Welcome to the Pathways Blog

Each month we will bring you new content about current events, new research, or other relevant topics for you. Connect with your program supervisor if you have any questions. 
The Benefits of Video Modeling

Anxiety and stress can create uncomfortable situations and make learning a challenge. Even in traditional teaching situations, one-on-one interactions can cause anxiety and stress in a child. If your child already suffers from anxiety and stress, they have to overcome these emotions before they can begin to learn. 

Video modeling, or the use of a video recording to teach, provides these benefits:

  • Reduced stress

  • Includes multi-sensory teaching

  • Fun

  • Familiar format

  • Self-paced

  • And a variety of more benefits

The real secret behind video modeling is to create a fun atmosphere while teaching multiple things in a variety of ways. Teaching will come alive for your child while they learn, imitate, watch, and have fun. 

How Video Modeling Works

Video modeling is a teaching strategy that shows people engaging in desired behaviors. Learners watch these videos and copy the behaviors displayed. An example would be your child watching others on the video play a game called, 'Duck, Duck, Goose.' Your child will watch as those on the video play the game, and afterward, they will be able to replicate what they saw and play with others.

Video modeling is a technique that can provide an alternative to one-on-one teaching, which removes the stress and anxiety from your child who struggles with one-on-one interactions. Your child can focus on the video with fewer distractions and learn from the modeling shown. 

Benefits from Video Modeling

There are a lot of children who can learn better from seeing a skill performed rather than having someone talk to them and explain it in words. Board games are an example of one activity many people try to explain how to play with a lot of words. Video modeling removes this need to explain verbally as your child can watch others play the game to learn the rules. This benefit applies to many social skills that are better explained and easier to learn by watching them in action. 

Children with autism spectrum disorder benefit significantly from video modeling because:

  • They need repetition to learn a skill as it is easier to carry out a skill that is familiar. Repetition makes actions more familiar to the brain, and easier for them to repeat. Video modeling makes it possible to repeat the same lesson over and over in exactly the same manner. 

  • The content in video modeling is always repeated exactly as your child heard it the first time. Many times when people re-explain a task, they tend to use different verbiage. Even though the meaning of words is the same, the words can be different, causing some confusion and frustration to those with a learning disability.

  • Video modeling stimulates the visual senses. Children with autism spectrum disorder are visual learners and will learn easier from visual modeling teaching. 

How to Use Video Modeling

Video modeling is most effective in teaching conversation and play skills. If you are teaching behavior on how to greet someone, your child would watch a video of other kids using appropriate greetings. You will want to use kids in your video that are the similar age as your child, and use role-playing in the lesson. Show both appropriate and inappropriate ways to greet someone so your child can learn the differences. 

Another great way to use video modeling is to videotape your child performing an appropriate task. Try to catch them performing a skill the right way and even some that are not acceptable. By showing their own actions in a video, they will be able to relate more to what they should have done or receive praise for having done a skill appropriately. 

Video modeling is easy, but it has to be watched to become effective. You can use this method of teaching to teach skills, and once you start seeing success, it will naturally progress to different daily environments to expand on the learning experiences. 

Where to Learn More on the Benefits of Video Modeling

ABA Pathways has clinicians who design and personalize treatment plans to develop your child's or other individual's unique skills to make their daily life better. We are here to help teach social skills, collaborate with your teachers, train and increase interactions, and help your child get ready for the school or community environment. With our skilled behavior technicians, we can help you and your child enjoy the world around you together.

 
 
Fun Sensory Activities to Keep Your Child Busy During COVID
February 2021

If you are a parent, psychologist, teacher, pediatrician, or anyone involved in the care of a child with special needs, you may be stretching your imagination more than ever during the COVID pandemic. Trying to meet your child's sensory needs while still providing fun activities for such an extended time can be challenging.

Sensory is essential for your child to learn how his or her body works, and enable them to interpret and process the world around them. Sensory play is an important piece of play for special needs children, and hopefully, these ideas will help you learn more about fun sensory activities.

Why are Fun Sensory Activities Important?

Sensory activities will stimulate your child's senses. The five main senses:

  • Touch

  • Smell

  • Taste

  • Sight

  • Sound

and two less known or addressed ones:

  • Sense of balance or vestibular

  • Sense of body parts or proprioceptive

The more your child uses these senses in their fun sensory activities, the more it will help them learn new things and developmentally. Fun sensory activities can help your special need's child:

  • Learn something new. The more senses used during fun sensory activities, the easier it will be for your child to remember or recall information

  • Build on their language. If your child describes a sensory activity, they gain an understanding of words.

  • Promote social interaction. You can invite others to join in on sensory play to increase your child's social interactions.

  • Develop better motor skills. Many fun sensory activities help to strengthen muscles in your child's body that are used in daily living, such as zipping their coat or brushing their hair.

When you select fun sensory activities, you want to consider what your child will learn, and how they will experience it.

Fun Sensory Activities

Kids are more aware of cause and effect, what their bodies can do, and how things work. If your child has sensory integration challenges, you want to create fun sensory activities that will create connections between the pathways of their brain responsible for processing stimuli.

These are some ideas to choose from for fun sensory activities:

  • Sensory Bins

    • Sensory bins are often used in preschool settings as they allow children to explore the different shapes and textures of objects. Using different textures, shapes, and colors in plastic storage bins, or cardboard boxes is an excellent activity for your child. Use items such as:

      • Beads or buttons

      • Unpopped popcorn

      • Clay

      • Sand

      • Rice

      • Shaving foam

    • The possibilities are endless in what you can put into different bins. You can also change items out periodically to keep the activity new and exciting.

  • Dance on Bubble Wrap

    • Bubble wrap can be a lot of fun. Allowing your child to hop, stomp, or run across a safely secured mat of bubble wrap is an excellent sensory activity.

  • Balloon Sport

    • Children are fascinated with balloons. Allow your child to stretch a balloon, try to blow them up, and feel them as they expand as you blow them up. After you've blown up a few, try playing soccer, basketball, or any game using the balloons. The balloon game is great for hand-eye coordination.

  • Feast on Textures and Colors

    • One way to experience new textures and colors is to make a tasty dessert that is crunchy, jiggly, squishy, smooth, soft, or any other texture to heighten your child's sensories. Talk to them about ingredients and choose pretzels, Rice Krispies, popsicles, or other foods they can experiment and experience different senses with.

How to Learn More About Fun Sensory Activities

ABA Pathways is your behavioral consultation service. We are committed to helping your special needs child and your family find and build a brighter future. Our treatment programs are designed to meet your child's and your family's individual needs. We have expert behavioral analysts on staff ready to talk to you about fun sensory activities you can provide your child during the COVID pandemic.

 
 
Tips to Help Your Child be Successful During a Telehealth Session

January 2021

The coronavirus has changed our world in so many ways. This virus has changed how we socialize, shop, go to work, and how we maintain our health. Healthcare professionals rely more on telehealth versus in-office visits to flatten the curve and reduce the transmission of this dangerous disease. If your child suffers from ADHD, autism, or other psychological disorders, they do not have to miss their sessions because of this imposed social isolation.

If you have already introduced your child to Zoom or FaceTime, they will have an easier time with a telehealth session, but a virtual appointment may still present some difficulties. These are a few tips to help you prepare your child for an upcoming telehealth session with their doctor.

Prepare Ahead for the Telehealth Session

Telehealth sessions are designed for non-life-threatening situations. If your child is experiencing a severe mental health crisis, you will want to contact 9-1-1 or take them to the nearest emergency center. If this is a regularly scheduled appointment with his or her physician, you should be prepared before the session begins. Gather all information you will need during the appointment:

  • A current list of all medications your child is taking

  • A list of all your child's medical conditions, including weight loss or gain, allergies, relevant medical issues, and any previous diagnoses he or she has been given

  • Write down all the questions you have before the session to ensure you remember to ask about all your concerns

Telehealth is a new method of visiting with your physician, and many people get nervous or anxious and often forget to ask about all their concerns. It is a good idea to have your questions written down before the session begins, including any symptoms your child might be displaying that have you worried.

Choose a Good Location for Telehealth Session

When you have a scheduled telehealth session, to ensure its success choose a quiet area without distractions for it to take place. The area should be well lit, and the camera placed at eye-level for your child. If you have pets in your home or other children, make sure they are kept out of the room where the session will occur.

Begin Telehealth Session with an Introduction

If your child is seeing a new pediatrician or therapist, you will want to begin the session with an introduction. Your child should be prepared in advance if they will see a new face, so he or she can prepare mentally for this new person. The medical professional will begin by sharing their name and title, and your child will be encouraged to share theirs as well.

Once the introductions have been made, you will be asked to share a few medical details, and you will then be ready to follow the healthcare professional's instructions.

Know What to do Following Your Telehealth Session

Before you are finished with your child's telehealth session, make sure you understand any given instructions. Having a notepad ready is an excellent idea so that you can write down all the advice and information you've received. You should never be afraid to ask the healthcare professional to explain information if you are unsure of its meaning.

 

Telehealth Sessions are a New Resource

During these changing times, your child is going through a lot of new experiences. You may have been faced with doing school days at home, restricting your child's time with friends or other family members, and now having to schedule doctor appointments on the computer. Remember, it is normal for your child to feel nervous or scared.  Preparing ahead, explaining what will happen, and helping your child feel as comfortable as possible will help you both have a successful session.

ABA Pathways is committed to helping you find a brighter, more straightforward path for your child. If you have concerns or questions, talk to one of our healthcare professionals for any advice you need for your child's social behaviors.

How to Help Individuals with Autism Have a Happy Holiday Season

November 2020

The holidays are a time that many of us anticipate and look forward to arriving. However, this season can be full of changing routines and disrupted schedules, and for someone who has autism, it can become quite challenging. Families living with someone on the autism spectrum understand how stressful life can become when specific daily patterns are disrupted. During this season, you should take special precautions so everyone involved can have a more enjoyable experience.

These are some helpful tips put together from The Autism Society and other experts in our field! We hope these tips help you and yours have a more joyous and enjoyable holiday season.

  1. Decorations Can Make a Home Disruptive- Changing the appearance of an entire room or even swapping out usual decor for holiday decor can be disruptive. Since the holidays generally involve bringing out festive decor for your home, you might want to share old photos of how the room will look to help prepare for the change. Preparing someone with autism ahead of a change can make a big difference in how they navigate the situation. Another way to prepare is to have them help you decorate! Being a part of the change and watching it evolve can help make the decorating less stressful.

  2. Helping to Navigate Events- If you expect guests to come into your home during the holidays, your child must have a space set aside for a 'calm' area. They will need to know there is somewhere they can go if they begin to feel overstimulated. This self-management tool is one that can be used by children on the spectrum, as well as adults. In the beginning, you may need to accompany the individual into the 'calm' space and engage in relaxing activities. Eventually, they will learn how to disengage and seek this space when they feel stressed by their surroundings. 

  3. Practice What will be Expected- Role-playing is an excellent tool to show your child with autism how to open gifts and take turns. Having your child understand how to wait during gift opening will help teach them patience and keep them calm. Talk to your child as you go through the role-playing and incorporate proper behavior for receiving gifts (even ones you may not like). 

  4. Know How Much Your Child Can Handle- This tip is perhaps the most important. You have to understand how much your child can handle in terms of sensory input and noise. You need to be aware of the level of anxiety they can experience and make sure you are prepared. If you sense your child has reached their limits at any time, you should encourage them to go to their calm area and give them a chance to recoup. If you know certain situations may be too much for your family member, make an effort to avoid them and keep everyone comfortable. 

 

Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA teaches techniques for changing behaviors in individuals. It is an adaptable treatment to meet all unique persons' needs and can be applied in your home, in school, and in the community. ABA can help teach valuable life skills and situational techniques to people on the autism spectrum! Visit the ABA Pathways website to learn more.

 
 
What is Autism and How Does ABA Help?

October 2020

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be overwhelming for parents and family members, as it classifies a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism may pose extra challenges for your child throughout their lifetime. Misunderstandings and myths about Autism can lead to anxiety around what to expect. Good news! There is help and support to navigate this new world, and obtain the best outcomes for your child!

The lack of understanding of Autism means the child could be missing out on necessary help through programs like Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Parents sometimes hold back on the diagnosis process and instead think they can help their child on their own. They sometimes believe the diagnosis of Autism is somehow a reflection of their parenting. It is a myth that a child on the spectrum is, in any way, a reflection on the parent, and has been proven through scientific studies.

How Does Early Intervention Help a Child on the Spectrum?

Many research studies have confirmed that early intervention leads to better outcomes. Applied Behavior Analysis, also known as ABA, is the leading evidence-based treatment for children with Autism. ABA is a scientific approach to understanding behavior.

This process involves identifying the maladaptive behaviors, skill deficits and creating treatment plans needed to shape behavior.  ABA uses positive reinforcement and employs the principles of using a rewards-and-consequences system. Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) will conduct family interviews and administer assessment to help the team identify target behaviors and the skill building necessary to help the child reach their identified goals. ABA Pathways can help your child through this treatment by creating an optimal plan that meets your child's specific needs!

How Applied Behavior Analysis Benefits Children with Autism

Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most common treatments for children on the spectrum. It is one of the most well-documented and established approaches, as it is applied in a systematic and scientific nature. Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most effective treatments, and includes the implementation of established principles of learning, behavioral strategies, and environmental modifications to improve and teach new behaviors. In practice, implementation must be systematic so clinicians, behavior technicians, parents, teachers, and others involved in the child's life can participate in the child's treatment plan. The ultimate goal of ABA is to establish and enhance socially significant behaviors across many environments and people. Such behaviors can include academic, social, communication, and daily living skills; essentially, any skill that will enhance the independence and/or quality of life for the individual.

How Does Applied Behavior Analysis Work for Children with Autism?

Applied Behavior Analysis works on the concept that behaviors can be modified or taught using rewards and consequences. When a challenging behavior is observed, the BCBA and treatment team will collect the necessary data to create a treatment plan. The treatment plan will focus on the principles and techniques of learning theory to help improve socially significant behavior. BCBAs will typically use an ABC approach to collect the necessary data.

  • A- Antecedent is the event which occurred before the behavior

  • B- Behavior is how the child reacts or behaves because of this event

  • C- Consequence is the event that comes after the behavior

The ABC data helps the BCBA with the treatment planning process. Understanding the triggers and consequences of behavior allows the BCBA to create a plan that includes proactive and reactive strategies. ABA treatment typically targets (1) development of new skills, (2) shaping and refining of previously learned skills, and (3) decreasing socially significant problem behaviors such as tantrums, elopement, aggression and self-harming or violent behaviors.

How to Fund Applied Behavior Analysis for Your Child

ABA is typically covered under private health insurance plans and Medicaid. If your child is under the age of three, you can contact your local Mental Health Agency, Pediatrician or ABA Provider for guidance on how to proceed. Most states provide early intervention through the Department of Health.

If your child is three years old or older, you can contact your local school district or the Office of Special Education within your school district. You may be required to put your request in writing when dealing with the school system. Your child will need to go through evaluations and assessments to determine their eligibility for the applied behavior analysis treatment.

ABA Pathways is committed to helping your family. We will provide your child with a holistic, comprehensive program to learn communication skills and appropriate social behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis is a treatment that has over forty years of success, and we are ready to use this intervention treatment for your child to ensure them a brighter future.