating autism. However, several medications may help with associated symptoms. Research suggests that medication is most effective when combined with behavioral therapies for ASD and should always be taken after a recommendation from an experienced development pediatrician. Also, ensure your ABA team is in the loop as some of the drugs may have side effects. 


Speech Therapy for Autistic Children in Bangalore

Speech and Language Therapy 

Social communication, as well as the development of speech and language, can be adversely impacted by autism in several ways. As an integral part of therapies for autistic children, speech therapy can help cater to a wide variety of communication challenges while enhancing their nonverbal, verbal, and social skills. Moreover, children with autism also tend to be more visual learners than verbal learners. As a result, they will significantly benefit from visual interpretations and representations of language that supplement what is said verbally. 

What’s Next?

Although children diagnosed with ASD can effectively learn and compensate for related issues throughout the course of their life, the majority of kids will still need a certain degree of assistance. As a result, it is integral to plan for their future by availing the services and facilities required to make the process absolutely seamless. 

For more information, make sure you check out our resources for parents and schedule a free consultation with EAS’ expert behavior analysts here. Our team can provide you with a basic overview of our programs, answer questions about the different approaches we use, discuss costs, and walk you through your insurance coverage, as well.

Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD FAQs

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Early Literacy: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) possess a unique collection of strengths as well as weaknesses that may influence their academic development. Studies suggest that while children and adolescents with autism are at a higher risk for literacy difficulties, some kids may also be proficient at alphabet knowledge, including reading words and phonetics. But, it is important to note that the ability to read words does not always equal sufficient reading comprehension. Similarly, children may find writing-related tasks relatively more challenging owing to wider complications associated with social communication and linguistic development.

Children with autism don’t necessarily develop early literacy skill sets at par with other typically developing kids. Although some kids learn to recognize alphabets and letters at a significantly young age, they may lack other facets of early literacy, like understanding why people write and read or figuring out the intentions and actions of various characters in a story.

However, with combined efforts from you and your child’s therapist, and with a little extra time and patience, your child can indeed make significant progress in their academics and early learning! So, in order to make your literacy journey with your little one smoother, we have compiled a list of the most common questions that parents often have, with in-depth answers by our experts – 

What are some of the most important literacy skills I should teach my child?

important literacy skills I should teach my child

A:  While learning the alphabet and numbers is essential, your child must be familiar with fundamental, basic literacy skills in order to effectively develop reading and writing abilities to the best of their potential. These include knowing how to hold a book properly and turning pages without tearing them, speaking and understanding words and sentences using the right pronunciation, story comprehension, holding a crayon and a pencil, and writing his/her own name, in addition to the names of immediate family members. It’s also important for the child to be able to hold his attention for a brief period of time to be able to focus on the act of writing. Do not force kids to sit. You can allow them to scribble while standing. Gradually help them sit and write. Feel free to use pencil grippers to make it easier for the child. Sound awareness, such as perceiving that words can be broken down into simpler syllables and knowing that every letter has a unique and distinct sound, is an important literary element, as well. 

How can I make reading time more interesting for my kid?

How to make reading interesting for my child with autism

A: Here are some ways you can make reading or study time more interesting for your child – 

  • Use visual aids and structured activities
  • Don’t be afraid of using props, figurines, puppets, and other objects to make those stories come alive!
  • Keep instructions simple and clear to understand
  • Use your voice and facial expressions to add meaning and interest
  • Ask questions when reading together – for instance, ‘what do you think the bird is feeling?’ ‘what do you think happens next?’ or even ‘what is the color of the little boy’s shirt?’ are definitely some good places to start.

My child has minimal vocal skills. Is there any way I could help them read?

A: The answer is yes! Some parents presume that children on the autism spectrum who can’t speak or have minimal vocal capacities cannot possibly learn to read. However, that’s far from the truth! In fact, many children also seem to understand how to read on their own – despite not receiving direct literacy instruction. They do so in several ways, including matching sentences and words to pictures or even following written text with their finger as an adult reads to them. You can also establish pre-reading skills at an earlier stage in their life by asking your kid to point to different characters, turning the pages of books, or giving them the opportunity to pick the reading material of their choice. 

Should I discourage my child from reading ‘non-conventional’ reading materials and only focus on story books?

Early Autsim Spectrum FAQsA: Children with autism enjoy reading magazines and books related to their interests. These can include non-fiction books about animals, space, and dinosaurs, in addition to magazines about automobiles or pamphlets and periodicals with simple images. They should certainly not be discouraged from reading such books since it encourages them to interact and engage with words and pictures printed on the pages. Moreover, you can also have conversations with your child about what they’ve been reading in order to keep up with their interests and provide them with additional material when required. 

My child refuses to write or even look at the paper. What can I do to assist her?

A: While this is a common problem experienced by parents, being patient, empathetic, and encouraging is one of the best keys to use here. Ensure that you’re not frustrated because of their refusal to interact with stationery and books. Instead, make use of visual or digital cues to help your kid better understand lines, words, and shapes. This approach not only helps them grasp the essence of making movements with a writing tool, such as a pen, stylus, or pencil but provides them with an actual purpose and end result of using those lines – such as transitioning from scribbling random lines/shapes to writing actual words. Remember, at times it really helps when the adult engages in tasks that they would want the child to do. Colour their favourite cartoon character, paint/sketch while talking about preferred themes (cars, locations, animals, zoo trips etc).

What are some everyday reading and writing strategies to use with my child on the autism spectrum?

A: Reading and writing don’t necessarily have to happen only in school or during study time at home. So, here’s how you can incorporate reading and writing into your child’s daily schedule – 

  • Label items present in your child’s immediate environment. For example, you can place a label that says ‘keys’ next to the keyholder or a sticker that reads ‘remote’ on the TV remote. 
  • Give your child easy access to paper, crayons, and pencils, so they can write or draw whenever they wish to. 
  • Encourage them to recognize and read words in their surroundings, such as hoardings and billboards, menu cards at restaurants, packaging labels, birthday or wedding cards, and even road signs. 
  • You can also ask your child to help you note down grocery shopping items, write to-do lists, and label their belongings. 

Remember that you certainly do not need to wait until your child begins schooling in order to inculcate early literacy skills and interest; because the earlier you start, the better results you achieve. By pointing out printed words in your child’s daily life or by providing your child with colorful and simple reading material, you can surely take the first step towards fostering a life-long love and interest for books!

And if you require additional assistance with your child’s special academic and literacy needs, make sure you get in touch with our behavior analysts & clinicians and schedule a free consultation right here.

Autism & Conversation Skills: 7 Tips to Effectively Communicate with an Autistic Child

Autism and Conversation Skills: 7 Tips to Effectively Communicate with an Autistic Child

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The word autism originates from the Greek word ‘autós,’ which means ‘self’ or ‘withdrawal within the self.’ Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can appear to be happy in their own world. 

Since one of the classic indications of ASD is characterized by vocal communication problems, a common issue faced by behavior analysts and caregivers working with kids or even adults with autism spectrum disorder is the inability to begin or continue a simple conversation. On the other hand, non-verbal communication can also be difficult for a child on the ASD spectrum  and as a result, they may have trouble communicating through facial expressions, maintaining eye contact, or coordinating using hand gestures. For example, something as minor as learning what they want to eat for breakfast can seem like a mammoth task if you rely only on typical communication approaches. 

But don’t let that discourage you! By making use of a combination of techniques and strategies, therapists and parents can help children with ASD express themselves better while simultaneously communicating with them in a more effective way. 

And in this regard, read on to learn more about the effective tips for interacting with a child facing challenges with communication  – 

Keep it simple silly (KISS)

In the field of communication, the ‘keep it simple silly (KISS)’ principle states that designs and systems must be as simple as possible. Aligning with this, complexity should be avoided wherever possible when communicating with a child, since simplicity is what guarantees higher possibilities and levels of interaction. Don’t use complicated words and phrases; instead, swap them for simpler, easier-to-understand terms. For example, try telling your child, “First finish your homework then play” instead of, “You can play with your friends outside around 7 o’clock once all your work is finished.”

Incorporate their interests

An approach that will hinder your communication with the child is forcing a conversation in a direction you wish for it to go in without considering their needs. If continued, the child might either shut down completely, have a meltdown, or not respond at all. Fixating on a particular thing or being preoccupied with a topic is a distinguished facet of autism spectrum disorder – and this means having a lot of conversations about the same thing over and over again. Although you might find it monotonous or uninteresting, focusing on the topic your child is interested in will not only provide you with more opportunities to engage but also give them a sense of comfort and familiarity.

Grab and Retain Attention 

Whenever you decide to embark on this journey, small steps go a long way! Call your child’s name and when they look at you, lift them up, tickle or engage in a behaviour that they would like and approve of. Some children like small pieces of candy, some children love hugs and cuddles. Appreciate them for looking at you when you call their name by providing them with items or engaging in activities that they like. In order to retain their attention, you can also make use of apps or devices with pictures since visual aids can be of great help in terms of indicating thoughts, instructions, and requests. 

Be patient and empathetic

When communicating with a child diagnosed with ASD, exercising patience and empathy is one of the most fundamental yet often-overlooked aspects. Put yourself in their shoes and remember that it’s not easy for them either. Additionally, if you need to say ‘no’ to a certain behavior, you can try to stick to the message without making your reaction extremely polar and strong.  Try not to yell or become agitated, but instead, respond patiently with a calmer demeanor. You can also read more about the skills you need to build when caring for a child with autism here.

Pick the right time

Not every minute of the day is the right time to communicate. Since some of the children may have set routines and rhythmic behaviors, interrupting or disturbing them when they’re particularly engaged in another activity will likely not give you the interaction you hoped for. Likewise, it may not be a very good idea to attempt to interact when your child is already anxious or worked up since specific  stimuli can overwhelm them to a great extent. In such a scenario, it is best to wait for a still, quiet moment before beginning a conversation. 

Clarity is Key

 Being clear in your speech helps your child follow what you’re saying. Moreover, it also makes speech imitation easier. Remember to steer clear from using sarcasm, figurative language, or even rhetorical questions, as the child might take it literally. This is exactly why it’s important to clearly explain what you mean in order to prevent confusion and misunderstandings. Also, if your child is non-vocal, attempt to converse using single words or short phrases, such as ‘use spoon,’ ‘throw ball,’ or ‘eat apple.’

Your efforts matter

Your efforts matter when taking care of your autistic child

 It’s absolutely natural to feel the compelling urge to fill in words when your kid appears to be disinterested in communicating, can’t find the right words, or simply doesn’t respond. However, it is crucial to provide your child with the opportunity to communicate freely, and at a pace they’re comfortable with. Here, you need to make a conscious effort to pause for a bit when you ask a question or when you see that he or she wishes to talk to you or ask you for something. Also, make sure that you pay close attention to non-verbal cues such as body movements or sounds, and respond accordingly. Remember that the efforts you put into communicating effectively with your little one matters and, in turn, helps them feel more welcome, appreciated, and heard. 

In all, remember that children diagnosed with ASD probably want to engage and talk to you but just have a tougher time understanding or figuring out how to. And with some extra practice and patience, you might eventually learn to interact with your autistic child as easily as any other kid! Here’s how you can effectively communicate with a child diagnosed with ASD – 

  • Keep it simple silly (KISS)
  • Incorporate their interests
  • Grab and retain their attention
  • Be patient and empathetic
  • Pick the right time
  • Clarity is key
  • Your efforts matter

At Early Autism Services, our experienced therapists are highly qualified and committed to helping children with autism as well as their families. One of the main target areas in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapy is developing and improving age appropriate language and communication skills. Our proficient team comprises hundreds of expert behavior therapists, board-certified behavior analysts, occupational therapists, and caregivers to provide your child with the best possible assistance and environment to thrive in.