News/Blog

Meet Eli 

Eli needed some extra help to reach his developmental milestones and began receiving early intervention at Kids Who Count (KWC) when he was two years old. His parents were impressed by the KWC early intervention team and how much they cared about EliWhen Eli was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)the family enrolled him in KWC’s autism services program to receive Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA.  

After just a few weeks of ABA, Eli is already making a lot of progress. He is learning how to use pictures to communicate since he is non-verbal. Eli’s mom says this has been a major improvement for their family! One day, Eli was upset, and his mom pulled out a picture of his snack cupboard. Eli calmed down and pointed to the snack he wanted. While Eli still has some tough times, his parents say he is happier and less frustrated when trying to communicate his needs. Celebrating Eli’s successes creates a calmer dynamic in the home and his family more time to play and laugh with Eli. 

Eli is such a fun-loving little boy, and his parents say he loves having these new “friends” in his life. He enjoys working with the Behavior Technicians (RBT’s) on his team, Abby and Ashlyn, because they are enthusiastic and excited to work with him every day. The family is so pleased with Eli’s Board-Certified Behavior Analyst, (BCBA) Bryce. They describe Bryce as sensitive and feel he truly listens to them and includes them in the treatment planning process.  

 It means the world to us to receive feedback like this from our familiesWe are proud of our staff and so grateful to work with Eli and his family!   

 

 

Holly BushnellMeet Eli 
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Meet Abigail

When Abigail’s mom, AdriAnn, noticed a few speech challenges and patterns that reminded her of her older child’s developmental delays, she called Kids Who Count. Our providers quickly visited their home and started providing services to help AdriAnn make progress. 

Within a month or two of beginning visits with a provider, Covid hit, and our in-person visits were switched to virtual visits,” AdriAnn said. “Despite the difficulties that presented, Abi’s providers have continued to remain engaging and do everything they can to help her progress.

I have seen huge improvements in her speech,” AdriAnn saidHer vocabulary has reached that of a normal child her age, but Kids Who Count is still helping us because articulation continues to be a struggle. We are so grateful for everything they have done for us! 

AdriAnn said she really likes the ideas they receive about how to encourage the use of language. And, although it is not easy, they have come a long way and are looking forward to the future! 

“My little one can play, interact, and be somewhat understood with her siblings, and they have a lot of fun together,” AdriAnn said. 

 We’re excited to continue to see Abigail’s progress and accomplishments! Starting early is the key. If you have questions about your child’s development, don’t wait. Call us. We can help. 

Holly BushnellMeet Abigail
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Meet Parley

It can be hard to visualize your child’s future when they are struggling right now. Parley was born premature and hospitalized for failure to thrive. Even after he was discharged from the hospital, he was still so small and had some developmental delays.  

His parents knew they needed some help and found Early Intervention Services at Kids Who Count. Through frustrations, tears, a lot of hard work and even some play Parley, who is now 2 years old, has just finished one of the programs we offer and is thriving, being at level or above the milestones for his age. 

 

His mom shares this about their experience, “We wouldn’t have been able to be this successful without the services this program provided us. My family has learned all kinds of new activities for development. I did not believe we would be here on the other side of this today!”

 

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Ideas for Calming Self-Injurious Behavior

One of the most difficult things that a parent may face with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder or another disorder is self-injurious behaviors. These may include head banging, hitting oneself, biting oneself, or picking at skin.

These behaviors can be tricky to deal with and emotionally and physically draining. There are many potential causes for such behaviors, so every situation is a little bit different, but there are a few common ones that can be helped through behavioral therapy and intervention.

Some of these causes may include a deficit in communication, attention seeking, and avoidance or escape from a non-preferred activity or task. While these behaviors can be tricky to treat, here are some tips for each of these causes.

First, your behavior analyst will create treatment programs that help your child communicate more easily. Be aware of these programs and try to implement them at home. Ask questions, try things out, and don’t be afraid to mess up every once in a while. As you try to do these things at home it will help your child communicate more easily and readily and decrease self-injurious behaviors at home.

Second, when your child has a self-injurious behavior, their safety is the number one priority. If you need to block the behavior from occurring do so safely or, if necessary, seek training to help you safely hold or restrain your child. Sometimes these behaviors are increased by attention, but it is often not possible to ignore such behaviors. Instead, try and give positive attention and praise when your child does not participate in these behaviors. The more attention you can give to safe coping mechanisms, the more likely they are to use those instead of self-injurious behaviors for attention.

And finally, sometimes self-injurious behaviors are used to get out of completing a task or an activity. When this occurs, make sure that you keep your child safe and allow them to calm down. Offer breaks from tasks or activities and time for them to move away from the task. After they are calm it is important that you do your best to help them complete the original task given to them. This helps them to learn that self-injurious behaviors will not help them escape from tasks and non-preferred activities.

With these behaviors, as with all others, feel free to discuss them with your BCBA and RBTs in order to help you know what to do best. We are all a team working for the best interest of your child and will do our best to help them to be safe and happy.

Written by: Charlie Flint, Registered Behavior Technician

 

 

Holly BushnellIdeas for Calming Self-Injurious Behavior
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Navigating Special Needs and the Holidays

As the weather changes and our attention turns to the upcoming holidays, thoughts of family connection and fun might be on most people’s minds. For many special-needs families, however, the holidays can usher in a season of hypervigilance and stress. Less familiar sights, sounds, smells and interactions can cause tension and overstimulation for our most sensory sensitive family members. But navigating the holidays does not need to be exhausting or upsetting. While special needs families may not move through these activities like others; communication, preparation, and gratitude are three points of intervention that can go a long way towards cultivating that spirit of connection and fun we all crave.

Communication

Sometimes we can inadvertently create more stress for ourselves and our children when we impose unnecessary or unrealistic expectations. Adjusting our expectations for what our child’s participation in holiday activities would look like can help both immediate caregivers and extended family members avoid surprises and potential disappointments.

While some family members may already have a strong connection with our child, some will need loving reminders/introductions about what to expect. Our little one may not be able to carry a brief conversation like other children or may need extra help at the dinner table, limiting our ability to participate in regular conversations. A large group at normal volume may be too loud and necessitate a retreat to another room. A brief explanation beforehand or having a trusted family member explain in our absence can help build understanding and empathy.

Families of special needs children should not fear communicating their needs or their child’s needs with extended family members. While some extended families might be more supportive than others with making adjustments to activities that benefit an individual, knowing what to expect ahead of time and making our needs known can go a long way towards mitigating roadblocks to connection.

Preparation

Using social stories, visual schedules, and picture cards of less familiar family members can help children with special needs transition to new, holiday settings more easily. If a child can anticipate the new sensory input they are about the experience, they can be better equipped to handle these changes.

Planning brief, preferred activities for our child to do with a trusted relative at family gatherings is a great way to both increase connection among family members and give us opportunities to take small breaks. Caring for our child’s needs can be overwhelming, so creating pockets of time for us to enjoy some time among family is important as well.

In the event of possible meltdowns, working in some breaks to go outside for fresh air or to another less stimulating room as well as bringing along a comfort item, can help children regulate if the environmental demands become too overwhelming. Simple things like communicating the schedule in simple language, making sure clothing is not too itchy or hot, talking about the people they are about to meet, describing the sights and sounds that will be new, can also help to minimize sensory overload and keep those meltdowns at bay.

Gratitude

As caregivers, it can be difficult to make space for our own emotions regarding family obligations around the holidays. If you are feeling sad, depressed, or even resentful of how easily others may enjoy the holidays, it’s okay. As much as we love our children and rejoice in having them in our lives, no one plans on becoming a special needs parent. We must find our own way and that journey will inevitably lead to moments of sadness and stress. In these moments, expressing gratitude for what is going well is a highly recommended emotional resilience strategy.

By focusing on what we are grateful for and verbalizing that gratitude around our children, we can effectively model stress reduction strategies that can yield long-lasting emotional wellness. Laughter is another wonderful strategy to use around the holidays. Laugh where you can. The energy you create around the holidays will be contagious and your family will take note.

By expressing gratitude, being prepared for holiday activities, and communicating our needs, families can look forward to more fun and more connection. As a special needs parent, you have great instincts – don’t ignore them.

Wishing all our Kids Who Count family members a joyous, safe, and regulated holiday season.

Written by: Nancy and Jonathan Miramontes

 

 

 

Holly BushnellNavigating Special Needs and the Holidays
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Meet Greyson

Life is a journey, and it’s nice to have people to take that journey with.

Greyson and his family have been on an 18-month journey with Kids Who Count’s early intervention services and recently shared their experience with us.

Around Greyson’s 18-month well-check, his pediatrician noticed that certain milestones weren’t being met, including his verbal milestones as he was only saying two to three words at most. That’s when his family was referred to Kids Who Count, and as his mom said, “It has been one of the very best decisions we, his parents, have ever made.”

Over the last 18 months Greyson has blossomed and the whole family has learned so much. He is still non-verbal, but after working with staff and learning new tools and techniques the family has learned to communicate in ways that they can all understand.

Not only that, he has learned new skills like pointing, sign language, socialization, eye contact, playing make-believe and even some new words.

The team at Kids Who Count also him helped through the process of getting a diagnosis and transitioning into preschool services with the school district.

“Greyson’s early development has been such an eye-opening experience and we’re so glad we had the resources and services from Kids Who Count to help us along in this journey,” said Samantha, Greyson’s mom. “Our family is so extremely happy that we can understand and communicate with Greyson and have discovered how he learns best.”

If you are concerned that your child isn’t meeting certain milestones, contact us! Early intervention services may begin at any time between birth and age three; however, when early intervention is needed, the earlier it is provided, the better outcome for the child and family.

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Meet Connor

We don’t all learn in the same way. Knowing how our kids learn can make all the difference.  

 Connor’s family was concerned when he was saying very few words at the age of two. Connor began Early Intervention at Kids Who Count, and his family told us that the improvement in his speech and understanding has been amazing! 

Connor’s mom, Emily, said, “Connor is able to communicate with us now and we have loved watching him learn.”   

Early Intervention helps families find strategies to support their child’s learning through daily routines and activities, and Connor’s mom agrees.   

“I feel like we have been more focused on ways to help Connor learn. Having activities that are fun, but also teach him, have been great for him and for us,” she said. 

Way to go Connor!  

 

 

If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait to get help. Call us at 801.423.3000 or go to https://kidswhocount.org/ Early intervention services may begin at any time between birth and age three; however, when early intervention is needed, the earlier it is provided, the better the outcome for both the child and the family.

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Meet Blair

Language is an essential part of a child’s development. When your child struggles to express themselves, it complicates a parent’s ability to share, engage and help them learn. When Blair was two and half, she only said about five to ten words and began receiving early intervention services. “Because of Kids Who Count we can communicate with our daughter. It’s seriously been such a blessing to work with them., says Blair’s mom. Today, Blair is constantly talking and saying new words, and her parents attribute her success to the speech therapy services they received from Kids Who Count. “The knowledge and skills we gained from our speech therapists will help us support our younger children’s speech development too.”

 

If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait to get help. Call us at 801.423.3000 or go to https://kidswhocount.org/ Early intervention services may begin at any time between birth and age three; however, when early intervention is needed, the earlier it is provided, the better the outcome for both the child and the family.

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How to Help Your Child with Transitions

Kids with special needs—especially autism—can struggle with the many transitions they have to make throughout the day. Kids tend to hyper-focus on what they are interested in or what they are doing, and don’t welcome disruptions or abrupt changes. Attention shifts require flexible thinking—something that can be challenging for kids.

Children who have autism also have trouble with nonverbal cues, so they may not pick up on things that other children do to prepare them for transitions. That’s why it’s especially important to spell things out clearly and give them visual cues as well as verbal ones.

By helping your child prepare for transition during their day, they will gain a sense of predictability rather than disruption to their routine. Here are a few ideas to make their day go more smoothly.

Create Visuals: Use visual prompts like a timer to let your child know the current activity will be ending soon. You can add visual clues like turning off the light or audio clues like a chime. You can also make a poster with pictures of a day’s activities so your child can follow along.

Plan More Time: Don’t rush their transitions. Allowing more time during the transitions that are difficult will make them go more smoothly. You can also add a sensory break like jumping, skipping, wiggling, or dancing for a couple of minutes between activities.

Establish Routines: There is no guarantee that things will always go perfectly to plan, but setting a daily schedule can help your child feel safe and secure, which helps keep their emotions (and meltdowns) in check. As much as possible, try to stick with the schedule you have laid out. When your child gets fair warning for transitions they don’t feel as pushed around, so they will naturally be more cooperative.

Use Social Stories: For children who have a particularly hard time with transitions, preparing them with relevant social stories ahead of time can be beneficial. These short, simple stories illustrate what will be happening and will help your child understand how to deal with it. These stories allow kids to mentally “practice” the transition in a calm, non-threatening way.

Give two choices: Offering your child a choice can make them more cooperative. Instead of saying: “Do you want to put on your shirt?” say, “Would you like to put on the red shirt or the green shirt?”

Offer Praise: Children will really respond when you tell them they are doing a good job. Don’t forget to recognize when the transitions go well. Be specific with your praise and offer a reward–even something simple like saying, “Great job putting away your toys and brushing your teeth. Now we have more time to read.”

With the right support and strategies, children can learn to change gears without resorting to whining or tantrums. And you can transition to a reward of your own!

Written by Nate Lyon, MS, BCBA, LBA

 

 

Holly BushnellHow to Help Your Child with Transitions
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Helping Your Child Adapt to Wearing a Mask

Many children with special needs, especially autism, have sensory sensitivities. Because of this, your child may be reluctant to wear a mask.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children 2 years old and older wear cloth face coverings when they are unable to socially distance in school and other community settings. The guidance also states that children under age 2 and children who are unable to remove a face covering without assistance should not wear masks.

Here are some ideas that may help your child adapt better to mask wearing for their protection and the safety of others.

Tell them a story. You can find several good children’s book online about wearing a mask. Many of them explain why we wear them (to keep away germs and keep all of us healthy). Or, you can make up your own story—often called a “social story” for kids with autism—and describe how we wear a mask using pictures, visuals, or a doll/stuffed animal to show the behavior.

Make practicing fun. Start slowly and make incremental steps. First, have your child hold the mask in their hand while doing an activity they enjoy and offer a reward and gradually increase the time. Second, have them wear it on their hand with the ear loops on their thumb and pinky and again offer a reward when you increase the time. Next, you could have them brush the mask on their cheek, then face. Place the ear loop on one ear only for a while and then move to the other ear. Eventually, you can try to move to wearing the mask for short spurts, setting a timer and offering rewards.

Try super soft fabric. Try lining the mask with the fabric your child prefers. For example, some kids love silky fabrics while others enjoy burying their faces in the soft fur of a teddy bear.

Start with a cool mask. If your child feels that their mask feels hot, you can keep their masks in the freezer so they start out cold. Or, try a bandana type mask or a neck wrap that pulls up from below

Model mask wearing. You can make it more normal for a child to wear a mask if you wear one yourself at home while you are practicing. The exposure to seeing masks will help normalize the experience for them.

Give plenty of positive reinforcement. Praise your child for each step they make toward wearing a mask. Try high fives, hugs, or other reactions that your child enjoys. Make sure they know how proud you are of them for wearing a mask!

 

 

 

Holly BushnellHelping Your Child Adapt to Wearing a Mask
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