Category Archives: Blog


4th of July Tips for Families Affected By Autism


The 4th of July can be a fun and enjoyable experience for families affected by autism. However, it is important to spend extra time and effort in order to facilitate the fun! One of the ways in which you can prep an individual with autism for what is involved with this holiday is through the use of a social story. Social stories are tools that can be used to help somebody with autism understand an event or an activity. These short stories help an individual understand the socially relevant cues in a given situation. Positivelyautism.com, a resource for parents, teachers, behavior analysts, SLPs, OTs, etc., has a social story created specifically for the 4th of July (click here to download). Sensory processing is often an area where parents have much concern. The sound and light associated with fireworks shows are sensory overload for a number of individuals with autism. There are a few ways in which you can provide a pleasant experience for these individuals. The first focus should be on preparing for the actual event. Social stories, as mentioned, are one way to do this. Another way is to model for the individual what the event will look and […]

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8 Sensory Friendly Summer Activities


Summer is around the corner, which means warmer weather and changes in routine. Planning ahead can help ensure a smooth and fun-packed summer! Here is a list of eight sensory friendly activities to take advantage of this summer: Sandboxes: Sandboxes are fun and make for wonderful sensory play. If you don’t have one of your own, they are easy to make. Get a small plastic pool toy or any large container and fill it with sand, water, fun toys, etc. Swimming: Swimming is a great activity that helps teach body awareness, increase muscle strength and coordination, and normalize sensory input. Learning how to swim is not only fun, but can promote safety in the autism community. Borrow a friend’s pool or schedule a private swimming lesson for your child! Did you know ABC offers swimming lessons at our Carmel location? Water Games: With high temperatures, children love cooling off with squirt guns and water balloons. Grab a hose and some water toys and let the kids splash. Bubbles are also a huge hit! Family Game Nights: Board and card games can teach social skills, attending skills, turn taking, and appropriate ways to behave after winning or losing a game. Scavenger […]

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The Importance of Water Safety Skills for Children with Autism


Indiana is a state filled with many great outdoor resources, including an abundance of rivers, lakes, and ponds. However, these bodies of water pose a serious risk to individuals on the autism spectrum, who are often prone to wandering behaviors and lack water safety awareness. In fact, drowning is the number one cause of death for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum, accounting for 91 percent of deaths for children 14 years and under with autism. As the number of retention ponds and other bodies of water continues to increase in close proximity to homes and community areas, the drowning rate for individuals on the autism spectrum continues to climb. The need for access to high quality special needs swim lessons tailored to meet the specific challenges participants may face in the water has never been higher. The Applied Behavior Center for Autism offers Special Needs Swim Lessons that teach lifesaving water safety skills to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Our program offers quality, one-on-one lessons that combine the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and water safety practices. Each swim lesson is taught by one of our Swim Instructors, all of whom are trained Behavior Technicians. […]

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What are MANDS and Why Do We Need to Teach Them?


  As a parent, has your little bundle of joy ever screamed at the top of their lungs?  Have you ever rushed around trying to give them different things, but had no real idea what they really wanted?  TEACH MANDS!  Have you ever given your kid your phone because the second that you took it away to look up the next ingredient for dinner, your kid started screaming in the middle of the store?  TEACH MANDS!  Have you ever just given your kid things to keep them happy instead of making them ask for them first?  TEACH MANDS! Mands are just requests.  It really is that simple.  You request to leave uncomfortable situations, you request to have more time with something you are enjoying, you request your favorite type of coffee when you go to the coffee shop, you can request information, and so on.  You do these things without any thought, but some of our kids have not made the connection that if they ask for things appropriately, then they can get access to them.  Many kids throw tantrums instead of asking for more time to enjoy those activities, and many parents give back those items instead of using […]

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Toys & Games To Help Build Speech & Language Skills


Shopping List Ideas – Toys & Games to Help Build Speech & Language Skills  It’s that time of year!  One thing I am often asked by parents is suggestions for toys or activities they might be able to gift their children for the holidays which could help with building speech and language skills.  Below you will find some of my favorites: Stacking Sets These are toys that may seem simple but can be great to start to work on early problem solving skills, colors, shapes, spatial concepts (on top, underneath, next to, etc.), quantitative concepts (more, most, least, less), and qualitative concepts (biggest, smallest, etc.).  With endless possibilities of putting them together, it’s a toy that could provide hours of fun! Mr. Potato Head This is a toy that has been in my toy bag since I first became an SLP.  This toy allows children to start to recognize body parts (“Find Mr. Potato Head’s eyes, now find your eyes.”), colors, and shapes.  Also, it can help with learning prepositions (“Put the nose ON Mr. Potato Head,” “Put the shoes IN Mr. Potato Head’s back.”) Don’t be surprised if your child starts to verbally label items and narrate the adventures […]

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What Are You Saying!?! – How to Decode ‘ABA Speak’ in Regards to Verbal Behavior


As you enter the world of ABA therapy for your child with autism, you will likely encounter a strange language.  ABA itself is an acronym for Applied Behavior Analysis.  What this means for you as a parent is that we focus on increasing socially-desired behaviors and decreasing problematic behaviors.   We use data to analyze your child’s behavior levels and make changes based on that data to either increase or decrease the targeted behavior. At the Applied Behavior Center for Autism, we pride ourselves on communicating with parents in ways that are easy to understand.  Although we speak in user-friendly terms, it is important to understand the differences in language functions and how they impact your child’s therapy.  Here are the most common ABA terms that you will hear, from time-to-time, in parent meetings or when looking at your child’s program:   Mand: a request that your child makes for what they want or need Examples: Asking for a snack, asking to go to the bathroom, asking for information Tact: labeling something Examples: seeing snow fall and saying “snow!”, smelling popcorn and saying “I smell popcorn!”, being asked “What is it?” when shown a ball and then saying “ball” Listener Responding: […]

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Where Should We Turn?


When our son Jayce was first diagnosed we weren’t sure where to start.  Our 2 year old had gone from grinning and engaging with us to not even acknowledging we were in the same room or even smiling for pictures.  We were devastated and had no idea what was going on or that we would ever get to see the boy we knew again. We had heard of the great success stories parents of children on the spectrum were seeing through ABA and knew that was where Jayce belonged, but we didn’t know how to start the process.  So I turned to the internet and found The Applied Behavior Center for Autism (ABC) and at that point everything became so easy.  We didn’t have to deal with insurance or filling out the tireless repetitive forms.  It was a breath of fresh air in a whirlwind of paperwork that I had already been filling out and re-filling out for his other programs.  ABC at that time was solely based out of Indianapolis but they traveled to Terre Haute several times to make sure Jayce and I understood the program and felt 100% comfortable before beginning therapy. It wasn’t long after therapy […]

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Repeat After Me – What to Know About Echolalia & How to Use it To Expand Expressive Communication


By: Emily Bess, M.A., CCC-SLP The Basics Echolalia is the repetition of words, parts of words, or phrases either immediately after it was said or with a delay. Many children with autism, especially those who are just beginning to communicate verbally, will use echolalia as a way to participate in an interaction when they do not yet have the skills to come up with something to say on their own. Several important social and expressive language skills can be learned through using echolalia including turn taking, vocal inflection, and using longer utterances to communicate. Echolalia can also serve as time that a child is taking to fully process what was said. When a child is mainly echolalic, it can be confusing and frustrating to know exactly what to do and how to help them build off of that in order to become effective communicators. Question-Answer Format One of the most frustrating exchanges involving echolalia is when a child repeats a question back instead of giving a response. It is possible to use these repetitions to help teach the question-answer format and improve upon this language skill. It is always best to begin by using simple questions that have answers that […]

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An ABC Story: Bentley Breaks the Odds


Bentley was born premature at only 4 pounds 4 ounces. I was terrified and had to have an emergency c-section. He was tiny but healthy and seem to hit all his milestones until he turned 1. That’s when I noticed he wasn’t starting to talk. He babbled dada dada all day long, but that was about it. I thought he was delayed and not around other children, so it was okay. When he was 2 I put him in daycare to try and help him start talking and being social. He did not do well in daycare.  He would hit the other children and have meltdowns all the time. He wouldn’t sit still long enough to eat or do activities with the other children. That’s when the red flags became clear. After lots of denial and tears I made him a doctors appointment and began the process of an Autism diagnosis. At 3, I put him in developmental preschool that was 2 hours a day 5 days a week. He still struggled socially and could not communicate. I started looking into other alternatives for him and came across Aba therapy,  so I joined some Facebook support groups and read all the stories about how Aba worked wonders. It […]

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An ABC Story: Learning to Communicate


May of 2016, at the age of 2, our son Kooper, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Severe Expressive and Receptive language disorder. Our world was flipped upside down and we were left with all this information on our lap about a diagnosis that we’ve only heard about. Kooper had in home therapy for about a year, and nothing seemed to work. We would see some improvement, but the lack of consistency really affected his progress. We were left feeling very defeated and heartbroken for our son. Luckily, our area had a center that specialized in Autism, and we took a gamble after his psychologist suggested we look into it. And going forward a year later, we couldn’t be more thankful for the progress that he has made! I remember when Kooper first started attending the Richmond Center, and we were so overwhelmed with the little goals Kooper hit. We always said we couldn’t wait to see the progress he makes at the year mark. Kooper became easily frustrated, and usually was in his own world when he got overstimulated. His lack of being able to communicate his wants left him a very upset little guy. After a lot […]

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