How to React when your ASD child is Rebuked

As the weather gets warmer, more park visits and outdoor activities are expected. But for parents of neuro-divergent children, this outdoor migration brings a whole new slew of challenges. What is important to know about neuro-divergent children is that they are diverse, hence the name. While most parents struggle with parenting in public (think meltdowns in the middle of the grocery store), parents of children with ASD have the additional challenge that while their child may often look to the outside observer as neuro-typical, they, in fact, are not. These children look and act “regular,” until they simply cannot do so.

According to Disabled World, about 10% of the population has some invisible or hidden disability. The more social aspects of spring mean that more people are seeing, reacting to, and, unfortunately, judging your child. For parents of children with hidden ASD, this can cause them to over-discipline their children in public. However, for these children, their behavior is not an issue of discipline, but rather how they cope and deal with the world due to their neurological realities.

For an ASD child, an outing can provide many challenges. They may have sensory processing disorders, anxiety, and sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises, all of which will affect the child’s behavior. In addition, children with ASD are more prone to tantrums and generally have longer-lasting meltdowns than their neuro-typical peers. In addition, neuro-divergent individuals can be less mature than neuro-typical children. Therefore, behavior that may be inappropriate for a neuro-typical child at a certain age can be entirely acceptable for the same-age child with ASD.

The lack of awareness of these hidden disabilities has become increasingly more evident with the recent issues many parents of ASD children have experienced while flying due to public transportation mask mandates. While children with ASD were often excused from wearing masks without a visible disability, many parents were reprimanded for not having their child wear a mask, which can be highly challenging for a child with ASD.

So what should a parent of a child with a hidden diagnosis do when those angry glares and condemning whispers (or outright unsolicited and rude advice) are directed their way?

#1- Be upfront about your child’s diagnosis

Unfortunately, the stigma still associated with an ASD diagnosis causes many parents not to inform others of their child’s diagnosis. However, keeping a child’s diagnosis secret does a disservice to both you and your child. When you are comfortable with your child’s reality, you can give them the tools to truly thrive and grow. Informing friends and family (and sometimes judgmental strangers) of your child’s diagnosis can allow them to handle the situation with your child correctly.

When confronted with someone who feels your child is misbehaving for the setting, their age, or around their peers, calmly explain that your child has ASD. Explain how your child may look like their child on the outside. However, their diagnosis does not allow them to interact with the world in the same way.

#2 – Realize that their reaction is out of ignorance, not malice

Most people are not mean; they are simply uneducated about ASD and all the various forms it can take. Realizing this allows you to handle the situation without embarrassment or anger. Your child has ASD, and this is not something to be embarrassed about. ASD and the behaviors associated with it are not in any way a reflection of your parenting skills. Meltdowns or other behavioral issues can be unpredictable and out of your control, but educating the unknowing bystander(s) about your child’s condition is. Which brings us to our next point…

#3 – Use the opportunity to educate

In explaining your child’s diagnosis, you have hopefully created one less uneducated and intolerant person in this world. They, in turn, may find themselves witnessing another child’s meltdown or tantrum and can react emphatically, offer to help the parent involved, and even educate others on the proper way to respond to a child who might have a hidden diagnosis.

With the knowledge gleaned from raising your child with ASD, you are these individuals’ best resource to learn more about ASD. Therefore, do not take offense at their questions (no matter how insensitive they may seem), but instead view these questions as an opportunity to teach them how to react and interact with ASD individuals.

If you’re overly ambitious, you can create business cards with some links to resources that these confused bystanders can visit to find out more information about ASD.

#4 Take baby steps

The best way to avoid these meltdowns in the first place is to work on desensitizing your child to any sensory overload or other triggers that may cause them. Start off by showing them pictures of the playground or park you’re going to. Follow that by showing them the park by driving by it so that they can experience it with the safety of the car window, separating them from any overwhelming experience.

Once you feel your child is ready to go, plan ahead. Let them know that they are going on to the park at this specific time and specify after which part of their routine they will be going, so they know precisely when you will be going. 

Try to go at times when the park isn’t too packed, and start off staying in the park for short periods of time, gradually adding more time to the length you stay. You can also bring along your child’s favorite comfort  object or toy while he is at the park.

Recognize your child’s sensory areas and avoid those areas on the playground.

#5 – Remember you’re doing the best you can

Inevitably, your child will have a meltdown. Which child doesn’t? And inevitably, there will be someone who will be judgmental or respond negatively. Isn’t there always? Never let someone else’s perception of you or your child affect how you perceive yourself or your child. Focus on your child’s progress rather than their setbacks, and acknowledge that you are doing the best you can for your special child and the rest of your family. Be proud of your wonderful child and the amazing job you are doing raising them, and you will persevere even in the face of unwarranted criticism.

So get out there, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and never let having an child with ASD stop you from interacting with the world at large.

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What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have been an RBT for over 3 years. I have worked in a clinic, in home, and in a school.

Reese Lytle

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I want to make a life long difference in people’s lives. I want to help give people a voice.

Do you have any special areas of interest?

I am an RBT and love working with kids.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I’m and RBT and have my CPR certification.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about helping children gain their voice and learn how to cope.

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

Watching children grow and learn skills (big and small!)

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love working with a team and watching my coworkers grow in experience and be able to see their kiddos grow their skills too.

sierra

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I chose this career path because ABA truly is changing the lives of many which that inspires me on a daily basis. Getting to see the growth in clients firsthand is such an incredible feeling of success and happiness. Not only does ABA change the lives of clients, but their families & friends as well :)

Do you have any special areas of interest?

I find working on language with clients to be very interesting and fun! I can still remember the excitement I felt when my first nonverbal client became echoic and then began talking independently. I have also become very interested in the admin side of ABA as it is intriguing to see behind the scenes to it all!

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have worked with clients in home settings, school settings and clinic/center settings. I’ve worked with kids anywhere from 2 years old to 13 years old, some being verbal and some being nonverbal. I have even worked with children outside of the autism spectrum, that have ODD.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I am RBT certified as well as QBS certified.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about all aspects of my career in ABA! I have found passion in every direction it has taken me.

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

I enjoy the positive environment that has been cultivated (:

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I saw how life-changing ABA therapy can be for individuals and their families after starting an internship where I received my RBT certification. I then changed by career path from pursuing social work to becoming a BCBA!

Do you have any special areas of interest?

Practical Functional Analysis and Skill-based treatment, toilet training, food toleration, AAC communication

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have experience working in a variety of settings such as in-home, center, and school-based which has taught me how important generalization and adequate parent/caregiver training is. I have used progressive ABA procedures such as toilet training using a moisture-sensing alarm, gradual food toleration, and skill-based treatment I believe my background in social work/therapy allows for a different perspective when conducting parent trainings in meeting them where they are at.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

– Practical Functional Analysis & Skill-based Treatment – Level 2 certification – Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) – Advanced Toilet Training Strategies for Children with Developmental Disabilities

What are you passionate about?

At work: Helping clients and parents achieve new goals, especially ones that increase a client’s independence and reduce stress on their parents/caregivers. Personal life: I love coaching volleyball and helping provide young girls with skills to be not only a good player but also be a good teammate and friend!

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

The support and team mindset everyone shares! I know that I can go to anyone at the company and ask for help and they will make time to ensure I feel supported and prepared to help my clients/families and RBTs. I am also grateful and excited about the new opportunities that I have been given in supervising staff that are pursuing their BCBA license and aftercare program!

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

After completing my Master’s in Counseling Psychology, I always looked for something more. When I encountered the science of applied behavior analysis, while working in a school setting, I found a field of study that made sense and left me wanting to follow that path. It had given me the opportunity to watch my clients learn skills and progress in so many ways. I knew ABA was the right choice for me.

Do you have any special areas of interest?

Functional Communication and Activities of Daily Living

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have worked in field of ABA since 1997 beginning in a school setting with children ages 3-21. I have also worked with adults in their homes and day programs for many years.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

CPR/First Aid, Certified Trainer for Crisis Management: Verbal Intervention, Personal Control, and Defensive Techniques in Crisis Situations

What are you passionate about?

Teaching our learners to advocate for themselves and live as independently as possible.

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

We are given opportunities to practice in an ethical and supportive environment with ongoing professional development. I love that across the company, my colleagues share similar values. It is a privilege to work side by side with our families in their homes to improve the lives of our learners.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?

I worked in the field of special education for many years and appreciate the targeted support that kids get with ABA to learn the skills they need to be able to navigate the world and enhance their lives.

Do you have any special areas of interest?

Social skills, mental health

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I worked as a education as a special education administrator for over 15 years.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I also hold a Pupil Services Administration license with the Ohio Department of Education

What are you passionate about?

personal growth and meditation

What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

I love working with a great team that is always looking to support each other.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?
I am passionate about helping families thrive with their autistic child.
Do you have any special areas of interest?
I enjoy the science behind the development and growth in people.
What varied experience do you have in your field?
running programs.
What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?
I have a bachelors and RBT certification.
What are you passionate about?
enjoying life and being optimistic
What do you enjoy most about working at Advanced Behavioral Therapy?

Their honesty and integrity.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in ABA therapy?
I wanted to work with children with special needs to help improve their quality of life.

Do you have any special areas of interest?
In ABA, I’m very interested in developing language and applying ABA outside of autism (health, fitness, animals, etc.)

What varied experience do you have in your field?

I have worked in residential treatment, as a behavior specialist in a school environment, as a case manager for home based cases in ABA, and now in a center operations capacity.

What licenses, certifications and/or special training do you hold?

I am a BCBA and COBA. I have been certified in CPI, TCI, and am currently certified in QBS. I’ve also been a TCI trainer. I have taken a variety of CEU courses to learn about SBT, ACT, and ABA in fitness.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about supporting client to meet their needs. I enjoy problem solving and troubleshooting skills that clients are having difficulty with. I always enjoy seeing a troubleshoot have success :)

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