Support for the Autism Spectrum Group | General Autism Issues

The topic for the February workshop will be “How to Crush the FSA, Tips and Tricks for Parents”. Dr. Nach will be the presenter of the workshop and will available to answer questions.

This free workshop for parents will be held on Monday February 9th, 2015 from 7:00- 8:30p, in our “high-tech” Boca Raton office.

  • Please RSVP to phone or email below
  • You are encouraged to bring a friend or two, please no children to this event
  • The topic for the March workshop will be “Developing Positive Behavior
  • Interventions for Children, Teens, and Young Adults”

Social Skills Groups Topics for The Month

How to calm ourselves down when we are angry or upset:

  • Remembering the names of the people we meet
  • Identifying and accepting compliments from others
  • How to become part of a group
  • Parents will be provided with Weekly Topic Updates to help generalize targeted behaviors

Did You Know We Also Offer…

  • A daily Summer Camp for children and teens with special needs. (ages 6-13)
  • In addition to social skills, we offer “executive functioning groups” (3rd-12th grades)
  • and “post-transition programs” (ages 16-adult)

  • Academic Coaching and Behavior Modification Programming
  • Individual and family psychotherapy

Tips and Tricks

Using positive reinforcement often works best when trying to modify the behavior of children and teens. Instead of taking away what your child values, try providing them with the opportunity to earn time with their preferred activity.

Ask us, we will show you how……………

Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., ASDc.
Support For Students Growth Center
458 Town Center Rd, Suite #7
Boca Raton, FL 33486
P: (561) 990-7305
F: (561) 465-3564

Click to Download a February Newsletter

Summer 2015 Camp Flyer

Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns: Part Two

Help for Our Children with “Perceptual Challenges”

Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed.

The holiday season can be stressful for our children, teens, and young adults with special needs. Traveling and visiting relatives and friends may interrupt their day-to-day routines and all the excitement can be overwhelming to those kids with “sensory” issues.

Follow some of these user friendly strategies to prevent holiday “blowouts” to help keep your kids feeling “grounded” and create happier memories this holiday season:

Schedule Time Reasonably

Too many events or activities grouped too closely together can overstimulate our child. Pick and choose which activities to participate in and don’t overload the schedule. Include private playtime or an outing to a child-friendly restaurant with a friend, to provide some one-on-one fun for our child. Also, spending some alone time in a quiet corner of the house or taking a short walk can be healthy proactive actions to head off a tantrum in our child.

Suggestion: If you’re planning to spend several days visiting a friend or relative, you may want to consider staying at a motel instead of sleeping over. This will give your child built-in breathing space. Explaining to family why you’re not taking them up with an offer to stay with them can help minimize hurt feelings.

Support and Reinforce Appropriate Behavior

Acknowledging and rewarding our child’s good behavior reminds him of his strengths and increases his confidence that he can manage whatever the holiday throws at him. Our child may become the hit of the party if they read a book of riddles to family members. They may want to do magic tricks or offer some other special interest to family and friends. Reminding a child of his past successes will set him up to succeed this year.

Take it OneDay At A Time

Parents need to be realistic. We know our children struggle with being our of their routine and many of the events associated with the holidays. Acknowledge each little victory and do not “throw the baby out with the bath water”. Accept that there will be some challenging moments, however, do not get stuck on them, move past them. Each success builds upon each other, do not negate the successes by focusing on the negatives.

Suggestion: Do Not Let A Bad Moment Ruin The Entire Day or Holiday

Sensory Stimulation

We know that many of our children struggle with sensory issues. Holiday lights, music, and smells can quite easily lead to meltdowns and tantrums. Understand that these sensory issues are very real and can change the physiology of our children for the moment. These sensory rich items can be physically painful.

Suggestion: Try not to under estimate the severity of sensory input and irritation. Little things like; earplugs, sunglasses, and nose plugs can be useful. Allow our child to voice when a sensory rich environment is impacting them. Parents that are extra observant of how our children are impacted by sensory stimulus can act proactively and not overreact.

Involve Our Child in Activities

Build happy memories by including our child to help cook the holiday meal, create and put up decorations, greet family or friends, deliver snacks or drinks, or wrap packages. Such activities strengthen the bond between our child, families, friends, siblings, and peers.

As all of our children are unique individuals, the suggestions made here should be adjusted to best fit your specific situation.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season, Dr. Eric Nach

Children with Autism are very concrete and literal and we should not assume that they are picking up everything we do via watching or observing us. We need to be more mindful and deliberate when it comes to parenting a child with autism because they do not always absorb things just by being exposed to them. Realistically, there is much that is happening that is not being noticed unless we specifically point it out.


..there is no such thing as too much repetition for a child on the autism spectrum

–Connie Hammer, MSW

The best strategy for turning a social encounter into a meaningful learning experience for your autistic child is to call attention to the manner in which you relate to them and why. This is a simple yet effective way to expand your child’s social toolbox.

Here are some tips on how to make each interaction you have with your child more meaningful and useful:

  • Use the rewind button. After a typical social interaction you have with your child, rewind what you just did and replay it for them in slow motion. Ex. “Did you notice what I just did? I wanted to ask you a question so I made sure I was close to you instead of hollering from across the room.” Replay the scene using each approach and ask which one works best. For older children you can also get into a discussion of why that tactic was the better one to use.
  • Pretend you need help. All children like being asked to share their opinion – it makes them feel important. When you have time to think ahead, try involving your child in a social skill decision. “I want to ask your dad a question but he looks as if he is busy right now, what do you think I should do?” Then present two plausible options, one more socially acceptable than the other and ask your child what do you think will happen if I use option A, then examine option B.
  • Paint a picture of what you just did. “I wanted to make sure I had your attention so I leaned over and looked into your eyes.” Then follow up with a specific description of using that skill – “When you want to make sure someone is listening to you, it’s best to get in front of them and look at the color of their eyes.” Add any specific details that you think your child will need – in front of means an arms length away, not right up in their face, etc.
  • Point out your mistakes. Even as adults, not all of our interactions are successful but we often know where we went wrong. This is a great opportunity to share your experience with your child and prompt them to think about what you could have done differently. When asking their advice do not let too much time go by after you pose the question or make them feel pressured by it, simply fill in the answer for them and briefly discuss it, if possible.

Remember, there is no such thing as too much repetition for a child on the autism spectrum. It is always a good idea to end each one of these possible scenarios with a specific description regarding the social skill you are trying to teach and duplicate it as often as you think you need to in order for your child to grasp the skill.

There is always ample opportunity to practice most of these skills because they occur over and over again in our daily activities. The added benefit to this process is that we grow in awareness as to how we utilize our own social skills to communicate and get to practice them more consciously.

Additional Resources:

About the Author

Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website to get your FREE resources – a parenting ecourse, Parenting a Child with Autism – 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.

Photo Credit: Children at Risk Foundation (flickr)

Recreation and leisure activates key component - support for students growth center

Recreation and leisure activities are key components of community participation, but daily living skills such as cooking, hygiene, travel/mobility, money management and health care are also necessary for successful everyday functioning.

In my classroom we work on a functional life skills curriculum. This means that every lesson incorporates some form of necessary life skill for everyday living. For instance, if I want to teach my students math we may set up an area of the classroom like a grocery store. My students will be given fake money (it looks very similar to real money), they will find items from a picture/word list, and then purchase said items. They need to make sure that they have enough money to purchase the items on the list. He students love this lesson because it seems more like a game. Another math lesson I do is incorporated into cooking instruction. One day we made tacos. The students needed to count all of the shells to make sure there were at least two per student. Then, they needed to measure and/or weigh all of the ingredients. After making the meat mixture, they needed to properly divide it among all of the taco shells.

There are many ways of incorporating functional life skills into academic lesson plans. I believe that all of the skills worked on in the classroom are only effective if they are reinforced at home.

Nutrition Needs

Children with autism have many nutritional needs in their daily lives. Educators need to know what types foods they are able to have in the case that there is a holiday party or birthday in the classroom. These children also may have sensitivities to certain food textures and odors. It is good to be aware of these issues.

Understanding the autism diet is crucial to the health and healing of children with autism. “There are six main diets to consider when researching this area of science: Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF), Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Feingold Diet, Body Ecology Diet, Low Oxalate Diet/Phenols, and Weston A. Price (Matthews, 2011). These diets have significant health benefits for children with autism.

The Gluten-Free Casein-Free diet can help children with autism find relief from “gastrointestinal tract abnormalities as well as the clearing up of rashes and eczema” (Matthews, 2011). It is important to effectively follow the diet to see improvements.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet can regulate the digestive system as well as remove bacteria that can cause “gut bugs” (Matthews, 2011).

The Feingold Diet can reduce the build up of phenols that have an affect on behavior. This diet can also reduce phenol sensitive reactions.

The Low Oxalate Diet lowers the amount of oxalate crystals in the body. Oxalate crystals can cause kidney stones and other forms of inflammation and pain. Using this diet can produce significant results in lowering the amount of crystals in the body.

Body Ecology Diet is a treatment to reduce the amount of yeast. It allows for growth of good bacteria as well as “cultivate, nourish, cleanse, and repair their impaired inner ecosystem” (Matthews, 2011).

In addition to the diets mentioned above, the Weston A. Price diet is also another diet used with children with autism. This diet is “high in omega-3, saturated fat, and cholestrol” (Matthews, 2011), that are important for a healthy brain. It also may help with digestion and lower sugar cravings.


Three actions parents can take to increase self advocacy skills of their children as they transition between activities.

  1. Doing for our children when they can be taught to do for themselves is a counter productive behavior and should be minimized as quickly as possible.
  2. When teaching your children about self-advocacy you may want to consider the following five decision making steps, while continuing to provide support and direction:
    • What is the decision you need to make?
    • What decisions could you make?
    • Evaluate each choice. What are the pluses and minuses of each choice?
    • Pick the best choice. Describe which choice you think is best for you.
    • Evaluate. Did you make the best choice for you?
  3. There are many opportunities for teaching self-advocacy skills throughout the day. It starts with making choices – choices for meals, choices for leisure activities, even choices for which chores to do around the house.

Post Highschool Graduation


Special Education Services After High School Uncoordinated, Unmonitored, GAO Finds

A college degree still provides a significant earnings bump to individuals, but the value has declined slightly in comparison with those who earn only a high school degree, a new study shows. The College Board’s Education Pays 2013 report, released Monday, underscores the payoff from higher education and highlights other ways a degree translates into more active, healthier, engaged citizens…[Read more]

Article Link