What Is Executive Functioning
“If you think of your brain as an orchestra, executive functioning is the conductor, making sure all the parts are working together and working properly,” explained neuropsychologist Michael Rosenthal of the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Rosenthal is an author of a new study on executive function problems in teens with ASD and intelligence quotient scores of 70 or above.
People use executive skills when they make plans, keep track of time, remember past experiences and relate them to the present, change course if they hit a roadblock, ask for help, maintain self-control and work successfully in a group.11
Something as mundane as food shopping requires multiple executive skills, Dr. Rosenthal said.
“First you need ‘initiation’ skills to get yourself off the couch. The next step is to ‘plan and organize’ a list of the items you need to get. You need to think about how many meals you need to make and how much money you have in the bank. Let’s imagine the first thing on your list is pears, but when you go to the produce section, the pears are all bruised. You have to have the ‘cognitive flexibility’ to say, ‘Instead of pears, I will buy apples.’ You need ‘inhibition’ to keep from going to the candy aisle, and your ‘working memory’ will help you keep track of the items you’ve purchased,” he said.
Techniques To Help Nonverbal Child Communicate
There are certain techniques you can try to encourage your nonverbal child to communicate. Here are a couple:
Encourage social interaction and play: Play, especially pretend play, is a great tool to teach children language skills. This will create fun opportunities for your child to communicate. You can also try certain activities like singing to promote social interaction. Make sure that it is easier for your child to see and hear you clearly during these activities.
Be patient: You may feel the need and urge to fill in the gaps in terms of language when your child doesnt immediately respond. However, it is important to give the child the opportunity to gather their thoughts and communicate. This may not alway happen through speaking. But when you ask a question, just wait for a few seconds. Observe your child for the sounds and the gestures they make. When they make an attempt, be prompt to respond so that they will get the idea and feel like they are communicating.
Include your childs areas of interest: Make sure that you are including the things and topics your child is interested in your communication attempts. Dont interrupt their focus and go along with them. Describe what they are doing with the object of interest. By including what engages your child into these activities, they will be more likely to associate what they learned with the objects, and expand their vocabulary with the things they love.
When To Seek Professional Help
Biting of any kind is distressing, but when it occurs frequently across a number of different settings, is severe, causes the child distress, or is causing serious injury, contact a professional right away. Behavior modification techniques such as those listed above are often effective, but there are other avenues of treatment. Some, however, are aversive techniques that should be discussed fully with a professional before being implemented. Other strategies may include dietary changes or prescribing medications, which would also require professional intervention and supervision.
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Lawful Basis For Processing Your Data
Finding A Place In The Social World
Even if they escape bullying, many teens with ASD struggle with social isolation. A large national study of teens receiving special education services revealed that students with ASD were less likely to take part in social activities than adolescents with speech and language disorders, learning disabilities or intellectual disability.1
More than 40 percent of the teens with ASD never saw friends outside of school. Half were never invited to take part in activities. For 54 percent, friends never called.1
A smaller study found that “social withdrawal worsened with age for a substantial proportion of youths” with ASD between ages 9 and 18, regardless of IQ.2
“Teens say actually the hardest part is not having friends. People think they don’t want to have friends, but they do,” Ms. Sicile-Kira said.
Dr. Keefer said many teens and young adults with ASD want, at a minimum, to be accepted. “There is a desire to be accepted, to have people around you who are nice to you and with whom you can share your interests,” she said.
The “special interests” common to autism can be an escape from social interaction, if a teen occupies himself solely with his favorite topic. “But, if used correctly, those special interests can be a way to connect with other people. An interest in gaming, for instance, is often a way for teenage boys to connect with one another,” Dr. Keefer said.
- See IAN’s Adults with Autism section.
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How Do I Use Choices Effectively
Choices can be used effectively as a discipline technique and as a means to help children focus. Mr. Adams had announced to the class that in five minutes it would be cleanup time. He personally got Jasons attention and told him face-to-face. After the five minutes had passed, the class began singing the cleanup song and putting toys away. Jason had trouble redirecting his focus from playing to cleaning up. Jason, you have a choice. You may pick up the big blocks first or the little blocks first. What is your choice? Mr. Adams asked. Jason said, The big blocks because I am strong.
Most children can benefit from using choices as a guidance tool, especially children who need additional structure to be successful. Jason is a good example. He needs more direction than some of the other children. Since he needs more guidance, the teacher is prone to giving him a lot of commands. Jason, get your lunch. Jason, get in line. Jason, wait until the door is opened. Jason, in his need for external structure from adults, misses out on some of the choice-making decisions other children acquire on a regular basis. So, instead of constantly directing Jason with commands, choices would give him the structure he needs, provide practice in making decisions and ultimately build his self-esteem.
In order for the adult to deliver choices to children on a regular basis, two things are required.
What To Do If Your Child Hits You
Neutral redirection is effective in how to stop an autistic child from hitting. This is an Applied Behavior Analysis technique consisting of replacing a childs aggressive, potentially dangerous behaviors with functional, appropriate behaviors.
With some guidance and gentleness, neutral redirection allows parents to effectively teach their children socially appropriate and safe behaviors, skills that will help them interact with peers, share experiences, and enjoy a higher quality of life. This process begins at treatment centers like Therapeutic Pathways, but can be followed at home.
As a parent or caregiver, heres how you can remediate your childs aggressiveness through neutral redirection:
- Remain calm. Remember that your childs behavior may be kindled if you give in to their aggression.
- Prevent your child from making contact with you by moving out of the way.
- If this is not possible, you may need to protect vulnerable parts of your body.
- During the process, refrain from speaking to your child , making eye contact with them, or reacting physically .
- Calmly redirect your child to a different method of communication. For example, if your child usually hits you to get your attention, you can instead instruct them to tap you on the arm and say excuse me.
- Only give your child direct acknowledgment when they engage in the appropriate behavior. Failing to do so could lead your child to associate aggressiveness with attention and getting what they want.
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How Functional Communication Training Works
Stephanie Lee, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, explains how a clinician implementing FCT works. She begins, Dr. Lee says, by identifying something the child is highly motivated to achieve say, a favorite food, toy or activity. That will serve as the natural reward for using a sign or picture that represents that thing.
So if a child really, really likes his Ninja Turtles or Thomas the Tank engine, or a childs favorite, favorite thing to eat is Cheetos, she says, we would take that item and then teach the child either a sign or a picture that represents that item.
Initially, the child is set up for what Dr. Lee calls errorless learning, in which the therapist guides the child to use the sign or picture and obtain the reward. This supported communication is repeated, each time resulting in the earned reward, until the child is able to succeed with less and less prompting from the therapist.
As we fade that prompting, the child becomes more and more independent in their communication, says Dr. Lee.
Once the child has learned this system of communication that the sign or the picture that theyre using needs to be received by someone else, in order for them to get their item then slowly but surely we can teach a new sign or introduce a new picture,explains Dr. Lee.
Make Directions Clear Short And Concrete
For example, if your child is throwing food at the table say, eat your food rather than Be good at the table, Dont throw your food or Would you stop with that! You are always throwing your food. For children with difficulty understanding language, showing them a picture or a visual demonstration of the behavior you want to see, can be helpful.
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Our Home Is Safety Proofed
Youre probably familiar with baby proofing a house. But while most families can take down the safety gates and doorknob locks once the child ages, families with children on the Autism Spectrum often have these items and more protecting their child from their homes inherent dangers. This is because many children on the Autism Spectrum are prone to behaviors that can bring about self injury.
Characteristics Of Autism Can Include:
- trouble using and understanding language or certain aspects of language such as sarcasm, expressions, and body language.
- difficulty taking in sensory input in an ordinary way. For example, a vacuum cleaner may sound overly loud, a smell may be extra strong, or the feel of something may be extra itchy.
- a need for a particular routine so they know what to expect as they can become frustrated when things dont go the way they had expected.
- trouble recognizing another persons opinion or understanding another persons feelings.
- difficulty working on or participating in activities with no clear ending
- difficulty switching from one activity to another, especially if they have to switch from something enjoyable to something not enjoyable .
- difficulty organizing themselves in productive play when not directed or given specific instructions.
Sometimes these characteristics lead to problem behaviors at home, in the classroom, or in the community which can be frustrating for the child and the adults caring for him.
Here are some strategies which can prevent problematic behaviors or promote positive behavioral changes :
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Why Do Asd Children Hit
For autistic children, aggressive behavior is a physical way of communicating when they cannot express their feelings in words. If they feel frustrated, upset, hungry or tired, their emotional state has a direct impact on their conduct.
This is why children react aggressively towards their parents or even siblings.
Aggressive behaviors are common and normal during early infancy, especially if your child has communicational challenges. The best way for you, as a parent, to deal with these situations is to understand what your child is going through and offer the support they need to express their emotions properly.
Make An Autism And Hitting Plan
After fully assessing the hitting, make a plan around how to prevent hitting. Once hitting starts, it can become dangerous for the child and for others. Making a plan is really going to be helpful if, while you were assessing, you checked when the behavior happened, as well as when the behavior never happened. Most people are way too reactive to problem behaviors and we need to turn that around and look for ways to prevent problem behaviors. You might want to increase the activities for your child or client that dont cause a hitting reaction.
Now, if they like swimming in the pool, you wouldnt be able to use that plan all year long. The child or client also might not hit when using an iPad, and you certainly dont want to let a child play with screens all day long. As you increase some of the preferred activities, also increase reinforcement for not hitting during those times. Make a plan to increase demands and slowly fade out some of those reinforcing activities. That way, when it is winter and you cant go to the pool, you can still work with the child on not hitting.
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Things Parents Of Children On The Autism Spectrum Want You To Know
It is estimated that one in 68 children are now diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder, and yet, this diagnosis remains as misunderstood as ever. We simply do not live in a society that is accommodating or even accepting of those who are not neurotypical. Fortunately, parents of autistic children are wonderful at communicating who their children are and why. Below are 30 things those parents of children on the Autism Spectrum want you to know.
We Know Best When It Comes To Our Autistic Children
All parents know their own children best, but this statement is especially true of parents of children on the Autism Spectrum. Most parents of autistic children have spent countless hours researching and consulting with doctors. They know their childrens ticks and the best ways to avoid meltdowns. Autism Speaks advises other parents keep the unsolicited parenting advice to themselves, saying, Do ask the family whether theres something you can do to help, but he prepared for a no.
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Signs My Autistic Child Will Talk
You may ask yourself will my nonverbal autistic child ever speak?. The answer to that question is not easy to give.
Research shows that nonverbal children of age 4 who were nonverbal until that point could produce single words and phrases without verbs.
The important thing here is to provide the right support and help to your child, suitable to their needs. If your child is babbling, or trying to convey something through their behavior, you should lean into it and practice speech exercises.
Many parents and caregivers report that they have had success with such exercises at home, along with the help of professional intervention like speech therapy.
Using Aba Principles To Discipline
Applied Behavior Analysis therapy offers some techniques to adapt behavior from unwanted behavior to preferred behavior that translates into our everyday lives. ABA focuses on the why and the how aspects of behavior to implement an intervention the why refers to the cause of the behavior and the how refers to the tools that can effectively be used to change the unwanted behavior to a preferred behavior.
The ABC in ABA is the foundation to applying ABA for disciplining your child with autism. The acronym stands for: Antecedent Behavior, Consequence. The antecedent is the event that occurs before the behavior, the behavior is the observable action, and the consequence is what happens with the child as a result of the event. Once you have a clear understanding of the cause of the behavior , it is much easier to predict the consequence after the behavior.
Using the principles of ABC, as a parent, youre in a better place to respond to situations and teach a preferred response before they even occur so that in the event a challenge does occur the child is better adapted to respond accordingly.
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If Possible Use A Schedule To Let The Child Know How His Day Will Go
For children who have trouble reading or understanding language, a visual schedule would be best. A schedule for after school could include eating a snack, doing homework, watching TV, playing a game with the family, reading a book, taking a bath and going to bed. A visual schedule at school could include math, reading, gym, lunch, recess, art, science, packing up, and getting on the bus. Below is an example of a visual schedule:
See How to Use Schedules to Improve Childrens Behavior for more on getting the materials for and utilizing first/then boards and visual schedules.
Whats Triggering Your Childs Outbursts
Autism is not a hardwired impairment programmed into a childs genes and destined to remain fixed forever. Paying attention differently to and recording the environment around and prior to incidents can lead to an understanding of triggers for occurrences. Sensory breaks can help your child regroup and refocus.
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