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!

Teaching to Handle with Care when Working with Children with ASD

Handle with Care provides teaching strategies for those working with the behaviorally challenged population. The goal of Handle with Care is to ensure a safe and nurturing environment.

By teaching and implementing preventative actions that decrease the need for physical restraints, Handle with Care equips parents, ABA professionals, school teachers and many other professionals proper restraining techniques for the event that a restraint is absolutely necessary for the safety of a client or student.

Handle with Care believes that if staff work in fear and do not feel personally safe, then there can be no emotional safety whatsoever as fear will be the controlling emotion. 

Similarly, if the client cannot trust the staff to keep them unharmed and treat them fairly, they will not trust the staff or therapists to teach and provide the therapy they need.

Handle With Care is committed to the emotional and physical safety of behaviorally challenged individuals whose behavior may become harmful to themselves or others and the staff and organizations that support them.

In this video, Faith demonstrates how to responsibly remove yourself from an approach to then calm a client/child.

At Spectrum Autism Services, Faith Martino, one of our Clinical Assistants, and Abby Hawkins, our Office Manager, are trained to teach the employees of our company proper prevention, de-escalation techniques, and also proper restraining techniques.

A Handle with Care course is provided annually at Spectrum Autism Services to re-certify staff as well as certify newly joined staff. We believe that handling our kiddos with respect, despite the difficult emotional behaviors they sometimes exude, is not only morally fair, but paramount to teaching them the successful behavioral therapy they deserve.

Schools and facilities that use Handle With Care see on average a 30-40% reduction in injuries and incidents.

Handle with Care training addresses problematic behavior early in the cycle, thus reducing the number of incidents, injuries, holding times and assaults on staff, teachers, clients, private parties and students.

The following reviews convey the positive impact of implementing Handle with Care (HWC) protocol in professional environments:

For more information about Handle with Care, visit their website at http://www.handlewithcare.com

Employee Spotlight: Verna Birch

This month’s Employee Spotlight highlights one of Spectrum’s amazing Clinical Assistants, Verna Birch!

Verna has always had a strong passion to help others and maximize the individual potential of her clients. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine. She has experience working in the medical and human services fields. She has worked as a Registered Behavior Technician since 2015.

She began her career providing one-on-one direct services to children on the spectrum in home, community and clinic settings in San Diego, California. Her family relocated to Virginia in 2017, where she continues her work as an RBT with Spectrum Autism Services. She is a military spouse and has vast experience working with and serving the military community. 

She cherishes each of her clients and their families and constantly seeks to make a meaningful, positive difference in their lives. Currently Verna is pursuing her Masters degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis.

We are grateful for Verna each day for her continual effort and impact on her clients! Thank you for all that you do!

The Importance of Pairing

Pairing is an ongoing process during which behavior technicians familiarize themselves with your child and discover what he or she enjoys. Just as you or I would not want to follow instructions from a stranger, your child is not likely to respond to demands placed by a technician without a positive relationship first being established.

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The First Month of ABA Therapy

Behavior technicians will be collecting baseline data for problem behaviors, language, skills, and most importantly– pairing!

The Pairing Process

The process of pairing is important because it allows the technician to become associated with fun activities and highlight preferred items. In this way, your child will be motivated to build a relationship with the technician. This relationship will be the foundation for building “instructional control.” Instructional control simply means that when the technician instructs your child to do something, he or she will do it. Pairing also helps the technician learn about your child’s preferences and gives the worker an idea of what may motivate your child when work tasks begin.

It Looks Like Playing– Is this Useful?

Playing with your child is exactly what pairing should look like! Technicians should be engaging with your child and letting him or her direct the play entirely for the first few sessions. This helps teach your child that the technician is fun and allows the presence of the technician to become reinforcing. Building the relationship between your child and the technician as a fun person (with fun stuff!) before the technician will be able to successfully place demands.

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How You Can Tell That Pairing is Working

Pairing is working when your child looks forward to his or her technician coming to your home. While the technician is there, the child enjoys and seeks out engagement with him or her. When they have to leave, the child may become disappointed or ask when he or she will return.

One of the goals of pairing is that your child engages in more “coming toward” behaviors with the technician, rather than “running away” behaviors.

Does Pairing End After the First Month of Therapy?

Nope, pairing is a continual process! Behavior technicians will continue to pair with your child at the beginning of session and during breaks. Continued pairing helps maintain the relationship your child has with his or her technician and strengthen the instructional control the technician has established.

We hope you find this information on ABA therapy and pairing insightful. Feel free to comment with any additional questions!

Coding for Kids

In relation to our previous post about why more Cybersecurity centers should hire people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, we wanted to inform you of some great kids resources in our local Virginia area.

Ninja Warriors

In Fairfax, Virginia, Ninja Warriors is an up and coming resource for the community! Upon opening, Code Ninjas Camps will offer an immersive environment for kids to explore and develop new skills to become potential digital gurus as well as have fun with friends. They will soon offer after-school programs as well as summer camps! For more info click here.

Generation Code

Generation Code’s mission is to transform kids into digital leaders, and they serve individuals through Lab and summer camps. They also serve schools and communities using innovative curriculum and professional development.

Each Generation Code camp is hands-on to help kids’ coding skills. Campers learn crucial coding skills and in-demand languages, like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Java while building their critical thinking and collaborative skills. Every day of camp, students learn from each other and express their creativity through code.

Their programs include Mobile App Development (11+), Ozo Robotics, Scratch animation and Game design, Intro to Java Script, and more!

For more information on after-school courses and summer programs visit https://www.generationcode.com/products/2018

contactGenCode: Facebook & Twitter

(Featured photo from: https://www.generationcode.com/pages/about)

Not Near You?

If neither of these is near you, it could still be a great resource to consider looking into. Considering the need in the IT and Cybersecurity profession, this could be a great activity for your child to attempt.

The Tech world has the potential to be a great professional endeavor for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We hope you find these ideas helpful.

 

 

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.

firefighters

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!