Kahlon Family Services > Uncategorized > Services for Autism Spectrum

Services for Autism Spectrum

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Do you have a child with Autism? If the diagnosis is new (or you suspect that your child may be “on the spectrum”), you might be wondering what kinds of services are available to help your child with an early intervention. It has been well proven that early intervention is key to giving your child the best chance at life with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. At Kahlon Family Services, we are passionate early interventionists – so this post is dedicated to providing you with information about the kinds of services available.

With early interventions, a child may have a couple of these professionals, their teachers and parents form a “team”. The team meets where necessary to make sure everyone is on the same page with the child’s progress. Every child is different, and therefore it is likely that most will not need all of these services. It would be very expensive (time and money wise) to have professionals from all of these areas involved in your child’s life. Sometimes less is more.

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Behavior Specialists
Sometimes referred to as Behaviorists, a Behavior Specialist’s job is to consult with parents on how they would like to see their child’s behavior change. The Behavior Specialist makes a plan, and goals for the child. The specialist may work 1:1 with the child on life skills, with parents on how to deal with meltdowns and challenging behaviors, or with teachers on behavior management in a classroom environment. Behavior Specialists may use the ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) framework, ABC (Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence) or various other relationship-based methods of behavioral modification.

Shadows
A “shadow” is a Behavior Specialist who works with a child in a school setting, with the goal of helping the child become a successful member of the classroom community. Some children have a shadow because the school is experiencing great difficulty dealing with the child’s behaviors and require extra help. Other children have a shadow because their brains are wired differently, and they may take a long time to complete a task. The shadow observes, takes notes and builds rapport with the child – then they begin to help the child with daily tasks. Shadows consult with the parents and teachers regularly, making sure that everyone is “on the same page” with the child’s progress.

Social Skills Groups 
These groups are led by Behavior Specialists or therapists with the goal of arming children and adolescents with skills to make and maintain consistent friendships. Social connections are so important for living a full life, and in these groups, children are explicitly taught how to think flexibly and act thoughtfully towards others.

Parent Training
Various organizations provide parenting classes for people with children on the Autism spectrum. Parenting classes designed for typically developing children may not be relevant to your family, so it is recommended that you seek training from people who understand what it is like to raise a child with Autism. In addition to the education, parenting classes are a great way to meet other parents whose families share the same challenges.

Occupational Therapists
“OT”s are the people who are concerned with how your child takes on everyday tasks. They are specialists in sensory integration, making adaptations to a child’s environment, and providing parents with therapeutic techniques to fuel early interventions. If your child falls over frequently, has regular meltdowns, has issues with being overly/under sensitive to his/her environment – consult with an occupational therapist.

Physical Therapists
“PT”s work with people to build (or rebuild) strength, mobility and motor skills. They can help children with imperative motor skills that children with Autism may not have naturally – such as skipping, kicking, throwing and catching. These skills are not only important for brain development, but also social engagement.

Speech Language Therapists
Speech Language Therapists assess speech, language and communication abilities. Children who have trouble communicating are more likely to have behavioral outbursts due to frustration, so teaching them how to get their message across is vitally important to their development. SLTs can also assist in implementing alternative communication systems, such as PECs.

Marriage and Family Therapists
“MFT”s are the people who are able to talk through various issues of having a challenging family life, support parents and children with the strain that Autism can place on a family, and help mediate disagreements between parents. MFTs can work with parents and children separately, but are most successful when working with the family as a “whole client”.

Dietician 
Dieticians help provide recommendations about nutrition. Some children on the Autism spectrum respond well to certain types of diets, like gluten free or dairy free.

Developmental Optometrists
Children with Autism may have difficulties with their eye muscles, while not necessarily struggling with “vision” as such. A Developmental Optometrist works on reducing eye muscle fatigue, and increasing skills like gaze fixation. Children may get overly tired at school because they are trying really hard to focus their eyes on school work. Developmental Optometrists are specialists that will understand your child’s quirks and needs.

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