Blog

May
11
How to Help Family and Friends Build Relationships With Your ASD Child
By Lora Polakow

As written for Autism Parenting Magazine, Issue 95

Author: Erica Crowley, BCBA, is the Manager at Invo Behavior and Therapy Services' Belfort Oaks Therapy Center in Jacksonville, Florida. (Invo is a sister-company to Engage Behavioral Health.)


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Parents often worry that friends and extended family don’t spend enough time getting to know their children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and tend to overlook them at gatherings and parties.

Many adults aren’t sure how to engage with a child who isn’t verbal or doesn’t respond to social cues. They might be uncomfortable when a child vocalizes, jumps or flaps his/her arms. As a result, adults often focus on neurotypical kids...


May
08
I See You: Moms of Special Needs Children
By Lora Polakow

Special guest blog by Kim Caifano, writer, speaker, life coach, and special needs mom. Learn more about Kim at kimcaifano.com

Every once in awhile I’m out in public and there is a child who catches my attention. Perhaps for a gross motor tic or a behavior that differs from his peers or an interesting use of language.

Immediately after that my gaze goes toward the mom. Because while I may not know specifically what is going on with the child, I often know that there is “something” and that the child is quite possibly a special needs child. And I wonder how the mom is doing. What stage is she at with all of this? Has she accepted this fact? Is she handling the situation in lov...


Dec
29
Tips To A Sensory-Friendly New Year's Eve
By Mike Camunas

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Ring in the new year with fun and less worry.

Many people celebrate ringing in the new year differently at midnight on New Year's Eve. Most shoot off or look at fireworks, while many others have parties to watch the ball drop then party into the morning hours. But not everyone can do that, especially those with autism or sensory processing disorder.

Most times, parents and families of those kids are going to stay home to avoid unnecessary overwhelming and frightening or even disrupting a child's routine. Though this can still be problematic not only because of the loud fireworks heard throughout the night, but they could get bored or anxious being stuck inside.

Here are some tips to still have...


Aug
13
Back to School Tips For Children With Autism
By Julius Odtojan

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Going back to school for children with autism doesn’t have to be a challenge.

By Mike Camunas, Engage Behavioral Health Marketing Manager

Every year at this time, like an annual rite of passage, it’s the first day of the new school year! Kids — donning new back packs and lunch boxes and fresh school clothes — pose for the parents’ “First Day” photos and head off to meet possibly new friends and a new teacher(s).

Of course, this could be tough for any student, but it can be especially challenging for children and preteens with autism or who might be on the autism spectrum. However, with the right preparation and support, a child with autism can easily ...


Aug
08
Engage Behavioral Health Founder and CEO, Jennifer Phelps, named a Tampa Bay Business Journal 2017 Businesswoman of the Year finalist
By Julius Odtojan

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TAMPA, Fla. — Jennifer Phelps M.S., BCBA has always seen growth as success, especially for individual clients and their respective families.

Now, her own success as a businesswoman has resulted in exponential growth of her company, Engage Behavioral Health, which specializes in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for autistic children.

The company’s exceptional growth has not gone unnoticed, as Jennifer has been named a Tampa Bay Business Journal 2017 Businesswoman of the Year finalist, one of 52 local business women to receive the honor.

Founder and CEO, Jennifer Phelps.
“It is a truly humbling honor to be considered for this award with so many other impressive and worthy...


Jul
10
The Importance of Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)
By Julius Odtojan

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Families who receive an autism diagnosis often experience a variety of emotions that range from fear to relief to uncertainty. For most families, this is the first time they are learning about the characteristics of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) as well as the treatment options. One of the most frequently recommended treatments for ASD, and one that has been endorsed by the US Surgeon General among other medical and therapeutic organizations, is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). There is a general consensus within the scientific community that early intervention for developmental delays is critical, and Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) is an important component of comprehensi...

Jun
15
Strategies to Limit Your Child’s Challenging Behavior During Summer Break
By Julius Odtojan

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SSummer break can be a difficult time for many families of children with disabilities. The regular structure and routines of the school year are disrupted, sometimes resulting in the emergence of challenging behaviors. Fortunately, there are some strategies families can implement to ease this transition and make summer break more enjoyable for everyone! One way to prevent some of this change-related challenging behavior is to keep some routines or schedules the same. For example, families may find that maintaining a consistent bedtime schedule and routine is a good antecedent strategy. Another important component of a child’s routine is often his or her therapy schedule. Individual ...


May
01
How to Handle Feeding Difficulties
By Beverly Resurreccion

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According to an article published in Pediatrics in Review (Phalen 2013) as many as 80% of children with developmental disabilities may present with feeding difficulties. In children with autism, feeding difficulties can include limited intake, food or fluid selectivity (i.e., preference for only specific types of food or beverages), problem behavior associated with mealtimes, and food refusal. Like most concerns that arise with a child’s behavior, feeding difficulties can vary greatly in their presentation, intensity, and severity. Before treating your child’s feeding difficulties, it is important to understand and/or rule out any underlying medical concerns, such as dental i...


Mar
22
Tips for Bringing a Child with Autism to a Restaurant
By Beverly Resurreccion

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We don’t expect children, with or without developmental disabilities, to do things like tying their shoes or playing a new game without first being taught how. Eating in a restaurant (i.e., a new environment, probably out of routine, potential for unexpected environmental stimulation) is a skill like any other—it requires practice, antecedent management (planning), and consequence management (reinforcement). Because children with autism often require a higher level of support when environmental changes occur, families of children with autism may find themselves avoiding eating out in restaurants. With preparation and planning, however, this does not have to be the case.

Practice...


Mar
14
How to Prepare a Child with Autism to Leave the House
By Julius Odtojan

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Clearly explain your destination and why you’re going. If you’re taking your child out to the store or park, set their expectations with a structured plan for the day ahead of time. Allowing them to know when, why, and how long in advanced can help ease any anxieties your child may have. Be sure to inform your child if they’ll need to be going on public transportations, communicate with others, and come up with a way for them to let you know when things are beginning to get overwhelming.


•Provide an activity for your child while you’re out. If your child likes to read, allow them to bring a book or two with them to occupy themselves while you’re out shoppi...


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