ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006: 1:30 PM-2:45 PM
551 A-B
#1757- How To Guide for Parents: Practical Strategies for Managing Home Issues
This workshop will provide parents with useable techniques to effectively address areas of home life that are often problematic to families. These “tried and true” strategies have helped many families deal with issues such as toileting, feeding, sleeping, and trips to the dentist, doctor or hairdresser. Videos and testimonials will be shared.

Presenters:Anne S. Holmes, M.S., CCC, BCBA, Eden Autism Services, Chief Clinical Officer - Anne Holmes is Chief Clinical Officer for The Eden Family of Services. She is an adjunct faculty member of the College of New Jersey, and is on the Autism Society Panel of Professional Advisors. Ms. Holmes has written numerous papers and articles and is the primary editor of Eden’s curriculum.

Nina Finkler, M.Ed., LDT/C, B.C.B.A., Eden Family of Services, Assistant Director of Outreach and Support Services - Nina Finkler is the Assistant Director of Outreach and Support Services for the Eden Family of Services in Princeton, New Jersey. She has worked in the field of autism for over 15 years, including coordinating and supervising the Eden Institute’s Pre﷓Vocational Program, as well as extensive practical application of applied behavioral analysis, curriculum development, parent training, consultation and assessment. Ms. Finkler holds her Master’s degree in special education from Rutgers University and is a New Jersey licensed Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Parents of children with autism must teach their children the most basic of life skills: toileting, eating, sleeping, doctor or barber visits. Parents are often frustrated by their lack of success in effectively teaching these skills even though their children may in fact perform these tasks in the school environment. Because generalization typically does not occur naturally, practical strategies based in ABA have been identified and are presented in a user-friendly manner to address the uniqueness of the home environment.

Toilet training is a skill area that is of significant importance to families. Children who are not toilet trained are unable to access many opportunities available to them. In the school environment, it is reasonable for a staff member to take a child to the toilet on a 5 minute schedule throughout the day. However, at home, this is virtually impossible. The presenters have had success assisting families to determine a time interval that is reasonable and workable within normal family life. Assisting families to identify and secure powerful reinforcement is key to successful toilet training. Prioritization of toilet training and commitment the family must make are critical for success.

In the area of eating, many parents are quite concerned with the restricted diets that their children have. It has been the experience of the presenters that desensitization techniques are the most effective in expanding the food repertoire of a child with autism. Having the child tolerate a new food item in front of them would be the first step; once the child is comfortable with that, then the new food item is placed to their lips and quickly removed; sequential steps in desensitization include the child receiving the food in their mouth and allowing them to spit it out; keeping the food in their mouth; and swallowing the food. What is critical to the success of desensitization with eating is allowing the child's comfort with each step determine progression to the next level.

The presenters have found the use of desensitization to be effective not only with eating issues, but also with increasing tolerance to community events such as trips to the doctor, dentist, or hair dresser.

Issues with sleeping not only have an obvious impact on the child with autism but also impact the family at large. The presenters have found it important to assist families in understanding that, while they may not be able to teach their child to actually sleep, they can teach their child the behavior of staying in bed or bedroom.

Through this presentation, the presenters' goal is to not only impart practical information but more importantly to empower families as they face the daily challenges of raising a child with autism.

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