What are social stories?

In 1991, Carol Gray coined and trademarked the term “social stories.” It refers to a short, narrative-style description of a particular event or social scenario, broken down so that a neurotypical child may find it easier to understand.

After reading a social story, a child with autism or a related disorder will have a deeper understanding of a specific scenario that they may otherwise find daunting or overwhelming. They know what to expect going in, making the entire experience more pleasant.

Understanding Autism


When are social stories useful? 

As mentioned above, social stories provide children with useful context about a “new” situation or scenario they have not experienced before. For example, they could be used to help a child understand what will happen at their first dentist appointment, especially if they are in need of some kind of dental surgery. Alternatively, a social story about starting a new school could be useful if you have recently moved to a new town or neighborhood.

Why do children with autism benefit from social stories?

Children with autism often thrive in routine environments. When they know what to expect out of each day, they can prepare themselves accordingly. New situations, even “fun” ones, such as a playdate with a friend, are a clear deviation from the norm, which, for many, can therefore be challenging.

Social stories help to reduce their fears and anxieties surrounding this by taking the “unknown” out of the scenario. They provide them with a frame of reference that deepens their understanding of new social situations. As such, this can play a key role in encouraging children to broaden their horizons moving forward.

Where can I find social stories?

Many social stories are available for purchase online – and you can see some samples from Carol Gray here. However, many parents choose to curate their own social stories for their children so that they can be more directly tailored to their child or the situation they are trying to explain.

For example, when writing your own social story, you can include your child’s name or the name of others who may be involved, such as their doctor or pediatrician.

Final Thoughts.

Social stories are one of the more effective methodologies in place when it comes to preparing children with autism and related disorders to face new situations. Without them, children could feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed or may be more prone to adverse behavior and even meltdowns.

However, there are also many other ways in which you can ensure your child remains open to new experiences. For example, working with a therapist, such as an ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapist, can help a child to develop a range of lifeskills, ensuring that they are able to reach their full potential. Similar benefits can be obtained through other forms of preventative therapies, too, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy.

If you’d like to find out more about the therapy services we offer, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

 

 

 

 

 

According to a study from Autism Speaks, the average age of autism diagnosis in the U.S. is 5 years (for boys) and 5.06 for girls. While this is still a relatively young age, and some individuals do not receive a formal diagnosis for autism or related conditions until adulthood, studies have found that autism can “reliably be diagnosed by a specialist at age 2.”

 

This is known as early intervention – and it is something that is widely considered to be beneficial for both the individual affected and their families.

Early intervention is key when it comes to autism | The Pittsburgh Jewish  Chronicle

What is Early Intervention?

Early intervention occurs when a child with autism or a related disorder receives a formal diagnosis before preschool age. This way, specific intervention strategies can be put in place to reduce the symptoms of autism or its impact on the child’s life moving forward.

What limits Early Intervention?

The primary reason why some children do not receive a diagnosis early in life is because their parents are unaware of the symptoms of autism. As a result, while they may display certain behaviors characteristic of autism during infancy, such as avoiding eye contact, they may not reach out to discuss this with a healthcare provider until a much later stage in their child’s development.

What are the benefits of Early Intervention?

As mentioned above, there are many benefits associated with early intervention when it comes to managing autism and related disorders.

 

Firstly, “in this period, a young child’s brain is still forming, meaning it is more “plastic” or changeable than at older ages. Because of this plasticity, treatments have a better chance of being effective in the longer term.” As such, it can be a great way to limit the impact that autism has on your child’s life, as they can develop a wide range of coping mechanisms and tactics at a time when they are most susceptible to learning or change.

 

Another (often overlooked) benefit of early intervention is that it enhances the entire family’s understanding of autism, how it works, and how it manifests in each individual person. After all, you may be more likely to research autism after your child is diagnosed. This will allow you to build a strong support network for your child while also ensuring everyone in your family understands their needs.

 

Beyond this, early intervention means that you can enlist the support of a therapist, who will also help make your child’s day-to-day life easier, be that through speech therapy, occupational therapy, or ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis). This way, when your child is ready to start school, they’re better equipped to handle these challenges and keep up with their neurotypical peers.

 

At Alee Behavioral, we have years of experience in supporting children with autism and related disorders and offer a range of in-person and online therapy services. If you’d like to learn more, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

 

We look forward to hearing from you and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Children play game

Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

 

Field trips provide children with the opportunity to further consolidate the knowledge they’ve acquired in the classroom through real-life experiences. They also allow them to form stronger bonds with their peers outside of the classroom environment.

 

In short, they are an essential part of your child’s academic development. In fact, one study found that “children who take school trips have better grades (59%), higher graduation rates from high school (95%) and college (63%), and greater income (12% higher annually).”

 

However, for children with autism and related disorders, field trips may be a little anxiety-inducing.

 

Why are field trips harder for children with autism?

 

Children with autism and related disorders work best within a routine, both in and out of school. For example, they often like to know what they are doing and when. This knowledge is often empowering as they feel more confident heading into their day, knowing they will not encounter any unexpected challenges.

 

As a field trip is a direct deviation from their routine, this can lead to some upset. However, that’s not to say that children with autism do not enjoy field trips, especially when specific accommodations are put in place to support them!

 

How to help your child prepare for a school field trip.

 

  1. Put together a schedule for the day. Asking your child’s teacher to spend some time curating a schedule for the day can go a long way toward ensuring your child feels as prepared as possible for their trip. Read the schedule with your child beforehand, and provide them with a printed copy to refer to if necessary. You should also add the trip to their calendar in advance.

 

  1. Look at the destination’s website. Whether your child is visiting a local zoo or museum, checking out their website ahead of time is another excellent way to prepare your child for the trip. This is because it will give them greater insight into what to expect from the day, especially if they can view a virtual tour or check out pictures beforehand.

 

  1. Consider being a parent volunteer. Many schools ask for parents to volunteer to act as chaperones during school trips, so you may want to consider taking on this role if possible. This way, you’re on hand to help should your child be having a hard time.

 

  1. Pack noise-cancelling headphones. Field Trips can be noisy affairs, especially when children are excited to have a day off school. As such, you may want to pack some noise-canceling headphones in your child’s backpack, which can help ensure they do not feel overwhelmed or overestimated.

 

  1. Discuss the trip in therapy. If your child is currently receiving therapy, discuss the upcoming trip with their therapist. This is because they will be able to suggest other ways in which you can prepare your child and may also teach them some effective coping strategies that they can use on the day if necessary.

 

School trips are essential in more ways than one, and as such, you should encourage your child to participate in these activities as much as possible. The above guidance is a great way to prepare them for this challenge!

 

How To Ensure Your Child With Autism Stays Safe in the Sun.

 

Now that the Summer is finally upon us, it’s likely that you’ll want to spend as much time outdoors as possible – whether you’re going on a family day out or a summer vacation.

 

However, during this time, you must teach your children the importance of staying safe in the sun. This is particularly important for parents of children with autism, especially those who deal with sensory issues. Various studies have found that “sensory processing difficulties present a particular challenge to parents and carers when attempting to protect children with ASD from being exposed to harmful levels of solar ultraviolet radiation.”

 

What role do sensory processing issues play in sun safety?

 

Studies have found that “up to 90% of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder have sensory processing difficulties.” This could mean that they show adverse reactions to different sensory experiences, which will reflect in their behavior. For example, if they’re exposed to something they do not like, they may be more prone to stimming or a meltdown.

 

As a result of these sensitives, “children with ASD may be extremely averse to wearing hats, the feel of sunscreen creams on their skin, which involves regular reapplication, and the wearing of clothing which covers and protects the skin.” As such, it can be difficult to keep them as safe as possible in the sun, especially during the summer months.

 

Top Tips for Ensuring Your Child With Autism Stays Safe in the Sun

 

 

 

 

 

There are many benefits associated with going on a family vacation. After all, without having to contend with work, school, or your usual social calendar, you can spend more quality time with each other than ever before.

While you may view an escape from your home and routine as something to look forward to, this can be an incredibly daunting experience for children with autism and related disorders. This is because they tend to thrive in familiar environments and prefer to stick to a consistent routine as a result.

However, that’s not to say that those with autism and related disorders cannot enjoy vacationing – you may simply need to put some extra accommodations in place to care for them during your travels.

With that in mind, here are some tips that may be useful when heading out on your summer vacation!

Put together a vacation schedule.

While you may be keen to catch up on sleep and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life during your vacation, putting together some kind of schedule or routine can help your child manage feelings of stress and anxiety. This is because it feels as though they are not stepping into the ‘unknown.’

For example, you could put together a list of everything you want to do during your vacation and discuss these options with your child. If you’re going to be visiting specific attractions, show them pictures ahead of time so they have an idea of what to expect when they arrive.

Bring some home comforts with you.

Bringing some home comforts with you can also help your child to feel more relaxed on vacation. For example, if they have sensory issues, they may not like the feeling of certain fabrics or materials, which could mean they won’t be able to sleep using hotel bed sheets. Bringing your own from home provides them with a sense of comfort while also ensuring they get enough sleep.

Be prepared for potential changes in behavior.

While taking steps to prepare your child for your vacation ensures they have the best possible time, you should also be aware of the signs that indicate they are struggling or feel overwhelmed. This puts you in the best possible situation to do something about it quickly.

For example, you may notice they are stimming much more intensely or often. This can be combated by identifying the trigger and working to reduce its impact on their day. For example, if you’re in an overly noisy environment, you could move to a quieter space or reach for sound-canceling headphones.

Chat with their therapist.

If your child is enrolled in some kind of interventive therapy, such as Applied Behavior Analysis, speaking with their therapist beforehand is also useful. This is because they’ll have a deeper understanding of your child’s needs and what you need to do to support them when traveling.

With decades of experience and a real passion for helping children thrive, we’ve curated a range of therapy programs for those with autism and related disorders. So, whether you’re planning the perfect autism-friendly vacation or want to prepare your child for the school environment, please do not hesitate to reach out today. We look forward to hearing from you.

The goals of occupational therapy(OT) revolve around improving the quality of life of individuals by enhancing their abilities in various activities of daily living.

 

The purpose of this type of therapy is to develop, recover, and maintain functional skills.

 

This article outlines the goals of occupational therapy and how they help clients.

 

Promoting Independence

 

One of the primary goals of OT is to promote independence which refers to an individual’s ability to perform daily activities without relying on anyone else for assistance.

 

By promoting independence, this therapy allows individuals to take meaningful actions that support their lives.

 

Even the simplest tasks like buttoning a shirt, brushing teeth, and combing hair can become daunting if an individual lacks the necessary skills.

 

Occupational therapists use various techniques like skills training, adaptive equipment, and environmental modifications to help their clients regain control over their lives.

 

Increasing Range of Motion and Strength

 

Occupational therapy also aims to increase the range of motion and strength of their clients. This aspect is particularly important for individuals dealing with chronic conditions or recovering from an injury.

 

Occupational therapists help in the recovery of these individuals by facilitating activities that promote the recovery of motor function.

 

These activities may include mobility exercises that help to restore range of motion, strength training, and other techniques that target restoring injured or damaged body parts.

 

Improving Fine Motor Skills

 

Fine-motor skills are essential for performing everyday activities like holding a pen or pencil, writing, manipulating small objects, and tying shoelaces.

 

Occupational therapists work with clients to improve their fine motor skills, leading to the development of sensory-motor integration and hand-eye coordination.

 

This aspect is critical for children since it is easier to correct problems during the early stages of development.

 

By improving an individual’s motor skills, occupational therapy helps clients to become more independent and proficient in their daily activities.

 

Facilitating Sensory Integration

 

OT also facilitates sensory integration, which is particularly important in children. Sensory integration is the brain’s ability to use the five senses to coordinate with the environment.

 

It refers to the process of taking in sensory information and making meaningful responses.

 

Children with sensory processing disorders can benefit from therapeutic activities, which incorporate sensory techniques, to increase their participation in daily routines.

 

Enhancing Cognitive Skills

 

Cognitive skills impact an individual’s ability to think, reason, and remember, which are critical to carrying out daily activities. The goals of OT are aimed at enhancing cognitive skills, such as attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities.

 

Such interventions could be in the form of games specifically designed to target cognitive skills enhancement, which is beneficial for children with ADHD, who often display symptoms such as lack of focus and poor memory retention.

 

Promoting Emotional Wellbeing

 

It also has goals that target improving emotional well-being. Depression and anxiety can have a severe impact on physical and mental health, and they can make it difficult to participate in activities of daily living.

 

The therapy focuses on activities that help clients cope with stress and promote relaxation. In addition, therapists may use yoga, biofeedback, or relaxation techniques to help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

Conclusion

 

An occupational therapist has various goals that are beneficial to individuals of all ages, and they are vital for the promotion of independent living, regardless of ability or disability.

 

For individuals seeking autism treatment in RI or ABA clinics in RI, OT can be a valuable supplementary service.

 

The primary objective is to increase independence and improve quality of life by promoting a sense of purpose and self-worth through meaningful activities.

Understanding Autism: Difficulty In Social Situations

 

While it’s important to stress that no two people with autism experience the condition in the same way, some symptoms are more common than others. For example, many children with autism and related disorders find difficulty in social situations.

What are ‘social situations’?

The social situation is a term that can describe a broad range of events that we encounter in our daily lives. For children, social situations can include everything from going to school to spending time with their siblings. In short, it refers to any situation where we are surrounded by others.

 

Why do children with autism and related disorders tend to struggle in social situations?

Children with autism and related disorders may struggle in social situations because they tend to experience the world differently than their neurotypical peers. As such, they may not know how to accurately respond to specific social cues that other children seem to understand from an early age.

 

Because of this, it is a common misconception that people with autism are not sociable – whereas this is simply not the case. It may just be that certain adjustments need to be made in these situations in order for your child to feel more comfortable – and making these accommodations can enable them to better communicate with those around them and make new friends.

 

How can I help my child cope better socially?

Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can make it easier for your child to thrive in social situations they may otherwise feel uncomfortable. This is an important duty to handle, especially when you consider the fact that nearly 1 in 3 people with autism are socially isolated.

 

For example, interventive therapies, such as occupational or speech therapy, can help your child develop socially by improving their communication and self-expression skills. As a result, they’re more adept when it comes to navigating social situations and talking to others.

 

Reading social stories can also help your child to better understand social situations ahead of time – especially those that may be overwhelming, such as going to visit the doctor or dentist. By developing their understanding of unfamiliar events ahead of time, they can adequately prepare themselves for what is to come, as opposed to being overwhelmed.

 

Encouraging your child to participate in a wide range of extracurricular hobbies, especially team-based activities, can also help them to socialize with others, especially those who are their own age. This often comes down to the fact that it encourages them to spend more time playing or interacting with others than doing so on their own. Furthermore, it provides them with a common point of interest to bring into discussion with their peers. As such, you may notice that it is particularly beneficial if their hobby relates to their special interest, should they have one.

 

However, while it is important that you encourage your child to socialize and make friends as much as possible, you must also remember that we all need a break from time to time in order to recharge our social batteries!

There are many different traits and behaviors that are often associated with autism and related disorders, including literal thinking.

 

 

What is literal thinking?

 

Literal thinking, sometimes referred to as concrete thinking, refers to the way in which we view the world around us. By definition, literal thinkers “may take information at face value without thinking beyond or generalizing the information to other meanings or situations.”

 

However, this manner of thinking can sometimes lead to communication issues, in children (or adults) with autism and related disorders, when they are introduced to abstract concepts.

 

Why do children with autism tend to think literally?

 

Children with autism and related disorders tend to think literally because they tend to adopt a more concrete thought process. They like to be able to understand what is happening around them, meaning that they’ll find automatic trains of thought to be confusing as they are not always sensical or straightforward.

 

What are the benefits of literal thinking?

 

Literal thinking can come in handy in many different areas of your child’s life. For example, it often enables them to perform well in school, especially in subjects that are based in fact or the ability to recognize patterns. For example, in one study by Stanford University, “children with autism and average IQs consistently demonstrated superior math skills compared with non autistic children in the same IQ range.”

 

Literal thinking can also help your children make smarter, more informed decisions in other areas of their life, as they’re better able to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. Furthermore, employers are often on the lookout for literal thinkers.

 

When can literal thinking present a problem?

 

As discussed above, one of the biggest issues that children with autism and related disorders encounter with literal thinking is difficulty understanding abstract thoughts and concepts.

 

While neurotypical people may find it easy to use idioms such as “under the weather”, or “piece of cake”, various studies have found that “children with ASD face greater difficulty than normal children in understanding idioms; they fail to consider social context and tend to interpret expressions literally.” For example, if they are told that information came “straight from the horse’s mouth”, this could be a point of confusion for them.

 

More generally, this thought pattern also means that children with ASD may also be more straight to the point when communicating with others – which can sometimes appear as though they are being rude. While this is not the case, it can make it harder for them to communicate, especially among others within their age group.

 

However, there are many ways in which you can encourage your child to become more familiar with abstract thinking or abstract concepts. For example, simply talking about different idioms and how they are used in conversation can help them to better understand why they exist. You could even turn this into a fun game, where each person has to guess the meaning of the idiom, or where it came from.

 

Therapeutic services can also prove useful when it comes to helping your child see the world from a different perspective, whether they’re enrolled in speech therapy or ABA.

 

If you’d like to find out more or would like to meet one of our qualified, friendly therapists, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

While autism and related disorders impact different individuals in different ways, many individuals with autism develop a special interest.

 

In fact, one study found that some 75-95% of autistic individuals have a special interest that often begins during childhood but sticks with them throughout their life.

 

Working to better understand your child’s special interests can help you provide them with support and guidance moving forward.

 

Understanding Autism: Special Interests

 

What is a special interest?

 

Special interests are best defined as “an intense focus on specific topics.” For example, if given the opportunity, your child may dedicate all their free time to this interest or bring it up in conversation at every opportunity.

 

Why do children with autism develop special interests?

 

Various research studies are dedicated to understanding why children with autism may develop special interests. For example, some researchers believe that “young children with autism may experience greater rewards from non-social stimuli than social stimuli, causing them to turn to special interests rather than social contact.

 

Alternatively, their passion may be grounding, providing them with a sense of structure – which is something that many autistic individuals favor.

 

What are common special interests for individuals with autism?

 

Children with autism and related disorders may develop a special interest in a range of topics. However, some tend to be more popular than others. This includes:

 

What are the benefits of special interests?

 

There are many benefits associated with allowing your child to explore their special interests and passions. For example, they can:

 

 

As such, you should support your child with their passions as much as possible, so long as they are not becoming problematic. For example, try not to shut down any conversations about their special interest, even if they’ve been talking at length. Instead, show you care by asking plenty of questions.

 

When can special interests present a problem?

 

Special interests are somewhat narrow. This means that in some instances, they can become restrictive and consuming, meaning that children withdraw from other opportunities to pursue them. This can sometimes be challenging for both the child and those around them.

 

As such, you must encourage your child to develop various hobbies and interests. For example, sign them up for extracurricular clubs and activities that broaden their horizons.

 

You can make this seem more exciting for your child by trying to choose hobbies that complement their special interests. For example, if they have developed a special interest in Film & TV, you could encourage them to try writing their own stories, join a film club or even learn about cameras and how they work.

 

You may also want to discuss your child’s particular interest with their therapist, who can suggest other interventive methods to limit its hold over your child.

 

If you’d like to find out more or would like to meet one of our qualified, friendly therapists, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

Emotional regulation is something that we all struggle with – even into adulthood. However, the way in which we regulate our emotions varies on a case by case basis – and the same can be said for children with autism and related disorders.

 

Many children with autism use ‘stimming’ as a form of emotional regulation, which is why you may already be familiar with the term. In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what stimming is, and steps you can take to support your child.

 

 

 

What is Stimming?

 

Stimming is short for self-stimulating, and refers to repetitive behaviors/actions carried out by individuals as a form of emotional regulation or self-soothing. While seemingly ‘random’, they provide the individual with a sense of comfort, especially when they feel overwhelmed.

 

According to Autism.Org, Typically stimming behaviors could include:

 

There are many different reasons why a person may ‘stim’. For example, it could be seen as an “an attempt to gain sensory input, eg rocking may be a way to stimulate the balance (vestibular) system; hand-flapping may provide visual stimulation.” Alternatively, it can be an involuntary response to emotional stress or anxiety.

 

Should I intervene when my child stims?

 

As a parent, it’s only natural to want to intervene when your child seems distressed. However, in most cases, stimming is a response mechanism, meaning that it actually helps them to calm down and intervention is not strictly necessary.

Intervention may be required if stimming behaviors leave your child at risk of physical injury. For example, this could include behaviors such as headbanging, scratching or biting. In these cases, parents should:

 

Identify (and remove) the trigger. Stimming is often not ‘randomized’, but rather a direct response to something happening around them. For example, children who are sensitive to loud noises may stim when in crowded or noisy environments. Identifying triggers enables you to remove your child from the situation and better avoid them in the future.

 

Learn to redirect. Parents of neurotypical and neurdiverse children alike often become adept at redirecting their children. For example, you may use toys to distract them when they are about to start crying. These same techniques can come in handy when redirecting a child who may be at risk of hurting themselves. For example, using the same example as above, if their stims are the response to loud noises, you could hand them some headphones that either cancel out noise completely or play their favorite songs.

 

If your child is enrolled in interventive therapy, such as ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) or Physical Therapy, you will also be able to discuss behaviors such as stimming with their therapist. This way, you can decide upon a suitable course of action moving forward, or find ways in which you can better support your child in their daily life.

 

If you’d like to find out more about the therapeutic services we offer, both online and in-person, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

Any questions? Give us a call!

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