June 2021 - Hidden Talents ABA

What is it like to have autism?

When you love someone with Autism, it’s perfectly normal and natural to ask yourself, “What’s it like to have autism?”. 

It’s important to know that as hard as you try, you could never fully understand if you do not deal with it yourself. 

While entirely relating is impossible, there are a few things to know that will help you appropriately communicate and connect to individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Children with autism playing together with bubbles.

The Struggles that Autistic Children Face

Autistic children can be a challenge for families and teachers. The adults and peers of autistic children must consider their unique struggles and exercise patience with them.

 

So what struggles do autistic children face in their day-to-day lives? One is anxiety. Autistic children often struggle to communicate with others and interpret social cues in the ways that others can. The inability to communicate both fuels anxiety effectively and prevents autistic children from expressing their anxiety to others to seek their help.

 

Here are a few examples of how anxiety may manifest itself in an autistic child:

  • Social-centered phobias
  • Excessive worry about or rumination on a topic
  • Obsessive and compulsive behaviors
  • Hyper-vigilance or shell shock
  • Development of phobias
  • Behaviors of avoidance
  • Rigidity in routines or resistance to change
  • Self-harm
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Defiance
  • Meltdowns
  • Shutdowns and refusal to speak or act
  • Trouble with social skills
  • sensory sensitivity

 

Autistic children often struggle with change as well. Familiarity is more comfortable, supposedly due to processing differences and anxieties.

 

Aside from the struggles stemming from their condition, autistic children must deal with other children who don’t understand them. This may lead to bullying, which people with developmental differences or disabilities tend to be especially susceptible to. 

Child with autism crying.

What it’s Like to Have Autism

 

You cannot truly understand and relate to a person with autism spectrum disorder unless you live with it yourself! However, attempting to do so can be beneficial for your development and allow you to better support the autistic individuals in your life.

 

1)     Have you ever felt shy or uncomfortable around people? Know that an autistic child can feel that way all of the time. This is not due to a lack of effort; it is simply a result of the communication differences associated with Autism.

2)     Do you prefer that things be a certain way? Or even feel anxious when they are not. For example, is a spice not in the rack, or is a book left on top of a bookshelf when there is an intended space for it? This is a discomfort that autistic individuals often grapple with in every aspect of their lives. The way they process is often not forgiving to change or disorder, and this may cause them to feel emotional and act out in a way they may not be able to control.

3)     When you become angry or upset, do you sometimes find it hard to calm down and look at things logically? Imagine your brain working against you, inhibiting your ability to do so. This is a common struggle for autistic children and even adults.

 

Child with autism playing with a water spray.

Connecting to an Autistic Child

 

You may be wondering, how can you deal with an autistic child? Ask yourself what you can do to support them and make them comfortable. Here are some tips to help.

 

  •       Take Time to Learn Triggers – Children on the autism spectrum may be hypersensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, or colors. Make sure to note when they seem uncomfortable. If the child is verbal, you can also ask them if things make them feel bad. You may also look into getting them clothing and shoes that are tailored to autistic children. 
  •       Say What You Mean – Impaired communication skills are a common occurrence among individuals with Autism. It is essential to communicate in a way that is as clear and simple as possible, also calling out any specific emotional context to be considered with the statement. Be sure to allow extra time for the child to process if they need it.
  •       Monitor Your ReactionsSocial skills can be a challenge when you are on the autism spectrum. When an autistic child says or does something hurtful or inappropriate, don’t take it personally. Instead, gently approach them to explain why their behavior was unacceptable and how they should react.

How ABA Therapy Can Help with Your Autistic Child

What is ABA therapy

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA) is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement. This is often considered a top treatment option for autistic children.

 

ABA therapy is highly personalized, with a care plan built around assessing an autistic child’s current abilities and opportunities for growth. This therapy does not focus on making the child more “normal” but instead emphasizes developing new, different skills and behaviors to improve the child’s quality of life.

 

ABA therapy uses the environment to stimulate growth. This may involve rewards or the withholding of those rewards. These positive and negative reinforcements tend to be very successful with the differences in how an autistic child’s processing works, whereas “typical” social training such as scolding a child may not be.

 

ABA therapy is an excellent option if your child tends to be receptive to rewards as a motivation for positive behavior. Sessions with a qualified therapist can teach a child to replace behaviors like screaming with sitting quietly or using words to make requests. They can also conduct valuable life skills like brushing your teeth or shaking hands upon meeting a new person.

Three kids with autism enjoying themselves.

Conclusion

 A typical person can never really know what it is like to have autism. However, you can try to empathise with your autistic child in order to understand them better.  

Raising an autistic child is definitely hard work. However, the light and joy they will bring to your life is immeasurable.  

A Lifetime of Big Changes

Every day little changes become a lifetime of BIG changes.

At Hidden Talents, we believe that ABA therapy is the key to helping children on the autism spectrum, succeed. Learn more about our program at hiddentalentsaba.com

Helping Children Grow and Thrive

At Hidden Talents ABA, we believe that children with autism can lead happy, healthy, and productive lives. Learn more about ABA therapy and our individualized approach at hiddentalentsaba.com

Children with autism helping each other showing grow and thrive

Community Health Improvement Week

As we move towards the recovery of the COVID-19 pandemic, we highlight Community Health Improvement Week. We honor the health professionals who were at the forefront of the pandemic and those who work closely with our community.

This year’s theme is Reflect, Renew, and Rise Together. Reflect on the need to improve healthcare for the access of all people, renew the commitment to community health to serve our community, and rise together to strengthen our neighborhoods through collaboration.

Community Health Improvement Week, June 7-12

Geniuses With Autism

Atlanta is home to a thriving autistic community, with many individuals demonstrating exceptional talents alongside their challenges. You might not realize that many people with autism are also geniuses (also known as Savants).

In this article we are going to detail 15 geniuses with autism throughout history.

Bur first lets get a better understanding of what an Autistic Savant is.

If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy agency in Atlanta give us a call.

What Is an Autistic Savant?

People with autism have some challenges that others don’t face. These challenges might include:

  •   Social phobias
  •   Excessive worrying
  •   Avoidance behaviors
  •   Obsessive-compulsive disorder

It’s also not unusual for people with autism to be rigid in their routines.

Even with these challenges, numerous autistic children and adults demonstrate nearly super-human abilities in specific areas. These people are identified as autistic savants.

If you’ve ever watched the movie “Rain Man” with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, you’ve seen an autistic savant in action. Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, is autistic. He portrays characteristics such as strict adherence to routines and isn’t emotionally expressive.

However, he has a photographic memory. He can quickly rattle off phone book listings or baseball statistics as if he’s reading from a book.

His character was based on a real person named Kim Peek. Just like the character in the movie, Peek has an unbelievable memory.

15 Famous Geniuses With Autism

Now, let’s look at 15 geniuses with autism. These geniuses have either been diagnosed with or are thought to have autism.

1.     Elon Musk

If you watch Saturday Night Live, you might have seen Elon Musk announce he has Asperger’s during his monologue on May 8, 2021. As the co-founder of The Boring Company, Neuralink, SpaceX, and Tesla, Musk is a tech genius, with many more exciting things to come.

2.     Albert Einstein

While not formally diagnosed, many believe that Albert Einstein had Asperger’s. He showed many signs, including some difficulties with small talk.

Those challenges didn’t prevent him from winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. The world as a whole is still benefiting from his many discoveries.

3.     Isaac Newton

Experts also believe that Isaac Newton had autism. He immersed himself in his work, rarely speaking. He was so passionate about his work that he’d even forget to eat.

His passion paid off, as he is credited for leading the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century and is responsible for discovering the laws of gravity.

4.     Charles Darwin

“On the Origin of Species” is one of the most important works ever published and cemented Charles Darwin’s place as a groundbreaking biologist. He was passionate about his work but withdrawn socially. Many believe that’s because Charles Darwin had autism.

5.     Nikola Tesla

Many experts also believe that Nikola Tesla had autism. He had the ability to hyper-focus on projects and ideas, and that led to the development of the groundbreaking alternating-current electrical system.

His true power came from his ability to visualize concepts. This allowed him to turn concepts into reality.

While he was a successful inventor, he struggled with sensitivity to sounds and lights and had various phobias.

6.     Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson will always be remembered as the author of the Declaration of Independence. A prolific writer and gifted inventor, his legacy lives on today.

Many people believe that Jefferson likely had autism. This is largely because of his adherence to routines. He couldn’t stand it if his established routines were interrupted for any reason.

He was also known as being emotionally distant, with poor communication skills. That didn’t hold him back from achieving success.  

7.     Michelangelo

Michelangelo was an artistic genius with numerous world-renowned works of art, including the sculpture of David and the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.  Experts state that he exhibited many traits of autism, including adherence to a routine and emotional distance.

These traits might have helped him with his work. He was able to lock into a project and see it through to completion with little interruption.

8.     Steve Jobs

As the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs transformed personal computing and mobile devices. If you use an iPhone or a Mac, you can thank Jobs.

There’s also speculation that he had autism. He was known for perfectionism and managed to think outside of the box. Being on the spectrum might have helped him turn Apple into the tech giant it is today.

9.     Alfred Kinsey

A famous biologist and sexologist, Alfred Kinsey, redefined the way people think of sex and sexuality. Like many others on this list, he threw himself into his work with little time for social interaction. He didn’t have many relationships, leading many to believe that he was autistic.

10.  Bobby Fischer

A chess prodigy from a young age, Bobby Fischer went on to become an American grandmaster. His genius-level IQ helped him defeat opponents and turned him into a household name.

He was obsessed with chess and had issues with personal relationships. Experts have attempted to diagnose him, with many believing he was autistic. It’s possible that he had autism and another disorder, such as schizophrenia.

11.  Tim Burton

Tim Burton is a creative genius. He manages to manifest ideas that others couldn’t even begin to think of, which is why he’s had so much success.

He hasn’t been formally diagnosed with autism but identifies with the condition. After watching a documentary on the subject, he mentioned that he felt the same way as a child.

12.  Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol changed the art world for the better. He was a creative force during the Pop Art movements in the 1960s. He also likely had autism.

People point to the repetitive nature of his work as a sign of autism. He was also known for providing monosyllabic responses to interview questions, which might have been due to autism.

13.  Stephen Wiltshire

Stephen Wiltshire is a British architectural artist who became a household name due to his photographic memory. He can tap into his memory to draw complete city skylines. He now has a gallery and has contributed numerous pieces to the art world.

He received his autism diagnosis when he was only three years old. Language was difficult for him early on, but that didn’t slow him down. He created his first commissioned piece when he was eight and had been going strong ever since.

14.  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein is often considered the greatest philosopher of the 1900s. His genius was clear in the early days, when he made a sewing machine at the age of 10, using his own design for the project. While his mind was agile, he had trouble making friends and was often teased.

His contributions to ethics, logic, and metaphysics are still important to this day. Along with his work, experts have been discussing the possibility that he was autistic.

15.  Amadeus Mozart

A child prodigy, Mozart started composing music at the age of 5. His musical memory was like nothing people had seen before. It was clear early on that he was a musical genius.

While autism wasn’t even a concept during his lifetime, experts now believe that he was on the spectrum.

Mozart was bothered by loud sounds and had trouble controlling his impulses. You can also find lots of repetition in his musical pieces. Instead of hindering him, the characteristics of autism likely helped him achieve greatness.

How ABA Therapy Can Help Autistic Geniuses

Autistic geniuses can feel like they are trapped in their own worlds. While this can help some achieve greatness, the characteristics of autism can hold others back. In other words, for every Mozart, there’s a musical genius who cannot move beyond the rigidity of routines to compose something great.

Many autistic geniuses find that applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help. Autistic geniuses can use this therapy to improve their communication and language skills. The therapy also boosts focus and memory while decreasing problematic behaviors. It can even help autistic geniuses become more social.

The therapist begins by determining the cause of behaviors. This includes the circumstances under which a patient engages in a behavior. Then, the therapist helps the patient replace problem behaviors with new, healthier options.

After successful treatment, people with autism will have new skills to use in various situations. They will also have finetuned existing skills and should notice a decrease in problem behaviors.

As an autistic genius, this can be quite valuable. It helps people maximize their potential by reducing roadblocks that get in the way of achievements.

Unlock Your Child’s Potential

Atlanta is brimming with potential, and that includes the incredible talents of many autistic children. If you suspect your child might be an autistic genius, don’t let challenges hold them back. At Hidden Talents, our Atlanta-based ABA therapists are passionate about helping autistic children unlock their full potential. We create personalized plans to nurture hidden talents, improve communication, and empower your child to thrive. Contact Hidden Talents today and watch your Atlanta star shine!

Engaging Your Teenager with Autism: Activities and Local Resources for Atlanta

Atlanta is a vibrant city with tons to offer, and that includes exciting activities for teenagers on the autism spectrum.

Engaging your teen in these activities is crucial for developing essential skills and boosting their confidence. This article explores a variety of fun and educational activities perfect for Atlanta’s autistic teens.

If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy agency in Atlanta give us a call.

15 Activities for Autistic Teenagers

  • Board games

Board games are highly beneficial for children with special needs, including autism. Playing board games can help your autistic teen develop skills that are often hard to master, such as concentrating, following the rules, and taking turns.

When choosing a board game to play with your teen, make sure that the game difficulty level suits your child’s ability. 

You may want to start with a simple game that requires only throwing the dice and moving the pawn, such as Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, or dominoes. If your teen has a good visual-spatial memory, they may enjoy playing chess and other more advanced strategy games. Some board games, such as Social Skills Bingo for Teens, focus specifically on teaching social skills, asking questions, and understanding body language. 

  • Painting 

Head to Sam Flex to pick up some paints and unleash your teen’s creative side! For a sensory-friendly alternative, explore the High Museum of Art or let them experiment with apps like Draw Something.

  • Exercising

Teens with autism often have limited motor function, strength, and coordination, all of which can affect their daily life skills and self-esteem. Exercising on a regular basis will allow your teenager not only to improve their physical health, but also to enjoy a variety of activities with friends and family.

Physical activity can also enhance a general feeling of well-being and counterbalance depression and anxiety, in addition to improving your child’s learning and social behavior. Regular physical activity has even been shown to decrease repetitive behaviors like body rocking, spinning, and head-nodding in children and teens with autism. 

The Autism Fitness website offers exercise suggestions suitable for autistic teens and provides many other fitness-related resources for teenagers with autism. 

  • Cooking

Cooking is a soothing and predictable activity ideal for autistic teenagers. Meal preparation is an essential daily living skill that will help your teen become more independent as an adult. What’s more, cooking and sharing meals is also an excellent way to develop social skills. 

Before starting to teach your teen with autism how to cook, make sure to take into consideration any sensory issues, fine and gross motor limitations, and food aversions. The eduAUTISM website offers plenty of recipes for autistic children and teenagers that accommodate different food-related challenges. Here you’ll also find gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free, and sugar-free recipes for children who are on a restriction diet.

  • Reading

Reading should be a part of every autistic teen’s daily routine as it helps develop language and improves learning and comprehension skills. Encourage your child to read a variety of fiction, educational, and scientific books that are easy to understand, but also books that are specifically targeted towards autistic teens. 

AAPC Publishing offers a range of inspirational and informative books for autistic tweens and teens with communication and social skills challenges, such as The Secret Rules of Social Networking by B. Klipper and R. Shapiro-Rieser and Diary of a Social Detective by J. Jessum. 

Brightly has excellent book suggestions for teens with autism, for example The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a 13-Year-Old Boy with Autism by N. Higashida or Anything But Typical by Raleigh Baskin that deals with the topic of fitting in for autistic teens. 

  • Watching TV

Carefully curated TV watching can help your teenager with autism build knowledge and skills that can be useful both in a school setting and everyday life. Through game shows and documentaries, for example, your child will be able to acquire the necessary language skills to discuss a variety of topics with their peers. In addition, selected TV programs can show them how to behave in various situations and help them develop social skills.

  • Video games

Children and teens with autism are often attracted to video games because of their visual nature, structure, and immediate feedback. The good news is, playing video games can be beneficial for your teenager as it encourages the development of problem-solving skills, use of logic, as well as imagination and creativity. Multiplayer and MMO games are excellent tools for improving your teen’s social skills. Video games your teen may enjoy playing include Minecraft, Portal 2, and New Super Mario Bros.

  • Puzzles

Puzzles are an ideal activity for autistic teens as they provide a tactile sensation, while at the same time helping your child improve focus and fine motor skills. Puzzles can also enhance creative and cognitive abilities and can have a calming effect when your teen is feeling restless. Furthermore, completing puzzles together with others can help enhance your teen’s language and communication. Always make sure to choose a puzzle with a suitable difficulty level for your teen and encourage them to talk about what they’re doing while working on the puzzle. 

  • LEGO 

Building with LEGO blocks is a popular pastime among autistic teens. The activity is perceived as structured and predictable because the blocks come in limited shapes and sizes and the building process requires repetitive movements. 

Building with LEGOs can also be beneficial for teens who experience anxiety in social situations, for example, if they are interacting with someone they don’t know well. Studies have shown that autistic children often become more interested in interacting with each other if they are playing with LEGOs. This mode of playing encourages children to use verbal and nonverbal communication skills, share with others, take turns, and use their problem-solving skills.

The Lego Discovery Center hosts weekly meetings for kids of all ages, providing a structured and social environment for building and learning.

  • Household chores

One of the best ways for autistic teens to develop a practical understanding of concepts such as responsibility and sharing is by doing household chores. They can start with simple tasks like putting things in their place, watering plants, or collecting letters from the mailbox. As they get comfortable with chores, you can teach them more advanced tasks, for example, how to make the bed, set the table, clean the house, or cook a simple meal.

  • Listening to music

Many teenagers with autism are emotionally responsive to music, and melodic sounds often capture their attention much better than spoken language. Listening to music is also a powerful multi-sensory experience that can help your autistic teenager reduce anxiety levels, develop their verbal and social skills, and improve memory. In addition, music offers security, comfort and increases self-confidence. 

  • Learning an instrument

Playing musical instruments stimulates the brain to make new connections and strengthens existing ones, resulting in improved mental health and cognitive ability. Besides, it may help your teenager improve fine and gross motor skills as well as posture, concentration, coordination, and creativity. Playing in a musical ensemble can further build social and communication skills. Some of the musical instruments your teen with autism may enjoy learning and playing are the ukulele, guitar, violin, keyboard, recorder, trumpet, and bongos. 

  • Dancing 

Dancing is a fun activity that can have a great impact on your autistic teen’s development. Joining a dance class can be hugely beneficial in improving your child’s concentration and memory, enhancing communication skills, increasing empathy, and developing the ability to adapt to different situations. Dancing and also boost your teen’s body image and body awareness.

  • Meditation

For many teenagers on the autism spectrum, having control over the relationship between their minds and body is a major challenge. Meditation is an activity that can address some critical areas teens with autism struggle with, such as motor skills, sensory issues, and socializing with others. It can show your adolescent how to tune into the present moment instead of getting overwhelmed by emotions. Guided meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, or My.Life—that is created specifically for teens—are excellent options for learning how to meditate. 

  • Animal care

Research shows that interacting with animals significantly improves social behavior in children with autism. Animals can provide companionship to your autistic teen and help alleviate their stress and anxiety. Owning a pet will also foster a sense of responsibility in your child. The most suitable pets for autistic children and teens are older puppies or young dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, pet rats, and fish that your child may find relaxing to look at.

Of course, you don’t need to own a pet for your child to engage in animal care. Your teen can participate in a range of activities involving animals from horseback riding to volunteering at nature centers, fostering kittens or puppies, or working with animals at a local farm. 

How ABA Therapy Can Help Autistic Teens with Their Activities 

ABA is a form of behavioral therapy that focuses on changing unwanted behaviors and reinforcing desirable ones. It is the most widely researched and successful therapy for autism. 

Although ABA is for the most part used for younger children with autism spectrum disorder, adolescents across the spectrum can also benefit from ABA-based interventions

ABA therapy is used to build and improve social and communication skills, as well as daily living skills in children and teens with autism. These skills include everything from understanding social cues such as facial expressions and body language to initiating conversations, responding to questions, following directions, and acquiring basic academic skills. The therapy provides targeted treatment based on your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses.

ABA therapy typically uses positive reinforcement in the form of rewards and other incentives. When a desirable behavior is followed by a motivator, like a special treat or activity, children are more likely to repeat the action. Over time, this method leads to positive behavioral changes.

ABA therapy can help your child experience multiple sensory stimuli in a safe, welcoming environment and ultimately become more focused and better in their activities. ABA therapy has been shown to lead to improvements in skills such as eye contact, language, socialization, on-task behaviors, and concentration, all of which are required for successful participation in various activities your teen with autism engages in.

Behavior is Communication

ABA utilizes the understanding of how behavior develops and is influenced. At Hidden Talents ABA, we believe that ABA is the key to helping children on the autism spectrum succeed, including Enhancing Communication Skills for People with Autism. Learn more about our program at hiddentalentsaba.com.

Children understanding behavior through communication