Category: Parenting

Choosing a therapist is an important decision, especially when it comes to the care of your child. Finding the right specialists to conduct Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy requires research and can feel overwhelming. This guide will help serve as an outline of what to ask behavioral centers to choose an ABA therapy location.

 

Important ABA Therapy Considerations:

  • Counseling service offerings
  • Cost and insurance
  • Communicating clearly
  • Setting goals and expectations

 

Using these topics as the start of your checklist, you can feel sure your therapist is answering all of your concerns. If you’re searching for ABA therapy in Michigan or elsewhere, we can help you get started in your search.

 

Defining ABA Therapy

Before you begin researching ABA therapists in Michigan or local to your area, let’s define ABA therapy.  ABA therapy focuses on the learning and behavior of children with autism or other behavioral disorders.  ABA therapy uses a variety of programs and methods to improve many aspects of an individual’s everyday life:

  • Motor skills
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Communication
  • Cognitive skills
  • Independence

 

There are even more benefits that ABA therapy can provide to children or adults with behavioral disorders. If your child shows early signs of autism disorder, intervening early on with ABA therapy is critical. By being a keen observer of your child’s behavior, you can learn to spot early symptoms of behavioral issues such as childhood developmental delays.

 

ABA Therapy Service Offerings

One of the most critical parts of finding a new therapist is making sure they offer the specific type of care you are looking for. You may be searching for a behavioral therapist specializing in ABA therapy, which will narrow down your search results. The Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center offers ABA therapy to Michigan residents, as well as multiple therapy options.

 

Services:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • General counseling
  • Support services

 

These therapy services may be used for treatment individually or in combination with ABA therapy. An ABA therapist or Board Certified Behavioral Analyst ( BCBA) will develop an individualized and comprehensive ABA therapy plan for each patient.

 

Cost and Insurance

If you have medical insurance, you may need a primary doctor’s referral to seek ABA therapy so check with your health care provider first. Your insurance can filter and recommend therapy services that are in your network. With insurance, you will want to make sure you know any co-pay or out of pocket costs for each visit. If you seek ABA therapy at our Novi office, you can give us a call or provide your insurance information in the online consultation form to check your coverage with our center.

Understanding the coverage and cost of therapy services is critical, especially when long-term care is likely on the table. Whether it’s your insurance provider or a therapist’s office, there are plenty of ABA therapy resources to help you learn if your insurance is accepted and if the out-of-pocket is suitable for you.

 

Communicating Clearly with Your Therapist

It’s essential to have an open communication line with your child’s ABA therapist, especially from the start. This open communication will stem from a clear understanding of the behavioral challenges your child has been facing. From your first phone call or consultation, be prepared to discuss the challenges your child may be facing in detail.

To better prepare, take some time to jot down a list of key talking points – you can even start by including your child’s daily routine as this is an integral part of improving behavior. You can also keep a list of any challenges or inappropriate behavior such as outbursts. Be sure also to note any areas of delays like speech and communication. This way, your ABA therapist has a full view of the extent of your child’s behavioral disorder and can come up with a personalized therapy program.

 

 

Setting Goals and Expectations of your Therapist

Once a clear understanding of your child’s needs is established, you can request a follow-up meeting where the ABA therapist can present goal setting and a program plan. You don’t have to commit a therapist after the first meeting – instead, work with them to set expectations of the type of therapy your child may expect under their care. Review these examples of types of questions to ask your ABA therapist to help guide the conversation.

You can brief yourself on some counseling approaches to better understand what your therapist might suggest. Check out the ten most common counseling approaches you may encounter here.

 

ABA Therapy in Michigan

When it comes to finding a therapy center, location also plays a large factor. Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center is an ABA therapy center based in Michigan that also offers various specialized therapy services. Our office is optimally located in Novi to serve patients seeking ABA therapy in Southeast Michigan. Finding an office local to you can also offer support in terms of nearby events that your child may find beneficial or entertaining.

Our team comprises occupational therapists, behavior analysts, speech and language pathologists, and other highly-trained professionals with the common goal of improving behavior to enhance lives. If you are interested in finding ABA therapy in Michigan, learn more about our team and therapy services to get started, or give us a call at our Novi office to ask any questions you may have.

 

Finding the Right Fit for ABA Therapy

On the journey to finding the right ABA therapist, you may not find the perfect match right away. Be cautious that introducing a therapist to your child will be an adjustment but take comfort in knowing that your therapist will be working tirelessly to make the transition smooth. Don’t be afraid to ask any and every question of your ABA therapist.

Living with autism disorder can be taxing for the individuals or their support group. Children and parents need to understand the connection between mindfulness and autism disorder to help ease life stresses with autism disorder. We don’t want finding the right therapist to be another strain in your life, so let us help you answer any questions you may have about ABA therapy.

Visit our Novi office or schedule a consultation with the Michigan ABA experts at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center to get started.

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Whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, or have autism, you’ve likely found yourself feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, which can happen far too often, even when we are in the comfort of our own homes. Many adults and children show symptoms of stress and fatigue and can positively benefit from a variety of calming strategies. No matter what you’re going through, you can find relief, whether that be in the office of a licensed therapist or by practicing therapy at home.

We will focus on learning calming strategies and therapy at home techniques for children with autism. We will learn several ways to help your child with autism find peace at home, including:

  • How to create a calming environment at home
  • Learning everyday stressors for children with autism
  • Calming strategies for children with autism

 

The daily stressors of having a child with autism can take a toll on parents, too – we will guide you to some mindfulness techniques that parents can utilize as well. Let’s get started in understanding the benefit of learning coping skills and calming strategies for us in the home.

 

Learning Coping Skills at Home

Implementing therapy at home with a variety of calming strategies can help both children and adults. There are so many reasons that contribute to a feeling of uneasiness, discomfort, or overload. Some of these contributing factors may include feelings of stress and anxiety or living with autism.

Teaching these coping skills and strategies can be a great help for children, especially for children with autism. Teaching calming strategies can help children manage and deal with their feelings and outbursts. When your child is learning different ABA therapy skills, it’s essential to apply and incorporate these therapeutic techniques in practice at home. We will cover several calming strategies that benefit children with autism.

 

Creating a Calming Environment at Home

Being at home can be the most calming place for many people, but when a lot is going on, you can still become overwhelmed at home. In conjunction with practicing therapy at home and calming strategies, you can adjust your home to be a calmer environment.

 

If you’re dealing with anxiety, sensory-overload, or other issues, consider making these adjustments to your home:

  • Use warm, dimmable lighting
  • Place items that bring you comfort and joy around the home
  • Create a dedicated space for therapy at home

 

Sensory overload is a common issue for children and adults with autism. You can equip your home with options or ways to lessen sensory overload, like installing a light dimmer. These simple steps can go a long way in relieving any tensions, stresses, or anxiety experienced at home. Additionally, keeping items around your home that bring you peace or comfort, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can help make you feel calmer.

 

If you have space or can create the space, try to have a dedicated area where you can practice and apply calming strategies from your therapist in the form of therapy at home. At home therapy techniques can be done at home. Aim to have a safe, quiet, and calm space to lessen distractions. This space can also be used to reach out externally if you’re seeking comfort from a friend, family member, or therapist. Creating a calming environment is deeper than perfecting a home’s physical space.

 

Creating an optimal home, especially for children with autism, involves a family effort. All household members should strive to create an atmosphere that is comfortable by reducing any stress levels. This type of environmental change could mean something as simple as reducing excess noise when possible. A child’s home environment and the ABA therapy environment should feel warm, secure, and safe.

 

Use the above checklist when you’re feeling overwhelmed to bring immediate relief to your environment. Placing yourself in a calm, relaxing environment can help you or your child practice calming strategies more efficiently.

 

Everyday Stressors for Children with Autism

If you have a child with autism, ABA therapy will provide an excellent and customized program to teach your child a variety of necessary skills, including self-soothing. These skills are learned in the office to be applied in social settings and at home. If you are looking for ways to help create a calming environment for your child with autism, keep a lookout for these everyday stressors for children with autism:

  • Sensory issues
  • Visual overstimulation
  • Changes in routine

 

Having a sense of what can be causing your child stress can help you be proactive in mitigating these contributing factors. These outbursts are stressful for parents too. We recommend parents practice understanding the link between mindfulness and autism to help cope with the daily stressors of having a child with autism. With mindfulness techniques, both children and parents can find ways to cope with feelings of being overwhelmed.

 

Calming Strategies for Children with Autism

In ABA therapy, your therapist will specialize the sessions to your child’s individual needs. These special techniques can be translated into therapy at home, where parents help their children practice and apply learned skills and behaviors.

In ABA therapy and other therapy programs, you may learn these common calming strategies:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Count to 10
  • Distraction
  • Physical exercise

 

A good practice for teaching calming strategies or other ABA therapy skills or at home therapy is to avoid reinforcing challenging behavior. When working with a child with autism, the best way to encourage their practice of calming skills is by using positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is also used in ABA therapy and translates to therapy at home.

 

Learn more about how you can teach or support a person with autism using these calming strategies.

 

ABA Therapy

Therapy at home is an excellent methodology to use but is not a substitute for ABA therapy. ABA therapy is an excellent option if you are working to help and improve the quality of life for your child with autism. By using a collaborative approach to meet all areas of a child’s development, ABA therapy programs focus on learning and behavior specific to children with autism.

Early intervention is critical when dealing with childhood development delays, so reach out to a therapist and find out if ABA therapy is right for your child. ABA therapy will give your child with autism a structured environment to learn skills such as language development, calming strategies, social skills, and more.

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A child in speech therapy.

Language and speech development plays an essential role in your child’s growth and development. While many disorders and incidents can lead to speech issues, it is not uncommon for non-disordered children to seek speech therapy to improve how they speak, understand, or even read. When it comes to speech development, early intervention is best for combatting any speech issues.

In this guide, we’ll learn about tracking your child’s speech development, when to intervene with speech therapy, and what conditions may lead to speech development issues. By knowing the speech and language milestones your child should be hitting, you will be a more-equipped parent to spot issues early on and take action with speech therapy.

The Importance of Speech and Language Development

Early childhood is such a critical time for a child’s speech and language development. Children are regularly exposed to speech, language, sights, and sounds from infancy to three-year-old ages. These exposures play a crucial role in their own speech development as they move from cooing babies to echoing their parents’ sounds.

Without proper exposure to language during this critical period, children will have difficulty developing their speech, especially as they age past three years old. Take note of how changing your daily routines can positively impact your child’s speech and language development.

Early Signs of Speech and Language Issues

Spotting and mitigating speech and language issues early on is vital in repairing these developmental communication tools. Speaking and language issues in young children will only worsen if left unattended. As children enter preschool, communicating, and interacting with teachers and other children will prove difficult. This communication gap can be challenging and frustrating for children. If your child has ASD (autism spectrum disorder) or another speaking disorder or condition preventing their speech and language development, you can take action by seeking the counsel of a speech therapist.

If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, it may be time to talk to a speech pathologist:

● Stuttering
● Unclear speech
● Difficulty with pronunciation
● Only speaking a select few words
● Unintelligible words

If your child is hearing impaired or has ASD, they are more likely to experience speech and language development issues. Learn how speech and language therapy intervention can aid speech disordered or ASD children with their speech and language developmental issues.

Seeking Speech Therapy for Your Child

Your child doesn’t need to have overt speech issues for you to seek speech therapy. Speech therapy can assist in better articulation, fluency, and resonance when speaking. If your child is experiencing any range of speech processing, it may be time to seek the counsel of a speech and language pathologist in ABA therapy. Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center offers speech therapy to encourage language and speech development in young children.

Early childhood development plays such a critical role in your child’s speech and language understanding and development. Whether your child has a disorder or is neurotypical, spotting the signs of speech issues early on is critical in an intervention. A speech therapist can also help answer any speech and language questions you might have relating to your child’s development.

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Children in ABA play therapy.

Learning how to deal with stress and regulate emotion is a part of every person’s mental health journey. When it comes to those with neurotypical or autism spectrum disorder, the lack of these tolerances can be especially harmful. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental and neurological disorder that affects how individuals interact, learn, and communicate. These stress and emotional responses are significant for people with mental illnesses or ASD. These responses may be so exaggerated that they can lead to self-harm or other dangerous situations.

Whether or not you have an underlying disorder contributing to ineffective stress and emotional response, you can hone these skills through ABA therapy and other treatments. By defining distress tolerance and emotional regulation, we can learn more about keeping these feelings in check, whether you suffer from a mental illness or disorder or are neurotypical.

 

Distress Tolerance

Learning how to handle stress is essential for everyone, especially patients who are more at risk of self-harm, such as those suffering from mental illness. Distress tolerance is vital for individuals to learn how to deal with negative feelings and relieve themselves from stressful situations. Individuals who fail to tolerate and positively respond to stress effectively are at risk of depression, anxiety, and self-harm.

No matter your situation, distress tolerance takes consistent work to maintain a healthy and effective mental state. There are several strategies to help individuals cope with emotional stress, such as therapy treatments with healthcare professionals. If you lack distress tolerance, we encourage seeking a trained therapist to begin remedying your stress and learning coping habits to manage the stress in your life. You can lessen the effects of stress in your or your child’s life by trying ABA therapy or other distress tolerance treatments.

 

Emotion Regulation Skills

Have you ever felt out of control when it comes to how you are feeling? Emotion regulation skills give individuals the ability to control their emotional state and the ability to exert control over their emotional state. Children with ASD may have a more challenging time processing their emotions and can benefit from improving their behaviors with a medical professional’s help using ABA therapy. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm.

Failure of emotional regulation skills can result in the following:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Angry outbursts
  • Sadness

Whether a person has ASD or is neurotypical, poor emotional regulation skills can lead to inappropriate reactions and responses. With emotional regulation, you are effectively managing how your body perceives and processes different emotional states. Emotional regulation skills can be taught through therapeutic techniques such as ABA therapy. With these emotional regulation skills, you will become more aware of your emotional responses and insight into managing your feelings effectively.

 

Impacts on Neurotypical and ASD

Both distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills impact those with ASD but also neurotypical persons. Children with ASD who lack emotional regulation skills may exhibit behavioral issues. An individual can mitigate these behavior disturbances by using treatments, teaching children how to manage their feelings and emotions effectively, and the same is true for neurotypical persons. Stress coping and emotional regulation skills are not always learned behavior throughout childhood development. They can manifest themselves into broader issues when a neurotypical person enters adulthood and faces far greater stressful scenarios.

Understanding how a lack of stress management and tolerance, and emotional coping skills affect an individual, you will spot the signs of when it is time to seek counsel from a healthcare professional or counselor and try ABA therapy. As you seek therapy for your child, you can learn more about the importance of your role and involvement as a parent in helping your child’s emotional development. The combined efforts of parents and the Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center therapists together can help get your child on the right path.

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A girl in speech language therapy.

Language development begins in the early stages of infancy and helps us communicate with one another. Language encompasses how we create words and how we put them together, their meanings, and how we can apply language in various social situations. Both expressive language and receptive language help us understand the world around us while sharing our wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. When receptive language or expressive language does not develop correctly in your child, they may experience trouble understanding and reading others, sharing with others, and may develop a language disorder. While language disorders can affect their receptive language or expressive language, it’s essential to know the difference between them to begin addressing their receptive language or expressive language difficulties. Let’s take a look at:

  • The differences between receptive language and expressive language
  • Typically developing language
  • Receptive language and expressive language in children with autism
  • Speech-Language Therapy

 

What is Expressive Language?

Expressive language is your child’s ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings through the use of:

  • Signs
  • Words
  • Gestures
  • Drawings or symbols

The use of expressive language can be as simple as pointing to a person, food, or toy. While talking is the main form of expressive language, other strategies can be just as effective.

Expressive language utilizes many forms as your child gets older to communicate with family, peers, and caregivers.

  • Sign language
  • Images
  • Speech-generating device
  • Writing

Let’s break it down a step further. Think of expressive language as an output. This output of language is your child’s ability to express their desires and needs through verbal or nonverbal communication. Expressive language use is eventually forming these thoughts into words and sentences that make sense and are grammatically correct.

 

What is Receptive Language?

Listening is an essential component of receptive language but involves much more than that. Receptive language is the process of understanding information, whether through:

 

  • Sounds and words
  • Movement and gestures
  • Signs
  • Symbols

Children typically acquire various receptive language elements much faster than expressive language, making their receptive language vocabulary larger than their expressive language.

Think of receptive language as input – your child’s ability to understand and comprehend spoken language and language they read. Receptive language includes listening and following directions. During typical development, children are beginning to understand language before they can produce it.

 

Expressive Language and Receptive Language in Typically Developing Children

Understanding how language skills typically develop requires looking into the critical first three years of your child’s life. Meeting milestones helps us understand where a child may begin to have difficulties with their speech and language development.

 

Speech and Language Development

During your child’s first three years, their brain develops rapidly. This timeframe is the most crucial period for them to acquire vital speech and language skills. These skills develop best when caregivers immerse them in various stimuli, including sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to others’ speech and language.

Crucial periods for speech and language development exist between infancy and early childhood. During these crucial periods, their brain is absorbing language rapidly and effectively. But, if children do not receive proper speech and language exposure during these critical periods, communication learning becomes difficult for them.

Each child’s language development varies but referring to a basic guideline for these milestones will help you monitor their progression:

 

Language Milestones for Children

0 to 3 months:

  • Smiling at familiar faces
  • Cooing
  • A different cry for different needs
  • Calms or smiles when spoken to

 

4 to 6 months:

  • Giggling
  • Babbling using different sounds
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Moves eyes in the direction of sounds

 

6 months to 1 year:

  • Uses speech to get attention
  • Uses small gestures to communicate
  • Imitates various speech sounds
  • Using one or two words appropriately and consistently
  • Enjoys playing games (peek-a-boo)

 

1 year to 18 months:

  • Shakes head “no”
  • Uses twenty-five words
  • Communicates their needs using single words
  • Points to objects when you name them
  • Follows straightforward one- and two-step commands

 

18 months to 2 years old:

  • Uses 50-200 words
  • Responds appropriately to “yes/no” questions
  • Asks, “what’s that?”
  • Able to name everyday objects

 

 

Language Difficulties in Children with Autism

Children with ASD often struggle with the ability to communicate and interact successfully with others. You may notice your child has difficulty developing introductory speech and language skills and understanding what others are trying to express. Even the simplest of receptive language and expressive language is a challenge for them, including:

  • Hand gestures
  • Making eye contact
  • Reading or conveying facial expressions

 

Your child’s ability to use speech and language tools effectively may depend on their intellectual and social development. Often, children with autism cannot communicate using speech or language, while others have limited speaking skills. And other children with ASD have extensive vocabularies, ability to communicate about a particular subject extensively.

Children with autism tend to struggle with the meanings and rhythms of words and sentences. They have trouble reading and understanding their peers’ and caregivers’ body language and vocal tones, limiting their ability to respond correctly, socially interact, or form connections.

Children with autism tend to exhibit expressive language and receptive language difficulties, such as:

  • Rigid or repetitive language
  • Communicate only about narrow interests
  • Uneven language development

The most common speech and language struggles children with autism experience are:

 

Producing Sounds

Roughly one in three people with autism struggles producing speech sounds effectively. They may:

  • Babble with word-like sounds
  • Parrot
  • Hum or talk in musical rhythm
  • May use the correct words and sentences, but with an expressionless tone of voice
  • Grunt, shriek, use harsh sounds and use loud cries
  • Be completely nonverbal

 

Limiting Language Abilities

 

  • Ability to memorize but lack understanding of words they use
  • Heavy reliance on echolalia to communicate

 

Helpful Strategies to Develop your Child’s Receptive and Expressive Language Skills: 

  • Develop Daily Routines: Consistent daily routines provide children with autism a predictable schedule. Structure helps them thrive while feeling safe and secure in their environments. A predictable routine allows your child to understand better and use language appropriate for each situation. It exposes them to a consistent set of words in a familiar context, strengthening receptive and expressive language practices.
  • Develop Joint Attention: Joint attention refers to two or more people sharing their attention with one object or activity together. You and your child can practice tuning into each other’s communications and reactions to the object or activity.
  • Social Interaction: Create new opportunities for your child to interact with different people. This additional interaction helps teach them social norms, exposes them to language naturally, and encourages them to communicate with others appropriately.
  • Language Development Through Play: Participating in various play types will help them explore and understand their environments in different ways. During play, encourage and model new ways for them to use their expressive and receptive language skills.

 

 

Speech-Language Therapy

Speech therapy helps improve your child’s overall communication skills. This practice dramatically increases your child’s ability to form relationships, respond appropriately in situations, communicate wants and needs, and function to the best of their ability in daily life.

Speech and language delays may be recognizable as early as eighteen months of age. If concerns arise, visit your child’s pediatrician for a referral to a speech therapist. Early intervention will have the most significant impact on your child’s success.

 

The Speech-Language Process: What to Expect

Speech-language pathologists are essential for your child’s autism treatment team. A speech-language pathologist will administer a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s communication abilities, looking at both receptive language and expressive language skills. Your child’s therapist then determines a course of treatment and individualized goals according to their needs and is often the first therapist to recognize additional concerns and make necessary referrals to other specialists and ABA services.

Your child’s speech-language pathologist will work closely with your family and additional caregivers throughout therapy, ensuring everyone is in tune and working towards your child’s primary goals. Your child’s therapist may recommend strategies and tools, including:

  • Massaging and exercising their lips and facial muscles to improve articulation
  • An array of electronic gadgets and tools to “speak” for your child
  • Sign language
  • Typing devices
  • Picture boards and other image-communication devices

 

Receptive Language Difficulties

Children who are unable to comprehend language may have receptive language difficulties or a receptive language disorder. During speech and language therapy, receptive language goals might include:

  • Following multistep and straightforward directions
  • Answering basic comprehension questions
  • Understanding basic vocabulary words
  • Making inferences or making predictions based upon a picture or story
  • Articulation of words
  • Communicating verbally and nonverbally
  • Ability to exchange ideas successfully
  • Communicating in ways which form and strengthen relationships
  • Communicating, playing, and interacting with their peers and caregivers
  • Learning to self-regulate
  • Understanding verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Understanding the intentions of others in various settings
  • Initiating communication without prompting from others
  • Understanding and recognizing appropriate times and places to communicate and how to appropriately communicate something
  • Developing adequate conversational skills
  • Respond to your child’s sounds, gestures, and gurgling from infancy
  • Repeat their sounds, words, and attempts at words, continuing the conversation to introduce them to new vocabulary and facial expressions
  • Talk about the world around them, in various environments, pointing to what you see or hear at the store, in the car, or on walks
  • Ask questions often and encourage their responses
  • Sing songs and rhymes often
  • Read to your child often. Select complex books as your child progresses with their language skills. Reading to your child allows them to hear words in different contexts, helping them learn meanings and model tone
  • Relate books to events, people, and objects in your child’s life. For instance, going to a doctor’s appointment or learning about caring for a pet. Encourage your child to point out characters or talk about what may happen next and why they predict it.

 

Speech-Language Therapy for Receptive Language

SLP is highly effective in improving receptive language skills in children with autism. A speech-language pathologist will use various informal and formal assessments to determine your child’s specific receptive language strengths and deficiencies. They will then create a comprehensive treatment plan for your child. These goals may focus on:

  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Vocabulary
  • Understanding grammar
  • Figurative language
  • Comprehension strategies
  • Following directions

Speech therapy for receptive language difficulties is specific to each child’s needs, and a course of action is built around them. Improving their receptive language skills will help your child begin to participate in their daily activities independently.

 

Speech-Language Therapy for Expressive Language

Speech therapy is effective in improving expressive language delays and deficits. Expressive language therapy focuses on giving each child the tools and strategies they need to communicate their needs, thoughts, and ideas to the world.

 

Expressive Language Disorder

An expressive language disorder occurs when your child has difficulty using words to communicate their needs and thoughts. Children who struggle with an expressive language disorder may:

  • Leave words out of their sentences
  • Mix up word tenses
  • Repeat phrases or portions of a sentence

An expressive language disorder can lead to additional problems in your child’s social settings and later at school. Your child may have expressive language difficulties if they cannot communicate even the most basic needs, including the need to use the bathroom or if they are hungry.

As they continue to grow, it is essential to watch for signs your child has difficulty producing language, including struggling with:

  • Basic vocabulary
  • Making comments
  • Asking questions
  • Naming common objects
  • Using gestures
  • Using facial expressions
  • Proper syntax (grammar rules)
  • Proper semantics (word/sentence meaning)
  • Morphology (the forming of words)

 

Early intervention methods with a team of ABA and speech therapists can properly diagnose your child’s difficulties and begin proper treatment plans to strengthen their receptive and expressive language abilities. Finding the therapists and programs that suit the needs of your child and family is essential. That’s why we, at Blossom Behavior Wellness Center, believe in providing all-encompassing services and support for the entire family. As a whole-child facility, we believe in providing a team of highly trained professionals who dedicate themselves to the wellbeing of your child and family unit. For more information on our programs, services, and abundance of resources, we invite you to schedule an appointment today.

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Therapy couch.

Starting therapy isn’t always easy to do, and that’s okay. No matter what brought you to therapy, the vital thing to remember is that you deserve to put your mental health first. In this guide, we will discuss the different experiences you may have while starting therapy:

  • How to combat the stigma against therapy
  • What you can expect from a therapy session
  • How to get started in your journey to better mental health

Whether it’s with a counselor or with close friends, it’s so important to have a strong support network that can be there for you when you’re feeling stressed, sad, or angry. Learn how you can overcome the stigma of starting therapy next.

 

Fighting the Therapy Stigma

Seeking therapy should be normalized, but there is an unfortunate stigma that you may need to fight against before you can allow yourself to start counseling services. Stigmas when starting therapy might stem from wondering what other people will think or thinking you are weak for seeking help. Do not let these stigmas stop you from seeking counseling services and being the best version of yourself.

You can learn to combat the stigma to start therapy by researching and finding out what kind of counseling services are available to you, whether online or locally. Have open communication with your trusted family and friends to speak openly about wanting to start therapy. Fighting the stigma starts with being truthful with yourself. When you can be honest with yourself, you can start to show yourself more compassion. Recognize that you are in power when you decide to seek counseling.

 

What to Expect from a Therapy Session

Walking into a therapy session for the first time may seem overwhelming. Still, your therapist will work to make sure you are in a comfortable, safe environment before starting your session. In a therapy session, you will need to be honest and vulnerable to have a productive session with your counselor. Remember that not every therapy session will end with butterflies and rainbows, so trust the process and take pride in knowing that you’re working to better yourself with each session.

If you’re starting to feel stressed or anxious about your first therapy session, remember why you sought counseling in the first place. You can always ask your counselor questions if you’re feeling uneasy or unsure of what to expect. With therapy, you should feel strong and empowered that you are actively taking steps to a better you.

 

Getting Started with Therapy

Therapy helps you learn more about yourself, navigate different situations, and grow and work toward better brain health. If you have been wondering if you should start therapy, start talking to your support network and researching counseling services near you. The sooner you can recognize that you want or need help, the quicker you are on the path to receiving the right mental health services for your life.

If you’re interested in starting therapy at Blossom Behavior Wellness Center for yourself or your child, you can begin your consultation online. We specialize in several individualized services, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy.

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Question Mark

While many parents have a long list of questions after receiving their child’s diagnosis of autism, we want to help make your search for answers less stressful. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding your child’s speech and language therapy:

Question: What are some critical early speech and language milestones for young children?

Answer:

  • 0 to 3 months:
    • Cooing
    • Smiling at familiar faces
    • Crying differently for different needs
    • Calming or smiling when spoken to

 

  • 4 to 6 months:
    • Babbling with different sounds (e.g., “mamamama” or “bababa”)
    • Laughing
    • Vocalizing excitement and displeasure
    • Moving eyes in the direction of sounds

 

  • 6 months to 1 year:
    • Using speech to get your attention
    • Using gestures to communicate (e.g., waving, clapping, pointing)
    • Imitating different speech sounds
    • Using one or two words consistently and appropriately
    • Enjoying games like peek-a-boo

 

  • 1 year to 18 months:
    • Shaking head “no;”
    • Using 25 words
    • Communicating needs with single words
    • Pointing to objects when named
    • Following simple one- and two-step directions (e.g., get your shoes, sit down, give me, come here)

 

  • 18 months to 2 years old:
    • Using 50-200 words
    • Responding to “yes/no” questions
    • Asking, “what’s that?”
    • Naming common objects

 

Question: At what age should my child start speaking?

Answer: All children learn at a different pace. Typical speech and language development begins with cooing and babbling before progressing to the imitation of environmental sounds (e.g., moo, baa, beep beep). Speech and language development then moves on to single words (e.g., eat, ball, more), phrases (e.g., want ball), and sentences (e.g., I want the ball).

Talk with your pediatrician if your child is not making attempts to vocalize. If your child is already receiving ABA therapy services, speak with your team about your concerns. Continue to monitor vital signs of speech and language delays or difficulties may include a lack of making eye contact, smiling, laughing, and engaging socially.

Child video chatting

Question: What are the ways to improve my child’s speech and language skills?

Answer: For children 0-12 months old:

  • Respond to your child’s coos and babbling
  • Keep vocabulary simple and consistent
  • Match your child’s language with activities (e.g., “Shoes on”)
  • Look at and explore with picture books. Label the images, take your child’s hand and point to pictures as you name them, and implement ABA therapy best practices by being consistent as well as repetitive
  • Tell nursery rhymes, sing songs, and play simple games together, such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. Model and repeat to help ensure learning of new skills through your child’s ABA therapy goals

 

Children ages 12 months-24 months:

  • Reward and encourage efforts to say new words. Utilize positive rewards your child’s ABA therapy team establishes for long-lasting results.
  • Ask your child to “show me” if something is unclear
  • Talk to your child about what you’re doing
  • Encourage play with other children
  • Describe what your child is doing
  • Go on trips (e.g., visit the zoo, go on a walk, start a garden)

 

Question: What are excellent toys for children working on speech and language skills?

Answer: The best toys to promote speech and language are simple toys that allow them to be creative while playing. Consider using toys that do not make sounds, as these toys encourage children to use their imagination when attempting to make the sounds. Some of our favorite suggestions are:

  • Cars/trucks/trains
  • Play food
  • Farm set
  • Baby doll and dollhouse
  • Potato Head
  • Blocks and legos
  • Bubbles
  • Puzzles

Mr. potato head toys for children working on speech skills.

For additional resources and services for your child and family, visit us today.

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Mom and child playing

Raising a child with autism certainly has its challenges. Families, in particular parents, face chronic stress, frustration, anxiety, and other mental health and wellness concerns on a daily basis. You may not feel you have the necessary support systems or resources to help you through the struggles. Yet, with the help of mindfulness interventions, counseling, and programs, these challenges can be met with optimism and help set purposeful plans in place. Through proper counseling sessions and mindfulness programs, professionals can help parents and children learn mindfulness-based strategies that can fit easily and naturally into their daily lives.

Woman meditating for mindfulness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness refers to the state of being aware, in the present, and with purpose. It guides one to deal with situations and people in a non-judgmental, non-reactive way. It leads you towards more appropriate responses by teaching you to disconnect your normal emotional response to a given situation. Mindfulness can improve your mental health and wellness through creating a mental discipline by asking you to direct attention to:

  • Emotions
  • Bodily sensations and sensory experiences
  • Urges
  • Cognitions

 

The Reality of Stress on Children with Autism

Children with autism feel their environment’s pressure and stress, demanding they adopt and perform accordingly. Yet, the mounting anxiety and stress children with autism experience can harm their mental health and wellness. Many children with autism struggle with:

  • Worry
  • Fears
  • Nervous behaviors
  • Uneasiness
  • Worsening of social anxiety and obsession

The increase in such behaviors may lead to further inability to cope with changes in their environment and routines. They may also experience an increase in sensory overload. Adding mindfulness practices into their daily routines can provide them with the coping techniques necessary to calm fears and anxieties while allowing them to hit the reset button and try again. They can learn to self-soothe, controlling emotions, and urges through mindfulness techniques.

Woman petting a cat drinking a coffee for mindfulness.

Benefits of Parents Practicing Mindfulness

Adopting mindfulness strategies can help parents adjust to the daily stressors of raising children with autism.

Studies have shown a reduction in parental feelings of:

  • Diminished quality of life
  • Burnout
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Depression
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Inadequacy

 

Through mindfulness counseling and techniques, parents can find ways to handle their feelings of being overwhelmed. They may discover new ways to juggle home and work environments on top of managing therapies, medical needs, finances, and balancing the whole family. Researchers often see increases in verbal redirection, lower stress levels when interacting with the child, physical restraint, and an increase in patience and overall mental health state.

 

ABA Therapy, Counseling, and Mindfulness

Through mindfulness interventions, counseling sessions,  and training during ABA therapy sessions, families and children with ASD can drastically reduce stress and anxiety levels. Counseling sessions help each member learn to develop healthy coping skills, produce positive outcomes for the entire family, and help each member create better mental health and wellness practices. And, just as your child learns new skills and behaviors through ABA therapy sessions, parents can also benefit from mindfulness training and counseling sessions to learn and strengthen techniques that will fit into their everyday routines.

 

Practicing Mindful Parenting

Although a more recent form of mindfulness, the idea behind mindful parenting is the same; implement mindfulness through interacting with your child intentionally and become aware of emotions, reactions, and judgments that may need adjusting. Learning mindful parenting through various counseling and mental health trainings puts the parent in the moment, leaving all preconceptions behind. This form of parenting can offer intense bonding experiences while reducing stress for you and your child.

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we believe in a family-centered, all-encompassing approach. Our highly trained ABA therapy staff is here to provide the resources, training, and support your family needs. We encourage you to reach out and discover the many services we have to offer your child and family today.

 

 

 

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Family cuddling.

There are many opportunities to enrich your child’s speech and language skills at home. From gestures to word formation, there are plenty of ways to incorporate learning during your fun. Here are five wonderful suggestions for incorporating ABA therapy practices, speech, and language into your plans:

  1. Reading
  2. Family Walks
  3. Play Dates
  4. A Day Trip
  5. Family Game Night

1. Read with Your Child

Visit the local library to check out new books, order them online, or revisit your own book stash. Reading with your child is one of the best ways to promote speech and language while encouraging early literacy skills. While reading, ask your child questions relating to the story, including:

  • Where are they going?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?
  • Where is (animal, building, or toy illustration on the page)?

Make the book engaging by using different voices for each character in the story. If your child is not yet verbal, encourage the use of gestures or mimicking, as you would with all their ABA therapy best practices. Don’t forget to praise often and utilize their ABA therapy positive reward system to form lasting behaviors.

Child and adult reading together to promote language learning.

2. Go on a Family Walk in the Neighborhood

Walks are a great way to encourage communication while getting in some exercise. As you walk, comment on what you see around you and remember to use ABA therapy strategies, including short phrases, open-ended questions, and various gestures. Enhance communication by building upon their speech and language skills. While outside, start up a scavenger hunt, work with your child to write or draw clues, and create maps to find items. The scavenger hunt targets vocabulary, critical thinking skills, and following directions, while strengthening ABA therapy goals.

3. Schedule Play Dates

Playdates foster play, functional communication, peer interaction, and social skills. Offer a few activities, including swinging, bubbles, and snacks, while encouraging communication through various speech and language opportunities. During the playdate, encourage imaginative play between children with camping activities in the yard or playing house. Not only are these activities fun, but they target narrative and play skills.

4. Plan a Day Trip

If you need a change of scenery, plan a day trip to the park, a beach, museum, or zoo. Providing your child with a variety of experiences gives them an enriching vocabulary. It exposes them to various environments and situations and even builds connections to the books they read. Use this chance to discuss behavioral expectations and rely on your ABA therapy strategies.

5. Have a Family Game Night

Board games, bingo, charades, and card games are interactive and fun. Most games encourage multiple players at a time so that siblings can join in on the fun! Games encourage turn-taking, rule-following, social skills, and understanding directions. What better way to boost your child’s communication skills?

Family playing twister

Treat every opportunity as a learning one. Through consistent ABA therapy practices, you’ll quickly turn each activity into an enriching speech and language one. Visit us for additional resources and to learn about Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center’s all-encompassing services.

Five family activities that promote language learning

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Bullet journal for daily routines.

Daily routines, such as dressing, brushing teeth, eating meals, and getting ready for bed, offer the perfect opportunity to work on life skills, speech, and language skills with children with autism. Repetitive routines build predictable patterns and provide structure while developing vital speech and language skills within your child’s natural environment. Below are some examples of how to target speech and language and implement ABA therapy practices through your family’s daily routines.

Daily Routines with ABA Therapy

1. Dressing Routines

Dressing your child provides an array of opportunities to work on vocabulary words while selecting clothing items and discussing body parts. Use speech and language strategies, including pointing, gestures, modeling words, and repetition. Just as with ABA best practices, modeling and positive rewards are ideal during dress routines.

Describe what you are doing using short phrases and simple language, such as “socks on” or “jammies off.” You can promote communication by giving choices about which clothing item to wear by asking them if they prefer the pink shirt or the purple shirt. Talk about where each clothing item goes while explaining, “shoes go on our feet.” You can also use speech and language techniques to see if your child will complete statements such as “hat goes on our ___.”

2. Bath Time

Make bath time a fun and educational routine. Create and explain the steps necessary to wash their body and hair. For example:

  • First, we wash our hair with shampoo and conditioner
  • Next, we wash our bodies with soap
  • Then, we have time to play with our favorite bath toys (and offer their favorite toy as a positive reward, following ABA best practices)

Follow this same routine during every bath time, narrating, and modeling what you are doing with simple phrases, such as wash hair and pop the bubbles. Repetition of bath time speech and language is essential in helping your child develop communication skills. You can also be creative by playing games like Simon Says while emphasizing speech and language techniques like touching your nose or showing me your eyes.

Child in a bathtub

3. Car Rides

The car is another great time to model speech and language for your child while incorporating their ABA therapy strategies. Talk with them about what you are passing by, what you see around you, and use various gestures. Practice self-talk by narrating where you are going and what you will do.  As they progress, take this time to enhance language with further explanation, such as

  • I see a stop sign, and that means we stop.
  • We need to pick up eggs, apples, milk, and bread at the store. Then we are going to the park.

4. Reading Before Bed

Reading to your child is always beneficial, so incorporate it into their bedtime routine as well.  Discuss the images in your book and what is happening during the story. Try to make reading as engaging and fun as possible! Talk about what the characters are doing with gestures and short phrases. Books with repetitive storylines, such as “Good Night Moon” or “Five Little Monkeys,” are a great way to target early language development. When reading these types of books, pause to allow your child to fill in the missing word or use gestures to show they understand what’s next.

Two kids sitting in bed reading

Together, ABA strategies and speech and language tools can create successful routines for children with autism. Be consistent and enjoy the bonding time you have with your child as they continue to learn. If you’d like more information on resources and service, visit our site today and find out how we can offer your family the support you need.

Using Daily Routines to Improve Language Skills

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