An Autumn Outing with Spectrum

This past weekend, we enjoyed some Spectrum Family fun at Snead’s Asparagus Farm! What a great time to connect with our staff outside of work and have us grow as a team!

Autumn outings to animal farms, hayrides, and pumpkin patches have been a wonderful experience for Spectrum families and employees alike. They provide excellent opportunities for our kiddos to engage with peers and nature.

Everyday Learning Opportunities: At the Library

With the change in seasons, utilizing our local libraries can provide enjoyable activities out of our home for our little ones.

Many libraries offer weekly story-times. Some even offer sensory friendly story times specifically for kids with ASD. Visit your local library’s website to see if this is available in your area. If not, it can always be beneficial to ask your librarians about beginning one!

These story-times are an excellent opportunity to generalize your child’s skills and have them practice learning in a group setting.  

Learning opportunities provided may include:

  • Playing with musical toys, which can teach valuable imitation and group responding skills.
  • Preschool songs/nursery rhymes, which promotes following one-step instructions and imitation.
  • Group reading helps practice sitting quietly and listening.

It also helps your child to attend during sing-a-long songs if they are familiar with them from hearing them at home, so brush up on your Twinkle Twinkle and London Bridge!

Also, don’t forget to capitalize on the presence of same-age peers! Simply being around children your child’s age can help them become more comfortable in social settings.

Grandparents Day

Grandparents can play a major role in caring for their grandchildren. This often rings true for our loved ones with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Words cannot easily express the gratitude a mother or father feels when a grandparent lovingly swoops in to assist with our daily lives. From the mundane days to the chaotic, we appreciate your love and support!

So on this Grandparents day, we salute all of the loving Grandmothers and Grandfathers for loving our children, for loving us, and for simply just being present in our lives!

Grand Opening Extravaganza

What a wonderful last few weeks we have had at Spectrum Autism Services! We are so grateful for the Stafford community for welcoming us with open arms and for supporting the opening of our clinic!

In addition to providing one on one ABA therapy, our clinic, located at 35 Walpole St #204 in Stafford, Virginia, also offers both Full Day and Half Day Programs for children ages 2-5.

Our Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Registered Behavior Therapists, and certified teachers will develop individualized programs for your little one with ASD.

Spectrum Autism Services: Clinic Grand Opening!

We are excited to announce the opening of our new office space and Spectrum Academy! We will have an open house on Wednesday, August 7th from 10am-6 pm. We would love for you to stop by, see Spectrum’s new home, and share some sweet treats!

Functions of Behavior

“Why did he do that?”

We hear parents ask this question often regarding behavior functions. When assessed, reasons for the behavior become more apparent. This newfound understanding can assist in creating a systematic and personalized behavior therapy plan for your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

1. Social Attention

A person may engage in a specific type of behavior in order to gain social attention. For example, a child might engage in a behavior to get other people to look at them, laugh at them, play with them, hug them or scold them.

While it may seem strange that a person would engage in a behavior to deliberately have someone scold them, it can occur for because some people it is better to obtain “bad” attention than no attention at all (Cooper, Heron and Heward, 2007).

2. Tangibles or Activities

Some behaviors occur so the person can obtain a tangible item or gain access to a desired activity. For example, someone might scream and shout until their parents buy them a new toy (tangible item) or bring them to the zoo (activity).

3. Escape or Avoidance

Not all behaviors occur so the person can “obtain” something; many behaviors occur because the person wants to get away from something or avoid something altogether (Miltenberger, 2008).

For example, a child might engage in aggressive behavior so his teachers stop running academic tasks with him or another child might engage in self-injury to avoid having to go outside to play with classmates.

4. Sensory Stimulation

The function of some behaviors does not rely on anything external to the person and instead are internally pleasing in some way – they are “self-stimulating” (O’Neill, Horner, Albin, Sprague, Storey, and Newton, 1997).

They function only to give the person some form of internal sensation that is pleasing or to remove and internal sensation that is displeasing (e.g. pain).

For example, a child might rock back and forth because it is enjoyable for them while another child might rub their knee to soothe the pain after accidentally banging it on the corner of the table. In both cases, these children do not engage in either behavior to obtain any attention, any tangible items or to escape any demands placed on them.

Tools For Discovering the Functions of a Behavior- ABC Data

The observer records a descriptive account of the behaviors of interest including what happens before, during and after behaviors are performed.

A- Antecedent

What occurs in the environment immediately before the behavior of interest?

B- Behavior

What the behavior of interest looks like.

Examples of what to record: What the behavior of interest looks like (e.g hitting, kicking, throwing, ripping paper, eating rocks etc) frequency and duration when applicable.

C- Consequence

What occurs in the environment immediately after the behavior of interest? This is the part of the ABC’s that causes the behavior to happen again and again.

Examples of what to record: Who delivered the consequence, what items they were allowed access to pre- and post-consequence, what work they stopped doing as a result of the behavior.


The image above displays the ABCs of functions of behavior but in a helpful chart format.

A tried and true example of the ABCs of functions of behavior in action is the screaming kid in the grocery store. A child in a shopping cart enters the checkout line and sees the shelf full of candy (antecedent), they begin to cry because they want a candy bar (behavior), the parent wants them to stop crying so they buy them the candy bar (consequence). In the child’s mind, they cried once and got the candy bar, most likely they will cry next grocery trip since the behavior worked in the past. Before long, it becomes a perpetual loop of crying and buying. 

By assessing your child’s behaviors based on this technique, you may be able to more accurately understand your child’s behavior and develop a plan that you can implement in your home.

Reading with Your Toddler

At the bottom of this blog post we list recommended books to read with toddlers who have ASD

Reading to our children is a time-honored parenting tradition. Experts in education and child development are continuously touting the benefits.

These research based benefits include*:

  • increased communication skills,
  • a larger vocabulary
  • stronger child-parent bonds
  • enhanced imagination

Although they are eager to share this bonding experience, parents of children with autism can often be at a loss when it comes time to engaging their children during story-time. Here are a few of
the techniques we have found to be successful with many or our earliest learners and most resistant little readers:

Begin by:

  • Limiting distractions
  • Sitting face to face
  • Reading while your child is seated in a confined space such as a high chair or child-sized desk
  • Read developmentally appropriate picture books – Children with ASD tend to be very visual and vibrant pictures may be needed to capture their attention
  • Touch and feel books are great for making reading a multi-sensory experience
  • Make sound effects when narrating the story – Remember we all learn best when we are having fun!

Additional Tips:

  • Pull-tabs and books with flaps can be a great way to keep a little one engaged with a story while working on fine motor skills
  • If you are working on eye contact and your child is highly engaged in the story, pause when it’s time to turn the page and wait to see if they will make eye contact as a request for you to continue
  • This is a great time to work on following a point as you gesture to interesting images on the pages

Recommended Children’s Books with Toddlers with ASD:

Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli
Big Little by Leslie Patricelli
Happy Baby Words by Roger Priddy
My First Colors Board Book

This list of children’s books is courtesy of the text “An Early Start for Your Child with Autism“.

*Sources:

https://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/14-the-benefits-of-reading-to-your-