It’s that time of year again where the holiday season is here; the last few months of the year are full of activities, family gatherings, parties, and food – especially sweets – seem to be the center of every get-together.
Some children are especially sensitive to dyes, sugar and artificial ingredients (we should learn a lesson from these kids and adjust our diets, eliminating these things is the healthier way to go!). It can definitely feel isolating to be left out of more fun treats when you have food sensitivities, but there are alternatives that you can try that are healthier options and just as fun and festive on Halloween to eat!
Try these Bite-Sized Eyeballs from Women’s Day Magazine Online. Don’t worry, they may look creepy, but they are just delicious cheesy pastry puffs decorated to look like eyeballs, and they only have a few ingredients: butter, flour, eggs, and cheese. You can modify or substitute ingredients if there are allergens present in ingredients. Then, make each pair come alive for Halloween with slices of cucumber and olive, and squiggles of tasty Sriracha or ketchup.
For a ghostly dessert, try these yummy mummy banana popsicles from Well Plated. They are a great choice for a cute Halloween-themed dessert or frozen snack and they are simple enough to pass for a fun craft idea, too! The recipe is modified from dipping the bananas in white chocolate to Greek yogurt for a healthier option. This calls for drizzling the popsicles with peanut butter for that “mummy” effect, but if your kiddo has a peanut allergy, you can drizzle with dark chocolate, or another nut butter of your choice. This is such a cool idea that we thought we’d share – it would be a great snack to bring for that class Halloween party as well!
If you are looking for some Halloween treats that are a good substitute and a healthier alternative that you don’t have to prepare, try some of the following:
Theo Chocolate Salted Almond Butter Cups in Dark Chocolate
This is a relatively healthy nut butter cup and a better alternative to a Reece’s cup because you can recognize and pronounce all the ingredients it’s made from. It’s Organic, soy free and palm free, and it’s made with almond butter – you can get it on Amazon.
Seitenbacher Happy Fruits in Passionfruit
These gummies infused with passionfruit are gluten-free, 100% vegan, contain no gelatin or refined sugar, and they are made with real fruit juice, and also a good source of fiber – definitely a healthier option but taste just as good! You can find them on Amazon.
UNREAL Dark Chocolate Crispy Quinoa Gems
Crispy quinoa covered in smooth dark chocolate! These miniature “gems” get their bright colors from natural ingredients like beets, turmeric, hibiscus, and cabbage – no artificial coloring here. They are also a good source of fiber. Pick them up on Amazon.
If you have any other fun Halloween treats you’d like to share, tag us on social media! We’d love to hear your ideas. And if you try any of the recipes above, post them and let us know how they turned out.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
Don’t forget about the Teal Pumpkin Project this year on Halloween! This is especially important if your child has severe food allergies. Putting a teal pumpkin on your doorstep means you have non-food treats available, such as glow sticks or small toys. This simple act promotes inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies or other conditions.
Here is how you can get involved:
- Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters .
- Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate that you have non-food treats available.
- Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map.
- Spread the word! Share the Teal Pumpkin Project with your friends and family.
Here are some ideas for non-food treats you can provide this year:
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons, or markers
- Bubbles, coins, playing cards
- Spider rings or vampire teeth
- Erasers, stickers, stencils, mini notepads, or bookmarks
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Finger puppets, mini slinkies, bouncy balls, or other small toys
Here are some free resources like signs, posters and activities from FoodAllergy.org to help you make the most of this year’s Teal Pumpkin Project.
Stay Connected It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – we’d love for you to connect with us!
Local Events & Resources
Howl-o-ween Family Sleepover (ages 5+ with an adult)
Saturday, October 20th 6:00 PM – 10 AM Sunday, October 21st
Happy Hollow Park & Zoo / Business Office Building
1300 Senter Road, San Jose, CA 95112
Enjoy the thrill of the zoo after dark. During your adventure, learn the about animals through Halloween-themed activities, games, live animal encounters, and night tours. Your adventure includes Trick-or-Treat stations, a late-night snack, and hot breakfast the next morning that includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, and more!
Bring your own tent to tent camp in the Crooked House Meadow, or sleep indoors inside the Learning LODGE classroom. Fee is for each individual participant. All children must be accompanied by a paying adult. Please contact the Zoo Education Department if you have any questions regarding registration for this event.
**Last day for internet registration is October 18, 2018 5pm
Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 9am – 6pm; Friday & Saturday, 9am – 7pm
Petting zoo & pony rides available weekends only, 10am – 4pm
Santa Teresa Boulevard at Baily Avenue, San Jose CA 95141
This pumpkin patch is much more than that, with a train that lets you tour the whole farm before you decide on which pumpkin to take home, this farm offers plenty of options, with more than 60 styles of pumpkins available! Visit on the weekend and you can enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo. On week days there is a $10 unlimited read and ride pass, which includes story time in the pumpkin patch and unlimited hay rides, train rides, and barrel train rides. They also have a picnic area to enjoy a packed lunch. Stayed longer than you anticipated and forgot snacks? Don’t worry! There’s a snack shack with loads of treats!
Fees: Admission & Parking, free | Hay/barrel/train rides, $3 per ride | Unlimited read & ride pass, $10 on weekdays
Ask A is for Apple
Have a question you would like answered? A story you would like to share? A testimony about your experience with A is For Apple? We would LOVE to hear from you! Email us with your questions, stories or suggestions and it could be featured in our next newsletter or blog topic!
On April 18, 2015, the new Magical Bridge Playground opened in Palo Alto. It’s the first of 34 playgrounds in Palo Alto to specifically accommodate children with developmental disabilities.
The entire playground was designed and built so kids of all abilities can play and socialize. We can’t convey just how much we appreciate the City of Palo Alto creating this play space.
What the Playground Holds: Soft Surfaces, 7 Play Zones, Calming Stations
Last week we sent one of our Senior Behavioral Program Supervisors out to see what the park offered children & parents. He attended with one of our clients, who had originally gone to Magical Bridge on Opening Day…but the playground was so packed they couldn’t do much.
They found it still busy, even on a Thursday afternoon! The playground is broken up into zones: Swinging Zone, Playhouse, Slide Mound, Music Area, etc. All the surfaces are completely flat, made from soft rubbery material. Perfect for wheelchairs and walkers.
In fact, you’ll find wheelchair ramps everywhere, and very few stairs. You can even push a child’s wheelchair onto the Merry-Go-Round, lock their chair into place, and give it a spin!
If your child becomes overstimulated or startled, there are Calming Stations throughout the playground. Bring your child to the closest station whenever they need to rest & calm down.
Inclusive Experience: Everyone Can Enjoy the Magical Bridge
The Huffington Post published a wonderful article about the Magical Bridge this past week. It tells the story of how the playground came to be – when a mother saw the need for an inclusive play area 6 years ago.
Inclusive Playground Makes Playtime Magical For Kids of All Abilities – Huffington Post
Now it’s here for all of us to enjoy.
All of our clients’ children can use the Magical Bridge Playground, in one manner or another. So can their siblings, whether they’re affected or not.
That was a big thing we discovered while at the playground – there were lots of neurotypical kids playing too. Some right alongside their special-needs brothers, sisters & friends.
The playground is open to everyone, with no encumbrances and no judgments. Visitors are very open—just out having a good time. It’s a great place for parents to meet other parents & socialize.
We saw a group of moms chatting while their children played. Like you’d see at any park. It truly is a “magical bridge” for everyone.
A Place to Enrich Your Child’s Life – and Playtime
The Magical Bridge Playground is located within Mitchell Park in Palo Alto, at 600 East Meadow Road. You’ll find plenty of parking at each access point. The playground and park are open dawn to dusk. Ideal for family events, picnics and more.
The playground also has a Facebook Page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/MagicalBridge
We encourage all of our parents – bring your children to Magical Bridge! They’ll have a wonderful time, and so will you.
Not only is it perfect for everyone to enjoy, but Magical Bridge can even aid their therapy. Locations like a playground vary a child’s routine, encouraging new experiences. Incorporating games while you’re at the playground helps them stay calm & focused.
If you’re curious about ways to do this, please ask your A is for Apple supervisor.
Like Us? Yelp Us!
Calling our regular Yelp readers! Is your child thriving with his/her therapy? The A is for Apple Yelp page needs your help!
If you regularly read & write Yelp reviews, we’d appreciate your sharing the good news on Yelp. Our Yelp page is here:
A is for Apple, Inc. (San Jose, CA) – Yelp.com
Or search Yelp for “A is for Apple” in San Jose.
Join Us at the Autism Walk on May 16
Please join us at the “Walk Now for Autism Speaks” event on May 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. We’re meeting at History Park (1650 Senter Road) in San Jose. The Walk starts at 11.
If you’d like to show your support, register to walk with us on our Team A is for Apple Page.
Your kids can enjoy our booth in the Resource Fair, with a photo booth, bubbles . . . Gizmo & Ace, our miniature schnauzers, will be there too!
Plus you can enter our Raffle. We’ll have great prizes available:
- iPad Mini
- $100 Amazon gift card
- Sprouts gift card
Raffle tickets will be $1 each. 100% of the proceeds benefit Autism Speaks.
We invite all of our parents to come walk with us. If you can’t make it out, donations are gratefully accepted at our Team A is for Apple page.
Inside A is for Apple
Our Supervisors Volunteer Weekends to Spread the Word about “Walk Now for Autism Speaks”
On Saturday, April 18, A is for Apple Supervisors ran a booth to raise awareness about the upcoming “Walk Now for Autism Speaks” event.
They set up a table at Sprouts of Sunnyvale, spoke with shoppers for several hours, and sold tickets for our May 16 Raffle (see the prize list above).
They sold 50 tickets, and also received $92 in donations from caring shoppers. Everyone who came to the booth wanted to donate after we told them about the Autism Walk. Some asked where the event would be held; that’s why we put the reminder in above.
A big thank you to Sprouts of Sunnyvale! The manager kindly let them set up the table outside his store. He even donated the Sprouts Gift Card for our Raffle.
Also, a big thank you to our supervisors for volunteering their weekend. It was very hot out—but that doesn’t stop our commitment to helping children thrive!
Walk Now for Autism Speaks is May 16. Join Us!
The 10th annual “Walk Now for Autism Speaks” event is coming up! The walk begins on Saturday, May 16 at 9 AM, in History Park in San Jose. Will you join us there?
Walk, Donate, Come Have Fun – and Help Us Further Autism Research
The Autism Speaks Walk helps raise funds for scientific research into the causes, treatments and possible cures for autism. Autism Speaks also, through its Walks and other events, helps raise awareness about autism’s effects on individuals, families and society.
We are a fervent supporter of their work.
That’s why we’ll have a big turnout: Walkers participating for the fundraising, a booth in their Resource Fair with a photo booth & bubbles…Gizmo (our teacup Schnauzer) is even putting on his bunny ears!
Bay Area participants have raised over $72,000 so far. With your help, we can reach $75,000 before the Walk.
We encourage everyone to come out and join us in supporting Autism Speaks!
Donate or register to walk on our “Team Page” here:
Team A is for Apple – Walk Now for Autism Speaks Bay Area
What You’ll Find at the Event
The Walk. Registered team members collect donations before participating in the Walk at History Park. You can donate, register with a team (like ours!), or come cheer the participants.
The Resource Fair. Autism Speaks also puts on a Resource Fair with local service providers & organizations, offering information and fun activities.
A is for Apple’s Resource Fair booth will have our staff giving out information, answering questions, and blowing bubbles with the kids!
How You Can Help
Visit our Booth: Come take photos with your kids, play with bubbles, and meet others in our community.
Donate: We have a Team Goal of $2,500. If you’d like to donate, there’s a “Donate Now” button right on the page. Donations also accepted at our booth.
Join Our Team: Register to join us for the Walk, either on our Team Page or at our booth. Everyone’s welcome to join.
Tell Your Friends: The more people know about the Autism Speaks Walk, the more funds we raise for autism research.
If you are not in the Bay Area on May 16, you can still help out! California hosts 7 Walks for Autism Speaks. Search for the other California Walks on this map:
Search for a Walk – Walk Now for Autism Speaks
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is “The world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.”
(From their website)
The organization holds dozens of Walk Now events every year, across the U.S. and Canada. They’re a powerful advocate for families, and everyone at our office is grateful for their hard work.
We hope to see you at History Park in San Jose on May 16!
Please feel free to use our new CustomerService@aisforapple.com email to give us feedback about our services.
See you next month!
Help Us Reach 1,000 Likes on Facebook!
The A is for Apple Facebook Page is only 14 likes from 1,000.
Have you liked our page yet? If not, please join us. Not only will you help us reach 1,000 Likes, but you’ll receive regular posts of helpful articles on autism & encouraging stories of children growing & thriving.
Ask A is for Apple
How Can I Improve My Child’s Expressive Communication?
One of the first steps in learning speech is repeating sounds others make. A child sounds out new words and learns what they mean. We call this “Echoic Skill”.
There are ways you can improve your child’s echoic skills. Right now.
Depending on your child’s age and where they’re at with their therapy plan, he/she may not know how to imitate words you speak to them yet. If not, here is the first thing you can do to help them along.
If your child doesn’t imitate sounds or words yet…
Play a “Sound Game.” While you engage in a fun activity (playing with their favorite toys, games, tumble play, etc.), imitate any sounds your child makes. Make it into a fun game with them. If both of you can make the same sounds back and forth, your child is learning how to imitate!
For 9 more ideas to encourage their speaking requests.
Inside A is for Apple
3 of Our Supervisors Attend CalABA Conference for Continuing Education
From February 19-21, we had 3 of our Program Supervisors attend the CalABA Conference in San Diego.
Our supervisors went not only to represent A is for Apple, but to continue their own education at the Conference. They attended panel discussions, presentations and conversations with others in the child therapy industry.
Among the topics covered, they learned about:
- Building gesture imitations – Reaching, crawling, locating a hidden object
- New research on verbal behavior in children
- Discussion on which mistakes you see other providers make when they are delivering services to children under 3
- (Example: Adding programs too quickly when fundamental skills aren’t fully learned)
- Methods of conducting assessments, while also building rapport with the child
- Priorities to keep in mind when giving parents guidance
- And many more!
There was even a surprising study discussed. The experimenters tested ABA therapy methods with dogs instead of children, to determine just how effective the methods could be. Results were impressive – the ABA therapy methods helped nervous dogs overcome fears (such as thunder/loud noises) and adopt better behaviors (e.g., stop them running into walls).
It’s an unusual way to verify a therapy technique meant to help children. But we think it adds independent proof to ABA’s effectiveness!
It’s hard at times. The attention your child needs, the scheduling, therapy, school days. Now and then, we all need a helping hand.
Regional Centers provide some support through their programs and local events. These are great, and we always encourage our parents to make use of them.
But if you need more than that, let us help.
Over the years we’ve seen parents come together to help one another. It’s very beneficial for each parent as well as their children. These support groups take many forms & serve many purposes.
If you’d like to join such a group, or just need the occasional outing, here are some family support groups you can look into. You’ll find these groups across the entire Bay Area.
- Parents Helping Parents (“PHP”)
Office: 1400 Parkmoor Avenue, Suite 100
San Jose, California 95126
Tel (408) 727-5775
Parents Helping Parents Facebook Page
PHP helps families who have children of any age with special needs. This support group has been vetted by SARC (San Andreas Regional Center) and has an excellent program. PHP runs support groups specific to a certain condition or disability. They will help you find other parents in similar situations to yours.
- Autism Playgroup San Jose
Meetup Group, 212 Members
This Meetup group organizes play dates for children with autism & related special needs. Social activities like trips to a park, swimming days, or just playing at one member’s house. There’s even the occasional “Moms Night Out” for relaxing. Plenty of events are already scheduled, with more coming.
- San Francisco Autism Society – Calendar
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 249
San Mateo, California 94401
Tel (650) 637-7772
The San Francisco Autism Society serves the entire San Francisco Bay Area. This page hosts their Community Calendar, where you can find all sorts of local groups & events. Hiking clubs, movie days, workshops, museum trips and more. Some of the other local support groups post their events to the Autism Society calendar. It’s a helpful place to look for San Francisco events where you & your family are welcome.
- Martial Arts for Kids with Special Needs
Meetup Group, 38 Members
Held at: Darcio Lira Martial Arts
1601 Railroad Avenue
Livermore, California 94551
Tel (925) 549-1590
What’s a fun way for children to learn coordination and punch things … without hurting themselves? Martial arts! This Meetup group meets at 10:30 every Saturday morning, at Darcio Lira Martial Arts in Livermore. Two Sensei (teachers) work with special needs children from ages 5-16. The weekly class helps them learn social skills, awareness of their surroundings, and coordination. The class is free, but donations are accepted.
- Bay Area Parents of Special Needs Children
Meetup Group, 192 Members
This Meetup Group is a little different. It’s meant for you, the parent. All parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, ADHD, & so on are welcome. It’s a place to ask questions, find useful resources, share experiences with other parents who understand your situation, and more. The group has been quiet for a while, but still maintains a healthy membership. Any member can suggest a Meetup, so don’t hesitate to make a suggestion.
Do you know of a family support group not on this list? Please send it to us at email@example.com. The more groups we know about, the more parents we can inform.
We hope one (or more!) of these groups gives you a helping hand, whenever you need it. Fun activities for your child, relaxing opportunities for you, and a community helping one another – these things help us all thrive.
See you next month!
AMC Sensory-Friendly Films
(in partnership with the Autism Society)
A “Sensory-Friendly Film” is a special movie time for special-needs children. The movie is not as loud, the lights are adjusted, and there’s no pressure to keep your child quiet & sitting still. If they want to get up, talk, or sing along, that’s fine.
AMC Theatres has partnered with the Autism Society to host Sensory-Friendly Film days every month. Right now two local AMCs host Sensory Movies: the AMC Mercado in Santa Clara, and the Cupertino Square 16 in Cupertino.
For September, the movie is “Hotel Transylvania” and it will air on Saturday, September 26.
For full details, visit AMC Theatres.com: Sensory Friendly Films at AMC Theatres – AMCTheatres.com
Autism Tips: Taking Your Child into the Community
Often we find that the children we work with have a difficult time when out in their community. Some children are afraid of loud sounds, or crowds. Some need to leave the store with a new toy or candy. Or for unknown reasons, they just cry in all outside places.
But even with these behaviors, kids need to experience the world and adapt to being in new places. Here’s how you can make it easier.
- Before going out into the community, have a plan. Set yourself up to be successful.
We’ve seen families bring 3 kids to the store with no support or backup. One child has a meltdown, the other runs off, and another wants the cookies opened right now. Not exactly a successful trip!
If you have backup, such as a partner or friend, bring them with you. Or, leave some children behind at home with another adult (if you must go out alone).
- Take short trips to desensitize the child.
If you’d like your child to accompany you to the store without getting upset, this method should help. Make small trips with no plan of buying anything. Try going to places for only a few minutes, then leaving (on your terms, not the child’s). This helps the child adjust to the process of going out in the community, and returning home.
If you want, you could bring some small snacks they love, or a favorite small toy. This way you’ll periodically reinforce their good behavior. For example, give them a small snack every 30 seconds or so when they’ve walked nicely with you. (Tell them they’re doing great too; this is excellent reinforcement.)
- Prepare for tantrums the first couple times.
Some children will only leave a store if they get something. If your child is like this, make short trips to the store over & over…but don’t buy them a toy.
The short trip helps to desensitize them. The lack of getting something teaches them a new behavior.
They will resist at first, so prepare for a few tantrums. It’s unpleasant, we know, but you can do it. Once they begin leaving the store without crying, reinforce their good behavior with something else (not a toy from the store – perhaps a small snack). And a pat on the back too.
For additional support or ideas, please ask your A is for Apple supervisor.
Ask AIFA: Will Therapy “X” Work for My Child?
“Dear A is for Apple,
My friend said art/water/oxygen therapy worked for her child. Would it work for mine too?”
Many therapies are proclaimed as “the solution” for children with developmental disorders. Some of the therapies we’ve heard about from parents are:
- Horseback Riding therapy
- Art therapy
- Water/Swim therapy
- Oxygen therapy
- Dog therapy
- Brain mapping
- …and many more!
It’s understandable to hope for big improvements with activities like these. However, be careful with these “non-evidence-based” therapies.
We have heard some good anecdotes about working with dogs. That’s great – many children love dogs! But unlike ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), there is no well-controlled, reviewed, and published study behind these “therapies”.
ABA practices are evidence-based. Certified service providers such as BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) are regulated nationwide to make sure we all follow the evidence-based practices with children like yours.
If you’re curious about an “alternative therapy”, do some research and look for studies behind it. Maybe your child will respond to it; maybe not. You can try, but the evidence just isn’t there. The best way to look for studies behind it is finding articles in peer reviewed journals. The JABA (Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis) is a big, well-known peer-reviewed journal. Ask your service provider or doctor if you need help finding any evidence behind the “therapy” they recommend.
Also, our recommendation: Don’t start multiple therapies at once. Squeezing in 5 different types of therapy takes up lots of time, exhausts the child, and you don’t know which therapy is contributing to your child’s progress (or regress).
If you still have questions, please talk with your A is for Apple supervisor.
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a future newsletter.
Inside A is for Apple
Stanford Microbiome Study – Would You Like to Participate?
The other day, a research team from Stanford University contacted us. They told us about a new study involving children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the human microbiome.
What’s the microbiome? According to the Stanford study’s page:
“Our body hosts up to 100 trillion microbial cells that comprise the human microbiome, and outnumber human cells by 10 fold. These microbes play a critical role in human physiology by balancing the immune system, producing vitamins, promoting gastrointestinal motility, and impacting behavior.”
Stanford wants to know if there’s any link between the microbiome and behavior associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Would you like to help them out?
Participation involves answering a few questions, recording a video of your child, and sending in some samples (swabs, etc.). Stanford will provide the materials. There’s no cost to you.
A is for Apple, Inc. is not affiliated with Stanford University in any way. We’re just passing the word along to you, our parents, to participate. If you want to.
To learn more and sign up, go to https://microbiome.stanford.edu
School starts very soon!
Going to school can be very stressful for a child. Especially if this is their first year.
Preparing your child for a school environment – playing with others, listening to the teacher – is part of our ABA and OT practices. But there are also several things you can do to help your child get ready for school.
We’ve sorted our tips by date here, for easy reference. Please read these through, and try some out with your child.
In the Weeks Leading Up
- Work on skills that may have been lost over summertime – basic cognitive & academic tasks, like drawing or listening.
- Go back to a regular schedule: Waking up & eating meals at the same times each day.
- Put the child back on their school-day sleep routine.
- Drive to the school to familiarize themselves with the route (a new route may upset the child if they’re not familiar).
- Engage in what’s called “priming” – telling the child they’re going back to school soon.
- Put together the necessary school supplies. Have your child put on their backpack so they get used to wearing it.
- Be mindful of potty training. They may get anxious & Mom’s not there. It may help to bring their potty insert from home & leave it at the school during the day.
- Take the child out for some extra socializing. Go to parks, the mall, or a library. This will help stir their curiosity.
The First Day of School
It’s here! On the first day, go into school with your child. Point out buildings they saw before. Be there when they see their classroom.
Talk to the teachers. Make sure they have a way to contact you if it’s needed. Decide ahead of time the best way to communicate – a daily log, exchanging notes, email, etc. Frequent communication helps if there’s any issues (yours or theirs).
And prepare yourself – Remember, the staff at the schools are trained to take care of children with special needs. The child IS quite safe.
A Caution about Parent Anxiety
It’s normal to feel anxious while your child’s in school. You may even want to stay there & help him or her through the day.
However, this may not be the best thing for the child.
Research papers published by UCLA, the University of Washington and the University of Hong Kong indicate that “intrusive parenting” – doing things like taking over tasks the child’s doing themselves, or giving excessive physical affection – may limit the child’s ability to interact with peers & make friends at school.
Your therapist will help you with parental behaviors that encourage your child’s involvement in school.
If you do have the time & want to help out, parents can be aides in “parent participation” schools. You’ll help out in the classroom, working with your child and others. Ask your child’s school administration about parent participation.
We hope your child enjoys themselves in school! If you have questions about school preparation which we didn’t cover here, please send them to email@example.com.
See you next month!
Stay & Play Times at San Jose Public Library, Wednesday August 12
A “Stay & Play” event engages children with books, songs, and playtime with others. They’re a fun way for your child to relax and learn.
The San Jose Public Library holds Stay & Plays weekly, at its multiple branches. On Wednesday, August 12, they’ll host several Stay & Plays:
- Baby & Toddler Stay and Play – 10:30 AM, Pearl Avenue Branch Library
- Family Storytime and Stay & Play – 10:30 AM, Vineland Branch Library
- Preschool Storytime and Stay & Play – 11:00 AM, Educational Park Branch Library
- Preschool/Toddler Storytime and Stay & Play – 11:30 AM, Rose Garden Branch Library
- And more!
Visit the San Jose Public Library Events page for a full calendar & driving directions. Call (408) 808-2100 for more information.
Ask AIFA: My child is losing his Regional Center assistance! How do I verify insurance?
“Dear A is for Apple,
My child is losing his Regional Center assistance. How can I find out if A is for Apple will accept my insurance?”
When children turn 3, or their medical circumstances change, a Regional Center may no longer offer financial assistance with your child’s therapy at A is for Apple. If this happens, don’t panic! We have a system in place to help you.
We can check with your family’s insurance carrier to see if they will cover your child’s services. (Here’s more information about insurance plans we accept.) How? With this online form.
Insurance Verification Form
We’ve added a Verify My Insurance form to our website. It’s on this page: Get Started with A is for Apple.
Click the “Verify My Insurance Coverage” button. The form will open right away. You’ll need to fill in your information, your child’s information and your insurance policy information. Instructions are included. The online form is HIPAA-compliant, so you can rest assured that your private medical information will be kept private.
Important Note: You’ll need scanned copies of your insurance card (both sides) and prescriptions, to complete this form.
If you need help working with the form, please email our Intake Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our new form will shorten the time needed to verify coverage, so your child continues to receive the care they need. Please try it out!
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Please email it to us at email@example.com for inclusion in a future newsletter.
Inside A is for Apple
Staff News – New OTs, First RBT in Campbell and More Therapists Taking BCBA Exam
In the past month our therapists & supervisors have been busy. We have new staff hires, new certifications and BCBA exams coming up.
Staff Hires & a New RBT
We’ve hired 3 new Occupational Therapists this summer! If your services include OT, you’ll meet them soon.
One of our therapists has also passed the tests to become a Registered Behavior Technician, or RBT. Registered Behavior Technicians must be approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) to work on specific behavior assessments for our BCBA supervisors.
This is a first – A is for Apple now has the very first RBT in the City of Campbell.
Two BCBA Exams Coming Up
We have 2 of our technicians lined up to take the BCBA exam this month. If they pass (and we’re sure they will!), they will become our newest Board Certified Behavior Analysts.
In the autism therapy industry, a BCBA exam is similar to a lawyer’s “bar exam”. It’s a form of continuous education, and a way to keep a strict ethical standard in place across the industry.
BCBAs are authorized to manage groups of children’s cases, and to work directly with insurances agencies on ABA services.
How does all this benefit you, our parents? More flexibility in scheduling your child’s sessions.
These staff improvements expand our existing workforce’s capabilities, so we can make more services available to you.
If your Regional Center has suggested working with an RBT, or you know someone who needs ABA therapy services for their child, please contact us for help.
A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder means a major change in your child’s life, and your own. You may feel overwhelmed, left with no support, angry, that it’s unfair, or that it’s even your fault somehow (it’s not).
In the next few issues of “Thrive,” we want to help you deal with those feelings. We’ll talk about a grieving process many parents undergo when receiving the diagnosis, ASD statistics, different cultural beliefs concerning autism, working with schools, public behavior, organizing a treatment plan, and more.
Let’s start with some statistics.
Statistics about Autism Spectrum Disorder
The CDC’s “Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network” has identified about 1 in 68 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 1 in 68 translates to millions of children across the globe. Millions of parents dealing with this too.
Thanks to the research, we also know:
- ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
- ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).
- Studies in Asia, Europe, and North America have identified individuals with ASD with an average prevalence of between 1% and 2%.
- About 1 in 6 children in the United States had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities (speech and language impairments) to serious developmental disabilities (intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism).
Looking at statistics like these, we can say one thing: You are not alone.
Why Parents Feel Afraid of an Autism Diagnosis
You are never prepared for a diagnosis of ASD. It’s a shock, and it will trigger intense feelings. Many questions will run through your mind.
What happens now?
Why did this happen to my child?
Why did this happen to me?
What will my family/friends/community think?
What will our life be like now?
It’s akin to a grieving process. The “old life” you knew must change. No going back. It’s unfortunate, but also inevitable.
Give yourself time – time to work through your feelings, time to seek help, and time to adjust to the reality of what’s before you.
Please be careful about denial. We’ve had families admit that despite their child’s behavior issues, they kept putting off getting a diagnosis because they just couldn’t face it. They even cut themselves off from friends & family. By the time they did get a diagnosis, the child was 4 years old, not speaking at all, and having severe behavior problems.
The Autism Speaks website has a wonderful page on the grieving process, with recommendations on how to work through it, and taking care of yourself as well as your child. We encourage you to read everything there: Autism & Your Family – Autism Speaks
Cultural Beliefs and Autism
Our families come from many different cultures. When it comes to autism, we’ve seen that different cultures have different perceptions of ASD. Some place a higher stigma on a child with autism (and their family) than others.
Industry research has backed up our experiences. Here are some examples:
- Many parents of Caribbean descent expect their children to toilet train much earlier than Caucasian parents. But Caucasian parents expect their children to name their colors much earlier than Caribbean-descent parents.
- South Asian parents are more likely to identify delays in socialization than delays in speech. Caucasian families are more likely to detect general developmental delays, or regression in language skills, rather than social deficits. This suggests that clinicians should ask about both socialization and communication, if parents bring up concerns in one of these areas.
- In an article titled, “The Stigma of Autism,” a Palestinian mother of a boy with autism described how some family members reacted. “They were telling us to get rid of him!”
- A quote from the same article: “[Some] Koreans consider autism to be a stigmatizing hereditary disorder; autism (chap’ae) impugns the child’s lineage on both sides and threatens the marriage prospects of unaffected relatives. As a result, autism is often untreated, misdiagnosed as attachment disorder, or unreported in records.”
- A New York Times article, “Working to Combat the Stigma of Autism,” talked about Korean-Americans who cut themselves off from their community. In one case, this meant a boy with autism would not receive a diagnosis until 7 years old.
What this tells us is, one’s cultural beliefs about autism can exert a strong influence on how you deal with it.
Cultural Beliefs Affect Treatment Plans. Please Be Open about Them.
It’s not our business to tell you what or how to believe. We’re only here to help your child, and help you with them in turn.
We do know that cultural factors like traditional values, attitudes toward individuals with disabilities, religion, and language play a major role in the development and implementation of a treatment plan.
All A is for Apple clinicians encourage parents to consider their cultural beliefs, and to understand how they may affect their involvement in their child’s treatment. We must have a good understanding of the child’s home environment before deciding on treatments.
Success depends on a good relationship with you, the parent. Be prepared to fully disclose your beliefs and your concerns. Knowing everything we can about your child, and about where you’re coming from, is critical.
It makes a big difference in your child’s diagnosis. Their treatment. And ultimately, your family’s happiness.
If you or someone you know is afraid of an autism diagnosis, we encourage you—talk with an A is for Apple supervisor. We will do everything we can to answer your questions, and to help you work through those feelings. Remember – you are not alone.
Next issue we’ll discuss the stigmas in more details, and how to deal with them.
See you next month!
Autism Tips: Potty Training I – Recognizing Readiness Signs
Tired of changing diapers? Wondering if your child is ready for potty training yet?
Many parents start training when their children are between 2.5 and 3 years old. Some children aren’t interested until 3 or 4. “Toilet abilities are a central part of a child’s development and are necessary for acceptance in social environments and independence (McManus, Derby, & McLaughin, 2003).”
To prepare for toilet training, you must first assess the child’s readiness. Consider these 3 areas when evaluating whether it’s time to start: Cognitive Signs, Physiological Development, and Motor Skills.
You don’t have to wait to check off every single item. But do take some time to think about your child’s readiness. We’ve provided a list of questions and considerations for each category below:
1. Cognitive Signs
- Does the child follow simple, one-step directions? (e.g., stand up, sit down, pick up the toy, etc.)
- Does the child communicate needs verbally or by other means? (e.g., signing, communication devices, or pictures)
- Sitting and attending to an activity for 2-5 minutes at a time? (e.g., sitting down for coloring activity, playing with Play-Doh, etc.)
- Learning to label objects? At around 2, a child will learn to label bodily functions. Poo and pee are exciting new words.
- Developing body awareness? Child begins fidgeting, jumping up and down, or pointing dramatically to diaper or attempts to remove a soiled diaper.
2. Physiological Signs
- Does the child have the ability to voluntarily control the sphincter muscles, enabling them to “hold it” for a short period of time or until they get to a toilet?
- Does the child have long periods of dryness (for at least one hour)?
- Does the child exhibit signs of urinating or having a bowel movement (straining, squatting, pulling at pants, hiding in the corner, etc.) that allows you to know when they are eliminating?
3. Motor Skills
- Can the child pull his/her pants up and down without assistance?
- Can the child wash and dry his/her hands?
- Can your child sit on the toilet and stay on the toilet for at least a few seconds?
- Can the child imitate the motor movements of others?
If you answered “Yes” to most of these questions, then your child is probably ready to begin potty training! If you answered “No,” that is all right too. Ask your Program Supervisor and/or Clinical Director for their input.
According to Dr. Joshua D. Sparrow (2004), the most important step is to let your child’s behavior guide you, and let the challenges become his/her own. You cannot speed up the learning process. Allowing your child to learn at his/her own pace is far more effective. If children are pushed to use the potty before they’re ready, it may take them longer to learn, and they could have more trouble along the way (bed-wetting, withholding bowel movement, constipation).
You’ll want to make potty training a positive experience by reinforcing the child’s current abilities. Not uncomfortable, in which case your child may engage in escape/avoidance behaviors.
Next month we will discuss preparations to take for potty training. Please join us on our Facebook Page with your questions or stories: https://www.facebook.com/AisforAppleInc/
Ask A is for Apple: Children with ASD Using Digital Tools to Communicate
“Dear A is for Apple,
My child doesn’t respond well to flash cards, but loves playing with my phone. Is the phone a better tool for communication?”
The past 10 years have ushered in a whole new way for humans to communicate—using digital tools, like the iPad. Nowhere is this more impactful than for children (and adults) with ASD.
The explosion of smartphones, tablets & e-readers created an incredible new way for those with ASD & speech disorders to learn and communicate.
Apple gave us a wonderful example with this video: “Dillan’s Voice”
Through a single iPad, Dillan’s world has broadened. He can speak, and others listen.
That’s not the only benefit digital tools can give, either. They can also:
- Support the overall learning of children on the autism spectrum
- Help teach social skills
- Support an individual’s emotion regulation
- Help develop cognitive skills, improving memory, easing transitions
- Boost literacy and language skills
- Increase independence, creating self-management programs offering reinforcement
- Provide imitation, modeling, and corrective feedback
- Support a young adult’s transition into the workplace
- Make data collection and program evaluation more effective and efficient (between parent/clinician/teacher)
- Strengthen teachers’ training programs
- Enhance the use of evidence-based practices
As an industry, we’re still getting a handle on incorporating these tools into treatment plans. The good news is, we do have plenty of tools to work with!
These are examples of the types of tools now available:
- E-readers and tablets (iPad) with integrated multimedia (cameras, microphones, etc.)
- Apps for education, communication, behavior regulation, etc.
- Video modeling
- Language processing software
- Customized digital stories and book creator apps
- Element cue supports
- Emotional regulation and sensing technology
- Interactive learning software, to improve feedback and metacognition
- Visualization and mind mapping apps
- Text-to-speech and speech-to-text software
- And of course, the iPhone.
Some of our industry’s earlier, pre-digital tools (like visual schedules, flash cards, etc.) are now available in digital format. More arrive every day.
If your child is drawn to using technology, that’s great! We encourage you to try out several digital tools with your child, and find which ones they’re most likely to use.
If your child is socially anxious, here’s an idea to help calm them. Think about the self-checkouts at the grocery store. Or the Redbox kiosk. These have touchscreens, audio prompting, and simple visual interfaces…the same type of interaction you’d find in an iPad. Show these to your child if they’re anxious. It may help focus their attention.
Here are some additional resources, to help you learn more about digital tools available to your child:
Whether it’s for learning, to communicate with you, or simply to comfort them in unfamiliar situations, the right digital tool can make their lives so much better.
If you want to try out a digital tool or app in therapy sessions, please talk with your A is for Apple supervisor. We’re happy to show you all the tools at our disposal.
Does your child like to communicate using a phone or tablet? Please share your story on the A is for Apple Facebook page!
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a future newsletter.
Inside A is for Apple
The 2016 Autism Speaks Walkathon – Event Recap
Last month, the A is for Apple team participated in the Autism Speaks 2016 Walkathon.
History Park in San Jose was packed full of wonderful people! We had balloons and snacks for kids at our booth, and handed out lots of brochures. The whole team talked with parents, fellow vendors, and many curious visitors about autism awareness. Our friends from the San Andreas Regional Center even dropped by during their rounds.
Our team participated in the walk as well. We had plenty of company—it’s great to see so many come out and show their support with us.
A big thank you to everyone who came out! We raised close to $2,000 for autism research & awareness at this event. The whole team looks forward to next year’s walkathon!