Coronavirus Disease 2019, or COVID-19, is a relatively new respiratory illness that is spread rapidly from person to person, similar to the flu. Unlike the flu, however, COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic for as much as a week, meaning they can spread the virus even if they show no outward signs of sickness.

 

We know that discussing a pandemic can be a topic filled with anxiety and stress for parents and caregivers. Still, children are resilient and need us to be honest with them, especially in these uncertain times. Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we always strive to give you and your child the tools you need to be successful in both ABA therapy and everyday life. So today, we want to help you feel more comfortable talking to your kids about COVID-19.

 

What Do We Know About Coronavirus Disease 2019?

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, after an outbreak in December 2019. Since then, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have grown worldwide, causing more than a quarter of a million people to receive a definite diagnosis. Of those cases, more than 10,00 have resulted in death across the world.

 

What’s the Good News?

In most cases, especially for patients that are not immunocompromised or high-risk (like patients over 60 years old), symptoms are minor and not life-threatening. Typically, these include a fever, cough, and sometimes difficulty breathing. Because of the rapid spread of this virus, doctors, scientists, and health professionals across the world have urged people to practice social distancing and other preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

What Can I Do?

As a parent or caregiver during this uncertain time, it can be difficult to ward off anxiety, especially since there are still so many unknowns right now. However, because we have kids and other adults looking to us for reassurance, we have to look for ways to cope and discuss this pandemic honestly, but also in a way that doesn’t heighten their fears. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite tips for talking to kids about COVID-19 that we think will be helpful for you to incorporate in the coming weeks as you continue to have discussions with your children.

 

Three Tips for Talking to Your Children About COVD-19

Before we jump into the tips, we want you to remember something essential: as parents or caregivers, we are the front line—our job is to help make sense of what our children hear in a way that is not only honest and accurate but also minimizes any fear or anxiety they may have. Now that we’ve discussed that let’s take a look at three tips that’ll help you talk through COVID-19 with your kids.

 

  1. Check-in with yourself first
  2. Remain calm and reassuring, but always be honest
  3. Don’t avoid the subject

 

  1. Check-in With Yourself First

Are you feeling frazzled and anxious? Have you just watched the news? If you feel like your anxiety has spiked, it is not the right time to talk to your children about COVID-19. Kids are sponges, especially very young children, so they will feed off your emotions and will start to emulate it if you aren’t able to keep it in check. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot feel anxious or worried. This is an incredibly uncertain time for everyone right now, and it affects everyone differently. Above all, we cannot care for our children if we don’t first take care of ourselves. If you have a child asking questions during a particularly stressful time, you can try one of these phrases:

 

  • “Let’s take a walk outside while I answer that question.”
  • “Before I answer this question, I think we should take three deep breaths to calm down. Do you want to do that with me?”

 

If you’re still feeling nervous during this conversation or you notice that your child might be tense, try having these conversations while working with play-doh, LEGOs, or coloring. Sometimes keeping busy while talking about tough subjects can help ease the anxiety you (and your child!) feel.

 

  1. Remain Calm and Reassuring, But Always Be Honest

The most important thing you can do as a parent, especially when discussing tough subjects, is reassuring your children that they are safe, and you are doing everything you can to keep it that way. Reassure them that mom and dad will make sure they are safe, loved, and happy above all.

 

Next, it’s essential to be honest. Kids pick up on it when we aren’t open or when we seem unsure, so even if you don’t know the answer to all their questions, that’s okay, but tell them that. While we aren’t going to know everything and we shouldn’t pretend to, we should project calm confidence that there are plenty of people out there that do and are working hard to make sure we all get through this. Here are a few honest phrases you can use as you’re talking to your children about COVID-19:

 

  • “I don’t know the answer to that question, but how about we look it up together?”
  • “I need to think about that, can we talk about it later?”
  • “You know, there are tons of people asking that same question right now. We are waiting on doctors and scientists to let us know more about it once they gather all the information about it that they can.”

 

  1. Don’t Avoid the Subject

The biggest mistake we can make when confronted with a tough topic is sweeping it under the rug and avoiding it altogether. Child psychologists agree that this may leave your child even more frightened. So, how can you bring up a conversation about COVID-19 without panicking your children?

 

Listen first, talk second

Listen to your child’s concerns, questions, and fears. This can be at playtime or before bed, whenever you can focus in on what your child is communicating. No matter their age, a quick reassurance from a calm parent and thanking them for asking good questions will go a long way in easing the anxiety COVID-19 may be causing in your home.

 

Make time to talk

Be sure that your kids know that they can come to you whenever they have questions or concerns. This doesn’t just apply to COVID-19, however. If you can make sure that you have an “open door” policy with your kids, they will trust that you are a safe place to turn in times of trouble and uncertainty, and the trust they have for you will blossom.

 

Now that you know how you can talk with your kids about COVID-19, we want to reinforce a few tips you and your family can practice staying safe at home and on the go.

 

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Kids from COVID-19?

Health care professionals and scientists have a few simple tips that you can use to stay safe, whether you’re at home, work, or at the store grabbing essentials. These are two straightforward tips that you can teach your children so you can empower them to do their part to keep the family safe, too!

 

  • Stay clean
  • Take five

 

Stay Clean

Some simple everyday actions can keep germs at bay. Now is a great time to reinforce good personal hygiene habits like handwashing and sneezing and coughing appropriately.

         

  • Stay away from people who are coughing and sneezing
  • If you feel a sneeze or cough coming, grab a tissue or use your elbow
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—this is enough time to sing Happy Birthday twice—or you can pick your child’s favorite song
  • If soap is not available, teach them to use hand sanitizer safely

 

 

 

Take Five

A simple tactic that you can try, especially with smaller children, is to teach them to “take five”:

 

  • HANDS: Wash them often. Especially after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or touching things in public

 

  • ELBOW: Cough and sneeze into it if you can’t find a tissue

 

  • FACE: Touch it as little as possible, especially after coughing or sneezing

 

  • FEET: Stay more than six-fifteen feet apart from strangers and people not in your family (please check for updated information regarding this as it is being updated with new research)

 

  • FEEL: If you feel sick, always stay home. Practice social distancing even if you don’t have symptoms

 

What to Do If You or Your Kids Get Sick

If you or your kids come down with something, it can be easy to worry that you’ve got COVID-19, but that’s not always the case. Remain calm so your kids will stay calm too. Manage your symptoms as best you can from home, but if you do think you or your child has COVID-19, contact your healthcare facility to let them know your symptoms before you head there in person.

 

There are more and more resources popping up every day to help those with COVID-19 manage symptoms and get better quickly. Take advantage of telemedicine and other resources that allow you to stay away from hospitals and doctor’s offices if at all possible.

 

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we want to help support you and your family however we can. If you have any needs during this time, like support with at-home ABA therapy or anything else, contact us today. We’re here for you!

 

 

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Easily one of the most daunting aspects of a diagnosis of autism is wrapping your brain around the sheer number of therapies your child might require getting them ready for school. While this process can feel lonely and isolating at times, there are plenty of helpful resources, especially in Michigan, that can support you and your child throughout the journey. Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we strive to help make your life a little easier by not only providing ABA clinic services but also by providing you with a list of our favorite resources. That includes our favorite five Michigan-based resources for parents of children with autism. Let’s take a look at all five right now!

 

  1. Autism Alliance of Michigan
  2. Michigan Alliance for Families
  3. Autism Society of Michigan
  4. Early on
  5. The Arc Michigan

 

1. Autism Alliance of Michigan

The Autism Alliance of Michigan, or AAoM, is at the forefront of leading efforts throughout the state, not just the Metro Detroit area, to improve the quality of life for those with autism and their caretakers. By helping those affected to gain access to education, ABA therapy, comprehensive services, inclusion efforts, and coordinated advocacy, AAoM hopes to give every Michigan resident with autism the tools they need to navigate the autism journey.

 

Why We Love Them

The AAoM has a Neighborhood Directory that provides parents and caregivers in Michigan with more than 700 resources that range from finding an ABA clinic, sensory-friendly summer camps, autism-friendly businesses, and so much more!

 

Not only does the AAoM help to direct you to a licensed ABA clinic for ABA therapy and other essential therapies, but they a program called MiNavigator, a professional case management service that caters to Michigan families affected by autism. MiNavigator has a team of autism specialists on staff that can answer autism-related questions for parents and caregivers. Whatever assistance you need, they have someone on staff that can do their best to help support you and your family!

 

How Can You Contact the AAoM?

Whether you’re new to the autism diagnosis or have reached a point in your child’s autism journey where you need more assistance or support, you can contact AAoM, and they’d be happy to point you in the right direction or answer any questions you may have. Contact the AAoM through their website and join their monthly MiNavigator Newsletter to stay up-to-date with events, trainings, and other autism-related activities!

 

2. Michigan Alliance for Families

Do you have a school-aged child with autism and need help navigating the special education system? The Michigan Alliance for Families has a resource just for you, allowing you to connect with local parent mentors that have experience with most of the things you’re probably dealing with. Not only can they help you navigate this sometimes-stressful process, but they can also help you take the appropriate steps to learn how to be more involved in your child’s education, too!

Not only that, the Michigan Alliance for Families also has a vast arsenal of resources for any Michigan family with a child or children with disabilities, whether they be physical or otherwise. From more in-depth information about autism and ASD to referrals to local community resources that will help your child’s specific needs, like ABA therapy, the Michigan Alliance for Families makes it easier for Michigan families to get the care and representation they deserve.

 

Why We Love Them

Following a diagnosis of autism, it is easy to feel isolated, frustrated, and like no one understands your specific struggles. Thanks to the parent mentorship program at the Michigan Alliance for Families, you are seen and understood. Support is so important, not only for a child with autism but also for their parent or caregiver. By bridging the gap between Michigan parents of children with disabilities, the Michigan Alliance for Families is giving parents a much-needed outlet for discussing treatment plans like ABA therapy, picking an ABA clinic, and so much more!

 

How Can You Contact the Michigan Alliance For Families?

To get general information or to request support from a local parent mentor, check out the Michigan Alliance for Families website and fill out an information form. You should receive a response in as little as three days!

 

3. Autism Society of Michigan

The Autism Society of Michigan, or ASM, exists to provide education, respect, and the presumption of competence of all persons. By showing others that individuals with autism or autism spectrum disorders contribute in unique ways in not only their families but in school environments, too. ASM advocates for individuals with autism by making human connections and maintaining a supportive and integrated community through educational resources, workshops, seminars, and other services.

 

Why We Love Them

One of our favorite things about ASM is its comprehensive list of Michigan-based resources for individuals with autism and their caretakers. From a list of ABA clinics to ABA therapy resources, behavioral therapy, art therapy, and so much more, you can find the resources you’re looking for in your area with the click of a button! You can even breakdown your search results by county to make the search that much easier!

 

How Can You Contact the Autism Society of Michigan?

To gain more information or to get guidance on a particular question you have, contact the Autism Society of Michigan through their website to let them know how they can help you and your family today!

 

4. Early On

Early On Michigan is an excellent resource for parents of children under three years old to establish intervention services at an ABA clinic like ABA therapy. Because early intervention is crucial to the success of various behavioral treatments like ABA therapy, programs like this one must exist for Michigan families. Early On emphasizes the importance of both early identification and early referrals to help enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities.

 

Why We Love Them

Early On was founded on several principles we believe in at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center. First, that early intervention is not only essential but crucial to the success of your child interacting with their peers in various environments. Second, that a parent or caretaker’s role is just as important as a therapist’s role. Without you, there could be no real progress. And by giving you the tools you need to succeed, an ABA clinic can empower you with the guidance and support you need to use everyday activities to promote learning. Early On even breaks these tools down in a logical way that makes understanding them even more straightforward. Let’s take a look below.

  • Intervention: according to the team at Early On, this comes from the day-to-day caregivers of the child, like parents. By providing practice, encouragement, and guidance, you can help your child succeed.
  • Service: this encompasses the professional activity that happens between your Early On provider and you. It allows you the confidence that you have the interventions necessary at the ready for those moments at home or during playdates when you need to redirect your child’s behavior.

 

How Can You Contact Early On?

If you think that your young child may have a developmental delay, you can contact Early On for a referral for services that might help, like ABA therapy. For more information or to ask more questions about their services, check out their website!

 

5. The Arc Michigan

The Arc Michigan ensures that people with developmental disabilities are valued and that they and their families aren’t excluded from community activities because of their limitations. By helping residents (and their families!) with things like employment, education, forming meaningful relationships, and living independently in their community, The Arc Michigan is fulfilling dreams, one Michigan resident at a time.

 

Why We Love Them

One of our favorite things about The Arc Michigan is that they have multiple chapters across the state, available to serve individual communities better and more precisely. For instance, The Arc Detroit chapter covers the cities of Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck, helping you find services like ABA therapy and ABA clinics in each of those cities.

All five of these Michigan-based resources are there to help you navigate your child’s autism diagnosis, from understanding how to advocate for your child, to the importance of ABA therapy, as well as finding other autism-related resources for your family, like a licensed ABA clinic.

Speaking of ABA therapy, let’s take a closer look at how it can change the way your child learns and behaves, both in school and at home!

 

ABA Therapy: Defined

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we believe that ABA therapy, or Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, provides the basis for our therapists to look at how your child learns and behaves. More often than not, a reward system specific to your child encourages your child to replace an unwanted behavior with a desired one. Not bribery by any means, instead your child will receive the reward once the response is adopted, making it more likely to be repeated more often in the future. Children learn at different rates in ABA therapy, which is why your ABA clinic must take a personalized approach with each child, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. As such, something that motivates one child (even sibling to sibling), may not motivate another, so your ABA therapy team getting to know your child on a personal level is vital.

 

How Can ABA Therapy Make A Difference in My Child’s Life?

To prepare your young child for success in school, we believe intervention must start early, so not only can your ABA clinic work with your child on daily life skills but social skills and classroom readiness skills, too! A few of the skills you can expect your child to work on throughout ABA therapy are listed below. Let’s take a look.

 

  • Social skills (with adults, peers, and in group settings)
  • Potty training
  • Feeding
  • Coping skills
  • Communication skills

 

By working on these skills and more throughout their ABA therapy sessions, your child will not only be more confident and comfortable, but they’ll also be ready to adapt to their school environment better.

 

Your Role as a Caregiver

We alluded to it before, but we firmly believe that to get the most out of your child’s ABA clinic and ABA therapy sessions, parental participation is vital. No one knows your child as well as you do, so by providing insight into their behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses, your child’s therapist can better coordinate their care plan. You are your child’s most influential advocate, and we value your opinion. Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we strive to be an ABA clinic where your whole family can feel comfortable, included, and understood.

 

So, how can you continue the progress from your ABA clinic at home? Let’s take a look at a few ways below.

  • Play

Often, we hear that parents don’t know if they are using ABA therapy skills correctly at home and are unsure how to proceed. Have no fear! A lot of the progress we make in the ABA clinic is thanks to play therapy. This is a genius concept, especially for young children, because they have no idea that the game they’re playing is building social skills at the same time.

 

  • Don’t forget positive reinforcement

Whether your child responds to hugs, high fives, or special treats, remembering to compliment and reward desired behaviors while at home or out and about around town is key to keeping the momentum from your child’s ABA clinic going. This will also motivate them to keep repeating these behaviors with you consistently outside of the ABA clinic, too!

 

  • Take note

One of the other essential things you can do for your ABA therapist is keeping a running list of things that happen outside of the ABA clinic. Whether you have questions about specific things you want to save until your child’s next session, or you want to keep a list of achievements and struggles, taking a few detailed notes can help your ABA clinic know what skills still need fine-tuning.

 

Your Local ABA Clinic at Your Service!

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we want to help you and your family work through an autism or ASD diagnosis as seamlessly as possible. We accomplish this by providing support through intensive programs and individualized services for children up to age eight like ABA therapy, Occupational Therapy, and counseling. Plus, for children six to 12 years old, we offer after-school peer groups and services, as well. From the initial diagnosis to every year in between, we’re here to help you and give you the tools and confidence you need to help your child thrive. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or with any questions you may have!

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kids blowing confetti

Raising a child in Metro Detroit is an exciting thing, due in large part to all the various family events you can enjoy with your kids each week! Thankfully, there is no shortage of family events that can also double as a way to test out ABA therapy skills if any of your children have autism or ASD.

 

Sometimes, pinpointing the perfect activities for your kids can be hard, especially if you’re new to the area. If you have been here for years but just had children, you, too, might need some tips for the best family-friendly places in Metro Detroit.

 

You’re in luck because we’ve narrowed down the list, highlighting Novi specifically, so you can make plans to visit some of our favorite places and take part in all the family events going on at them this year. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at seven of our favorite family-friendly places in Novi!

 

Seven Family-Friendly Places in Novi

Whether it’s a rainy, wet Michigan day or if you’re looking for an outdoor venue where your kids can burn off their seemingly limitless energy in the summer, we’ve got a place for every occasion in Novi!

  1. Emagine Theatre
  2. Putting Edge
  3. Paradise Park
  4. Twelve Oaks Mall
  5. Novi Public Library
  6. Aqua-tots Family Swim School
  7. Novi Ice Arena

 

  1. Emagine Theatre

There are quite a few things that set Emagine Theatres apart from other movie theatres in the area. This luxury theatre is revolutionizing the way you enjoy your favorite movies. Combining a gourmet snack bar, luxurious recliner seating, in-seat service, and even valet parking, you might forget you’re at a movie theatre and not at a private screening once you sit down! But the best part of the Emagine Theatre experience in Novi is the inclusivity. If you have a child that needs a more sensory-friendly experience, they have a special showing just for them! Make your child’s next movie theatre experience more enjoyable thanks to brighter house lights, a lower movie volume, the ability to get up and move around during the show, and the freedom to bring an allergy-friendly snack if your children have food allergies or restrictions.

 

  1. Putting Edge

What kid doesn’t love mini-golf? Combine the fun of a regular mini-golf course with an interactive glow-in-the-dark course, and you have a winner every time! Kids can spend time enjoying some friendly competition, all while learning how to take turns, aim, and keep score! In this unique space with fun lights, colors, and sights, children (and kids at heart) can let their imaginations run wild while doing something far from ordinary! Plus, if playing arcade games is your child’s favorite hobby, there’s even a small arcade they can spend time in, too! Just make sure to secure your reservations in advance to avoid long wait times.

 

  1. Paradise Park

Looking for a fun location for an upcoming birthday? Paradise Park might be just the ticket. From go-karts, mini-golf, laser tag, a trampoline center, climbing walls, and soccer cages, there truly is something for everyone! The perfect place to spend a rainy day, Paradise Park, offers a little something for everyone, making it ideal for hosting family events.

 

  1. Twelve Oaks Mall

More than just one of the largest malls in the Metro Detroit area, the Twelve Oaks Mall is an excellent destination for families, too! The Children’s Play Area on the Lower Level in the Sears Court is our favorite part! It’s a great way to let your kids get out some energy during your shopping trip, plus they can interact with other kids at the same time. From climbing structures, tunnels, and interactive elements—there’s something to keep every kid engaged and happy. To ensure a safe and healthy play atmosphere, the foam sculptures are made with antimicrobial materials, too.

 

  1. Novi Public Library

The Novi Public Library offers plenty of opportunities for family events throughout the week from Lego club to storytime to dramatic playgroup, there is something for every child no matter their age, interests, or abilities! There are even specific storytimes by age-range to better cater to the needs of each child and their caregiver!

 

  1. Aqua-Tots Family Swim School

With a variety of swim classes to fit the needs of any child, Aqua-Tots Family Swim School is an excellent idea for those cold winter days in Metro Detroit when you need to get some pent-up energy out, but it’s too cold to head to the park. Plus, your children will learn how to stay safe in the water and gear up for those hot summer months on the horizon! From infant and baby lessons to swim lessons for children with special needs, Aqua-Tots has something for everyone.

 

  1. Novi Ice Arena

Did you know that ice skating is not only a great cardio workout, but it can also strengthen leg muscles and increase endurance, as well? Planning your family events at the Novi Ice Arena can be an excellent idea, especially if your kids have dreams of being the next Olympic figure skater or the next famous hockey player! From free skates to learn-to-skate classes, your child can work each week to increase essential skills like balance, coordination, and endurance as they learn to ice skate like a professional. If they get comfortable enough on their skates and want to try their hand at hockey, private lessons and instructional programs are available for all skill levels, too.

 

Proudly Serving Novi, Michigan

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, our highly trained team has a dedication to provide families in the Metro Detroit area with early intervention therapies for children with ASD and other special needs. We believe that while a lot of the work happens during your child’s therapy at our clinic, practicing skills and desired behaviors outside of a therapy environment is vital to your child’s success, as well. That’s where sensory-friendly family events in and around Metro Detroit come into play. Contact us today so we can help you find the individualized support you, your child, and your family need!

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checklist

If you’ve recently found yourself confronted with a diagnosis of autism or ASD for one of your children, it can be a daunting and stressful time as you work to find the right therapies for them. Combine that with the possibility of being put on a waitlist for these ABA services, and it can cause more unnecessary stress. We’re here to tell you that there is hope.

Did you know that 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder each year? But because of this, there are plenty of ABA clinics opening up their doors to better serve the autism community.

 

But First, What is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy or Applied Behavior Analysis has become a popular option for children with ASD. By combining proven-effective teaching methods and interventions, ABA therapy uses basic behavioral principles to improve or change specific behavior.  ABA is vital to helping your child gain the skills they need to thrive in school and at home, by using data-based decisions to address each child’s needs individually.

 

Now that you know a little more about what ABA therapy is, let’s take a look at the bad news about waiting for these services at an ABA clinic.

 

The Bad News About ABA Clinic Waitlists

If you’re on a waitlist at an ABA clinic, it can be extremely frustrating, not only for you but for your child too! Let’s explore a few reasons why sitting on a waitlist for ABA services are a bad thing for both you and your child.

 

  • Early intervention is critical for success

This means that it’s a much easier process for your child to learn new skills before age 5. While it is not uncommon for them to learn these skills after that, it takes quite a bit more effort.

 

  • Loss of skills

During the wait, your child can fall farther behind their peers because they aren’t receiving the therapy they need to interact with them socially, emotionally, or mentally.

 

  • Increased inappropriate behavior

Similarly, if your child is not receiving therapy services at an ABA clinic, there will likely be an increase in the problem behaviors you are hoping to correct. Getting into a program as soon as you can is vital to effective therapy, which translates into success for your child.

 

  • Long wait times

Did you know that once on a waitlist for an ABA clinic spot to open up, you could be waiting for up to three years? Not only is that frustrating, but it also hinders your child’s potential progress, as well.

 

The Good News on ABA Clinics

However, there is good news in all of this. Instead of being waitlisted, you can find an ABA clinic like Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center that offers both comprehensive therapy services and support services, allowing your child to get the intervention they need as soon as possible! Plus, there are a few other reasons why you should schedule a consultation at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Clinic today!

 

Why Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center?

 

  • We’re community-focused

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we believe that in-clinic work is essential to overall progress for children with autism or ASD. Still, we know that progress also happens outside the ABA clinic, as well. That’s why we emphasize parent-led interaction and plan community events that allow your child to work on essential social skills in their natural environment.

 

  • We offer comprehensive therapy and support services for every child

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we are proud to serve the Metro Detroit area. We love helping local families in need of not only ABA services, but also occupational therapy, speech therapy, and counseling. Contact us to schedule a consultation so we can personalize a program of ABA Services and get your child off the waitlist today!

 

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Sensory Meltdowns vs. Behavioral Issues

While it’s often mistaken for a child throwing a fit, misbehaving, or having a tantrum, this is not the case with a sensory meltdown. To properly recognize the difference and respond appropriately, training and education are vital. Let’s take a look at sensory processing and where the meltdowns may stem from.

 

Understanding a Sensory Meltdown

A sensory meltdown is the fight or flight response one has to sensory overload. Sensory processing issues result from the inability to process information taken in through any one or more of your senses. Children may experience a sensory meltdown when there is a change in their routine or environment, or they are unable to handle a transition. You may also find meltdowns follow sensory overload due to their inability to:

  • Handle new situations
  • Effectively communicate their needs and wants
  • Self-regulate

 

Recognizing Fight or Flight

Our bodies are wired to recognize dangerous situations and respond in a way that attempts to keep us safe. Our Sympathetic Nervous System sets a quick, involuntary reaction into motion to do so. When a child has difficulty processing sensory information, the environment can appear to be a scary or threatening place, setting off a sensory meltdown while shutting down to all other input. The brain becomes unable to

reason or respond while in fight or flight mode. The ability to begin recognizing small signs pointing to a meltdown is critical since many behaviors are mistaken for bad behavior. Many common fight or flight behaviors include:

  • Spitting or biting
  • Running or escaping from a situation
  • Hiding under something
  • Kicking and hitting
  • Covering their ears or eyes in avoidance
  • Resorting to shut-down mode; not speaking or responding
  • Avoiding eye contact

 

Responding to Sensory Meltdowns with Occupational Therapy

Once the behaviors are recognized as sensory processing issues, the ability to react appropriately becomes more effective. Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, our team of occupational therapists collaborates with the therapy team and with you and your family to teach various techniques to help in the event of a sensory meltdown. Combined with our ABA therapy, we will work with you and your child to adopt acceptable coping mechanisms to help regulate your child through these difficult situations.

 

Collaborating with Occupational Therapy and ABA Therapy

ABA allows us to work with your child to replace an undesirable behavioral response with a more desirable one. Occupational therapy works with your child to addresses sensory processing difficulties that could be the underlying issue of behavioral responses. Occupational therapists collaborate with ABA therapy to help them identify sensory concerns and utilize sensory strategies for preventing meltdowns. Possible strategies for responding to sensory meltdown effectively are as follows:

  • Model deep breathing exercises and have your child breath with you
  • Try not to talk in a way that adds to their sensory overload; use shorter phrases and a quiet voice
  • Maintain control of the situation through a calm, steady voice. Becoming upset or frustrated with or at them will only escalate the response
  • Find a quiet spot, so your child’s environment is free from overstimulation
  • Provide dimmed lights, soothing music, or weighted blankets to help them calm down. Experiment to find what may work well for your child in these moments
  • As your child begins to calm down, acknowledge their feelings and emotions to demonstrate you understand while helping them to label their emotions

 

Our goal is to work together as a therapy team through effective sensory strategies to help your child learn the most effective ways to respond to and deal with sensory processing overload. Through these sessions, we strive to help create smooth transitions for your child, whether it’s a new daycare, school readiness, academic pressures, or social and emotional situations in general. Find out more about our programs and therapies and how we can support your child.

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The use of positive reinforcement is a vital component in the replacement and strengthening of behaviors. When implemented correctly and consistently, positive reinforcement is a powerful tool for professionals and family members working with children with autism. Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we work closely with your child and family to educate as well as train you to help your child thrive in all their natural environments.

 

Understanding Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a form of behavioral management known as one of the most effective interventions for children with autism and behavioral issues. It is used within ABA therapy to decrease undesirable or potentially harmful behaviors and increase new and more appropriate behaviors. The use of this reward system, consisting of items or privileges your child finds most meaningful, makes the wanted behavior more likely to be adopted. Ultimately, the goal is for personalized rewards to provide enough encouragement that they eventually result in a new, positive response. If the desired behavior or skill isn’t demonstrated successfully, the reward is not given. The process repeats as often as needed, providing your child time to practice and learn the new target skills and behaviors.

 

Your child’s reinforcer should be something they would crave as a reward to help increase the desire to want to repeat the new and appropriate behavior. Meaningful reinforcers help children with ASD learn to adopt new skills they can use throughout all areas, including life skills. With the help of family, your child’s ABA therapy team, and educators, the consistent use of positive reinforcement helps implement change in maladaptive behavior and strengthens lasting behavioral outcomes.

 

Positive Changes in Therapy

For decades, autism was grossly misunderstood and typically associated with one having a psychiatric disorder. From the ’60s thru well into the ’80s, harsh punishment and abusive treatment were resorted to as a quick, easy, and effective way to create behavioral changes in individuals with autism. It was years before science was able to demonstrate that through positive reinforcement, new behaviors and skills could be successfully learned and replaced with long-lasting effects. ABA therapy brought about a new approach, improving the way a behavioral change in people with autism was handled.

 

Understanding ABA Therapy

ABA therapy examines how your child’s learning and behavior take place. This scientifically validated therapy stresses the importance of repetition and consistent practice of newly learned behaviors across all your child’s natural environments. ABA therapy utilizes positive reinforcement by providing your child with a motivator that is not typically accessible to them. We determine these reinforcers by knowing what is most treasured or motivating to your child, and what they have responded well to in previous sessions and real-life situations. The motivator should always be paired with your encouragement, words of praise, and repetition. Finding a reinforcer they are most likely to strive for, such as screen time, or a favorite snack, will increase the likelihood they will work to adopt more acceptable behavior. Through ABA’s practice of continued teaching using positive reinforcement, the newly learned replacement behavior becomes more natural to them.

 

ABA therapy looks at each child individually to determine strengths and needs across all areas, including:

  • Communications skills
  • Social interactions
  • Self-care skills
  • Quality of life
  • Classroom readiness

 

Knowing the Difference Between Positive Reinforcement and Bribes

It’s essential to clear up any misconceptions between a bribe and a positive reinforcer. ABA therapy is not based on the practice of bribing children with behavioral challenges to encourage new behaviors. A bribe is offered before the desired task is performed. Its purpose is to coax a specific action. Reinforcers, on the other hand, are only given to them after the new, desired behavior is demonstrated. Positive reinforcement is particularly valuable in replacing unwanted behaviors with more appropriate responses with your child’s best interest in mind.

 

Your Role as the Caregiver

You play a critical role in your child’s success following ABA therapy session, by understanding the importance of effective behavioral interventions such as positive reinforcement. Your child’s ABA therapy team will create a plan consisting of various goals for your child to work towards. Strategies are introduced during your child’s therapy sessions, demonstrated to you, and meant to be implemented in your child’s natural environments. If there are additional caregivers in need of guidance or training, sessions can usually be arranged to educate them in the use of positive reinforcement at daycare, school, home, or other natural environments.

 

As the primary caregiver, you have invaluable insight your therapists rely on. Your input is vital to determine if strategies and reinforcers are successful in various natural environments. Sharing details on improvements, resistance, and rewards that may or may not be working, will help determine any modifications that may be necessary for successful behavioral change results. Parents are encouraged to keep a notebook of struggles and achievements, as well as questions you may come across. A few helpful tips for caregivers include:

 

  • Keep a list handy of your child’s goals set by you and his therapist
  • Make notes often, including what is working or has been mastered, or obstacles you’re noticing
  • If a reinforcer isn’t working, make a note of what is currently motivating your child
  • Are there activities your child seems to prefer, resulting in more willingness to adopt new behaviors?
  • Don’t forget to take advantage of this quality time together. Have fun, give lots of praise, and explore together!

 

Measuring Success

Through the consistency of effective implementation of ABA therapy interventions, new skills and behaviors will begin to emerge, needing less guidance or the need for reinforcers. Once they can demonstrate the use of the desired action on their own, without prompting or the need for positive reinforcement, it is considered a successfully met goal or a mastered skill.

 

We encourage you to contact our highly trained staff to learn more about helping your child thrive in all their natural environments. For additional information on autism, our programs, and education for your family, we invite you to browse through our helpful resources today.

 

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Family at Valentine's Day

At Blossom Behavior Wellness Center, we are a unique multidisciplinary ABA clinic that places family at the center of a child’s therapy and well-being. Whether there is an ASD diagnosis in your family or not, strong family bonds play a critical role in a child’s development. There are many opportunities to build closer connections as a family every day, and holidays like Valentine’s Day can make them even more special. Lucky for you, Novi, MI is a great town with lots to do.

 

The Best Places for a Family Outing in Novi

Considering that Valentine’s Day is in February, it’s not very likely that you will be able to visit a park for a picnic to reunite with nature. However, this year we’ve had such a mild winter, decent weather is actually a possibility! If February 14th rolls around and that’s the case, seize the opportunity to check out Parmenter’s Cider Mill in Northville. Have some donuts and cider and let the kids climb on the play equipment. Be sure to check out the pond and see if any ducks are looking for a snack! If it’s a little too cold for the cider mill, give Emagine Theatres Novi a visit. Enjoy gourmet concession foods at this highly rated luxury theatre and watch that movie your child has been dying to see in 3D!

 

Create a Fun Valentine’s Craft as a Family

If a family day together at the house sounds more like it, take a note from your ABA clinic and play! Create these heart glitter jars using pink and red glitter, two types of heart confetti, light corn syrup, glitter glue, water, and a plastic jar. When you put it all together, you get a super cute craft that also doubles as a cool-down sensory toy. For something to sink your hands into a little more, try Valentine’s Day playdough! Use flour, salt, cream of tartar, glitter, oil, water, and red food coloring to make this taste-friendly sensory play dough. Cut out shapes, or just mash and smash with your hands.

 

Make Dinner and Dessert Together for Valentine’s Day

After your outing or day of crafts, gather up the ingredients to make a lovely homemade dinner together to enjoy as a family before turning in for the night. There’s nothing like creating a meal together to bring you closer as a family. If you feel like using your hands some more, try this homemade gnocchi. One adult and the kids can make the gnocchi while another adult works on some delicious cupcakes for dessert.  After you enjoy your delicious homemade meal and treat, make sure everyone helps to clean up the kitchen. There’s no better way to end your family day.

 

At Blossom Behavior Wellness Center, we think of ourselves as more than an ABA clinic. We strive to pull from multiple factors in a child’s world to effect positive changes and grow together. Life after an ASD diagnosis can have ups and downs. It’s important to take opportunities to grow together and to build stronger relationships as a family. After all, no one is more influential to a young child than their family.

 

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Celebrate Spring With Sensory-Friendly Events in Metro Detroit

Did you know that Michigan has one of the highest rates of autism in the country? More than 16,000 students enrolled in Michigan’s schools are living with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 

While it seems like there are always events happening throughout the metro Detroit area for kids, it can often be a process of elimination to find activities that are suitable for children with sensory processing disorders or autism. But it doesn’t have to be an impossible task! Every day, sensory-friendly events exist for the sole purpose of uniting children with special needs and allowing them to feel included in a less stressful setting.

 

Sensory-Friendly Events in Metro Detroit This Spring

From indoor sensory-friendly events that you and your children can enjoy any day of the week to specific outings for children with special needs, we’ve got you covered this spring with a list of family-friendly activities throughout the entire metro Detroit area! We’ve included ideas for little ones as well as older children, so no one is left out of the fun!

 

Toddler/Elementary-Aged Activities that are Sensory Friendly:

 

  • Chuck E Cheese: Rochester Hills

While on the surface, a visit to Chuck E Cheese doesn’t seem like a sensory-friendly activity, it can be! In addition to putting into practice some of the skills your child has been learning through ABA Therapy, some Chuck E Cheese locations like this one, actually open two hours early on the first Sunday of the month for children with special needs to play in a less stressful environment! Always make sure to call in advance to make sure hours haven’t changed, but this is a great way to experience Chuck E Cheese without all the crowds and noise!

 

  • Play-Place Autism & Special Needs Center: Sterling Heights

Play-Place is a fantastic resource for families with children on the spectrum and their siblings! The unique design allows siblings to play together in a safe space. Not only does Play-Place offer a safe sensory play environment, but it also features a computer café, LEGO room, and a haircut hut! It’s the perfect weekend activity for the whole family! Plus, the Play-Place believes in equipping the entire family with tools for success in navigating an Autism diagnosis and has periodic programming explicitly tailored to caretakers about things like IEPs, ABA Therapy, and more!

 

  • Adaptive Storytime: Sterling Heights Public Library

An open environment for children with autism or any other sensory processing disorders, this unique storytime at the Sterling Heights Public Library is an excellent way for you and your children to engage in a morning full of stories and movement! Perfect for children ages three to ten, registration is required!

 

  • Adaptive Youth Fitness: YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit

The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit strives to serve the community in any way it can, including offering adaptive fitness classes for children ages four and up. From yoga classes that encourage increased flexibility, cardio-strength workouts supervised by a special needs trainer, one-on-one fitness classes, and fun fitness group classes led by experienced staff, there is truly something for everyone! For weekly schedules and more information, check the YMCA website or contact your local club.

 

  • Count Me In! Special Needs Storytime: Canton Public Library

Funded through the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, this special needs storytime will be filled with picture books, preschool songs, and simple sign language instruction for children and their families or caregivers. Each month will feature a different literary theme. To find out more, visit the Canton Public library website.

 

  • Sensory Hours at Sky Zone Trampoline Park

Allow your child to enjoy the freedom that comes with jumping at the Sky Zone trampoline park, but with a calmer atmosphere. Sensory hours provide a quieter, toned-down experience that children with sensory processing disorders need. Check with your closest Sky Zone Trampoline Park for their sensory hours!

 

  • Sea Life Aquarium: Auburn Hills

Enjoy the full Sea Life Aquarium experience with your toddler from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on select Mondays and Thursdays at Toddler Time! Not only can you save on the price of admission, but it’s the perfect activity for your curious child who loves the underwater world! If you’re looking for sensory-friendly hours, check with the Aquarium, as they typically have sensory-friendly hours an hour before general admission with lights and sounds turned down so everyone can enjoy a walk through the amazing underwater world.

 

Pre-Teen and Teen Activities that are Sensory-Friendly:

 

  • Night to Shine: 2020

Teens and young adults are encouraged to attend this safe and supportive Prom night, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation at Life Bridge Church in Taylor. Teens 13 years old and over with special needs are welcome to attend this free event!

 

  • Adult and Teen Sensory Storytime: Bloomfield Township Public Library

Adults and teens can join in on the movement, music, and art at this adaptive storytime at the Bloomfield Township Public Library. Occurring the second Monday of every month at 11 a.m., this is a unique event that you’ll want to add to your monthly routine!

 

If books aren’t your child’s thing, why not try a sensory-friendly event featuring a new documentary each month? Specially designed for teens and adults with developmental or sensory-processing disorders, each movie is played with the sound down and the lights up, keeping the event inclusive of all! These movies are screened the last Friday of each month at 11 a.m.

 

  • Aspie Teen Social: Autism Support and Resource Center in Burton

Perfect for ASD teens from 11-18 (and their same-aged siblings!) that are independent enough to be dropped off for a social with other teens their age, this event features structured activities and self-selection activities that encourage socialization and fosters the making of friendships. Teens will enjoy a pizza dinner each month, too! The cost to attend is $5 per person. For more information, check out the Autism Support and Resource Center’s website!

 

Activities for Everyone:

 

  • AMC Sensory-Friendly Films: Metro Detroit Theatres

Did you know that AMC Theatres partner with the Autism Society to bring special movie showings in a sensory-friendly environment for families as well as mature audiences?  Lights are up, the sound is down, and aisles are clear for patrons to get up and dance, walk, or sing! Family-friendly movie showings happen on the second and fourth Saturday of each month, and the mature audience showings happen on Wednesday evenings. For more information, check with your local metro Detroit AMC theatre!

 

  • Emagine Theatres: Birch Run, Canton, Hartland, Macomb, Novi, Rochester Hills, and Saline

Voted the Best Movie Theatre for several years running by the Detroit Free Press, Emagine Theatres boasts a luxury movie-viewing experience with reclining seats and gourmet snacks. For families, teens, and children with sensory needs, Emagine Theatres has now started offering sensory-friendly screenings. What is a sensory-friendly screening? Put simply; it’s a movie-viewing experience that puts everyone at ease. House lights will be on during the showing, the volume will be low, audience interaction is allowed and encouraged, and those with food allergies will be permitted to bring in their snacks and beverages to make everyone feel at home. For specific dates, times, and what’s playing this month, check out the Emagine Theatres website.

 

  • SatARTdays: Anton Art Center

The first quarter’s schedule for 2020 is out, and SatARTdays promises to be exciting for everyone involved! Pencil in the second Saturday of each month for a free art event or performance around the metro Detroit area. Open to everyone in the community, these events are the perfect occasion to take your children to practice ABA Therapy techniques and have fun while doing it! For the schedule of events, check out Anton Art Center’s website today!

 

  • Art Explorers Special Needs Art Class: Plymouth

This inclusive art class for children of all abilities focuses on fine motor skills, patience, self-reflection, communication, and sensory processing, all wonderful things to practice in a group environment outside of ABA Therapy! Once a month, children will create a different piece of art and learn to interact with the world around them. Because the Makers ‘N Shakers wants everyone in Detroit to have the ability to interact with the healing world of art, these classes are “pay what you can,” so anyone can join! For more information, check out this website for specific dates and times.

 

Behavioral Therapy in Metro Detroit

If you live in the Detroit area and are interested in learning more about how ABA Therapy can help your child, reach out to us today! At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we strive to create an all-encompassing center for families, furthering our commitment to the families and children of the metro Detroit area.

 

How Can ABA Therapy Support Your Outings?

ABA Therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis, takes a look at your child’s environment and the impact it makes on their behavior. Highly personalized for each child, ABA Therapy is essential in understanding, influencing, and, ultimately, learning to change unwanted behaviors. However, the key to ABA Therapy is utilizing positive reinforcement, not negative. Rewards are often the easiest way to affect change in behavior, not just in children with ASD or autism, but in any child having issues coping with specific environments.

 

ABA Therapy has shown to be beneficial in multiple areas in a child’s life:

  • Self-care skills
  • Home
  • School
  • Social Skills

 

How Can ABA Therapy Help My Child?

Caregivers and parents are essential in reinforcing the work done in ABA Therapy, because you are the second line of defense, supporting your child in environments when these harmful or distracting behaviors come up, often outside of ABA Therapy.

 

Did you know that among other things, ABA Therapy helps your child develop essential social skills like:

 

  • Feeding themselves
  • Potty training
  • Coping Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Social skills with adults, peers, and in group settings

 

A number of these skills are necessary for your child to know relatively early on in life, which is why early intervention is so necessary. It can make the therapy process a much smoother transition for yourself and your child!

 

ABA Therapy at Home

One of the most common questions parents have for therapists is how they can continue to encourage the new, positive behaviors at home and play. Planning playdates and taking your child out into the metro Detroit area and applying the positive reinforcement techniques you and your child have learned through ABA Therapy are two excellent ways to continue the forward progress in a fun way! By picking the right events that cater to your child’s specific needs or challenges will set you up for success and ensure that everyone walks away with a smile on their face and lots of happy memories to look back on!

 

Tips for Success Outside of ABA Therapy

When you leave your therapist, it’s easy to feel like you may not be “doing it right.” Still, by following a few pieces of advice from trained therapy professionals, you can make sure you are doing what’s best for you and your child every time you take them to activities in Detroit. Keeping a record of results, like things that did and didn’t work, will prove helpful to you and your child’s therapist, and it will be essential to see how far you’ve come and how much progress you and your child have made from month to month. Here are a few tips you can think about as you start planning your outings this spring!

 

  1. Have fun

Above all, this should be your first goal. Make sure whatever you choose to do, it’s something your child enjoys. You don’t want every outing to feel stressful, or as work, it should be an opportunity for one-on-one bonding time with your child or a memorable family outing!

 

  1. Note what positive reinforcement techniques motivate your child most

Keep track of what does and doesn’t work so you can share with your child’s therapist during your next visit. This information is essential to learning more about your child, helping them succeed outside of therapy.

 

  1. Make a note of what activities your child prefers

This may seem obvious, but taking note of the kinds of activities that your child loves will help you plan events and outings that they’ll enjoy and will likely want to repeat. This desire to be at these events will likely spark the desired behaviors you’re working towards in therapy, which is a step in the right direction!

 

Let us know if the team at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center and our team of trained therapists and loving staff members can support you on your family’s journey!

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What You Should Know About an IEP

As the time nears for your child’s school transition, there are several ways you can begin to prepare. Following your request for your child to be evaluated for special education services, you’ll want to start your preparations for your child’s IEP meeting. Our team has put together some helpful tips to help you navigate through the IEP process successfully.

 

What is an IEP?  

The Individualized Educational Plan, or IEP, is a document developed for any public school child who qualifies for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Act, or IDEA. It aims to identify necessary accommodations for your child to thrive in the least-restrictive school environment. A multidisciplinary team meets to determine your child’s eligible disability and need for services in the public school setting.

Who Will Attend the IEP Meeting?

There are individuals required to be present at your child’s IEP meeting, including:

  • Parent: You provide unique and valuable information that sheds light on your child’s areas of concern, needs, and strengths.
  • Child: When a class or school transition is necessary, your child may be included in the IEP meeting, if appropriate.
  • General education teacher: At least one of your child’s teachers will be present to provide insight into your child’s successes and needs in the classroom.
  • Special education teacher: A trained educator who has experience working with children with disabilities will be present to help all members plan your child’s accommodations and offer ways to implement them.
  • An interpreter of results: This person is responsible for relaying and interpreting your child’s evaluation results and utilize them to help develop the best instructional methods.

Additional members may include:

  • A language interpreter, if needed
  • Representatives from school transition service agencies, when applicable
  • Any person(s) with knowledge of or expertise surrounding your child and invited by the district or parent, for example, Speech Language Pathologist, BCBA, Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, Counselor.

What the IEP Covers

The IEP is meant to ensure your child receives the required services and support necessary to succeed in the school. It is a written document that should be revisited yearly but can be modified at your request for a new meeting at any time.

The IEP documents will include:

  • Relevant information about your child’s:
    • Disability
    • Strengths
    • Needs
  • Comments or clarifications
  • Observations and evaluation results, including state and district academic exams
  • Additional requirements or concerns involving:
    • Social skills
    • Language development
    • Physical therapy
    • Behaviors
  • Measurable Goals that are attainable within the school year
  • Methods of evaluating goals

Special Education Services

Your school district is required to provide your child with the services and tools needed to reach their goals and objectives in the least restrictive classroom possible. The IEP will also state:

  • When services begin
  • Where they will take place
  • How often they are to be provided, including the length of sessions

 

If necessary, it will also include:

  • Strategies for behavior management when interfering with learning or the learning of classmates
  • Assistive technology
    • Any and all devices or services needed
  • Accommodations in the general education classroom if applicable

 

By preparing in advance, the IEP should be a smooth and more easily understood process for your family. Plan to attend with a list of questions you’ve compiled, medical records, previous school or service records, and any additional files of information you believe to be relevant to your child’s meeting. Our knowledgeable team at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center is here to help you prepare for your child’s school transition and IEP preparation needs. Visit us to find out how we can help.

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Counseling Therapy and Other Self-Care Ideas

As the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, you are a living, breathing superhero. You take on the roles of your child’s support, teacher, caregiver, friend, advocate, and so many more during your daily life. There is no shortage of new information about Autism Spectrum Disorder to take in, new behavior and academic plans to review, and new milestones and joys to celebrate with your child.

When you are caring for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of never considering your feelings, mental health, and need for self-care. You may even find yourself feeling guilty for wanting to take some time for yourself to relax and recharge.

The truth is that, though your child is your number one priority, it is just as important to take care of yourself. Living with and loving a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder has many joys attached to it, butcan also be quite challenging. Parents of children with Autism need to consider their self-care and mental health to be the best caregiver and support system they can be for their child and the rest of their family.

Read on for ideas about self-care for busy parents, including the merits and importance of counseling therapy.

Autism 101

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects an individual’s actions and their ability to interact with others. It also affects communication and learning, requiring the individual to receive therapies to mitigate the effects of the disorder. About one in every 68 children in the United States gets a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder per year.

You have likely heard Autism referred to as ‘a spectrum’ due to the range of symptoms that individuals with Autism may experience. While there is no known cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder at this time, current research shows the likelihood that both genetics and environmental factors play a role in its origin.

Children with Autism benefit greatly from therapies and interventions designed to work on behavior, learning, self-expression, and self-advocacy. Behavior programs are designed to address difficulties in social skill building, attention, anxiety, and challenging behaviors. Education and learning programs focus on learning, reasoning, and ‘whole life skills,’ including improvements in fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

What Therapies Entail for Children and Parents

After receiving a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, your child will likely receive recommendations for several potential therapies from professionals in the field. One of the most widely-recognized treatments for children with Autism is applied behavior analysis or ABA therapy.

ABA therapy is designed to bring into focus how a child’s environment affects their behavior. Using a reward system that is meaningful to the child receiving the treatment, ABA works to replace undesirable behaviors with more positive responses. As a parent, you will be responsible for helping to promote and reinforce the skills your child learns with their ABA therapist in other social settings, including school, relatives’ homes, etc.

This responsibility is not to be taken lightly, as improvement relies on your putting the skills and reinforcements your child learns in ABA into practice outside of their therapy sessions. Continuing to apply what your child learns during ABA will not only assist your child in forming permanent positive behaviors, but it will also provide you the confidence and knowledge you need to guide them both at home and beyond.

The Importance of Self-Care

The responsibility of continuing to reinforce your child’s ABA therapy at home carries with it feelings of fear of inadequacy or error, both of which can cause anxiety and make you doubt your effectiveness. Self-care is an excellent way to mitigate these feelings and get yourself into a more healthy, centered headspace.

Some parents may feel guilty for considering taking some time for themselves when they have devoted so much time, love, and attention to their child and their care. But giving yourself a break can improve your ability to connect with and support your child! When your mind is centered, you will be better able to give your time and attention to your child, who needs your support most of all!

Self-Care Ideas

As the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, you cannot overlook the importance of practicing self-care and taking time for yourself. If we never take time for ourselves to relax, unwind, and recharge, we run the risk of burning out, becoming short-tempered or having a full mental or emotional breakdown.

Self-care looks different for each of us, so the first step in figuring out proper self-care is to discover what makes you feel calm, centered, and happy. Since the parents of children with Autism lead busy lives, it’s also essential to find a self-care activity that you can easily fit into your daily schedule.

If you’re not sure where to begin with self-care, we have a few easy suggestions for you to get started on your self-care journey:

  • Go for a run or light jog – the endorphins you’ll experience from moving your body will elevate your mood and make you feel less tense.
  • Meditate for ten minutes – allowing your brain to relax and letting go of persistent anxious thoughts can help you feel more centered during your day.
  • Enjoy a healthy snack – choosing to eat an apple over a bag of candy will not only benefit your body, but it will also keep your mind alert and your anxiety level stable.
  • Set up a recurring coffee date with a close friend – there is nothing quite as unique as the power of human connection during stressful times, so enjoy the company of a loved one when you need to unwind.
  • Start a journal – writing down your thoughts can help you feel less burdened by concerns or stress. It is also a great way to keep track of things that bring you joy!

Counseling Therapy

While you may draw comfort in the art of meditation, or in baking delicious cookies to share with friends and family, or in going for long bike rides, these activities are sometimes not enough to ensure that you are mentally and emotionally at your best. For many of us, and especially for those parents of children with Autism, working with a counselor or therapist can be extremely beneficial.

But what do we mean when we say counseling therapy? Just as there is an incredible amount of information out there about Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are many resources and pages of information regarding different types of counseling therapy. If you have received counseling therapy before, you may feel more at home in your search for an appropriate therapist at this stage in your life. If you have never previously received counselin therapy, it can be daunting to figure out who to see and what sort of treatment is right for you.

At its core, counseling therapy is the process in which an individual sits down with a licensed professional for talk therapy. You will work through any emotional, behavioral, mental, physical, or social issues you may be experiencing that are hindering your ability to live your life as you would like to. Therapy is designed to assist individuals with not only talking through their problems but also with learning to think in new ways, respond to circumstances more effectively, and combat depression, anxiety, fear, and a myriad of other emotions.

We suggest counseling therapy as a method of self-care because we know how much of your time, attention, and emotion you give to your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They are at the center of your world and, as such, you carry with you their joys, fears, victories, and failures as if they were your own. By taking care of your emotional and mental health through seeing a counselor, you will be sure to be able to support your child and yourself through your child’s diagnosis and beyond.

The Benefits of Counseling Therapy

The benefits of counseling therapy for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are innumerable, but we have selected a few of the top benefits to dive into:

  • Counseling therapy helps you understand and accept the diagnosis

When your child receives a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be an unbelievably daunting thing to wrap your mind around. You will experience feelings of guilt, worry, fear, and grief as you navigate the first few weeks and months. When you are experiencing complicated emotions like grief, counseling therapy can be a lifeline for you, helping you with acceptance and moving forward post-diagnosis.

  • Counseling therapy shines a light on ways to better your parenting

Parenting a child with Autism can look quite different from parenting a neuro-typical child. You may find yourself overwhelmed and confused when considering the sensory issues you must keep track of, the educational accommodations to be made, and the therapeutic decisions that best suit your child’s specific needs. Finding a counselor who specializes in working with families of children with Autism is crucial to your ability to navigate the anxiety you may be feeling and prioritize things to reduce your worry.

  • It can help you and your partner become closer

The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder affects both fathers and mothers alike. Your partner will likely mirror the stress and anxiety you feel, and this mirroring can cause tension between parents. A counselor who understands the sort of pressure that parents of children with Autism are under can assist the couple with navigating such stress while remaining a connected team. Bear in mind that this can take time – counseling therapy is not an immediate fix, but will be beneficial to your relationship in the long run.

  • Counseling therapy is wonderful for stress management

To stay mentally and physically healthy, both for ourselves and for our children, we need to manage our stress correctly. Whether you see a counselor to assist with a brief rough patch or schedule sessions more consistently, a counselor will help you manage your everyday stressors along with the stress that comes from having a child with Autism. With a licensed professional there to provide you a listening ear and techniques to overcome your anxieties, you will be more able to tackle your days with confidence.

How to Find a Therapist

Finding a therapist that not only specializes in what you are seeking help with but also whom you connect with can seem like a daunting exercise. A simple internet search will return hundreds of options for therapists within fifty miles of where you live, many of whom focus on particular areas, like depression, eating disorders, or PTSD. So how should you begin your search for your perfect therapist?

We suggest starting by asking someone you trust if they can make a recommendation. Asking your child’s ABA therapist or another member of their professional care team is an excellent place to start, as they have likely networked with therapists who specialize in working with families of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Your child’s primary care physician may also be able to make a recommendation for you.

If you are unable to find a therapist through word of mouth, you can reach out to your health insurance company for assistance. Many insurance companies have online resources available for subscribers to search through local therapists and counselors that accept your coverage.

When all else fails, an internet search can help you narrow down therapists in your area who have worked with parents of children with Autism! Try and identify at least two to three potential therapists to reach out to, as some may be unable to take on new patients.

Parents of children with Autism often feel as though they should be strong enough to handle all the stressors that come their way. Still, without counseling therapy or another preferred self-care practice, they may find themselves overwhelmed and burned out. No matter what method of self-care you choose for yourself, integrating the practice into your daily life will work wonders for your mental and emotional well-being.

Take care of yourself and, when you have questions or need advice, know that Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center is here for you!

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