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autism care Archives - EAS

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.

7 Skills to Build When Caring for Children with Autism

7 Skills to Build When Caring for Children with Autism

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Whether you’re a parent of a child who has been diagnosed with autism or a caregiver for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refining the skills and characteristics required to support their development is essential, even if you naturally possess them. It is of utmost importance to be well-versed with their unique needs; however, caring for a child with autism can be draining and overwhelming, both physically and mentally.

While it is quite challenging to raise and nurture children on the autism spectrum, it can also take a serious toll on parents’ relationships with each other and those around them. As a result, besides the medical care and treatments that may help your child, building these simple, everyday skill sets can make a significant difference.

So, here are the top 7 skills you should focus on when caring for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 

Empathy  

Childhood may not always be full of joy and comfort, especially for children with autism. Here, it helps a great deal to just stop for a moment and try to look at things from your kid’s perspective. Utilize empathy as one of the most valuable virtues and attempt to understand why your child is behaving a certain way. Ask yourself what kind of response you can provide in order to better understand and assist them. Remember to consider your words, lower your voice, and establish careful, visual efforts toward showing your child that you care and really want to help.

Patience 

With love and patience, nothing is impossible. — Daisaku Ikeda

Building patience takes time. So, remember to start slowly and celebrate even the smallest of achievements with your little one. For example, since it often takes children with ASD longer to process interactions and information, it is imperative that you exercise patience while recognizing their needs, even in the midst of tantrums and meltdowns. And know that its completely okay to take a break, because even the best parents and caregivers need a breather sometimes! Just taking a day off, joining support groups, or even asking understanding relatives and friends for help can prove to be extremely beneficial for your mental and physical well-being. 

Calmness 

Sometimes, you can really be exhausted from being patient and empathetic during uncontrollable meltdowns, and that’s not a bad thing at all! However, the right thing to do here is to physically remove yourself from the situation and take a while to calm down and compose yourself – walk into the other room or outside if you need to when you feel your anger or frustration getting worse. But refrain from punishing your child and know that they are not doing this on purpose. Instead, allow them the liberty and comfort to express themselves with a reassurance of a strong support system.

Enthusiasm 

This skill is especially for all the aspiring special needs teachers and caregivers out there! As per the National Association for the Education of Young Children, one of the most important characteristics of early childhood development educators is passion and enthusiasm for children. And well, this goes way beyond ‘enjoying’ being around and with children. With a strong desire to make a difference in each child’s life, caregivers must also have the drive to encourage learning and growth, in addition to helping children overcome social, academic, and developmental challenges. 

Communication Skills 

building communication skills for autism treatment

Communicating and connecting with your autistic child can be difficult and sometimes absolutely frustrating. But did you know that you don’t need to talk or even physically touch them in order to effectively bond and communicate your feelings? Instead, you can rely upon non-verbal communication – be it your body language, the tone of your voice, or eye contact. Remember, your child does attempt to communicate with you, even if he or she refuses to speak. In this regard, you just need to familiarise yourself with the mode of communication they are most comfortable with and pay attention to the sounds, facial expressions, and gestures they regularly use. 

Attentiveness 

It is natural to be disheartened when you feel ignored or misunderstood, and this scenario is no different for children on the autism spectrum. This is exactly why it is important to be attentive and sensitive to their feelings, especially when you’re unable to pick up on their non-verbal cues on the first try. An outburst or throwing a tantrum is likely their way of expressing their frustration or irritation and grabbing your attention, and in this case, being observant will certainly play a valuable role in providing your child with the best possible assistance. 

Consistency 

Creating and maintaining consistency in a child’s environment is one of the best ways to reinforce learning. For example, you can understand and learn what your kid’s therapist incorporates in their teaching methods and continue to implement the same technique at home. You can also explore the possibility of being consistent in the way you interact and engage with your child, especially when dealing with difficult behaviors, thus narrowing down upon an effective solution that works best. On the other hand, if your child’s behavior is often unpredictable, it may seem more convenient not to expose them to a specific situation. However, when you consistently include them in regular, everyday tasks such as a grocery run or a walk in the park, it may help the child become more familiar with his or her surroundings. 

Taking care of a child with ASD can demand tremendous energy and time. You may experience days or even weeks of feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. While it is a known fact that parenting is seldom easy, raising a child on the autism spectrum with special needs is even more difficult and may test your patience in ways you never imagined. 

Therefore, in order to be the best parent or guardian you can be, it is important that you take care of yourself first! Please remember not to overburden yourself by struggling to do everything independently, because you don’t have to. Numerous special needs facilities and autism care centers, including Early Autism Services, can provide you with a well-deserved helping hand as well as unremitting support and guidance. 

In summarization, the most important skills you need when caring for children with autism include the following:

  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Attentiveness
  • Enthusiasm 
  • Calmness
  • Communication Skills
  • Consistency

If you’d like to know more about the autism care services we provide, feel free to contact us right away, because, at Early Autism Services, we are just as passionate about the potential of your child as you are! 

Importance of Play Based Learning for Children with Autism

Importance of Play Based Learning for Children with Autism

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Play-based learning is essential for children with autism since it helps them nurture skills integral to learning and overall development. Studies also suggest that play-based learning, especially during formative years, can significantly influence the way a child’s brain develops. Moreover, it helps coordinate their physical and mental capabilities as well.

Through play, kids with autism can develop the following skills:

  • Language and Observation
  • Imitation Skills
  • Sharing & Co-Operation
  • Abstract Learning
  • Age Appropriate Skill Development
  • Gross & Fine Motor Skills
  • Problem-Solving Abilities
  • Improved Memory
  • Higher Retention Capacity
  • Creativity and Imagination

However, it is important to note that play is a documented field of difference in autism. For instance, while some children’s pretend play will likely be perceived as stereotypic, monotonous, and repetitive, others may engage in a more solitary type of play, indicating that these patterns differ from one child to another. As per the research article titled ‘Physical Activity and Physical Fitness of School-Aged Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders’ and Teaching Children With Autism Appropriate Play In Unsupervised Environments Using A Self-Management Treatment Package (PMC), children with ASD are less likely to be physically active compared to their peers; however, studies reveal that they are just as capable of being engaged and involved in play-based activities!

A child with autism may also require assistance in terms of understanding and learning how to play, thus presenting parents and children with an incredible opportunity to build a stronger bond and participate in an enriching experience.

How do I engage my autistic child in play activities?

Similar to typically developing children, kids with autism enjoy learning through play. When you actively assist your child in understanding how to play, you subsequently help them acquire and nurture valuable skills, such as sharing, consideration, taking turns, communicating and interacting, expressing feelings, and numerous others.

But, for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), challenges associated with communication and interaction can be amplified and sometimes even seem overwhelming in a play-based setting. So, here are some tips to help your autistic child engage in play activities:

1.) Opportunities for Imitation/Observation 

Kids on the autism spectrum find it difficult to learn from observing their environment. If your child does not play with toys appropriately or engages with only specific toys, it is essential that you practically demonstrate how to play. For instance, you can include different toys similar to the ones they already use; however, do not impose your expectations on the child. Instead, engage with the toys close to where your child is and ensure that you use innovative play methods. Treading slowly and steadily, let the kid approach you and then, gradually introduce the same play with them. For the best results, incorporate this method of play-based learning at least 5-6 times a week. And don’t hesitate to make the playtime fun and silly, because your kid will certainly love that!

2.) Explore structured play 

Kids with autism may experience complications during pretend play owing to generativity issues. For instance, a child may find it difficult to generate or produce novel actions and ideas required during pretend play. In this case, structured play can prove to be highly beneficial, as it helps children acquire social skills and understand the concepts of sharing and turn-taking in a deeper manner. Characterized as a type of playing where adults (or parents) direct the child’s play, structured play entails choosing interesting and interactive activities with clear, manageable objectives and goals. These factors also create a low-stress environment where children can experiment with the skills required to play effectively with other kids.

3.) Remember to keep trying and experimenting

As you continue exploring different play methods, often, the best-planned activities may not work out for your kid. In this case, it can be extremely overwhelming and disheartening to see your child struggle with an activity you hoped would be enjoyable and successful. But don’t give up just yet! Here, it is important that parents understand how certain aspects of an activity can be altered or modified in a way that best suits the child’s learning needs. Aligning with this, here are four different play methods to incorporate into your child’s routine:

  • Toy Play – Toy play is defined as learning how to use and play with toys in the manner they were designed. These include bringing a toy cell phone to the ear and speaking, pushing a toy train, throwing or kicking a ball, and playing with fidget spinners. Based on the kind of play items your child likes, toy play can significantly help develop creativity, thinking, and problem-solving skills.
  • Constructive Play – Building and making things constitutes constructive play. It involves working towards an objective, for instance, stacking blocks to build a tower, finishing a jigsaw puzzle, and painting or drawing a picture. In addition to nurturing their creative side, constructive play also helps in the development of motor skills.

Play based learning for children with autism in Hyderabad

  • Cause-and-Effect Play – Cause-and-effect play enables a child to learn that their actions can have a consequence or cause something to happen, thus providing them with a sense of control. To encourage your child with this type of play, you can show them how pressing a key produces sounds on a piano or how pressing a button makes an object pop up, and then take turns to continue playing.
  • Physical Play – Physical play provides your kid with full-body exercise while helping them to develop gross motor skills. Moreover, engaging in physical play can serve as a wonderful opportunity for your little one to explore his or her surroundings while communicating and interacting with those around them.

reliable center based ABA therapy provider for play based learning

Get in touch with a reliable center-based ABA therapy provider 

Center-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, such as those offered by Early Autism Services, presents a fun and interactive environment for children to explore, learn, and grow. These facilities also have experienced and trained behavior analysts to help support your child’s growth and development. So, make sure you get in touch with the right ABA therapy center near you and provide your child with the myriad benefits associated with play therapy for autism.

Finding The Right Play-Based Center For Your Child

Play-based learning is crucial for an autistic child’s development of emotional and social skills, including the capability to nurture positive relationships with peers. As children interact and play together, they also learn to get along with one another, communicate effectively, cooperate, and effectively resolve conflicts. And with data-driven and goal-oriented programs, EAS utilizes a play-based learning model as well as table time learning, interactive peer play, and free play.

Our experienced team of clinicians will help build a personalized program for your child and work toward achieving those targeted goals, including social skills, play skills, behavior planning, self-help, pre-academic skills, and numerous others. So, if you are ready to schedule a free consultation, or wish to speak with our experienced team, get in touch with us right here.