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.

Halloween Costumes and Resources

Considering the number of details that go into planning for the holidays, we decided to give some additional resources as a follow up to our previous blog on Halloween Tips.


Sensory Friendly Costume Ideas

Halloween can be both exciting and overwhelming for our loved ones with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that’s why we compiled a few costume ideas to help alleviate holiday induced anxiety. Our BCBAs and Behavior Techs at Spectrum have shared some of their favorite tips and tricks below:

  • Capes (avoiding masks is a good idea though)
  • Character hoodies/sweatshirts
  • Character Pajamas
  • Glow sticks (toss one in their treat bag or let them hold one to keep them visible, but simultaneously festive!)

By eliminating any additional irritants like scratchy fabrics, and avoiding face paint and masks, it decreases the amount of unnecessary stimulation that could be potentially night ending.

Other possible accessories:

Have a Halloween Count Down

Creating a calendar or countdown for Halloween can help emotionally prepare your loved one with ASD for the upcoming holiday. Talking about the holiday daily when marking the days on a calendar/countdown can remove the surprise of it.

Decorate Together

Having your child decorate the home with you can help them better understand the meaning behind the spooky decor. It can also prevent the fear of others’ decor when trick or treating. This will ultimately work as an additional step in preparing for the main event!


Feel free to comment with any Halloween informational tidbits of your own or ask questions in regards to costume ideas!




Kids with ASD and Interacting with Law Enforcement

A study published in February 2017 showed that nearly 20 percent of young people on the Autism spectrum have had a run-in with police by age 21, and about half of those by age 15. Some traits of people with ASD, from social anxiety, stimming, difficulty communicating and making eye contact, can resemble a police officer’s standard profile of a suspicious person. Add in the flashing lights, a loud siren or bullhorn, and it can be paralyzing for someone with autism, who may have extreme sensitivity to light, sound or touch.

Considering the behavioral misinterpretations of people who have ASD, we have a few recommendations for preparing your loved one with ASD for any possible future encounters. While we have done presentations to local law enforcement officers about engaging with a person who has ASD, and we can only hope other communities have as well, preparedness cannot hurt to go both ways.


Discuss The Job Duties of First Responders

An easy way to begin informing your loved one about law enforcement and first responders is to teach them their job duties. Having multiple conversations in this way can be proactive preparation.

Try repeatedly discussing the police/firemen’s indicating elements of their uniform (i.e navy attire with a silver badge) or vehicles (red truck) to pair with their duties. Making notecards for a matching game that identify the job function of the first responders could also be effective. Letting them know to not be wary but instead respectful could also be a good idea.

Taking your loved one to the actual police station or fire station would not just be a fun outing, but would also help solidify the memory of uniforms and vehicles of public servicemen in their mind.

If your loved one with ASD understands the duties of public servicemen and women, it can greatly minimize the confusion of why a person in uniform would be approaching them if that ever occurs.

Make an ASD Card

At Spectrum, we advocate making your child with ASD an identification card of sorts.

Notifications this card can include:

  1. Your loved one’s diagnosis
  2. His or her sensitivities
  3. A contact number for his or her Doctor
  4. A contact number for his or her legal guardians
  5. IEP accommodations (for school)

We omit the child’s name in case the card ever got lost. Nevertheless, this is a tactic we advise for students in school settings to carry and can be handy for public situations as well.

These options coupled with making sure your loved one can identify why a public serviceman would approach them could be extremely beneficial to prevent negative encounters with law officials.

Helping Hands Fall Festival 2018

We look forward to this year’s fall festival hosted by Helping Hands of Stafford!

Helping hands has served our community with therapy excellence for 15 years. They work closely with parents and families to educate them about their child’s diagnosis, treatment, and therapeutic options.

Their services include not only  Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy, but their therapists are also trained and certified in programs such as Therapeutic Listening, Primitive Reflex Integration, Handwriting Without Tears, the Social Thinking curriculum, LIfe Skills management, and many more.

They are such a vital resource in our community, and we look forward to seeing you all at their Fall Festival to celebrate their 15 years here in Stafford!

fall festival

When: Oct 31st
Time: 12pm-4pm
Where: 2049 Jefferson Davis Highway, Stafford, VA 22554
Details: Bring the kids in their Halloween costumes for fun, games, obstacle courses, crafts stations, and holiday treats! Food Trucks will be on site for snacks!

Cyber Security Centers Should Hire More People with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has voiced hiring people with ASD as a potential answer to stopping Cyber Attacks. The Cyber security skills gap is expected to reach 1.5 million globally by 2019, according to (ISC)2, meaning a shortage of employees but an abundance of need.

Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a specific gift and aptitude for cybersecurity, but they are regularly overlooked in the job market.

Mike Spain, director at Cyber Exchange knows that ‘neurodiverse’ adults can make a huge difference.  The term refers to individuals with ‘spectrum’ conditions including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and OCD.

Neurodiverse individuals have the abilities desired for Cyber Security: cognitive pattern recognition, outside-the -box thinking, attention to detail, logical and methodical thinking, focus and integrity, says Spain. “Diverse teams are more productive, more creative and more successful,” and the cybersecurity sector “could potentially be the ideal place to benefit from neurodiverse talent”, he says.

With this in mind, Spain started the Cyber Neurodiversity Group with the idea that hiring processes need to change. “Recruitment practice, processes and systems are largely designed around social skills, an area many struggle with.”

Spain points out that some firms have seen a 50% increase in productivity on certain tasks performed by neurodiverse individuals, “which is the kind of figure that makes the board listen”.

“We must ensure a pathway exists from early years right through to employment and retention for them to develop their skills so they can be deployed in the right way and the sector can benefit from this talent.”

We agree with Mike Spain, and can only hope positive employment pathways continue to expand for those with ASD.


An ASD Meltdown vs a Temper Tantrum

A Guide for Family, Friends, and the Public on How to Tell the Difference.

One of the most distressing experiences we feel when our children with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a meltdown is the lack of support from others. It is easy for those who don’t know, love or understand our children to think their meltdowns are immature or out of line behavior. On Alis Rowe’s website The Curly Hair Project, she offers a helpful chart for the public. This chart assists in distinguishing between an out of line temper tantrum and a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder’s need for understanding.


The main component of the two categories is whether or not the child seeks attention. Like Alis states at the bottom of the chart, notice if the child is looking for your reaction.

For those that are new to understanding those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, we hope you find this chart useful.

Contact us today if you are in need of a consultation or Autism Spectrum Disorder services for your loved one in the Northern Virginia area.

 (540) 383-7133