3 Ways to Help Young Children with Autism

Living with Autism Workshop experts share advice you can put to good use right now.

Everything can feel completely overwhelming in the early years after an autism diagnosis. You want to do everything you can to help your child thrive but there’s not always a clear path to follow since every child’s needs are different.

At our virtual Living With Autism Workshop, we tapped into some of the best experts available to share their knowledge to help you find solid footing to navigate all of the things that come along with a diagnosis. Two topics resonated deeply with those attending the workshop live and those who watched the video recaps — ABA therapy and Gestalt Language.

ABA 101: Fundamentals of the Premier Autism Therapy

Sarah Peterson, the manager and lead BCBA at Henry Ford Health Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and Taylor Stempnik, BCBA at CADD, share the basics of applied behavior analysis and top questions you might also have.

Main takeaways:

  • ABA therapy, when implemented correctly, is the top medical treatment for autism and can be an extremely powerful tool to help your child develop skills based on where they are performing, they say.
  • A school autism diagnosis qualifies you for school services. You can’t get medical services from a school diagnosis, which is often very confusing for parents, they say.
  • In choosing an ABA provider, visit the places you are exploring. “If you don’t get a good feeling from the place,” walk away, they say.

Moving Outside the ABA Bubble: Transitioning from a Comprehensive ABA Program

Amanda Prater, MA, BCBA, LBA, and Lindsay Muncey, MA, BCBA, LBA, of Kaufman Children’s Center, share insight on when to move your child to less restrictive ABA environments to maximize learning. As you might already know, transitioning a child from an early intervention ABA program can be scary for parents, they say. 

Main takeaways:

  • How to know if your child is ready for school and if they are, how to make it a really smooth transition for them (and you!).
  • Learn about the assessments available to help you decide, with your child’s team, if the time is right to move to a less restrictive environment for services.
  • Preparation for success in school is key, including finding the right school for your child. “So once you’ve determined what setting that you’re looking for, the first thing to do, if you haven’t done that already, is contact the special education department and also specifically to initiate an IEP in writing,” they say.

Gestalt Language Development: The Power of Word Clusters in Learning to Speak

Christy Schweitzer and Brooke Ringler, both of Henry Ford Health, share how your child’s language center works and how you can advocate for services to complement their language learning style.

Main takeaways:

  • Research estimates that from 75% to 90% of autistic children are Gestalt language processors. 
  • There are six stages of Gestalt language processing. By understanding your child’s stage can help you facilitate your child’s language development. They say you’ll see better progress “because we’re not trying to fit this square peg into a round hole.”
  • How you can find speech pathologists with Gestalt language processing while advocating for child-led speech therapy that aligns with your child’s interests.

You can access other session recordings and presentations at MetroParent.com.

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Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.


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