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How to Help a Bilingual Child Going Through the “Silent Period”


Are you trying to teach your child two languages at the same time? Is your child not really showing a lot of progress and, in fact, showing that he or she is regressing or not really talking? Trying to teach your child a foreign language plus keeping up with the home language can be an overwhelming task!

What is the “silent period” and why is it important?

The Silent Period is a concept developed by Stephen Krashen and it simply refers to the period before a child starts speaking a second language in which he or she spends time watching and listening to people using the language. During this time, it might appear that your child is just passively sitting there or that he or she is showing a language delay. In fact, although the child is not verbally participating or interacting with others, or rarely does so, she or he is actually absorbing the structures and vocabulary of the second language. Learning is definitely happening and their brain is certainly working hard!

This stage of second language learning is also called the pre-production stage. The silent period is a crucial time that must happen before a child can speak another language; our brain must learn to process things before we can speak. The length of the silent period varies from child to child, depending on different factors like personality, culture background, support received, etc. But, no worries! Your child will speak when he or she is ready! Studies show that the secret to a child learning a second language is the frequency in which that child is exposed to the new language.

Do not worry, there is help! Here are some activities to help during the silent period:

Repetition and Labeling: Talk to your child as much as possible. Describe what you are doing throughout the day. Label and emphasize main objects and/or actions in both languages. For instance, if you are teaching your child Spanish, you might say “Oh, you want the blue car, el carro azul, the blue car”.

Singing and Reading in Both Languages: Sing simple songs and fingerplays in both languages. Do the same actions for both. For example, “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider” or “Happy Birthday to You!” have versions in other languages. When reading, point at simple pictures and label them in both languages. You may also find a variation of bilingual books at your local library.

Modeling During Play: Play pretend with another family member like waiving and saying “Hi” in both languages, or eating different items as you name them in both languages. Use exclamation in your voice and include different sounds and expressions used in the two languages. For example, in Portuguese, you may say, “Mmmm, yummy”, “Que gostoso!”

Support Your Home Language: If you live in the United States and your home language is something other than English, focus on using mostly your home language. This is an important concept since your child will have plenty of opportunities to be exposed to the English language (school, friends, TV, etc.)

Helping bilingual children go through the silent period can be an arduous task. However, with the proper support and strategies, it will become an easier thing—part of your daily life. Have fun with it! Enjoy those magical learning moments with your little ones. Then, learning a second language can be a rewarding experience.

 

By Virginia Di Stefano, Child Development Specialist at Kids Who Count

Resource: The ESL Nexus “Integrating Language and Context for Academic Success”https://www.theeslnexus.com/2017/10/what-is-silent-period-and-why-is-it.html

 

 

 

Holly BushnellHow to Help a Bilingual Child Going Through the “Silent Period”
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Managing Family Stress in a Post-COVID World


Raising a family blessed with a special needs child is uniquely overwhelming. Special needs families understand multitasking, joy, heartache, and stress in ways that transcend common understanding. Disruptions to any child’s routine can sometimes be difficult, but disruptions in the routines of special needs children can usher in weeks, if not months, of challenging behaviors, regression, and incredible amounts of stress.

Prioritizing our emotional well-being under this new COVID reality feels particularly important. Children are excellent observers. They tend to model their parents’ behaviors, including those related to managing stress. Parents who deal with stress in unhealthy ways may inadvertently risk passing those behaviors on to their children. Intentional parenting, on the other hand, can help parents model healthy coping behaviors that will contribute to their child’s overall self-confidence, sense of safety, and management of anxious/stress responses.

Investing in our emotional well-being is a worthwhile endeavor. Self-compassion involves giving ourselves the same kindness that we would offer to others. As special needs families, our unique superpower is empathy. We understand how difficult, how long the days can be. We understand the loneliness. We understand the grief. We also understand the joy and the beauty in those quiet moments when your baby finally responds to your efforts. We feel everything so deeply. We can exercise an incredible about of compassion when we see others on similar journeys. Our hearts knit almost instantly. Exercising self-compassion means reserving some of that empathic superpower for ourselves.

Our families deserve an intentional effort to stay healthy. Here are a few helpful ways that families can manage stress in this post-COVID era:

Identify Stressors.

Stressors are different than stress itself. Stressors are situations that are experienced as a perceived threat. They activate the body’s stress response and we respond by either fighting, running, or hiding. Stressors are unique to every individual and family unit. The stress response that one member in our family can have to a particular stressor can impact the family as a whole if that individual family member’s stress response is an unhealthy one. For example, a dirty kitchen might be a stressor for one member of the family but not for others. If the family member affected by the stressor responds by fighting, then those in the immediate vicinity of that situation might experience the negative repercussions of that stress response. By managing our stressors (i.e., working together to keep a clean kitchen as in our example) families can mitigate unhealthy stress responses and lower the overall stress of the family. If you can name the stressor you can work as a team to change it.

Make a Plan.

Some stressors are within our control, others are not. The loss of a family’s main income, or the sudden injury or illness of a family member, for example, are life events that we can plan for, but little we can do in terms of prevention. When life stressors like these arise, it is important that we are prepared not only for our physical needs but also for our emotional needs. Our bodies naturally find ways to cope and we tend to gravitate to those things that have worked in the past. Making a coping plan means thinking through how we manage stress and ensuring that our bodies are reaching for healthy responses. For example, if our stress response is to turn to food (guilty party of one here), managing our portions and balancing between a good mix of healthy and more comforting foods can help us feel better long-term. Other healthy ways to cope with stress can include: creative or artistic activities, going for a walk outside (vitamin D from the sun is difficult to supplement, our bodies need time outside), listening to calming or inspirational music, meditation or yoga, and serving someone in your community (human connection can have a wonderful, calming effect). You can engage in these as a family to help the family unit as a whole cope with a sudden stressor. If we already have a healthy go-to plan in place, we are more likely to recover quickly from the perceived or real threat.

Change One Thing at a Time.

No need to swallow the entire elephant at once! Stress will always be part of our lives. Managing stress is a marathon, not a sprint. Focusing on improving one thing at a time will help us navigate this task in a healthy way. Working towards changing one thing at a time can also help us avoid burnout and will likely keep us more motivated. If we can successfully change one thing, we are more likely to approach more and more tasks with the same enthusiasm and success. Even if you choose something small to change, if you are consistent in your progress you are likely to see big, cumulative changes. Consistency will always be more powerful in the long run. Remember, progress is more important than perfection.

Focus on Connection.

If all else fails (or even when it does not), focus on connection. There are some days, weeks, perhaps even months that are simply too overwhelming to do anything well. When those heavy moments hit, engaging in activities that will bring you closer together as a family will be worth the investment. Our children need us to be okay in order to feel secure and they are more likely to remember the happy times playing a game or spending time as a family than the days when mom or dad’s to-do list was completed flawlessly. Stealing away quiet moments to connect with family members individually is another positive way to grow your family connection. If you are making mistakes along the way that just means you are trying. Our homes should be places of refuge and peace. Focusing on connections can contribute to building homes of respite.

Stress is a Constant—a Fact of Life.

We cannot eliminate stress completely, but we can manage it in healthy and productive ways. Our mental health is a continuum, sometimes we are in crisis other times we are excelling. The key is to manage our responses to life’s stressors, be prepared for when stress rises, and connect with the people in our lives that are most important.

By Nancy Y. Miramontes

Nancy Y. Miramontes, Ed.S., NCSP (she/her/hers), is a Kids Who Count Board Member. She is the Internship & Practicum Coordinator at Brigham Young University, and is an Assistant Clinical Professor —School Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and Special Education.

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellManaging Family Stress in a Post-COVID World
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When will EARLY INTERVENTION and AUTISM SERVICES return to normal?

This is a question we have been asking a lot in the last couple of months. While we are anxious for things to get back to “normal” our first priority always is the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employees and the children and families we serve. We have extensively revised our service delivery approach to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines from the CDC, Utah Department of Health and Utah County Health Department. We have enhanced cleaning protocols for our building, we require masks and temperature checks, and no more than 10 people occupy our building at any time. Staff meetings are being held virtually and no group services for children or adults are being held in our center.

In late May, we were cautiously optimistic that we could resume in-home services for both Early Intervention and Autism with safety modifications. But, as long as COVID-19 cases are on the rise, we do not feel it is safe or appropriate to provide all services to children and families in the home.

Early Intervention

As part of Utah Department of Health Baby Watch Early Intervention Program, Kids Who Count Early Intervention services follow guidance from state and local public health officials. At this time, our Early Intervention services are provided via tele-intervention or “virtual” visits.  We are no longer providing group services in our center, but we are accepting referrals, conducting assessments, developing Individualized Family Services Plans (IFSP’s) and offering ongoing therapeutic support to optimize children’s developmental outcomes through tele-intervention. Some families are unable to connect virtually, but we can arrange for a phone call visit. If a child or family has specific needs requiring in-person support or instruction, our providers can get creative. While the weather is nice, we have met some families in their yard or at the park, with masks, sanitizer, and social distance safety precautions.

Autism Services

We are accepting referrals for children in need of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services. Like Early Intervention, our ABA services can be offered remotely through virtual platforms depending on the individual needs of the child and the parent’s ability to be involved in the telehealth therapy. Unlike Early Intervention, ABA treatment is deemed medically necessary and covered by insurance so it can be provided in person with parental consent and strict safety protocols. One-on-one ABA sessions in our center are provided in a designated sanitized area by one provider using the strictest safety precautions. In-home ABA services are also conducted with safety guidelines that are reasonable for each child. Regardless of the location, our providers wear face coverings, uses hand sanitizer and/or wear gloves while providing services to children. And, parents must be fully informed of the risk associated with the spread of COVID-19 before giving consent for any in-person services.

The decision to proceed with any in-person services during this pandemic are made on a case-by-case basis by parents, clinical professionals and KWC administration. Clients or employees with medical conditions that put them at higher risk are not participating in any face-to-face services. We will continue to adjust our plans to safely provide services as the current situation evolves and we learn more about how this virus is transmitted.

We are looking forward to the day when it is safe to resume in-person services in the home and group services at our center for both of our programs. Until then, we will continue following public health guidelines to serve the children and families in our community. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by email at: info@kidswhocount.org or call us at: 801.423.3000.

Sincerely,

Kelsey Lewis, Executive Director

 

 

 

Holly BushnellWhen will EARLY INTERVENTION and AUTISM SERVICES return to normal?
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Tips for Weaning Your Child Off Their Beloved Pacifier

Pacifiers can be beneficial because they satisfy a baby’s natural sucking instinct, provide comfort and distraction, and can help your baby soothe and fall asleep. Pacifiers have been associated with a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to several recent studies. Researchers speculate that pacifiers may keep babies from rolling onto their faces or may keep their tongues forward and away from their airways.

On the other hand, after 6 months of age, babies who regularly use pacifiers have a higher chance of developing middle ear infections than those who don’t. Doctors believe this is because continuous sucking causes pressure changes within the ears and can potentially prevent fluid drainage, causing it to build up, creating an infection.

Frequent pacifier use, past 12 months old, could interfere with a child’s language development skills, say some experts. The reason is two-fold: A child might be less likely to practice making sounds and words when they have a binky in their mouth. Plus, the act of sucking might cause the tongue and lip muscles to develop abnormally. It’s possible prolonged use of a pacifier could contribute to the development of a lisp.

As for dental problems, before age two, your baby won’t suffer any long-term damage to her teeth, according to WebMD. Any problems that do develop before that time will likely self-correct within six months of kicking the pacifier habit. After age two, problems including slanting teeth can begin to occur. And pacifier use beyond age four, when adult teeth begin to form, can mean long-term dental issues.

Pick an uneventful time to start weaning.

Avoid trying to wean during major life events like the arrival of a new sibling, starting a new daycare, or before a road trip, when you baby could use the extra soothing.

Get all your child’s caregivers on board.

Make sure all caregivers are aware of your plans for the pacifier. You want the message and experience regarding pacifier use to be consistent at home, at daycare, and at grandma’s, or you’ll risk confusing your child. So, if you want the pacifier used only at naptime or bedtime, for example, be sure to communicate to all adults involved.

Gradually limit use.

Sometimes a gradual approach will make transitions smoother. Start by removing the pacifier in “zero-distress” situations, like when your child is home, happy, and playing. Once she’s used to not having her pacifier at home, eliminate its outdoor use by telling your child that the binky doesn’t go outside.

Stopping “cold turkey” may work, but it could make for a rough couple of days. Remember that your child probably treasures his pacifier, so be sure to treat it like a good friend to whom you must bid a fond adieu.

Offer alternative comforts.

When you first take away the pacifier from your baby, you’ll probably need to soothe them in other ways. Rocking, a gently swinging motion, soft singing, and gentle massage are some ways you can help ease your baby’s discomfort and help them settle down without the aid of a pacifier. For older babies, blankets with soft, satiny edge or a snuggly stuffed animal could provide the comfort your little one wants. These transitional objects will relieve stress and help your baby adjust and self-soothe at night.

Be sure you don’t scold or use any negative reinforcement if your child does resort back to the pacifier. Negative reinforcement will create fear, stress, and distrust, often leading to regression.

Make their pacifier unappealing.

If your little one is very attached to his pacifier, it might take making their pacifier unappealing to help them break the habit. One way to do this, dip the pacifiers in white vinegar or lemon juice. The terrible taste could make your child swear off their pacifier for good.

Another way many moms try is to pierce a hole in the tip of the rubber nipple, which disables the sucking power of the pacifier. Just be careful when altering a pacifier and be aware that it could become a choking hazard if small pieces come apart.

Elicit your child’s help in giving the pacifiers away.

Some moms have success using reason with their young child. You could explain that your child is now a big kid and that there is a baby out there who needs a pacifier to stop crying. Engage your little one in decorating a box for the baby, then gather up all of the pacifiers and place them in it. If you have a friend with a baby, make a big deal about handing over this box for the baby. Be sure to offer a lot of praise and a small gift to your toddler for being such a kind and generous “big kid.”

Have a farewell ceremony that includes a reward.

Introducing a “Binky Fairy” or other fun character is a fun way to say goodbye. Tell your child the imaginary friend will come as soon as they are ready to be done with their pacifier. Help them collect all of the pacifiers and place them in a box on the doorstep, or in a basket you can hide outside. Make this ritual as big of a production as you feel is necessary to help your child let go. You might even want to put the date on a calendar that then countdown the days with your child until it’s time to give their pacifier away. The new friend or fairy will then leave a comforting surprise in place of the box.

You deserve a reward too!

You may want to give yourself a well-earned reward for enduring this transition as well. Remember to relax about your child’s own timeframe. When is the last time you saw a teenager running around with a pacifier?

Written by Darla Davis, Speech-Language Pathologist, Kids Who Count

 

 

 

Holly BushnellTips for Weaning Your Child Off Their Beloved Pacifier
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Activity Calendar

Need some ideas for easy, at-home activities? Try these! We’ve put them into an activity calendar you can print out. Just click on the PDF version here.

 

 

 

Holly BushnellActivity Calendar
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Four Tips for Managing the Stress of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Parenting brings many joys. But it also can bring a lot of stress, which can be compounded if you are a parent of a child with autism spectrum disorders or developmental challenges. Building resiliency can be useful in facing these challenges. Here are four tips that may help.

1. Laugh

It may sound counterintuitive, but consciously trying to lighten the mood can help you deal with intense situations. Positive humor at home can actually strengthen your relationships with your spouse and children. Try avoiding the news and watch comedies or cartoons that make you giggle instead. Check out funny books from the library, or add some books of jokes to your bedside table. Finding small ways to laugh about your own everyday situations will melt stress. Even if it feels forced at first, practice chuckling and it will soon turn into spontaneous laughter. A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but studies are increasing about the positive effects of laughter.

2. Be active

Activity in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Exercise boosts your feel-good endorphins and focusing on the movement will distract you from daily worries. The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be done at the gym or include a formalized program to alleviate stress. Even a walk around the block or dancing to your favorite tunes in the kitchen can make a difference. Exercise can increase your self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with stress or anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by the stress of caring for a special needs child.

3. Find support systems

Having social support is very helpful in decreasing parenting stress. For example, if extended family is available ask them to provide childcare for a few hours during the week to give you a break for yourself. Support systems may also be helpful to provide an avenue for you to talk with others about how they cope with being a parent. It is always good to hear how others have addressed a problem or find that you are not alone. One option is to join the Kids Who Count Family Support Group and meet other parents who are managing the challenges and opportunities that come with having a child with special needs. This group meets Tuesday mornings from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. and limited childcare is also available. Go to kidswhocount.org/#resources for more information.

4. Seek professional help 

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, seek professional help from a psychologist or licensed mental health professional. A psychologist can be helpful to provide strategies to help you cope with life’s challenges. Additionally, they may be able to provide you with resources to help improve your child’s functioning and decrease problem behaviors that may increase parenting stress. Call the Kids Who Count offices at (801) 423-3000 if you need help finding qualified professionals for either you or your child.

 

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellFour Tips for Managing the Stress of Parenting a Special Needs Child
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Creating a Backyard Sanctuary for Kids with Disabilities

 

Having room to explore and play is important for the development of every child. Kids of all abilities need to have a place to discover, learn, and experience their world. Play is such an essential part of child development that the United Nations has declared play to be a basic human right for children.

One of the best ways to foster play is to help your child get outside. Thinking of ways to make your child’s play more active and engaging offers an advantage in strong, sustained and healthy development. Start by taking a good look around your outside space and consider ways to develop an inclusive sanctuary for children with all abilities.

Turning to television, smartphones, or tablets for entertainment can be easy and addictive for both children and parents. Supervised and timed technology play can serve a purpose, especially for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but it will never be a good substitute for time outside. Encouraging your child to play outdoors will help lower stress, increase attention span, improve vision, and build social skills. Plus, that extra boost of vitamin D will be an added benefit.

Click here to read more on HomeAdvisor.

 

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellCreating a Backyard Sanctuary for Kids with Disabilities
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Tips for Managing Meltdowns

Summer meltdowns can be all too familiar to parents of children with special needs—especially children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Changes in routine, group activities, and even heat can exacerbate meltdowns. And, unlike a tantrum, a meltdown is usually an involuntary response to sensory overload and not a cry for attention.

Here are five ideas to help you avoid or deal with a dreaded meltdown.

Avoid sensory triggers

Triggers can be different for every child, so it might help to take notes about what caused a meltdown to occur. Identifying the stimuli can help you dodge chancy situations, or find ways to avoid the parts of the activity that causes the most problems. For example, take earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to fireworks shows to dampen loud noises, drive instead of taking a crowded bus, or leave the store to find a more soothing environment.

Know the signs

One key strategy is to get to know your child’s signs of distress. Does he put his hands over his ears? Does she increase self-stimulatory behaviors like rocking, humming, hand flapping, etc.? Does he run from the room or say “Go!” or “Leave!”? These signs of your child’s distress can help you understand when your child is becoming overstimulated and needs help getting regulated.

Distract or redirect

If you can see a meltdown building, try doing something that usually makes your child happy. Your goal should be to focus on something that is comforting but not over-stimulating. For example, sing a favorite song, play a little game, or make silly faces.

Try to stay calm

Although it may be tempting to raise your voice or talk louder as the meltdown progresses, it’s best to talk in a soft, calming voice and avoid big or quick movements. Take deep breaths and take a few seconds to assess the situation. If possible, stop what you were doing and focus on helping your child calm down. Use simple language and short sentences and avoid forceful behavior.

Prepare a meltdown kit

Keep an emergency kit with you to help defuse a meltdown. Choose things that your child is already familiar with and has used to cope with stress in the past. It’s better to practice when your child is calm and already understands the coping strategy. You could include items like a favorite soft animal or fidget toy, aromatherapy oils or lotion, noise-cancelling headphones, or a weighted blanket or lap pad. You could also include a chewy or crunchy snack and some unscented hand wipes to help if the stimuli is tactile. A wide-brimmed hat or cap can offer some relief from social interactions, and a pair of sunglasses can reduce bright light.

We hope some of these tips will help you and your child manage or avoid meltdowns. What other techniques do you use? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellTips for Managing Meltdowns
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Five Summer Activities for Children with Special Needs

Changes in routine, too much free time, and lack of consistent activities can sometimes make summer a challenging time for families with a child on the autism spectrum.

The good news is that for children with ASD, summer activities can serve a dual purpose: along with keeping your child active and engaged in the summer, planned activities can give your child chance to explore color, shape, and sensory experiences that will stimulate attention, help foster self-calming, and make summer enjoyable!

Here are 5 ideas to help you launch a summer of fun.

Take a Train Ride

Trains can be a popular topic with children on the autism spectrum. It could be the spinning of the wheels that speaks to their sensory interests, or the rhythmic and repetitive noise and motion. And young kids are often exposed to trains in popular books and television programs. But whatever the reason, riding a real train could be a fun summer activity.

It could be fun to find a train that goes up a mountain, or find a scenic train ride to see the countryside. But just as fun may be a ride on the local train to the city and back. In Utah, you could try riding the light rail system (Trax) or jump on the faster Frontrunner commuter train and watch as the towns fly by. There are also a few trains in amusements parks (like Lagoon) or the Heber Valley Railroad that offers breathtaking view of Mt. Timpanogos and the dramatic, glacier-carved landscape of Provo Canyon.

Try Some Good Old Fashioned Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is stimulating for children of all abilities, specifically those who need a little extra help developing gross motor skills. Try some of the traditional childhood games to promote whole body movement and balance. Great games to try are Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, or Hopscotch. Or, get active with a great game of freeze tag or hide and seek. Even a game of follow the leader can be a fun activity and can help kids learn new movements. Plus, you might get nostalgic for your own sunny childhood.

Tent It Up

A simple backyard tent is a great way to create a fantasyland with your little one without ever leaving home! You can rig it up with string between trees and draped sheets, or set up a small camping tent as a sensory cave. Tent play can keep our child occupied for hours, plus tents can be comforting as a retreat when a child with ASD just needs a little quiet time. Add calming light with a flashlight or glow stick and bring out lots of soft pillows and blankets or sleeping bags to make it comfortable and calming.

Make an Obstacle Course

It’s fun to make up an obstacle course with objects or items you have already at home. Try using tape to make a balancing line, or inexpensive pool noodles to make barriers to jump over or a path to follow. Hula hoops make great places jump into and jump ropes make good starting lines or edge markers. Try bean bag toss or stacking big blocks. 

You could have several stops along the path with instructions about walking like animals. For example, have your child hop like a frog, slither like a snake, prance like a unicorn, walk like a crab, or jump like a kangaroo.

Catch Some Bubbles

Chasing bubbles is a great way for kids to practice their gross motor skills. You can give different directions to have your child catch a bubble on their head, break one in their hand, or jump on them as they settle to the ground. For kids with mobility issues use a pool noodle to swat the bubbles or a rolled up newspaper to act like a bubble bat.

Don’t forget, this is your summer too!

Even though you spend a lot of time and energy keeping your child occupied and happy during the summer, always keep in mind that summer is for everyone! Try to find activities that are interesting to you too and find things that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Look for an outdoor festival, an easy hike, or a beautiful sculpture garden. Sometimes even your local pool can do the trick. But whatever you plan, remember to create a few great summer memories of your own along the way.

 

Written by Sara Madsen, BCBA

Sara Madsen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or BCBA at Kids Who Count. She oversees and supervises all of the ABA treatments for the children we serve on the autism spectrum. She is currently in the PhD program in Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She loves the outdoors—fishing and camping—and is a Utah Jazz fan.

 

 

 

 

 

Holly BushnellFive Summer Activities for Children with Special Needs
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Figuring out the alphabet soup of autism

Many families who seek help for a child with development delays or who get an autism diagnosis are faced with a whole bowl full of acronyms or “alphabet soup,” as we like to call it. The vocabulary can be intimidating, the abbreviations mystifying, and the labels confusing. We even get stumped ourselves once in a while.

Because our autism program is brand new, it’s the perfect time to help demystify some of the jargon so prevalent in the autism, disability, and special education community.

So, let’s get started with a few of the basics.

What is behavior analysis?

Behavior analysis is a natural science that seeks to understand the behavior of individuals. That is, behavior analysts study how biological, pharmacological, and experiential factors influence the behavior of humans and nonhuman animals.

What is applied behavior analysis or ABA?

Used as a scientific approach to understanding different behavior, applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a method of therapy used to improve or change specific behaviors. In simple terms, ABA changes the environment in order to change the behavior. It’s not just used to correct bad behavior. While we often think of the word “behavior” as meaning bad behavior, that’s not always the case. In reference to ABA therapy, behavior is what we do and how we act. ABA therapy is used to improve behaviors like social skills, reading, academics, and communication as well as learned skills like grooming, hygiene, fine motor dexterity, job proficiency and even simple things like a child dressing herself.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior including social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.

There is not just one type of autism, but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.

What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or BCBA?

A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services. In addition, BCBAs supervise the work of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT), and others who implement behavior-analytic interventions.

Our BCBA will complete an assessment of your child’s skills and preferences and use this analysis to write specific treatment goals for both your child and your family. Your child’s treatment program will be individualized to address their unique needs, skills, interests, as well as the situation in your family.

Currently at Kids Who Count we have one full-time BCBA on our staff.

What is a Registered Behavior Technician or RBT?

A Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) is a paraprofessional who practices under the close, ongoing supervision of a BCBA. The RBT is primarily responsible for the direct implementation of behavior-analytic services. The RBT does not design intervention or assessment plans. It is the responsibility of the RBT supervisor to determine which tasks an RBT may perform as a function of his or her training, experience, and competence.

Our Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) will work directly with your child to apply the principles of ABA to teach language, social skills, self-care, play and learning.

Currently at Kids Who Count we have two part-time RBTs on our staff.

What will by child’s ABA instruction play look like?

An ABA instruction plan will break down skills into small, concrete steps—taught one-by-one. Your child’s RBT will start with simple activities (like imitating single sounds) to learning more complex skills like carrying on a conversation.

The BCBA and your child’s RBT will collect data and measure progress so they can continue to help your child move toward goals and benchmarks. Your Kids Who Count team will meet regularly with you and your family to review progress with specific goals and objectives and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

We want to help!

We’re always more than happy to help if you come across an acronym you’re unfamiliar with or some words or jargon that don’t make sense. Don’t be afraid to ask!

At Kids Who Count, we envision a community where children and families have access to local services that promote positive change and give children with autism spectrum disorder a chance to reach their unique individual potential. We hope we can help you!

 

Written by Sara Madsen, BCBA

Sara Madsen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst or BCBA at Kids Who Count. She oversees and supervises all of the ABA treatments for the children we serve on the autism spectrum. She is currently in the PhD program in Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She loves the outdoors—fishing and camping—and is a Utah Jazz fan.

 

 

 

 

 

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