Haircut Visit Tips for Children with Autism

Haircut Visit Tips for Children with Autism

Haircuts are difficult for many young children. Adding sensory sensitivities to the equation can make haircut appointments even harder. This is why we want to talk about haircuts for autistic children and what can be done to make appointments easier.

This article is a continuation of the topics from the last two weeks (Dental Visit Tips for Children with Autism | Doctor Visit Tips for Children with Autism). These are important topics, as getting your child comfortable with important social situations, while difficult, is necessary.

Finding an Autism-Friendly Hair Stylist

There aren’t many comprehensive autism-friendly hairstylists or salon lists available on the internet. This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to searching for a great place to get a haircut, however. 

Some beauty professionals list autism-friendly on their websites. This makes using search engines to find them very easy. Use search terms like ‘autism haircut near me’ or ‘autism-friendly hair stylist’ to start your search.

If you are comfortable with addressing the sensory sensitivities your child has that may arise during a haircut appointment, be sure to ask about or make requests beforehand.

  • No electric clippers, blowdryers, water, shampoo, etc.
  • Any specific touching or holding of the hair
  • Scheduling an appointment at a less busy time

Talking to your child’s therapist before a haircut may also be a big help in jogging your memory for things that may help.

Preparing for a Professional Haircut

Before an appointment with the hairdresser, there are a few steps you can take to ease your child into feeling more comfortable about the appointment.

  • Take a few trips to the salon before the appointment to acquaint your child with the environment
  • Practice with brushes and combs while your child is seated at home
  • Make sure to note any sensory issues that could arise: noise from electric clippers and blow dryers, hair touching, using water, etc
  • Make sure your child has toys or objects they can have during the haircut

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Haircut Visit Tips for Children with Autism

Doctor Visit Tips for Children with Autism

Taking your child to the doctor for a checkup can be an ordeal, especially if your child has related sensory sensitivities. The setting, noises, number of people, and other things can lead to many different sensory issues.

Like last week’s blog on visiting the dentist, this week we wanted to focus on making trips to the doctor easier.

Finding an Autism-Friendly Pediatrician

There aren’t many comprehensive autism-friendly doctor or pediatrician lists available on the internet. This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to searching for a great doctor, however. 

Many medical professionals list autism-friendly on their websites. This makes using search engines to find them very easy. Use search terms like ‘autism pediatrician near me’ or ‘autism-friendly pediatrician’ to start your search.

It is also imperative to call the office with questions ready before scheduling an appointment. Things to talk about before scheduling an appointment should include:

  • Anything regarding existing behavioral or developmental conditions and how they may affect the visit or appointment
  • Any sensory sensitivities with light, noise, crowds, or other situational concerns
  • Communication difficulties with your child (noises, nonverbal, etc)
  • Any common triggers that may be found in a new setting
  • If a special waiting area is available for children with sensory sensitivities or autism
  • If your child has certain difficulties with waiting or new places you may want to ask about scheduling a specific appointment where you don’t have to wait. Be sure to tell the scheduler about concerns regarding waiting times.

Make sure to have a list ready so you don’t forget anything during the phone call.

Preparing for a Visit to the Doctor

As it can be for other activities and appointments, a visit to the doctor can potentially throw children with autism off their routine. Making sure your child has easied into a schedule where an appointment may fit in is a great first step to take.

Be sure to bring any toys or objects that will make your child feel comfortable during the visit. Remember–the waiting period can be just as difficult as the appointment, especially if the doctor is delayed.

Visiting the office before an appointment can also be very helpful to acclimate your child to a new environment. If you have concerns about the new environment, be sure to call the office and see if you can make a few short trips there before the appointment.

A few things to be sure to have on hand for a doctor’s appointment include:

  • Any important toys or objects
  • Snacks or drinks
  • Prefilled paperwork (if any is given before the appointment)
  • A plan to deal with any large outbursts or behavioral issues

Be sure to talk to your child’s therapist if you have any concerns before an appointment. They know your child well and should have some great information that may help.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you!

Walking in Darkness, Seeing the Stars

Walking in Darkness, Seeing the Stars

This past November I made a decision to stop publicly writing until my divorce was final. I’ve spent hours on the stand just reading my own bank statements and wanted to prevent my blog from somehow adding to the length of the divorce process. In September of last year, the courts scheduled a final hearing for March 3rd, 2022. “Just 6 months,” I thought, “I can do 6 more months.”

This past week I received a call from my new lawyer… another extension. Four more months. The date I was told was final was not. There is so much I want for my children, so four more months of the same felt unreal, yet here it was. It felt like Groundhog Day. Haven’t I been here before? Stuck in the same?

Dealing with an Extended Divorce Process

Yes, I have been divorcing for what will now be more than half of my younger son Declan’s life. He was 18 months when this all started, now he wants a race car cake, like Metchie (his older brother, Dametrius) for his third birthday. My Henry will be ready for kindergarten this fall. My son Dametrius will start looking at colleges.

My children have kept growing, yet their mama’s world has seemed stuck in the same storm. Sunshine was promised yet clouds continue to roll in. As hard as my situation is (divorcing in a small town while leaving domestic violence) I can’t help but think of all of us, stuck in the pandemic for longer than my divorce, waiting for a clearing stuck in the darkness. 

Last September when I received the final divorce date I thought “OK after my divorce is final life can go on.” I will be able to make plans. I want to go to the beach. To hold my babies for more than two nights at a time before transferring to their father yet again. To begin building a life with the amazing partner I am lucky to call mine. To spend time with friends. The list went on and on.

With COVID, I have felt the same way, wishing for it to be over so life can go on. Have you? How many times have you found yourself saying, “when COVID is over, when it’s normal again, I’m going to…” fill in the blank. I know personally, I’ve thought about activities for the kids, swim lessons, flying on an airplane with children, and so much more. My sister’s darling twins turned 3 this year, she really, really wants to take them to storytime.

Finding Motivation

I don’t know about you, but when there is a restriction present it is hard to plan, to know what to do, to make things feel formal. Whether it’s a divorce, a pandemic, or anything else outside of your control, how do you convince yourself to go on when sometimes all you want to do is go back? Back to the way things were before the restriction was there.

This week when I got the news of yet another delay something shifted in me. Snapped if you will. I couldn’t do it. I could not spend one more moment telling myself, “when I’m divorced I’ll fill in the blank.” I don’t know about you but I also cannot do one more, “when COVID is over then I’ll fill in the blank” either. 

I looked at my babies (OK now full-on boys) and right in front of me, life is happening. They are growing, evolving, and living. They aren’t waiting for anything to change their lives, they are just alive. While divorce is hard, they are little, and often the biggest upset of the day is something like no ice cream or Mario time.

Dametrius is actually thriving and his thriving splits my face into a smile I cannot shake. In looking at my children and now two restrictions without an end I can depend on I decided, “you know what, I can live too.” I don’t need to wait for this to be over and the truth is life isn’t going to be the same after all of this but it’s not going to be better either. It’s just going to be different. There are amazing things happening right now in the darkness, shining stars if you will.

Seizing the Now

Sure there are a million things my heart and mind want to do when I am divorced and the pandemic isn’t restricting our social life. But there is so much to love right here, right now. Just this past weekend, I celebrated my 35th birthday and was surrounded by the best friends and family I could ever ask for. I am not kidding you, outside of my dear Aunt Linda in Colorado and Catherine in New Mexico, I sat down with, dined with, or exchanged gifts with everyone I love. Everyone.

How does a woman become that lucky? And these people I love? They are the most incredible people you have ever met. After spending a week with them, alongside my boys, I basked in the evidence right in front of me that life can be beautiful even when hard things aren’t going anywhere. Or are going somewhere at a snail’s pace.

I thought to myself, what do I want to do now with my one wild and precious life? I do not have time today to fill the pages with my dreams. But today, I want to adjust my spirit for the slow walkout and to enjoy every step on the path. I’ve got some incredible people walking right alongside me. 

When Life is Dark as Winter’s Night, Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light.



Who can help with Autism?

Who can help with Autism?

There are many professions that are specifically designated to help individuals with autism. These professions range from publicly available to private in-home programs. The needs of each child are different and so are the professionals that can best help with their development.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common professions in the field of ASD and talk about who can benefit from their services. This is not a comprehensive list and is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please listen to the recommendations of your developmental pediatrician or doctor!

Autism Professionals

The following 8 professions are commonly used to help with the development of individuals with autism. Note that many of these services can be used together–it all depends on the optimal service plan for each individual.

A note that ABA therapy is still the only evidence-based practice for helping the development of individuals with autism. Other programs and therapies can work in tandem with ABA therapy, but may not show the same results without its inclusion.

Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysts (ABA) help individuals with autism learn by using ABA therapy, the only evidence-based method for helping symptoms of autism. ABA therapists are often found in clinical settings but they are able to provide in-home services as well. ABA therapists design unique plans for each individual that work with strengths and weaknesses to ensure progression and development.

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers are typically found in schools, both private and public. These teachers can be trained in many different areas of special education, including autism. If you are sending a child with ASD to a public school, make sure their special education program includes an instructor who specializes in autism.

Certified applied behavior analysts are known as Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA). Clinics may use a combination of BCBAs and other ASD service providers in order to provide the best care to clients.

Rehabilitation Therapists

Related to general ABA therapy, rehabilitation therapists specialize in using ABA therapy in a clinical setting to help with development. Rehabilitation therapists are not BCBAs, but are educated and certified to help with ABA therapy in a clinical setting. Rehabilitation therapists without any direct professional links to a licensed ABA therapy practice are not recommended.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists (OT) specialize in helping clients with everyday activities and duties. Like special education teachers, OTs specialize in many areas, from rehabilitation to autism. OTs may be recommended for helping with a development plan or routine for an individual with autism.

Speech Therapists

Speech therapists are essential for helping individuals with ASD and verbal communication issues developing speech and language skills. Like most fields on this list, finding a therapist that specializes in helping individuals with autism is crucial, as there are many types of speech therapists.

Social Workers

Social workers that help families with ASD-related issues typically introduce families to care options, plans, and networks. Individuals with more severe ASD-related issues may need specialized services for their entire life–services that many change over time. Having a social worker to help navigate the care landscape can help families select the best services for their needs.

Finding a social worker who is able to help with all of your child’s needs may take time, as social workers specialize in different areas. If you are thinking about utilizing a social worker, make sure to address all your needs and concerns before starting any program.

Developmental Psychologists, Clinical Psychologists, & Pediatricians

A developmental psychologist focuses on human development over the course of a person’s life. Developmental psychologists can help navigate issues and concerns with a specific individual’s development and recommend plans of action. Developmental psychologists are also able to determine if an undiagnosed case of ASD may be the case of developmental delays.

Clinical Psychologists can serve a similar role as developmental psychologists, but for different ASD-related issues. Clinical psychologists may be able to diagnose cases of ASD and will have information on how to proceed for the best development of an individual with autism.

Pediatricians are the first line of defense for identifying ASD and what to do next. While most pediatricians won’t diagnose ASD, they are aware of what warning signs to look for and what to do if they are encountered. 

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

This article was intended as an overview of professional services and practices you may encounter with finding a program for an individual with ASD. ABA therapy is the only evidence-based method for improving the development and growth of an individual with autism.

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans using ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Underneath the Bursts

Underneath the Bursts

This past week I wrote to you about setting boundaries with our children. In my blog, I wrote about the importance of boundaries for the emotional development of children. I also wrote to you about my own struggles in setting boundaries as a mama. One of the main reasons I struggle with setting boundaries for my own children is the (out)bursts that come with it.

It just so happens that as a clinician one of my primary areas of specialization is problem behaviors (the bursts). It’s what I went to graduate school to study over a decade ago. Over 10 years later and I can tell you the science of reducing problematic behaviors hasn’t changed. My own journey applying clinical skills at home, of course, has not (well, not totally). Today I’d like to write to you about both.

ABA & Bursts

Let’s start at the beginning with ‘burst science.’ Applied Behavior Analysis teaches us that social behaviors, both positive and negative, can be broken into units that can be studied. In studying units of behavior, BCBAs are able to identify the function of behaviors (why behaviors occur) and missing skills in the child they are studying. When it comes to reducing problem behaviors, behavior analysts are looking for why the behavior is occurring. This involves looking at what is happening before the behavior and what happens after the behavior.

While studying the environment before bursts occur, BCBAs look for a deficit in the child’s environment. What are they missing? Studying environments after bursts allow BCBAs to see if the child’s problem behaviors filled the deficit. If they did, the child is successfully using the problem behavior to get their needs met. This means the problem behaviors are being reinforced and will continue to occur. Magic I’m telling you. Magic.

You see, by studying what a child is seeking in a specific environment you can create interventions that fill the child up with what they are seeking to immediately decrease the problem behaviors. This isn’t a long-term solution, but it creates a short-term solution to make the days easier for the child and their families. While the child is being satiated BCBAs work on teaching new skills surrounding the child’s needs. This always looks like teaching functional communication skills, how to ask for exactly what you need.

Sometimes teaching specific skills can look like teaching patience and tolerance to ‘no’ when what the child wants isn’t good for them to have all the time. For example, if a child is throwing tantrums to get access to candy it’s damaging to have non-contingent candy all of the time. But if a child is tantruming for positive attention, we can fill them up without having to teach tolerance to no. Though we might have to teach waiting because sometimes mama (or papa) is busy.

The key to this remedy is to also remove reinforcement when a child is using their problem behavior to get their needs/desires met. If, in the scenarios above, the BCBA is providing candy (one piece) every 30 minutes and within 15 minutes the child hits to get access to the candy the BCBA cannot give the child the candy. If they do they will reinforce the hitting and take the motivation away from using words. It is here, in this little sweet spot of the behavior intervention, that bursts occur. Let’s talk about that.

Why Do Bursts Occur?

Underneath the bursts for children (and adults… more on that later) is fear that their needs/desires won’t be met. The bursts occur because, in the child’s mind, that very thing they want could become unattainable, their need won’t be met, and they will have to experience negative emotions. Dealing with both the fear of a need/desire not being met alongside psychologically negative emotions is tough stuff for a child. This right here? This is the hard part for parents and the sweet spot for teaching emotional resilience and intelligence.  

As a mama, I know firsthand how easy it is to give in. To not want to deal with the temper tantrum, the screaming, and the crying. We are human beings and crying children is not comfortable. When we give in as parents at a given moment it provides immediate relief to ourselves and our children. It also perpetuates the very behaviors we don’t want to see more of and does not teach our children how to deal with the big emotions. 

About a year ago Henry and I were at Dametrius’s football game and Henry wanted candy from the concession stand. I had packed snacks and knew sugar was on the menu later so I didn’t want him to have extra candy. I leaned down and told my little son, “no, not now we’ll have dessert at dinner”. Of course, in public, a full-on tantrum occurred. At that moment I thought how perfectly aligned this example was. You see at that moment I could have made a concession at the concession stand by just giving in. If I gave in Henry would happily watch the game and I wouldn’t have to be teaching Henry to breathe and tell me how he feels. But giving in also meant teaching my son to numb his emotions with food and that screaming works. So I stood my ground and worked with Henry.

You see under the bursts, as we are teaching boundaries. As children burst, their hearts need to know they can ride through negative emotions and still be safe on the other side. That nothing bad comes from feelings and that needs can be met in new ways. To me, as a clinician, I know that working through the bursts creates long-lasting, positive, change. As a mama, teaching my children to ride what is underneath the bursts is more valuable than any concession I could make at any given moment.