Category: Resources

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


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


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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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


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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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.


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


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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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?


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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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.


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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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.


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


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.



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.



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


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

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.


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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Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we know firsthand how quickly medical expenses can add up on the heels of an autism diagnosis. But did you know that there are many grants available to children with autism? That’s right! And not only can these grant programs ease the financial stress of paying for medical supplies and equipment, but often, they’ll help pay for essential therapies like ABA therapy, counseling, and much more!


Today, we want to help you understand the grant process a little more and educate you about a few of our favorite resources! But let’s take a look at what a grant looks like for a child with autism first.


What is a Grant?

At their foundation, grants provide access to the many beneficial (and often expensive) therapies, medications, medical care, and educational investments needed in the life of a child with autism. These organizations exist to make sure that money is not a reason that a child is not getting the care they need. But, the number of grants and organizations that offer them can be daunting, and frankly, confusing. That’s why we’re here! We’re spotlighting six different grant opportunities (nation-wide and Michigan-specific) below to highlight the life-changing assistance that you and your child could benefit from!


Grants for Children with Autism

You’re already doing so much, so searching for grant programs can often be a daunting task to add to your to-do list. Today, we’ve set out to help you wade through the resources available to you and your family so your child with autism can get the support they need, whether that’s ABA therapy, educational resources or the chance to attend summer camp! Let’s take a look at six of these grant programs now!


  1. CARE Foundation family funds
  2. Autism Care Today
  3. Small steps in speech grant
  4. National Autism Association’s Give a Voice program
  5. Autism Escapes
  6. Jack’s Dollars scholarship program


  1. CARE Foundation Family Funds

The CARE Grant Program helps families affected by an autism or ASD diagnosis with the costs associated with medication, diagnosis/evaluation, therapy sessions (including OT, ABA therapy, and speech therapy) as well as summer camps.


  1. Autism Care Today

Since 2005, Autism Care Today has been able to distribute more than $1.85 million in grants to families affected by autism. With that support, individuals and families can access services they might not otherwise be able to afford, like ABA therapy, assistive technologies, special needs summer camps, therapy dogs, etc.


  1. Small Steps in Speech Grant

The Small Steps in Speech grants go to individuals ages 3-22 for speech-related assistance resources. This includes future speech therapies, workshops, materials (like learning software). However, it should be noted that this specific grant does not cover the cost of iPads or ABA therapy.


  1. National Autism Association’s Give A Voice Program

The National Autism Association’s Give A Voice program sets out to give a voice to non-verbal or minimally verbal children with autism. Applicants that likely cannot purchase a communication device (iPad) for themselves are chosen based on need and awarded an iPad, protective case, protection plan, and a communication software app. This allows a non-verbal child to communicate with others, often for the first time!


  1. Autism Escapes

Autism Escapes is an organization that provides private air travel for families of children with autism—knowing that often individuals with autism also have other medical conditions that require frequent visits to a specialist. Therefore, these private flights allow families to get the medical help they need while removing the stress of commercial air travel.


  1. Jack’s Dollars Scholarship Program

This Michigan-based scholarship program provides much-needed financial assistance for individuals on the autism spectrum to participate in local community programs, including arts and crafts, dance, hobbies, music, recreation, and sports. The best part? Unlike a lot of grant programs, there are no age restrictions to qualify for this scholarship!

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we know it can be confusing and stressful to search for grants and scholarships to help fund the much-needed therapies and assistance an autism diagnosis often requires. But, we’re here to help! Contact us today for more information on other grant resources or to schedule a consultation with our team of licensed specialists.

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Recently, the movie and TV industry has been busy, with critics demanding more diversity in both actors picked to play parts and directors chosen to film these shows and movies. One aspect of this much-need push for diversity is the increased autism awareness shown on the big screen. From supporting characters on famous kid’s television shows to short films chronicling the life of children with autism, the roles are diverse, but still subject to much debate in the autism awareness community. Do they depict how a real-life child or adult with autism behaves? Or do these roles pick and choose the better behaviors and quirks to highlight? Let’s take a look at how far we’ve come in the media so far in 2020; then we can discuss what’s next for autism awareness and inclusion in the media and how you can help.


History of Autism in the Media

Historically, children and adults with autism have not received fair representation in mainstream media. However, with the worldwide push for not just autism awareness, but also inclusion, we’re seeing more and more media outlets like Netflix, Disney+, and other mainstream media outlets realizing the need for more diverse character portrayals and actors to play these critical parts.


One of the most notable portrayals of a character with autism came about in 1988 in the film Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman. In it, Hoffman portrayed an “autistic savant,” which is a person with autism that has one exceptional skill or brilliance in a limited field. While it wasn’t an inaccurate representation, this depiction sadly only represents about 10% of people on the autism spectrum.


The public outcry for more autism awareness in movies and TV shows is not only for more characters with autism, but for those characters to portray more real-life abilities of children and adults with autism. The media has done a better job by inviting in more diverse characters with different skills, and each year we continue to see improvements in the portrayal of these characters. However, we still have a long way to go in representing everyone equally.


How Have TV Shows and Movies Begun to Better Represent People with Autism?

In the last few years, autism awareness has gone from being an afterthought in the media to moving front and center on a few of America’s new favorite shows. From the inclusion of a Muppet with autism on Sesame Street to including more main characters with autism in upcoming or current TV series, we’re finding that the world is being familiarized with autism on a much larger scale. There is still far to go in accurately portraying the not so positive aspects of autism, but we’re hopeful that autism awareness in the media will continue evolving for years to come. Let’s take a look at a few examples of how TV and movies have begun portraying autism awareness.


  1. Julia, a female Muppet on Sesame Street
  2. Disney/Pixar’s Short Film, Float
  3. Sam, the main character on the Netflix show, Atypical
  4. Shaun Murphy on ABC’s The Good Doctor
  5. Disney/Pixar’s Short Film, Loop
  6. Matilda, a character from Freeform’s new show, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay


  1. Julia, A Female Muppet on Sesame Street

While Julia’s character has been around since 2015 in digital form, she made her official on-screen debut in April 2017. Her appearance coincided with Sesame Street’s new autism awareness initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. This online autism awareness resource includes fact sheets, videos, and digital storybooks for kids and parents so they can better include children with autism, while also being a resource for parents of children with autism, too.

Julia and Elmo are best friends, and together, they teach kids how to include their friends with autism, because while they may do things differently, they like many of the same things!

Fun fact: did you know that the puppeteer who performs the role of Julia, Stacey Gordon, has a son with autism? Sesame Street producers even consulted with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network to create Julia’s character.


  1. Disney/Pixar’s Short Film, Float

With the launch of their new online streaming service, Disney+, Disney/Pixar have been releasing even more movies and shorts on the platform. For years, parents and critics have been asking for more diversity in these shorts and movies, and Disney and Pixar have been busy behind the scenes making this a reality. One of our favorites? The Pixar short, Float.

Float is a story full of heart and, best of all, speaks to autism awareness in a big way. This short film follows a father and son duo, but things aren’t quite what they seem. The son has the unique ability to defy gravity. As viewers watch the film, they see the father trying to hide or disguise his son’s unique ability, so he doesn’t stand out from others. This story was created and written by Bobby Alcid Rubio, who also has a son on the autism spectrum. About more than just autism awareness, this is also the first Pixar film to feature a Filipino-American family, as well.

We think any parent with a child with special needs will find this Pixar short to be relatable, compelling and it will help educate kids and families to have kindness, patience, and understanding with those that are different from them.


  1. Sam, The Main Character on The Netflix Show, Atypical

This Netflix-exclusive TV show follows the main character, Sam Gardner, an 18-year-old with an autism spectrum disorder, as he navigates the world of dating and independence.

Critics in the autism awareness community voiced concerns about the way autism was portrayed in this series, however, and called for more actors and writers with autism to coordinate on the series. Because of that response, creators and producers featured more actors and writers with autism to lend more credibility to the production. As such, the creator and writer, Robia Rashid, consulted with a professor from UCLA’s Center for Autism Research and Treatment while writing the scripts for the series. Furthermore, in season two, the team invited eight actors with autism from the Miracle Project to join the cast as members of the peer support group Sam joins.

As each season releases, critics have found that the addition of actors and screenwriters with autism has positively impacted this series, providing even more autism awareness. The series has since been renewed for a fourth season, set to release in 2021.


  1. Shaun Murphy On ABC’s The Good Doctor

In 2017, the Good Doctor, a medical drama starring an autistic savant surgeon based on a South Korean show of the same name, premiered on ABC. Since then, fans of the series have followed the career of Dr. Shaun Murphy as he navigates life and works in a San Jose hospital. Murphy has savant abilities such as a near-photographic recall and the ability to recognize even the smallest details or changes, both of which help him but often complicate his work as a surgical resident.

Those in the autism awareness community have some criticism for this portrayal of a person with autism, because the actor that plays Dr. Murphy does not have autism himself. Also, like Rain Man, The Good Doctor represents a tiny percentage of cases of autism, those that identify as autistic savants.


  1. Disney/Pixar’s Short Film, Loop

One of the most exciting instances of autism awareness in the media this year is Pixar’s new film, Loop, which premiered on Disney+ in January. Loop follows two main characters partnered together on a canoeing trip, a chatty boy and a non-verbal girl with autism. To make it across the lake, both have to work together, and that depends greatly on them determining how each experiences the world differently.


  1. Matilda, A Character from Freeform’s New Show, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay

An exciting new show from Freeform is Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, starring Kayla Cromer, an actress with autism playing a character with autism, as well. Comer plays the character Matilda, one of two half-sisters reeling after her father’s sudden illness and death. After getting the role, Cromer publicly announced that she, too, has autism like her character, and she believes that actors and actresses with autism deserve to play the roles that increase autism awareness in media today.

We can’t wait to see when this series premieres on Freeform, but for now, we are waiting expectantly for a 2020 premiere date!


What’s Next for Autism Awareness?

While there has been so much progress in the past five years regarding autism awareness on TV shows and in movies, as a society, we still have a long way to go to make sure that our children (and adults) with autism see characters that are familiar to them. This is crucial, even if the behaviors and actions aren’t picture-perfect, like aggressive behavior, minimal language, or lacking social skills.

Did you know that according to GLAAD, the number of regular characters with a disability on broadcast programs has increased to 3.1% for the 2019-2020 season, which is one full percentage point increase from the 2018-2019 season?


From Autism Awareness to Inclusion

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we believe that early intervention is key to helping children diagnosed with autism and their families decrease unwanted behaviors, increase positive social skills and leads to further inclusion in school and play activities throughout their childhood.

Did you know that while a diagnosis of autism can typically be made by age two, most children don’t receive a diagnosis until the age of four or five in the United States?


How Does Early Intervention Therapy Work?

Studies suggest that early intervention therapy can make an increasingly significant impact on a child’s future development. By intervening at a young age, therapists can impact a few crucial areas in your child’s life:

  • School readiness
  • Self-control
  • Play
  • Self-care skills (potty training, getting dressed, personal grooming, etc.)
  • Social and emotional development skills
  • Cognitive development


Because a child’s brain is developing at a rapid rate from infancy to age three, determining what experiences or behaviors your child struggles with early on can make all the difference. As a parent or caregiver, you are essential to this process, as well! You know your child better than anyone, and when you let your child’s doctor know about any specific behaviors your child is exhibiting that may be similar to those of a child with autism, you’ll be the reason your child gets the support they truly need.


Autism Awareness: A Parent’s Role

There are so many ways that parents and caregivers can support a child with autism while also promoting not just autism awareness in their social circles, but also inclusion in real-life situations and environments.

So, how can you help your child when it comes to early intervention and therapies like ABA therapy? We’ve listed a few ways below that can help you understand why your involvement inside and outside the clinic is so essential to your child’s success:


  1. Parents and caregivers are reporters
  2. Parents and caregivers can and should be active participants
  3. Parents are a child’s biggest cheerleader and defender
  4. Parents are researchers


  1. Parents and Caregivers Are Reporters

ABA therapy sessions only last so long, and because of that, as a parent or caretaker, we know you will be present for most of the time spent away from the clinic. In this case, your child’s therapist will depend on you to report back to them on wins, defeats, and behavioral modifications needed the next time you walk through your clinic’s doors for therapy.


  1. Parents and Caregivers Can and Should Be Active Participants

Because you will need to step in for your therapist once you leave the clinic, it’s always a good idea to participate in your child’s therapy so you can feel comfortable with the skills and behaviors you’re working towards building. Plus, you have the opportunity to ask your child’s therapist questions as you go about a therapy session, putting you further at ease for when you have to take charge at home or in a social situation.


  1. Parents Are A Child’s Biggest Cheerleader and Defender

You know that you are your child’s biggest cheerleader and defender, and we love that! ABA supports this role, too. Did you know that ABA therapy with familial support is proven to be beneficial to a child’s success when it comes to learning new skills, behaviors, and achieving goals?

However, having a support system for yourself as well is essential to avoiding burnout. We know how challenging it can be to parent a child with autism, so we want to make sure you have the community of support surrounding you, as well.


  1. Parents Are Researchers

Parents of children with autism are one-of-a-kind. And while it may be exhausting to stay on top of all the latest research and data behind therapies, medical equipment, and so much more, we know you are willing to put in the time to take care of your child. At Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we work with you and alongside you to conquer the same goals you have in mind.

For more information about ABA therapy or to schedule a consultation for your child, visit our website today!

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We believe that providing your child with plenty of interactive and multisensory opportunities as they begin to grow and develop their personalities is essential for their brains and emotions! What better way to provide these experiences than the amazing Michigan museums we’re fortunate to have within miles of Novi?

Here at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center in Novi, Michigan, we know that not all the necessary work for a child with autism gets done solely at the clinic. We firmly believe that partnering together with us and planning play dates and family-friendly field trips to our local Michigan museums can help a child tremendously with the social skills they need before they head to school.

So, whether you are in Novi like us or reside in a suburb of the Detroit Metro area, we’ve researched four of our favorite Michigan museums near you. Plus, we’ve provided you with some essential information about each one so you can choose the right one for your family—whether that choice is based on distance from Novi or family preference, you’ve got plenty of options!


Four Must-See Michigan Museums for the Whole Family:

  1. Cranbrook Institute of Science
  2. Detroit Historical Museum
  3. Michigan Science Center
  4. Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum


  1. Cranbrook Institute of Science


Where It Is:

39221 Woodward Avenue; Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48303


Why We Love It:

The Cranbrook Institute of Science is one of our favorite Michigan museums for many reasons, one of which is the amount of family-friendly activities and exhibits it offers, perfect for kids of all ages.


Two of our favorite parts of the Cranbrook Institute of Science are:


  • The exploreLab

Not only is this one of the newest exhibits, but exploreLab also sets itself apart from the rest of this museum because of the hands-on approach guests of all ages can take throughout the exhibition. Exciting activities include the Deborah Cooper Dino Dig, where kids of all ages can dig through model fossil beds for dinosaur bones and the Paleo Portal, where a lab allows visitors who prefer a more in-depth look at fossils to pretend they’re a paleontologist for the day.


  • Acheson Planetarium

If you’ve got a stargazer in your home, the Acheson Planetarium will top their list of favorite Michigan museums! This unique exhibit features a daily schedule filled with different astrological programs that any fan of the sun, stars, and planets is sure to find exciting. They even have a Sesame Street-themed program starring Big Bird and Elmo. Additional tickets are required to enjoy these programs, but we think the experience is worth it!


  1. Detroit Historical Museum


Where It Is:

5401 Woodward Avenue; Detroit, Michigan 48202


Why We Love It:

One of the biggest reasons we love the Detroit Historical Museum is because of how it celebrates the rich musical history of Detroit. From greats like Aretha Franklin and Bob Seger to Alice Cooper and Kid Rock, the exhibits within one of the most famous Michigan museums are sure to delight any music lover in your family! From a touch screen trivia game to a mixing station where guests can craft their musical track, there’s a little something for everyone in the Kid Rock Music Lab.


Another crowd-pleaser? The Glancy Train exhibit! Did you know that the owner of these model trains, Alfred R. Glancy Jr., was also the former owner of the Empire State Building in New York City? After his death in 1973, the Glancy family donated an extraordinary model train collection that is still on display to this day. Children of all ages are encouraged to take a spin as a train engineer by pressing the various interactive buttons along the exhibit.


  1. Michigan Science Center


Where It Is:

520 John R. Street, Detroit, Michigan 48202


Why We Love It:

Another one of our favorite Michigan museums, the Michigan Science Center, is only about 25 minutes from Novi, and well worth the trip!


So, why do we think you and your kids will love the Michigan Science Center so much? Let’s take a look at a few of the family-friendly activities we love!


  • STEM Playground

Encourage your kids to tinker, build, play, and imagine at the STEM Playground inside the Michigan Science Center. From testing out paper airplanes, building with blocks, or interacting with the new marble wall, your children will be able to freely exercise their STEM skills alongside MiCi STEM staff and their peers. Not only a great activity for their brain development, but also for increasing their social skills.


  • Kids Town

One of the best parts of this Michigan museum is Kids Town. Specially designed with children ages 2-5 in mind, this dedicated area is a scaled-down town where kids are encouraged to develop valuable social and motor skills, like the ones we work on in ABA Therapy at our clinic in Novi!


  1. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum


Where It Is:

220 East Ann Street; Ann Arbor, Michigan


Why We Love It:

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is another excellent Michigan museum that’s only about 30 minutes away from our clinic in Novi. With more than 250 hands-on exhibits starring science, math, technology, engineering, and art, the Hands-On Museum truly lives up to its name. It is the perfect place to take your child to encourage creativity and allow them to get their wiggles out in a fun, educational environment.


One of our favorite parts about the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum or AAHOM is that it provides Sensory Friendly kits for guests with autism or other special needs. Each kit includes fidgets, headphones, and sunglasses so everyone can enjoy this Michigan museum equally. Kits can be checked out and returned at the front desk.


Another inclusive program we love, especially for children with autism? A program called My Turn. If a busy museum crowd doesn’t seem like something your child will enjoy, you can come to the next My Turn event at AAHOM, for children with autism and other sensory processing disorders. Not only are there fewer crowds and noise during these events, but there is also a designated quiet room outfitted with weighted lap pads, and tactile toys should the museum experience become overwhelming.


Proudly Serving Novi and the Entire Detroit Metro

We believe that hands-on play is essential to a child’s growth, especially if they are taking part in ABA therapy. If you spend time in our clinic in Novi, we encourage you to check these Michigan museums out—we think you’ll find your child’s new favorite place to play!


If you’re in the Novi area and want to stop by to check out the facility and team at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center, we encourage you to check out our website and contact us! We’d love to partner with you and your child to help develop and grow their social skills through the specialized services we offer.

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