Category: Resources

Language Activities

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Family

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Benefits of Group Therapy

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Two women talking

Although group therapy may seem intimidating at first, its benefits far outweigh any reservations you may have. Group therapy provides tremendous benefits for any age and varying situations. From offering a sense of validation amongst peers to helping family members thrive with a child with autism, group therapy can be insightful and rewarding for all participants. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between group sessions and ABA therapy.

  • The Focus of Group Therapy
  • Top Benefits for Group Therapy
  • Benefits of Group Therapy for Children
  • Benefits of Group Therapy for Adults
  • Benefits of Group Therapy for Families with a Child with Autism
  • Parents of Children with Autism
  • Siblings of Children with Autism
  • Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy and ABA Therapy

 

The Focus of Group Therapy

Let’s first take a look at what group therapy is at its core. Group therapy typically combines one or two professionally trained therapists who work with a small group of patients at a time. Group therapy addresses specific issues and goals, such as social anxiety, depression, coping skills, or grief and loss. Each group has its approach and length of time, according to the focus, needs of the patients, and the group’s progress.

 

Top Benefits for Group Therapy

Age and focus aside, there are phenomenal benefits of participating in any group therapy session. Group therapy provides tremendous help and comfort, including:

Shared Support:

Groups allow each member to give and receive support. This form of therapy encourages the members to share and interact with each other as much as they would with individual therapists. Yet, it revolves around each member, adding their feedback to enrich others’ experiences. They find support, connection, wisdom, and validation in knowing their peers can give and take alongside the therapists’ input and assistance.

 

A Safe Space:

Group therapy provides the same confidentiality and support that individual therapy offers, with the bonus of knowing they can relate to members in the group who experience similar feelings, complications, and situations. They can feel secure in their environment while they express their concerns and offer priceless insight to others.

 

Self-Esteem:

Validation from group therapy offers substantial boosts in self-esteem. As bonds form, acceptance within the group boosts one’s self-esteem. Providing feedback and sharing experiences allow members to take ownership of the sessions, promoting self-confidence as they contribute to the growth, success, and support of others.

 

Social Skills:

While social skills don’t always come easy to some, group therapy sessions allow them to develop and blossom. Participation in groups helps create and strengthen social skills, including eye contact, interacting and sharing, relating to others, taking turns, and developing their listening skills.

 

A Voice:

Group therapy offers each of its members a chance to participate and be heard. While individual therapy encourages this, group therapy provides a safe setting among peers, allowing each member to express themselves openly and honestly without the fear of judgment, ridicule, or silencing.

 

Connection:

Relating to others is essential during therapy, and the group offers the opportunity to create connections with others in similar situations. Connection promotes acceptance, understanding, and trust within the group. Whether you’re the one asking or receiving advice at the moment, all members of the group can connect and take away valuable knowledge. Group sessions also help others see themselves from another point of view. By connecting through similar circumstances, they gain additional insight, experience empathy, and feel worthy.

Group of people sitting in a circle talking

 

Benefits of Group Therapy for Children

The structure of group therapy for children will look a bit different, depending upon the age range in each group. Younger children express themselves best through natural and structured play.

This may include:

  • Art therapy
  • Role-play
  • Games and activities

Older children can express themselves and their emotions through words, making traditional talk therapy more ideal. Groups for older children allow peer support, feedback, and often encourage participation in various activities to help explore and express themselves.

Group therapy allows children to understand their feelings and experiences are universal. Groups help them understand they are not alone and realize others are learning to cope with similar difficulties. Groups offer validation and freedom from feeling alone in their struggles.

Regardless of a child’s age, group therapy offers an array of benefits, including:

  • Enhancing social skills
  • Relationship building
  • Coping strategies
  • Building trust
  • Ability to share

 

Benefits of Group Therapy for Adults

For adults, the benefits of group therapy sessions can be quite similar. However, differences may include additional considerations, such as the cost of attending individual therapy. Adults may benefit more from attending therapy with peers, allowing them to have a sounding board. Some adults are more open to the thought of group therapy if they are not ready to open up and share immediately. Listening to others gives them a chance to realize they can relate and even contribute to another’s feelings or struggles. Groups also encourage others to improve, try new methods, and interact on a social level by engaging, trusting, and bonding. Feedback from peers tends to help one self-evaluate realistically and see themselves from another point of view.

 

Benefits of Group Therapy for Families with a Child with Autism

Attending family therapy sessions has an extensive list of benefits to offer each member. This style of group therapy focuses on the family dynamic as a whole and each relationship. Therapists explore the relationships, hardships, and accomplishments within each subgroup and how they affect the family as a whole unit. Sessions seek to explore communication, mental health, coping techniques, and cohesiveness within the family. Family members receive encouragement to share their frustrations, expectations and wins to find what works and what needs further assistance.

Each family member plays a unique role in helping children with autism thrive in their natural environments. In combination with ABA therapy sessions and techniques, your child can learn to grow and adapt to changes with the support of their family members and successful strategies.

 

Children with Autism

Kids with autism, particularly high-functioning autism, benefit greatly from group therapy sessions. Studies have shown encouraging progress by incorporating group therapy in conjunction with their ABA therapy programs. Groups have been able to:

  • Strengthen their social skills
  • Help them build trust and lasting bonds with peers and adults
  • Allow them to relate to others
  • Normalize their feelings and experiences
  • Cope with the demands of everyday life

 

Group therapy for children with autism may even be as simple as enrolling in art therapy sessions. These group therapy sessions add an extra social component to your typical art class. Children can experience freely and thrive in a social setting that requires bonding with an adult and interaction with peers. Children with autism begin to learn how to recognize, read, and react to social cues, explore and develop self-esteem, and express their wants and needs through art. Additional benefits may include enhancing their:

  • Eye contact
  • Verbal skills
  • Focus
  • Attention span
  • On-task behaviors

 

Parents of Children with Autism

Group therapy, such as support groups for parents, allows them to connect with others facing similar struggles, worries, and situations. Connecting with other families of children with autism can encourage while offering additional insight into raising a child with autism. Parents are often the best resource for community events, medical referrals, school, ABA therapy programs, and more. Group therapy for parents allows them time to express concerns and frustrations in an open and relatable environment. It gives parents a chance to explore their feelings, learn from others, and gather ideas for new techniques they may not have thought of.

Group therapy for parents of children with ASD also helps them learn to deal with the stress, anxiety, and feelings they experience. New parents, in particular, can benefit from what other members bring to the group. They may offer coping skills, self-care strategies, and techniques to help siblings thrive in the home environment. Groups may also offer social events and educational meetings for parents to benefit from.

Group therapy encourages parents to feel free to share their frustrations, exhaustions, and deepest fears. The group environment encourages sharing similar experiences of what works as much as what hasn’t worked, to offer a multitude of methods for other families to try. By providing this group sounding board, parents find they learn to recompose, accept, and grow by sharing and listening to others in a similar situation.

In particular, Moms tend to carry the weight of the stress when parenting a child with autism. They may suppress feelings of anxiety and depression while trying to manage home, and work demands with the challenges that parenting a child with autism can bring. Relating to other parents can promote relief, understanding, and a sense of accomplishment during sessions.

Parents often report seeking therapeutic benefits, including:

  • Relief from guilt
  • Dealing with burnout
  • Finding a support system
  • Emerging from isolation
  • Fears of having additional children
  • Ways to deal with frustration and anger
  • Handling feelings of resentment towards their child
  • Dealing with and finding help with financial difficulties
  • Finding proper care, medical care, and ABA therapy programs
  • Ideas and strategies for talking to siblings about autism

 

Siblings of Children with Autism

Siblings of a child with autism often have a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility on their shoulders. Siblings may feel an excessive amount of being overwhelmed, a burden of responsibility, or even resentment towards their sibling. Group therapy sessions provide a safety net for them to openly release their emotions and share their feelings and concerns. Group therapy offers siblings validation, strategies, and support they may otherwise not have access to. Hearing others’ experiences and emotions helps them feel they are not alone while learning to deal with anger and guilt.

Group therapy also offers a time to help educate siblings on autism, what their role as a sibling may entail, and what their brother or sister experiences. It helps strengthen their knowledge base of what to expect, how to help, and ways to support the family unit. Discussing autism regularly is essential, and often, parents feel inadequate. While their therapy sessions are beneficial in strengthening their skills in this area, group therapy for siblings is a helpful reinforcer in this area. Therapists help siblings learn to foster positive, lasting relationships, embracing their responsibilities and roles in the family unit. Group sessions explore concerns and misconceptions and allow them a chance to share their experiences and frustrations with others in their situation.

 

Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy

While group therapy offers benefits to all ages, it does not replace individual therapy. Individual therapy sessions can and sometimes should be in combination. Every situation is unique, and your child’s ABA therapy team will be able to evaluate your child and family, making the best recommendations on which course of action will suit your child’s needs and goals. The ABA therapy team will consider your child’s comfort levels, ability to relate, bond, and express themselves. Group therapy often enhances a child’s social skills, making group therapy an ideal option to explore.

 

Group Therapy and ABA Therapy

While there are undoubtedly many similar benefits to gain from group therapy and ABA therapy, one does not replace the other. ABA therapy and group options are, however, complementary to each other. ABA therapy is vital in the success of children with autism, with early intervention being ideal. Group therapy is specific to a particular area of struggle, while each ABA therapy plan is individualized to a specific child. ABA therapy revolves around creating or strengthening new, more desirable behaviors and skills through positive reinforcements, while groups naturally enhance new skills and behaviors in children through the exposure of peer interactions during sessions. Groups are ideally for children with high-functioning autism, as ABA therapy concentrates on creating a foundation to build upon for critical areas such as speech, language, and behaviors.

Many group therapy sessions complement ABA therapy, including art therapy, to enhance self-expression and bonding. Through ABA therapy, the incorporation of play therapy is often useful early on to enhance speech, language, and social skills. As your child progresses through ABA therapy goals, play therapy with other children of similar age and goals will help by offering opportunities for modeling, eye contact, communicating wants, and sharing toys.

Whether you’re searching for ABA therapy programs or group therapy options for your family, Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center is here to help you navigate through the process.  Our Blossom Method offers an all-encompassing approach to ABA therapy and beyond. We invite you to explore our resources and schedule a consult with our highly trained staff today.

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Child choosing a library book

Motivation plays a critical role in the overall success of your child’s formation of lasting skills and behaviors. Speech and ABA therapies, in particular, strive to find what motivates your child most. By integrating these interests, they strive to gain and hold your child’s attention to introduce and increase long-term learning. Pairing ABA therapy practice with Pivotal Response Training, or PRT proves to be a successful way to enhance the introduction and long-term adoption of new skills and behaviors. PRT recognizes and stresses the importance of each child’s motivation. Capitalizing on your child’s interests provides additional motivation, opening the doors to optimal learning opportunities during the use of ABA therapy strategies. Let’s take a look at:

  • What Pivotal Response Treatment Is
  • What Developmental Areas PRT Targets
  • How PRT Provides Motivation
  • A Look at a Typical PRT Session

Understanding Pivotal Response Treatment

Pivotal Response Treatment is a behavioral treatment that pairs successfully with ABA therapy for children with autism. This type of therapy is play-based and child-initiated, holding the belief that changes in a pivotal response can trigger progress throughout all other developmental areas. While early intervention is always most effective, PRT is most successful during the preschool through middle school years, teaching them to self-evaluate, self-regulate, and gain further independence. PRT goals focus on three significant aspects:

  1. The development of your child’s communication and language skills
  2. Decreasing and replacing disruptive behaviors
  3. Increasing your child’s positive social behaviors

A PRT therapist will focus on the pivotal developmental areas, rather than targeting one specific behavior. By concentrating on pivotal aspects, PRT provides improvements across multiple developmental areas, including:

  • Communication
  • Social skills
  • Learning
  • Behavior

During ABA therapy, PRT focus areas include strengthening your child’s:

  • Self-management skills
  • Ability to initiate social interactions
  • Motivation
  • Responses to various cues at a time, rather than focusing on one specific detail

How PRT Provides Motivation

Motivation strategies are a vital part of PRT and emphasize consistent, meaningful reinforcement. When your child makes purposeful attempts to request a specific item, such as a favorite toy, that toy is their reward. Children receive their reward when making a meaningful attempt, despite making perfect attempts to increase motivation.

Child with teddy bear

What to Expect from PRT Sessions

PRT programs provide individual tailoring to meet your child’s ABA therapy goals and needs. Psychologists, speech therapists, and special education teachers are among the professionals with PRT certifications who will work with your child. Sessions typically include six segments, roughly twenty-five hours a week, focusing on:

  • Play
  • Language
  • Social skills

 

As your child progresses, the focus and structure of their sessions will advance, making parental involvement imperative. As your child continues to practice at home and in all their natural environments, new behaviors will become lasting results.

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, our team of professionals will work closely with your family, providing everything you need. You’ll find education, techniques, and support services to help your child meet their goals and thrive. To learn more about our all-encompassing services for your child and family, we encourage you to visit our site or one of our centers today.

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Child playing with animal figures

Receiving your child’s diagnosis of autism can be a difficult time. Understanding the benefits of seeking early intervention services, including ABA therapy and ESDM, are essential. Your child’s success increases significantly by starting early intervention therapies as early as possible. To help guide you through the process, we’ll look at:

  • The importance of early intervention
  • The benefits of ABA therapy
  • ESDM therapy
  • What is play-based therapy?
  • What is IDEA Part C?
  • What you need to know about your insurance coverage

Child playing with toy train

The Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention is critical at the onset of noticing your child’s delays. Seeking a diagnosis can be a lengthy and trying time, so enlisting professionals’ help is a vital step in the right direction.

Children learn best during the earliest stages of life. Your child’s brain is rapidly developing from infancy to the age of three, making this a critical window to begin early intervention services. The connections in their brains, neural circuits, or connections build the foundation for their:

  • Wellness
  • Health
  • Learning
  • Behavior

Before reaching the age of three, each of your child’s experiences will have a significant impact on the development of their brain. As they grow older, it becomes increasingly more challenging to change connections already formed.

 

Early Intervention Benefits

Introducing services as soon as possible offers the most potential for your child’s success in areas including:

  • Communication
  • Self-care skills
  • Self-control
  • Play
  • School readiness
  • Social/emotional development
  • Cognitive development

 

What is ABA Therapy

ABA therapy, Applied Behavioral Analysis, is an early intervention strategy that provides a scientifically proven understanding of how various behaviors may affect the environment of children with an autism diagnosis. ABA therapy also looks closely at how their learning and behavior take place. Early intervention services, such as ABA therapy, focus on replacing behaviors using a reward system. With a highly effective positive reinforcement method, therapists will designate a desirable and meaningful reward for your child, which encourages them to learn and replace undesirable behavior with a new behavior or skill. This method of ABA therapy provides a way for therapists to take a more in-depth look at your child’s skills and behaviors in real-life circumstances.

ABA therapy stresses and depends on your participation as the parent, to help your child form lasting behavior changes. While working together with your child and their therapists, you will provide valuable insight into what motivates your child. This vital information supports the reinforcement methods of replacing undesirable or harmful behaviors with positive ones. ABA therapy strives to reduce behaviors that may interfere with your child’s ability to learn and function at their highest level.  ABA therapy spans various areas, including:

  • Communication skills
  • Social skills
  • Self-care skills
  • Home environment
  • School environment

 

What is ESDM Therapy

The Early Start Denver Model, or ESDM, is a valuable therapy approach that should begin before your child reaches forty-eight months of age. ESDM is often a preferable choice of behavioral therapy in young children with a recent diagnosis of autism. The ESDM is a valuable therapy that pairs well with ABA therapy, as both stress the importance of play. Through play-based therapy with younger children, parents, caregivers, and therapists can concentrate on building a close relationship with your child, while strengthening the learning process. Through play, children build trust while learning to:

  • Recognize social cues
  • Communicate wants and needs
  • Learn through modeling
  • Strengthen life-skills

Children can accomplish many achievements through play-based therapy across all environments.

The ESDM creates a way for ongoing therapy to occur in various settings, including daycare and home environments. ESDM, along with ABA therapy practices, allows parents to use methods, such as play-based therapy, wherever they may be. ESDM works towards the ongoing development of building positive relationships and expanding relational skills.

 

What is Play-Based Therapy

Learning through play follows the milestones of where a typically developing child should be. Play-based therapy uses ESDM curriculum to specifically target areas your child may struggle with, including a variety of challenging behaviors and life skills. Common areas include:

  • Social interaction skills
  • Integrating skill sets
  • Forming and maintaining relationships

Child playing at table with adult

What is IDEA Part C?

It is critical to be aware of your child’s rights and available options. Part C is the Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities Act. As part of IDEA or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C addresses the need for education and services for all young children with various developmental delays. The addition of Part C to IDEA in 1986:

  • Reduces the potential risk of further developmental delays
  • Protects children with any medical condition that may potentially lead to developmental delays
  • Offers early intervention to preschool-aged children
  • Prepares young children for school
  • Reduces the needs and expenses of special education services
  • Encourages and builds partnerships between necessary programs and agencies, providing services, rather than acting alone

 

Knowing Your Insurance Coverages for Autism Services

While states may differ, it is essential to understand your insurance coverage as well as state and federal services for early intervention therapy and additional screenings and coverages for autism.

 

The Autism Insurance Reform

Due to recent changes, all fifty states now follow government requirements providing coverage for ABA therapy. Each state requires “meaningful coverage” for the screenings, services, and treatments of autism under state-regulated health plans. Keep in mind; your policy may hold limitations. The benchmark for “meaningful coverage” provides ABA therapy for your child under your policy but may be met with imposing caps on:

·       The amount of ABA therapy hours

·       Monetary amount

·       Age of your child

Medicaid for ABA Therapy Coverage

Inquire about services and coverages through public health insurance that are available for children with an autism diagnosis. Options are available through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Each state receives funds with specific guidelines from the federal government, stating Medicaid shall pay for services relating to autism:

·       Screening

·       Diagnosis

·       Treatment, including ABA therapy

We understand this is a problematic and overwhelming journey. Our highly trained team is ready to help you through this challenging time. Our goal is to provide your child with exceptional, all-encompassing services and provide real, lasting skills and behaviors. Visit us today and find out how the Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center can support your family.

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Child and adult playing with cards

Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective and vital components of dealing with challenging behaviors in children with autism and other behavioral issues. Proper and consistent implementation by professionals and caregivers provides your child with the tools and resources necessary to replace these challenging behaviors. At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we are here to support your family while working together to help your child thrive in their natural environments. Through the use of positive reinforcement best practices, in combination with necessary therapies, including ABA therapy, we will guide you through your journey to help your child succeed.

 

Common Behavioral Challenges

While each child has their own set of strengths and needs, there can be common challenges among children with autism. Learning to address these challenges through ABA therapy and consistent positive reinforcement methods offers your child the best chance to learn and adopt beneficial skills and behaviors.

Challenging or harmful behaviors in children with autism that these methods address may include:

  • Normal daily activities and skillsets
  • Aggressive behavior and self-injury
  • Seeking and avoidance
  • Mood instability, tantrums, and meltdowns, including harmful coping mechanisms
  • Improper social skills and communication difficulties
  • Repetitive actions and restricting interests
  • ADHD, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditionsthat may hinder learning
  • Noise sensitivity and their reaction and ability to handle such environments
  • Sleep disturbance issues
  • Sensory issues and reactions
  • Physical fitness concerns leading to health issues
  • Executive function issues

Small child pouting

Understanding the Role of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a successful form of behavioral management and beneficial for replacing challenging behavioral issues. Using positive reinforcement in combination with ABA therapy allows therapists to replace undesirable or potentially harmful behaviors with new behaviors and skills. Utilizing this particular reward system consists of selecting privileges or items your child holds as meaningful to them. It offers a reward to strive for during the learning and reshaping process. This highly personal and meaningful reward aims to provide the incentive that may lead to forming new and life-changing behaviors and skills. Positive reinforcements are extremely valuable when modifying your child’s most challenging behaviors.

 

Modeling and Positive Reinforcements

Through modeling behaviors during ABA therapy, your child learns through repetition, while striving to attain their reward. This method strengthens the likelihood of the adoption of this new skill or behavior. Positive reinforcement has the power to eventually result in long-lasting, positive behavior, or life skill. If modeling the positive behavior or ability is not immediately successful, the reward is not given, and the modeling process continues to repeat as necessary. ABA therapy provides your child with the time they require to learn and repeat the new skills and behaviors in a safe environment while encouraging practice in their natural habitats.

 

Your child’s reinforcer is typically one they show excitement for and is not generally attainable to them. Working for their special reward helps increase their desire to learn, model, and adopt the new behavior. The most personal, meaningful reinforcers help children with ASD form beneficial behaviors and skills they may use, including:

 

  • Life skills
  • Communications skills
  • Social interactions
  • Self-care skills
  • Classroom readiness skills

 

Your child’s therapists will work closely with their educators, caregivers, and family members, to learn how to consistently and adequately use positive reinforcement to implement change while strengthening lasting behavioral changes. When pairing positive reinforcements with ABA therapy, it is vital not to deviate from their plan. It provides consistency for the child to improve the chances of forming a long-lasting behavior.

 

The Role of ABA Therapy

ABA therapy is a scientifically validated form of therapy that examines how your child’s behavior and learning happen. ABA therapy practices the repetition and consistent practice of new, helpful behaviors across all your child’s natural environments. ABA therapy relies on the successful methods of positive reinforcement, providing your child with motivators they do not tend to have easy access to daily. ABA therapists and your child’s team will be in charge of determining their personal reinforcers. Their team will also rely on gaining your input and insight into what motivates your child most by evaluating what they respond well to, both in sessions and their real-life situations.

­­­­­Pairing ABA Therapy and Positive Reinforcements Successfully

Combining these two incredibly successful methods increases your child’s success rate while learning, implementing, and continuing these new skills. Pairing the motivator with your encouragement, words of praise, and repetition is crucial. The reinforcer will be a reward they are eager to strive towards. Think about what your child craves most. It may be receiving extra screen time on a tablet or tv, their favorite treat, or toy they don’t usually spend much time with. The greater the value, the higher the likelihood they will work hard to repeat the new skills and behaviors independently. Eventually, with practice through repetition during ABA therapy and at home, the new ability will become natural to your child.

 

Positive Reinforcement vs. Punishment

There was a time when the treatment of challenging behaviors of a child with autism was to implement punishment. The use of punishment was a quick and seemingly effective way to bring about behavioral changes. Most did not have a great understanding of autism, and a diagnosis often meant they were dealing with a psychiatric disorder. Decades later, a scientific breakthrough – positive reinforcement -successfully introduces new skills and behaviors, leading to the creation of long-term results. Positive reinforcements began replacing the use of punishment with patients living with autism. ABA therapy’s new approach was to remove abusive treatment and punishment to gain desirable behaviors, drastically revolutionizing the treatment of autism.

 

Positive Reinforcement vs. Bribes

There are ongoing discussions voicing concern that positive reinforcements are simply bribes. It’s imperative to clear up misconceptions between a bribe and a positive reinforcement.  A bribe offers reward before a desirable task, to encourage performance. Bribes coax a specific action, while positive reinforcements come only after the completion of new, desirable behavior.

 

The Caregiver’s Role in Positive Reinforcements

As a parent of a child with autism, you play a critical role in your child’s ABA therapy and positive reinforcement. Their success is a direct result of your valuable insight and follow-through in real-life situations. Your child’s ABA therapist will work closely with you to gather the information that will allow them to create a plan consisting of the most important goals for your child to achieve.

 

During ABA therapy sessions, parents will learn through demonstrations, education, and the implementation of various strategies to find what works best with your child. You will have the tools and resources necessary to carry out proper instruction in your natural environments. If additional caregivers would like or need training, support, or guidance in carrying out your child’s positive reinforcement plan, options and arrangements are typically available. This support includes educating caregivers in the use of positive reinforcements at your child’s daycare, school, church, or other natural environments.

 

As your child’s cheerleader and primary caregiver, you have invaluable insights to share with your child’s team of therapists. It is essential to relay details to your child’s team so that they can adequately determine the most effective strategies and reinforcers to implement. Sharing concerns as well as further information on successes and failures outside of ABA therapy sessions help make improvements, develop new strategies, and strengthen reward systems. What works for one behavior or skill may need to undergo minor adjustments for another. Your consistent tracking and sharing of all information help determine these necessary modifications to increase the chances of a successful behavioral change.

 

Documenting Behaviors

Most parents keep a personal notebook of daily routines, outings, struggles, and achievements. Documenting is an excellent way to keep track of questions that arise, allowing you to address them at their next ABA therapy session. Our team has put together some helpful tips for parents and caregivers to include in their journaling efforts:

 

  • Keep a list readily available of your child’s goals set by you and their team of therapists.
  • Take notes often, including what is in progress, reaching mastery, or obstacles causing difficulty.
  • If positive reinforcement isn’t working well, make a note of what the concern is and what may currently motivate your child.
  • Make a note of activities your child prefers, as it may result in more willingness to adopt new behaviors and skills.
  • Remember, this is priceless, quality time you and your child have together. Have fun learning and growing together. Don’t forget to award encouragement and praise as you work towards improving behaviors.

 

Measuring Positive Reinforcement Success

Over time, new skills and behaviors will begin to reoccur naturally. Less modeling, positive reinforcements, and guidance will be necessary. Once your child demonstrates the repetitive use of the behavior or skill on their own without prompting or the need for positive reinforcement, it is time to consider it a success.

 

Are There Specific Behaviors ABA Therapy and Positive Reinforcements Focus On?

When you hear discussions of changing behaviors through ABA therapy, there may be misinterpretation that it is a way to target bad behavior. This belief simply isn’t so. ABA therapy focuses on creating new, productive behaviors across all aspects of your child’s life for them to thrive. For some children, communication skills may be a primary area of focus. Finding reliable ways to create skills and behavior that allow your child to express their feelings adequately is vital. For example, each ABA therapist works closely with the Speech Language therapist to meet your child’s communication needs. As a team, they can develop a specific course of action using positive reinforcements to achieve new skills, adjust behaviors, and meet their goals. Additional therapists on their team benefit by changing behaviors that lead to improving skills in their self-grooming routines and other self-care abilities.

 

Social skills are another crucial area in which ABA therapy and positive reinforcements play a significant role in meeting your child’s need to thrive. Increasing capabilities in sociability allow them to better communicate with, work with, and share with their caregivers and peers. Whether in a school setting or a playgroup, combining positive reinforcements with ABA therapy offers a way to help your child learn acceptable behaviors, form life skills, and develop the social skills to flourish in a group or one-on-one settings across any environment.

 

It is essential to understand the difference between harmful and poor behavior. Positive reinforcement is used in combination with ABA therapy to help children replace potentially harmful or undesirable behaviors with these new behaviors. It’s successful use in helping children with ASD learn appropriate behaviors throughout a variety of areas, including social skills and necessary life skills, is essential. Through the help of therapists and caregivers, consistent use of positive reinforcement has the power to create positive, lasting behavioral changes to promote the best life and school readiness possible for your child.

 

Early Intervention Benefits

There are significant benefits to taking action early. Enrolling in services as soon as possible has an enormous impact on your child’s development. Seeking therapy at an early age is acting in the best interest of your child. The effectiveness of early intervention is significant and offers tremendous potential for success across all areas.

 

Early Intervention and Your Brain

Science shows that a child’s brain rapidly develops between infancy and age three. Neural circuits, or connections, in your child’s brain, are busy laying the foundation for their health, behavior, wellness, and learning. Your child’s experiences, even before reaching the age of three, have a vital impact on the development of their brain. And, as they become older, it becomes more challenging to change the developing connections that have been forming. Replacement of behaviors takes longer and present more difficulty. During your child’s first three years, ABA therapy and positive reinforcement practices can help strengthen their development.

 

Our highly trained team is here to support your family. We encourage you to reach out with questions and concerns and to learn more about our center. Our team at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center will help your child succeed through dedication, knowledge, and years of experience. For additional information on autism, the therapy programs we offer, and educational tools for your family, we invite you to take advantage of our helpful resources today.

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Child holding colored pencils

Art is an exciting and natural way for all children to explore and learn to express themselves. Through various avenues, such as painting, drawing, and building, children learn to read and explore emotions, develop coping skills, and experience social interactions. While children with autism process the world differently, art allows them to learn how to understand and develop skills they may struggle with. Through a combination of ABA therapy and art therapy, your child can experience multiple sensory stimuli in a safe environment.

Child painting with watercolors

What is Art Therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit through the use of integrative methods in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Art therapy also supports your child’s personal and relational ABA therapy treatment goals by improving:

 

  • Cognitive skills
  • Sensorimotor functions
  • Self-esteem and self-awareness
  • Emotional resilience
  • Insight
  • Social skills
  • The ability to reduce and resolve conflicts and distress
  • Executive functioning skills – a set of mental skills, including working memory, flexible thinking, and self-control.

 

Seeking Treatment Through Art Therapy

Implementing art therapy offers an array of possibilities for children with autism. Art provides a way to help them develop their imagination and understanding of the world around them. Expression through art offers an alternative way to build or enhance their communication skills. It’s also useful in meeting various goals, including:

 

  • Enhance visual skills
  • Define fine motor skills
  • Encourage social skills
  • Improve behavioral issues through integrating ABA therapy
  • Develop sensory integration
  • Decrease off-task behaviors
  • Increase learning opportunities

 

Art Therapy Enhances Communication Skills

Children with autism struggle with the ability to communicate effectively, read cues, and express their basic wants and needs. Using art therapy, in combination with ABA therapy, provides an alternative way for your child to build or enhance their communication skills. Through art, they can form meaningful bonds with their therapist and caregivers while learning to explore a new, less intimidating expression method.

Art therapy provides a way to help your child develop their understanding of the world around them. They benefit by exploring and expanding their imagination and expression. Your child’s therapists will help them learn to find other ways to use receptive and expressive communication through:

  • Symbolism
  • Kinesthetics
  • Sensory exploration
  • Perception

Child recreating a painting

Art Therapists

Art therapists are master-level clinicians who complete education and training under strict supervision to serve their needs best. While they work across many areas, your child will receive focus on their strengths and challenges set by their ABA therapy team. Children with autism typically have their sessions focused on their medical and mental health issues, emotional, communicative, and behavioral growth.

While there is an array of settings for art therapists to work with your child and family, you will typically find art therapy services in:

  • ABA therapy clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Private practice
  • Psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Crisis centers

 

Strengthening Positive Behaviors and Executive Functioning

Art therapy offers children with autism a way to replace and strengthen their behaviors. Art therapy has been in use as a successful form of early childhood intervention for children with autism for years. Studies show children with autism exhibit fewer behavioral challenges after engaging in artistic activities. It offers an opportunity to increase cognitive function through expression, by enhancing their imagination, and encourages abstract thinking. Enhancement of executive functioning skills includes strengthening their working memory and flexible thinking through concentration and attention to detail during art sessions.  Art activities also provide an incredible chance to facilitate cognitive development while helping to build and strengthen their visual-spatial and fine motor skills.

 

Combining Art Therapy and ABA Therapy

Through the use of ABA therapy, children learn to replace undesirable behaviors with new skills and behaviors. ABA therapy relies on modeling, repetition, and the use of positive reinforcements. For children with autism, combining ABA with art therapy offers an antecedent-based intervention or ABI. Similar to ABA therapy practices, ABI offers evidence-based practices that introduce stimulus changes prior to undesirable situations occurring. This method allows the use of similar positive reinforcements, such as selecting their favorite art activities or allowing them to make various individual choices during therapy.

The combination of ABA therapy with art therapy dramatically enhances the overall strengths of your child. They become more independent and begin to develop appropriate social skills. Children with ASD also tend to be visual and concrete learners, allowing the introduction of art therapy to help them better communicate emotions, feelings, needs, and wants through art-based activities that match their learning styles. Art therapy reduces stress and anxiety levels by focusing on your child’s creativity rather than verbal communication difficulties. When they feel more comfortable expressing themselves through art, they feel a level of acceptance from their therapists, caregivers, and peers.

 

Assessing Your Child Through Art

Art therapy and ABA therapy pair well together for assessment purposes. Art offers a wide variety of assessment opportunities in a safe, relaxing environment. Observing your child’s progress includes noting improvements in fine motor skills while demonstrating the ability to focus and improve sensory processing. Cognitive development and behavior are also areas of assessment easily seen through art therapy. It offers an environment that is not over-stimulating while still providing structure, modeling, and opportunities for language and communication strengthening.

 

Art Therapy: Group Session Benefits

Group sessions continue to show valuable benefits for children with autism. By adding a social component to art sessions, they experience and learn to thrive in social settings requiring interaction. Children learn to recognize and read social cues, develop self-esteem, and express their needs. Additional improvements include enhancing:

  • Focus
  • Eye contact
  • Verbal skills
  • Social skills
  • On-task behaviors

Art therapy offers tremendous benefits to help your child thrive across all areas. At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we believe in providing an all-encompassing approach to meet the various needs of your family. From ABA therapy to art and speech, we are here to provide you with the tools you need. We invite you to explore our resources, and if you are in the Michigan area, allow us to help your family navigate this journey.

 

 

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insurance

ABA therapy aims to help your child replace disruptive or unwanted behaviors that may be harmful or interfere with their learning or socialization. It is a vital service necessary for your child to thrive. The process of finding the information and services your child needs can be both stressful and challenging when first receiving their diagnosis of autism. With overwhelming amounts of information to sort through, appointments to schedule, and accommodations to make, insurance may now be one less thing to lose sleep over. After years of tireless advocating, improvements to health insurance coverage for services, including ABA therapy, are being made. Determining whether ABA therapy coverage is a part of an insurance plan may be essential in making financial decisions for many families. So, where should you begin?

Two people reviewing insurance paperwork

Your Insurance and ABA

Begin by checking on the type of insurance plan your family has. This information is essential in determining which services for autism require coverage by your provider. Full coverage plans have set requirements, providing your child with benefits state laws direct. Other plans, including self-funded insurance plans, do not have this requirement, as they follow federal regulations.

 

Autism Insurance Reform

All fifty states now follow government requirements to provide coverage for your child’s ABA therapy. While all states require “meaningful coverage” for the services and treatment of autism in state-regulated health plans, you may find your plan has limitations. The standard benchmark for “meaningful coverage” is to provide with you ABA therapy coverage. Unfortunately, some insurance plans may impose caps on:

·       Number of ABA therapy sessions

·       Monetary amount

·       Age of child

Some families may be responsible for over twenty thousand dollars per year if ABA therapy is not a part of their plan.

Know the In’s and Out’s of Your Insurance Plan’s Loopholes

Not everyone is aware that full insurance plans may be subject to abide by laws in the state of issuance. This means coverage for your child’s ABA therapy may not necessarily be where the beneficiary lives.

Some states may offer an incomplete plan by allowing autism insurance laws to exempt plan types from specific coverage requirements. By citing fiscal impacts, some state legislatures do not mandate coverage for your child’s autism treatments. In other states, exemptions include the size of your group and the date of issuance.

My Insurance Plan Doesn’t Provide Necessary Coverage

If you find your plan does not offer the coverages your child needs for ABA therapy and additional services for autism:

·       Ask your employer if other self-funded plans are available.

o   What coverage will they provide for autism services?

·       Ask if your company provides options for fully insured plans.

o   Be sure to ask which state regulates this option to ensure your coverage.

o   Ask if this is a large or small group plan.

 

Medicaid for ABA Therapy Coverage

Public health insurance, for children with an autism diagnosis, is available through the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid. Every state receives funds with specific guidelines from the federal government, and federal law states that Medicaid shall pay for the following autism services:

·       Screening

·       Diagnosis

·       Treatment, including ABA therapy

 

It is essential to look closely at your state’s Medicaid program, as all states have different administration guidelines.

 

At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, our team is here to provide your family with guidance through this challenging time. We are available to walk you through our all-encompassing services and assist with your insurance coverage questions. For more information on our ABA therapy and additional services, contact us today. 

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Adult and child playing

Children with autism often have difficulty learning to communicate their wants and needs. They may struggle to express themselves and often do so through troublesome behavior. Finding the best course of action typically requires hours of various therapies, appointments, and research, which can seem impossible to tackle when your child is newly diagnosed. With the help of ABA therapy, in combination with additional services and tools, including speech-language therapy, interventions, and devices, your child can learn how to communicate their needs more efficiently.

 

Most of us use functional communication skills to express our wants, needs, preferences, and feelings without trouble. When your child is unable to achieve this, you may notice they become angry, exhibit frustration, meltdowns, and tantrums. Your child will benefit from combining applied behavior analysis (ABA) with speech therapy approaches.

Speech bubble

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy is a scientifically validated therapy providing an in-depth understanding of how your child’s environment may be affecting their behaviors. ABA therapy looks closely at how learning and behavior take place. It relies upon a reward system that individualizes the most meaningful reward to each child to replace unwanted behaviors with a desirable one. The use of positive reinforcement is a vital component in the replacement and strengthening of new behaviors and skills. By using consistency in all your child’s natural environments, positive reinforcements prove to be a powerful tool for professionals and family members working with children with autism. With these reinforcements, ABA therapy rids behaviors that may be harmful and hinder their health and ability to learn. ABA therapy relies on parent participation and real-life circumstances to help your child create the most successful and lasting changes. ABA therapy will help your child in many crucial developmental areas, including:

 

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

 

What is Speech-Language Therapy?

Speech therapists offer therapy that addresses various challenges a child may have with language and communication. Speech therapists focus on improving your child’s verbal, nonverbal, and social communication skillset. The overall goal in speech-language therapy sessions is to help your child communicate in the most practical and functional ways possible. A speech therapist can provide the tools and skills necessary to thrive whether your child is unable to speak, experiences verbal difficulties holding conversations, or cannot read body language and facial cues others express. Additional concerns speech therapists often address, include:

 

  • No speech
  • Grunting
  • Babbling
  • Humming or speaking in a song-like way
  • Parroting, or echolalia
  • Expressionless tone
  • Robotic-toned speech
  • Shrieking or yelling

 

ABA Therapist and Speech Therapist Differences

While these two approaches can complement each other, there are distinct differences between the two. Speech therapists focus on individually treating language and communication skills, while ABA therapy helps a variety of behavioral, motor, and learning skills.

ABA therapists utilize positive reinforcement and strict techniques intending to teach children to engage in specific, positive behaviors. ABA therapists focus on measurable, observable, and modifiable aspects of all development, including language and communication. This successful method can lead to the adoption of lasting new skills and behavioral changes.

Speech therapists focus on helping your child develop helpful language and communication skills. Your child’s speech therapist will conduct their own evaluations to determine their challenges with communication, then create goals to work on in a one-on-one or group setting. Goals may include:

  • strengthening of jaw muscles
  • responding to social cues
  • learning to use an electronic speech aid

Speech therapists incorporate the use of many creative tools, such as picture boards, songs, and games, to develop and enhance communication skills.

 

ABA Therapist and Speech Therapist Similarities

ABA and speech therapists work towards helping your child become autonomous and successful in their communication skills outside of therapy. This is why integrating their concepts can be highly successful. 

 

Your child’s ABA therapists and speech therapists will work together to build comprehensive therapeutic strategies that aim to improve their verbal and non-verbal communication abilities. Speech therapists make an ideal member of your child’s ABA team, as they all have the common goal of providing efficient and effective approaches to acquiring language and communication skills.

Each child’s speech therapist often assists their ABA therapists in finding alternative forms of communication that work best during sessions. Speech therapists may recommend tools such as sign language, assistive technology, or the use of images to help develop a specific behavior. Speech therapists often work closely with ABA therapists to build and adjust strategies for treating behavioral challenges.

Conversely, ABA therapists can help speech therapists interpret data concerning particular behaviors and making quantitative decisions for enhancing expressive and receptive language skills. ABA therapists also assist speech therapists in reaching a clearer understanding of appropriate, effective stimuli when guiding particular behaviors involving your child’s communication struggles. As part of your child’s individualized ABA therapy plan, the entire team will determine language and communication methods that will make the most impact in the shortest amount of time.

 

General Goals During Sessions with Speech Therapists

While each child with autism has unique strengths and struggles, there are also many general goals that the speech therapist may address during their therapy sessions. To provide your child with the tools they need to communicate efficiently, their therapist may focus on areas including:

  • The ability to exchange their thoughts, feelings, needs, and ideas
  • Ability to communicate in various and meaningful ways
  • Comprehend both verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Understand others in a variety of settings with the least amount of cues
  • Initiate communication without a need for prompting from therapists or others
  • Recognizing the appropriate time and place to use verbal communication
  • Developing appropriate conversational skills that can be understood by others
  • Form relationships with others
  • Enjoy communicating, playing, and interacting with others in their natural environments
  • Learn the importance of self-regulation and how to achieve it
  • The ability to articulate words
  • Communicate effectively, verbally and nonverbally

 

Additional Concerns Speech Therapists Will Address

During your child’s ABA therapy and speech sessions, a variety of communication challenges that may be a focus include:

  • Inability to comprehend the meaning of symbols
  • Difficulties with receptive language
  • Difficulties with memorization
  • Relying on parroting to communicate

 

The Use of Play Therapy by ABA and Speech Therapists

ABA therapy strives to help your child more effectively express their feelings, ask for assistance, and engage in creating stronger bonds through multiple methods. One such method of highly trained ABA and speech therapists is play therapy. If you think of play as a form of language that most children understand, you’ll realize it’s a universal language they can relate to. Play therapy allows an opportunity for your child to learn and improve communication strategies and skills. Speech therapists use this method with children who are not yet efficient in engaging in play as well. Strengthening communications through non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and modeling, are strategic communication building tools and ideal to implement into their natural environments.

 

Strengthening Communication Skills

ABA and speech therapists also focus on strengthening your child’s ability to make requests to convey their needs. Through establishing eye contact and reducing typical avoidance and escaping behaviors, they can begin to better express themselves.

 

ABA therapy, in combination with their speech therapist’s techniques, can help your child learn to improve language through:

  • Following instructions
  • Complying with requests
  • Vocal Imitation
  • Repetition
  • Motor imitation by copying the therapist’s motor movements
  • Naming and identifying objects, events, or actions
  • Reading written words

 

Similarly, the practices in ABA therapy sessions and those of speech therapists use their sessions to strengthen skills your child already exhibits, while introducing necessary skills they do not. The strengthening of these vital skills may include:

  • Matching emotions with the correct facial expressions shown
  • Understanding and correctly interpreting body language
  • Strengthening the muscles in their mouth, jaw, and neck
  • Developing more precise speech sounds and patterns
  • Responding to questions
  • Matching pictures with their correct meaning
  • Using a variety of technology tools, such as speech apps
  • Improving and strengthening the tone of their voice

 

Communication to Strengthen Social Skills

Speech therapists utilize ABA practices to strengthen overall social skills. The strengthening of social skills through speech-language therapy is a crucial focus for many children with autism, as it typically impairs their social communication and understanding of the general conversation. Speech therapists will introduce social skills therapy sessions to help your child focus on general social communication and desirable interactions while strengthening acceptable behaviors. Implementing ABA therapy practices to enhance these wanted interactions increases long-term results.

 

Benefits of Group Therapy Sessions

Social skills groups will allow your child to observe, learn, and strengthen their ability to read the facial expressions, gestures, and body language of their peers. ABA and speech therapists encourage them to engage in cooperative play to strengthen their social and communication skills. Through these group therapy sessions, your child can learn to create meaningful relationships, enhance eye contact, navigate conflict, and form new appropriate and acceptable social behaviors. ABA therapy skills your child learns during individual sessions help reinforce the use of new skills during group and in real-life situations. Just as with your child’s ABA therapy team, the speech-language pathologist will work closely with your family, their additional caregivers, school, and other professionals.

 

Why is Early Intervention Best?

ABA therapy and speech-language therapy offer the best, long-term outcomes when they can start at a younger age. With intensive therapy sessions, therapists are better able to address difficulties before too many undesirable behaviors become a natural routine.

 

Early identification and intervention studies show that two out of three preschoolers who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder have made tremendous improvements. By introducing services early on, such as ABA therapy and speech-language pathology, younger children make improvements in their verbal and non-verbal communication skills and comprehension of spoken language. Research has even shown that children with autism who make the most improvements are those who spend the most time in speech therapy sessions.

 

What to Expect When Beginning Speech Therapy

Your child’s speech therapy will begin with an evaluation by a certified speech-language pathologist or SLP. The pathologist will be assessing your child’s communication strengths and areas of concern. This evaluation process will help the speech therapist create your child’s individual goals and plan of action for therapy. The speech therapist will meet with your child’s ABA therapy team to create an overall strategic course of action.

 

Your child’s plan may include goals towards making improvements in spoken language and learning various nonverbal skills to help them communicate more effectively. These skills may include:

  • Sign language
  • Basic gestures
  • Utilizing alternative methods like
    • Drawings
    • Photographs
    • ipads and other available technology

ABA therapy and working with speech therapists at a young age, ideally before reaching four years of age, shows higher success rates. Beginning therapy at an earlier age allows therapists to modify or correct behaviors before they have time to become repetitive and require replacement. Early intervention will also allow your child’s ABA and speech therapists time to begin introducing new and helpful self-care skills while building on them to strengthen their recurrence. With early intervention, therapy sessions may start in your home. Therapy in your child’s natural environments provide tremendous success and can benefit by replacing behaviors before your child reaches school age.

 

Early Intervention Provides School Readiness

Providing a head start with early intervention of therapy services allows your child’s therapists the opportunity to work on additional classroom readiness skills. Preparing your child before entering the school environment can significantly increase their success and ability to better adapt to their new environment when the time comes. Depending on age and length of therapy, this may include academics as well. Your child will work on a combination of language and life skills, including:

  • Potty training
  • Feeding
  • Coping skills
  • Social skills with adults and peers, including group settings

 

The Blossom Method

Here at the Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, the Blossom Method incorporates the expertise of speech therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, and ABA therapists to help develop the most comprehensive treatment plan for your child. Our highly-qualified team meets each week to discuss your child’s progress and address any challenges as they arise, to make sure they are progressing to their fullest potential. Contact us today to learn more about our all-encompassing approach to ABA therapy and how we can assist your family.

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Hands touching

For many parents and caregivers, receiving a definitive diagnosis is the first step to getting their child with autism the therapy and support they need to help them grow and blossom at their own pace. As an accredited ABA clinic working with children with autism and their caregivers every day, we know how confusing and complicated that process can be. That’s why we’re here to help! From the initial diagnosis to getting your child enrolled in school, Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center’s staff, specializing in speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, art therapy, and ABA therapy, are here for you and your family every step of the way.

Child working on a workbook

ABA Early Intervention is Key

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, one of our guideposts as an ABA clinic is that early intervention is not only necessary, it is crucial. So, what does that mean for you and your child? Simply put, early intervention means that rather than waiting for a child to mature before starting ABA therapy, occupational therapy, art therapy, or working with a speech and language pathologist, we suggest that vital work begins as soon as you have a definitive diagnosis. Research shows that when ABA therapy begins before age four, success rates are much higher. Working on ABA therapy skills with young children with autism also allows their therapists to teach essential social and self-care skills from the start, rather than making a child relearn behaviors or unlearn negative habits.

 

Now that you know why early intervention is so necessary, let’s take a closer look at a few of the different aspects of an ABA clinic that can aid in that early intervention. Plus, you’ll see how a multi-disciplinary approach to therapy will help your child thrive before your very eyes!

What is ABA Therapy?

One of the first methods sought out following an autism diagnosis is Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA therapy, and for a good reason! At its very core, ABA therapy performed at accredited ABA clinics focuses on pinpointing unwanted behaviors, replacing them with a more desirable one. This often happens through play, encouragement, positive reinforcement, and modeling. Your child’s ABA therapist will begin by setting up a reward system that is specific to each child, translating into a more personalized therapy, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach that your child will likely have trouble connecting with. A few of the areas that ABA therapy can help your child in include:

  • Preparing for a school environment
  • Social skills
  • Self-care skills
  • Home environment skills (interacting with siblings, grandparents, etc.)

 

The ABCs of ABA Therapy

Besides positive reinforcement, most ABA clinics work through something we like to call the ABCs of ABA Therapy, which helps both caregivers and licensed behavior analysts teach and understand behaviors when working with children with autism. These ABCs are:

  • A: Antecedent
  • B: Behavior
  • C: Consequence

Antecedent

The antecedent to any behavior is what happens right before that behavior, whether it’s a command, request, a physical toy, sound, or a thought or feeling. Antecedents can come from a variety of sources, too. Like the environment, your child finds themselves in (ABA therapy, for example), another person, or an internal thought or feeling they have.

 

Behavior

The resulting behavior is either the response to the antecedent or, in some cases, lack thereof. It often comes in the form of an action or a verbal response.

 

Consequence

This follows directly after the resulting behavior. It can be the positive reinforcement previously agreed upon for desired actions or no reaction at all for undesirable behavior or responses.

 

As children and their ABA therapist continue to work together on behavior modification in ABA therapy, we find that most children with autism begin to replace these unwanted behaviors with more desirable ones, but with less frustration than is seen with the use of other methods.

 

How Can Speech and Language Pathologists Help with ABA Therapy?

Not all autism diagnoses are equal, meaning, just as each child is different, so are their specific needs. While not all children with autism will need the same assistance when it comes to language skills, speech and language pathologists are specially trained in a variety of areas to lend a hand when it comes to many common concerns like:

  • Language impairments
  • Finding the right words
  • Swallowing
  • Voice issues
  • Semantics
  • Social communication skills
  • Cognitive impairments related to communication

 

Because language delays can be seen in children as early as eighteen months old, early intervention is vital when looking for a speech and language pathologist, as well. Just like with ABA therapy, the sooner, the better to confront a speech or language barrier head-on, allowing for the best results and greater long-term outcomes.

Did you know that research shows that two out of every three preschoolers diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder made tremendous improvements, thanks to early identification and intervention? Furthermore, it stands to reason that children with autism who improve the most in therapy are those that spend the most time with their speech and language pathologists.

 

Why Does My Child Need a Speech and Language Pathologist?

Before any speech therapy happens, your child will first be evaluated by a licensed speech and language pathologist to determine both their strengths and areas of concern. During this evaluation, your child’s speech and language pathologist will set individualized goals and a plan of action for your child’s therapy.

 

Did you know that the beauty of an ABA clinic is that once your child’s speech and language pathologist determine a course of action for their speech therapy, they then meet with the rest of the ABA therapy team to make sure they are all on the same page? That’s right! Everything that happens in an ABA clinic is as cohesive as possible to ensure that your child is making progress in every area, from ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, art therapy, and everything in between!

 

Still a little unsure of what a speech and language pathologist can do for your child? We’re here to help! Check out a few questions you may want to save so you can ask your child’s speech and language pathologist the next time you meet with them at your local ABA clinic.

 

  1. How many speech and language pathologists will be working directly with my child?
  2. Will I be able to watch my child’s speech and language pathologist sessions?
  3. What will a typical speech and language pathologist-led session look like?
  4. How involved can I be in my child’s speech therapy?
  5. How do you measure progress, and how often?
  6. What can I do to practice tactics used by my child’s speech and language pathologist at home?
  7. Will my insurance cover your services?
  8. How often will my child see their speech and language pathologist?
  9. How do I transition my child when they are ready for school?
  10. Will my child’s speech and language pathologist work cohesively with their ABA therapy professionals?

 

Speech and language pathologists are an integral piece of ABA therapy and play a vital role within the ABA clinic, helping children with autism further learn to express themselves in positive ways, while also readying them for school. Now that you know more about the role ABA therapy and speech and language pathologists have in an ABA clinic let’s take a closer look at another form of therapy that helps with communication, as well: art therapy.

 

How is Art Therapy Used at ABA Clinics?

Another successful therapy that you can look into for children with autism, especially within the walls of your local ABA clinic, is art therapy. Not only is art therapy a way for children to work on further forming their creative imaginations, but for children with autism that may have trouble expressing themselves with words, art therapy can be vital in building strong communication skills. Some of the other benefits of art therapy include:

  • Encouraged social skills
  • Improved behavioral skills when combined with ABA therapy
  • Development of sensory integration
  • A decrease in off-task behaviors
  • Increased learning opportunities
  • Development of fine motor skills
  • Enhanced visual skills

Crayons

According to a study done by Cooper and Widdows in 2004, children diagnosed with ASD, who are known to be more visual and concrete learners, better communicate feelings, emotions, and desires through art therapy. They learned that art therapy could be the key to connecting with children with autism or ASD because not only are they able to reduce their stress and anxiety while engaging in creative outlets, they can also express themselves better through art therapy.

 

There are many ways to seek treatment through art therapy, whether on an individual basis or in a group setting. Still, like ABA therapy, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach and needs to be individualized for each child’s specific needs. One of the most significant benefits of art therapy is being able to recreate its benefits at home or away from your child’s ABA clinic. That means parents and caregivers work on engaging a child in art therapy at home to help further develop social skills, communication, and it can even serve as a great bonding activity outside of the ABA clinic, too!

 

Did you know that art therapy sessions totaling as little as thirty minutes per session over a period of time have shown to help children with autism when it comes to an increased attention span, as well as the ability to follow verbal instructions? Even better, these art therapy sessions didn’t even have to include intricate art therapy techniques, most simply involved painting, scribbling, and working with tissue paper.

 

Knowing that art therapy can provide a release of tension and stress, especially for children with autism, makes it a welcome addition to any ABA clinic!

 

Occupational Therapy + ABA Therapy = The Perfect Pair?

So far, we’ve covered a lot of known therapies that have shown to have an impact on children with autism. One we haven’t yet touched on that is just as important is occupational therapy. But before we talk about why occupational therapy is essential to an ABA clinic, let’s take a look at what it is.

 

Occupational therapy is the only lifelong therapy in existence that’s proven to help people (no matter the life stage) perform routine daily activities, no matter their specific limitations. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, some of the most common occupational therapy interventions include:

 

  • Helping children with disabilities participate fully in school and social situations
  • Helping people recovering from injuries regain skills
  • Supporting older adults experiencing both physical and cognitive changes

 

Did you know that occupational therapy has been around longer than ABA therapy or even the official identification of ASD? That’s right, while occupational therapy does so much in terms of helping children with autism perform daily activities independently, it has been around for decades longer than autism was even recognized. However, recently occupational therapy has become integral in teaching and strengthening necessary skills and quality of life to children and adults with autism.

 

A few of the key areas your child’s occupational therapy sessions at your ABA clinic might focus on can include the following:

  • Fine motor skills (grasping, holding, and releasing writing utensils, toys, and silverware)
  • Improving hand-eye coordination
  • Self-help skills (brushing teeth, dressing, bathing independently)
  • Sensory processing
  • Mental health and behavioral issues
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Developmental delays
  • Congenital disabilities

 

As evidenced above, occupational therapy encompasses not just a wide range of conditions that may necessitate occupational therapy, but occupational therapists also address many vital behaviors and skills. Therefore, it should not come as a shock to you that many in the occupational therapy field are often a licensed ABA therapist, as well. The two practices tend to overlap quite a bit, which is a good thing for you and your child! Often, we find combining occupational therapy with ABA therapy not only benefits the individual, but it also provides direct benefits to ABA therapy and vice-versa. Like a well-oiled machine, occupational therapy and ABA therapy are the perfect pair—coordinating as a team in the best interest of every patient.

 

Because of the strong partnership of occupational therapy and ABA therapy, seeking out a cross-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary center is an excellent choice for a child with autism. Not only can they receive all of the support they need under one roof, but their team of licensed therapists can also work in tandem to improve behaviors much quicker, from not only an occupational therapy and ABA therapy standpoint, but in terms of great strides made in speech and language pathology and art therapy, too!

 

Your Local ABA Clinic, Serving the Entire Metro Detroit Area!

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we believe in a family approach. That means we work directly with caregivers and siblings as well to make sure the entire family is cared for and finds solutions for inevitable challenges, both inside and outside our ABA clinic. That’s why we include so many family-friendly afterschool groups that range from family therapy, support groups, and individual counseling. To find the right services for you and your family, contact us today for a consultation. We’re proud to serve as one of Metro Detroit’s licensed ABA clinics and can’t wait to meet your family soon!

 

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Receiving your child’s autism diagnosis can be overwhelming. Along with the emotional components, you are now facing what seems like an endless list of tasks and research to begin seeking services and additional resources. Searching for a high-quality ABA clinic is vital. Finding the right ABA clinic can be life-changing for your child, as well as your entire family. While you may find several ABA therapy options, selection should be a systematic process to ensure you meet your child’s needs. While scouting for the ABA therapy center that will best fit your family, keep these critical guidelines in mind:

 

  1. Employs a highly qualified staff
  2. Practices a family-centered approach
  3. Offers an all-encompassing ABA clinic
  4. Utilizes an effective system for tracking data
  5. Positive reinforcement techniques are in use

Hands together

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis, is a scientifically validated therapy which provides a clearer understanding of how your child’s environment may be affecting their behaviors. ABA therapy is a widely used behavioral therapy in practice for over five decades. ABA therapy takes an in-depth look at how behavior and learning take place. This form of treatment focuses on using a reward system which is most meaningful to each child individually, to replace undesirable behaviors with a beneficial skill or behavior. ABA therapy provides an in-depth view of your child’s skill set and behaviors in their natural environments and real-life circumstances while determining their strengths and weaknesses. ABA therapy relies heavily on parent participation to help your child form positive, lasting changes while replacing those that could cause harm to your child or interference with their ability to learn. ABA therapy touches many areas, including their:

 

  • Home environment
  • School or daycare environment
  • Social skills
  • Self-care skills

 

What is Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy offers a well-structured intervention approach and is often where most recently diagnosed children will begin. Along with ABA therapy, behavior therapy will help meet the additional needs of your child by providing:

 

  • Social Skills Groups: Focus is on helping your child develop the skills to engage with others, practice their communication skills, and reinforce new, positive learned behaviors. Your child’s ABA therapy team will guide you to help your child understand and determine which responses are appropriate for various situations.

 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: For children with mild symptoms, this form of behavioral therapy will help your child choose alternative behaviors. By using the tools they learn, they will begin to determine and utilize more appropriate actions or responses as they learn how to recognize their triggers and reactions.

 

  • Verbal Behavioral Therapy: This form of behavioral therapy helps non-verbal children communicate effectively and with intent. Your child’s ABA therapy team will evaluate and choose a particularly stimulating motivator for your child to help them understand that utilizing language skills will bring desirable outcomes.

 

A Highly Qualified Team

You must know who will be working with your child, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out what training the ABA clinic’s staff has. What certifications do they hold, and is ongoing training a requirement? Your child and family will have a team of dedicated members, but knowing their education, training, and their requirements for continuous study will ensure you are considering a highly qualified ABA clinic.

 

The top credential practitioners of ABA therapy are Board Certified Behavior Analysts or BCBAs. This requires rigorous training involving a master’s degree in a relatable field such as behavioral therapy, speech therapy, special education, or psychology.  ABA therapy courses, final exams, and 1,500 hours of supervised fieldwork are requirements towards certification.

 

A Family-Centered Approach

A high-quality ABA clinic will offer a team of clinicians who believe in the power of family involvement. Behavioral therapy is most effective when your child’s team values the need to communicate with your family frequently. As a parent, you are your child’s advocate and can offer crucial insight into their daily routines, behaviors, and what may or may not be working in their natural environments. The right ABA clinic and the team will be willing to train and offer guidance while requiring your participation during specific sessions as well as at home. Choosing an ABA clinic that prioritizes the family-centered approach will bring tremendous benefits, vital to your child’s success.

 

An All-Encompassing Approach

An all-encompassing approach to providing essential services for your child and family is extremely beneficial. By offering multiple services, including behavioral therapy, physical therapy, and more, your child’s needs can be met all under one roof. The all-encompassing approach to therapy helps ensure all therapists and team members are on the same page, working together towards your child’s individual goals. Rather than running around to independently scheduled therapy sessions at various offices, a center such as Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center provides your family with the convenience of all therapies in one familiar location.

 

Tracking Data

Ensure the clinic you are considering practices regular and ongoing data collection. It is a vital part of evaluating the progress your child makes towards goals. Your child’s team bases critical decisions regarding goals and therapy sessions from ongoing data collection. While collecting data during behavioral therapy sessions, they should also stress the importance of your own data collection. As a parent, your natural environment recordings bring light to the improvements or setbacks the team will not witness, allowing them to make any necessary adjustments. Consistent data collection provides the potential to discover why particular behaviors are occurring.

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What is Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a form of behavioral therapy management offering one of the most effective interventions for children with behavioral issues and autism. Its use of ABA therapy helps implement a change in maladaptive behavior while strengthening lasting behavioral outcomes. It is an individual reward system using items or privileges your child considers to be profoundly meaningful. Ultimately, the goal of positive reinforcements in behavioral therapy is for personalized rewards to provide enough encouragement to result in a new, positive response. When the new behavior or skill is not successful, the reward is not given. This process repeats as necessary, providing your child the time they need to practice and adapt to their new skills and behaviors.

A more meaningful reinforcer will motivate them to use new skills and behaviors throughout all areas.

 

Here at the Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we offer a dynamic, all-encompassing approach to ensure your child’s success. Our highly qualified team provides dedication and care by providing your family with the additional services your child needs. We are here to answer your questions, guide you through the process, and support you in every way we can. While working with your entire family, our team of trained therapists wants to help you on your journey. Learn more about us and why the Blossom Method is the preferred choice for children with autism and related disorders.

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