Autism and Behavioral Blog
Autism awareness has dramatically increased over the past few decades. This rise in autism awareness and subsequently, research, has increased the availability of evidence-based treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, treatment is limited for adults with ASD (Gerhardt & Lainer, 2011; Milley & Machalicek, 2012). The lack of services for adults contributes to some of the challenges they face such as unemployment, reliance on caregivers, and limited social relationships (Howlin, Goode, Hutton, & Rutter, 2004). These challenges can significantly reduce the quality of life adults with ASD experience.
Social deficits and impairments are a common feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), (Dogan, King, Fischetti, Lake, Mathews, and Warzak, 2017; and Thompson, 2015). With these deficits acquisition of social skills can be a prolonged process. It can also cause worry for families and caretakers that their loved one may not be able to develop personal relationships in the future. Some examples of social difficulty are initiating interactions, responding to initiation, maintaining eye contact, sharing common hobbies and enjoyment, reading nonverbal cues, taking perspective, understanding and using speech prosody and non-literal language (White, Keonig, and Scahill, 2006). This can seem like a daunting list, but there are empirically validated interventions that have yielded positive results in increasing social skills (Peters and Thompson, 2015; Dogan et. al, 2017).
One of the most important skills to teach any child is the ability to protect themselves. There are definitely some scary statistics about how often people with disabilities are taken advantage of or abused. I don't want to dwell on those statistics, instead I want to talk about how we can teach skills that will help people with disabilities keep themselves safe.
Aggression is a common occurrence in households of children with disabilities. This can be overwhelming for most parents. The purpose of this post is to identify variables that affect aggression, along with basic preventative and response strategies. While these are strategies commonly used in various settings, a descriptive assessment or functional analysis should be conducted by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) to identify the function of aggression. After identifying the function, the BCBA can then assist in identifying individualized antecedent and response strategies, accompanied with functional replacement behaviors to decrease aggression and improve functional skills.
As a BCBA, I've found that there are some pretty common questions I'm asked—my own personal FAQ, if you will. From the general public, I mostly get confusion, to wit: "So what does a BCBG do?" or "Autism, that's the one where they have super powers, right?"
Technology marches on... We live in a world where technology impacts nearly every aspect of our daily life, and that statement is very apparent among the population of people with special needs. From video modeling and internet-based curriculum to data collection and reinforcement, the individuals we serve are exposed to technology more so than ever.
The latest statistics are staggering. 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism in the United States. This does not include all the millions of children diagnosed with intellectual disability, Down syndrome or another type of developmental delay.
In light of World Autism Awareness Day, I've been thinking about conversations I've had with parents over the years concerning public outings. This can include a "simple" trip to the grocery store all the way to a day trip to the zoo for the family or even Disney World! Some are required tasks and others are just fun family time that we all enjoy sometimes.
According to Skinner, an echoic occurs when a verbal response has point-to-point correspondence to its preceding verbal stimulus. It is echoing what is heard or verbal imitation.
A large amount of children with developmental delays are reported to have difficulties with eating. However, these difficulties are hardly limited to children on the spectrum. According to a recent child and infant nutrition study, the vegetable of choice for most toddlers is a potato, specifically in the form of a French fry.
I think it's safe to say that every parent wants what is best for their child especially when it comes to obtaining necessary treatment for a special needs child. Children of all ages can benefit greatly from the structured learning environment that day treatment provides.