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How To Help Children with Special Needs Transition to the New School Year   

As the end of summer approaches and the new school year draws near, children with special needs and parents alike may experience a mix of excitement and anxiety about the upcoming changes. Transitioning from a laid-back summer schedule to the structured routine of school can be challenging for many children, particularly those with special needs who thrive on predictability and consistency. As parents and caregivers, we want to do our best to ensure our children are as prepared as possible to be successful. Thankfully, there are proactive steps we can take to help ease this transition and ensure a smooth start to the new school year.  

What Can you do at Home to Help your Special Needs Child Transition?  

transition special needs

Communicate and Prepare:

Open and honest communication is key to helping children with special needs prepare for the school year. Start discussions early, explaining the changes that will occur once school starts. Use visual aids, social stories, or picture schedules to help them understand the daily routine and what to expect in the classroom. 

Reestablish Routines:

During the last weeks of summer, gradually reestablish school-year routines. This includes consistent wake-up times, mealtimes, and bedtime schedules. Predictability and familiarity can help reduce anxiety and provide a sense of security for children with special needs. 

Visit the School:

If possible, arrange a visit to the school before the first day. Walk through the building, visit the classroom, and meet the teacher. Familiarizing the child with the school environment can alleviate anxiety and help them feel more comfortable on the first day. 

Encourage Social Interactions:

For some children with special needs, social interactions can be challenging. Organize playdates with classmates or participate in school-sponsored activities before the start of the school year. Building social connections in a relaxed setting can foster friendships and ease the transition into the school community. 

Develop a Transition Plan:

Collaborate with the child’s teachers and school staff to develop a personalized transition plan. This plan may include gradual integration into the school setting, shorter school days initially, or additional support services as needed. Individualized attention and support can significantly reduce the stress of starting a new school year. 

Address Specific Concerns:

Identify any specific concerns the child may have and work together to find solutions. For instance, if the child is worried about changes in the daily routine, create a visual schedule they can refer to throughout the day. Addressing these concerns proactively can help alleviate anxiety and promote a positive mindset. 

Create a Back-to-School Countdown:

Use a visual or interactive countdown to the first day of school. This can be a fun and engaging way to build excitement and anticipation for the upcoming school year. 

Encourage Expressing Emotions:

Let the child know that it’s normal to have mixed feelings about starting a new school year. Encourage them to express their emotions and actively listen to their concerns. Offering support and understanding can help validate their feelings and build their confidence. 

Positive Reinforcement:

Offer positive reinforcement and praise for any efforts the child makes during this transition period. Celebrate small victories, such as successful playdates or positive interactions with classmates. Positive reinforcement can boost their self-esteem and motivate them to face new challenges. 

Conclusion

The transition from summer ending to school starting can be a significant milestone for children with special needs and their families. By implementing these practical strategies and providing consistent support, parents and caregivers can help ease the anxiety and uncertainty that may accompany this transition. Through open communication, personalized planning, and a nurturing environment, children with special needs can embark on the new school year with confidence and enthusiasm, ready to embrace the opportunities for growth and learning that lie ahead. At The Oxford Center, our BCBA’s are knowledgeable and experienced with helping your child transition from summertime to school time and are ready to help your child achieve all of their goals. To learn more about our ABA program, click the link below. 

Our Indoor ARTS Playscape: Combining Fun & Learning 

The Oxford Center has a very exciting new addition- an approximately 960 square feet indoor playscape for our Brighton location! This playscape has been a long process of picking out the perfect model and features, patiently tracking its shipment process, and then watching excitedly as it was being built! We know this playscape is going to be so much fun for our kiddos! Our playscape features a climbing rock wall, multiple slides, a ball pit, a swing, an obstacle course, and more! With so many great, fun features, we know this playscape is going to be a great addition. But is there any point to it beyond just being fun? Absolutely! The playscape is going to be a huge asset to our ARTS programs. 

What is our ARTS Program?   

Our ARTS program stands for Autism Recovery Thru Synergy. At The Oxford Center, our synergistic approach to autism is unlike any other ABA center. We use every tool in our belt to help our kids grow and develop as much as possible. We know that many kids coming to us for ABA services will also benefit from services like Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Occupational Therapy. So, we have incorporated all of these therapies into one program so that we can provide each of our kids with the best possible individualized experience.  

How will the playscape be used in ARTS?  

When picking out our playscape and all its features, we made sure to put careful thought into how the playscape would be able to benefit each therapy in our ARTS program. We want our kids to have fun and enjoy their time here- but it is also important to us that they are learning, and that we are doing everything we can to help them as well. Here are the benefits and learning opportunities our playscape will have for our ARTS program:  

-Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy:

ABA offers a huge wealth of opportunities for growth through our playscape. Our kids will be able to practice waiting, requesting preferring locations, shoes and socks on and off, turn taking, peer play, requesting actions, requesting actions from peers, transitions from preferred locations, requesting help, identifying emotions, and more!

-Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy:

Our playscape will help to develop key skills in both physical therapy and occupational therapy. These include practicing skills like vestibular input which will allow kids to practice for changes in their position, movement, or direction of the head. They will also be able to practice motor planning while playing which allows them to remember and perform body movements to fulfill a task, dynamic balance which will allow our kids to practice remaining standing and stable while engaging in play, practicing coordination, kinesthetic awareness which allows practice sensing the position and movement of their own body, strengthening muscles, and lots of practice with sensory processing and visual-spatial awareness skills through each of our playscape features.  

-Speech Therapy:

In speech therapy, our playscape will offer fantastic opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions involving turn-taking and sharing. They will be able to increase functional play skills by sharing and taking turns in things like waiting their turn to go down the slide, use the ball pit, sharing balls, etc. They will also be able to increase their expressive language skills through utterance length and labeling skills to express their wants and needs, whether that be verbally or through an AAC device.  

Conclusion

In conclusion, the addition of our indoor playscape at The Oxford Center’s Brighton location signifies more than just a physical expansion; it symbolizes a commitment to innovative and holistic autism therapy. Through this vibrant playscape, we are exemplifying how learning and development can be intertwined with play and fun. By providing a nurturing environment that sparks curiosity and excitement, we are able to foster an atmosphere where children can flourish and reach their fullest potential. As we look ahead, the playscape represents a bright future for autism therapy, where innovation, compassion, and the power of play combine to create a world of possibilities for the children in our care. 

Check out our timelapse video of the playscape being built!

What’s Going on in Camp ABA?  

Our Camp ABA program is in full swing for the 2023 summer season! Our Camp ABA program is a summer program designed for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This program offers a fun and educational way to spend the summer practicing social, emotional, and learning skills. Camp ABA is a summer Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program that aims to give kids all the experiences of a camp-like atmosphere while still going through a top-notch ABA program! We have had some really fun and educational themed weeks so far and we are so excited for the weeks we have in store still! 

Week One: “Saved by the Bell” 

We kicked off our first week of Camp ABA with a “Saved by the Bell” theme! This week kids truly celebrated the start of summer by making graduation caps and friendship bracelets, playing with water balloons, playing basketball, having story time and freeze-dance parties, and more! The kids had a great time starting camp and officially kicking off the summer! 

Week Two: “Gardening Week” 

Going into our second week of camp, the kids had a great time continuing their fun and learning. We enjoyed a gardening theme this week, and I think it’s safe to say the kids had a great time! For gardening week, the kids had fun with a flower scavenger hunt, veggie tasting, painting garden stones, learning to weed a garden, making fairy jars, and more! Move over Mom, we saw a few green thumbs starting to come out! 

Week Three: “Down on the Farm” 

Week three of Camp ABA was dedicated to a “Down on the Farm” theme! The kids had a great time experiencing some country-living activities and we loved seeing how much they enjoyed it! Our kids got to imitate shearing sheep and milking a cow, playing kickball, making Juneteenth flags, line dancing to Old MacDonald Had a Farm, and more! These kids are ready to move into some nice country-living! 

Week Four: “Under the Sea”  

Finally, week four of Camp ABA is going to the ocean with a “Under the Sea” theme! Our little sea creatures are going to have a great time diving into all of the activities we have planned. The kids are going to get to go on a sea creature scavenger hunt, learn about ocean layers and currents, coral reef sponge paintings, painting sea turtles and a deep-sea diver, having a Just Dance “Under the Sea” Disney Party, and more! We are so excited to see how much fun the kids have learning about the ocean and everything in it! 

We Can’t Wait for More!

With about half of Camp ABA in the books, it’s safe to say we are off to a fantastic start! The kids are having so much fun learning and socializing with their fellow Camp ABA-ers! But, even with everything we have already done we are still just getting started! We have loads of fun themes left for the kids to experience and we can’t wait to share all of the fun with you! 

Empowering Children with Cognitive Impairments During Summer 

Summer is usually a time full of relaxation, time to spend with family and friends, and plans for great vacations. This isn’t usually the case for parents of children with cognitive impairments, though. For these parents, they know that summer is going to be much more difficult for their child and their family.  

What Difficulties do Children with Cognitive Impairments Face During Summer?  

  • Routine: Children with cognitive impairments thrive under a regular schedule where they, at least roughly, know what to expect and when. So, when a child has been in school for 8 months out of the year they get very used to their routine while in school. Then, once summer begins, they suddenly have to learn a whole new routine! The sudden change can feel uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and intimidating. This dysregulation can cause them mental and emotional stress, making this a difficult transition period. 
  • Lack of Social Opportunities: Many children with cognitive impairments have some challenges associated with their communication and social skills. While in school, they have ample opportunities to grow and practice these skills but once they are home for the summer, those opportunities are most likely going to be very few and far between.  This sudden decline in opportunities to socialize may cause their overall social skills to decline and they may lose some of the progress they made during the school year.  
  • Loss of Education/Learning: As with any child, the summer months are often filled with deficits and losses of learning. While in school, students are regularly reading, constantly being exposed to new materials and concepts, and gaining new academic skills. Summer is a disruption to this learning that often results in students losing some of the knowledge they gained during the school year simply because they are no longer practicing and thinking about those skills.  

What Can You Do at Home During Summer?  

Create a Schedule & Stick to it:

summer schedule

One of the best things you can do for your child with a cognitive impairment is to create a schedule for the summer months so that they have something to stick to. This schedule could include eating breakfast at a specific time, reading time, educational time, games time, outdoor time, etc. No matter what schedule you decide to create for your child, it is essential that you are consistent and stick to it as much as possible. Being inconsistent with a schedule will lead to poor results and will not help to regulate how your child feels after experiencing disruption from their school schedule. If possible, prepping your child ahead of time to make them aware before a schedule change will help them to adjust to new situations with ease and comfort.  

Plan Social Activities:

To help your child continue to maintain and grow their social skills, try to plan different social activities that il allow them to continue practicing these skills. These activities could be things like meeting with a friend to play a game, attending community events at libraries or other public areas, or signing up for summer activities like bowling, gardening, swimming, etc. These opportunities will help improve your child’s communication skills, ensure your child maintains any social and emotional learning they gained throughout the school year, and will help them to feel more confident in themselves and around others.  

Plan Educational Activities:

summer reading

Finally, planning educational activities can help make sure your child does not experience the loss of learning that is common for school-age children over the summer.  Reading with your child and then discussing the book can be a great way to help them practice their reading comprehension skills, doing different science experiments can be a great way to engage your child’s curiosity and learn new science skills, having scheduled match times can help your child advance their match capabilities, etc. The possibilities are truly endless! 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the summer months can present unique challenges for children with cognitive impairments and their families. The disruption of routines, limited social opportunities, and potential learning loss can create additional stress and difficulties during this time. However, there are proactive steps that parents can take to support their child’s well-being and promote continued growth. By creating a structured schedule, planning social activities, and incorporating educational experiences, parents can help their child navigate the summer successfully. These strategies not only provide a sense of stability and familiarity but also offer opportunities for skill development and maintaining progress made during the school year. With thoughtful planning and consistent implementation, parents can empower their children with cognitive impairments to have a fulfilling and enriching summer that contributes to their overall development and happiness. 

Camp ABA: Transforming Summer Break for Children with Autism

For many, summer is a time of relaxation. Children are out of school on summer vacation, parents are planning trips and looking forward to their vacations. But for parents of a child with autism, they might not view summer as such a relaxing time. Suddenly, they need to find care for their child, and they may be worrying about the loss of learning and progress their child will have over the summer. Thankfully, The Oxford Center is offering a one-of-a-kind program that offers these children and families a solution- Camp ABA.  

What Makes Camp ABA Different?

The Oxford Center’s Camp ABA combines traditional ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy with all the best parts of a summer camp! This program is run by BCBA’s in addition to fun weekly activities planned by behavior technicians who have experience in at least two or more of these areas: camp counseling, event planning, teaching, and of course, ABA. These technicians collaborate with the ABA director, Jessica Dodson, as well as a team of BCBAs to integrate principles of ABA into camp activities. Kids are divided into groups for matching ages, skill level, and specific abilities.

Group activities are planned and organized with modifications for each individual group so all kids can participate. Kids can work on the following skills during activities: Receptive and expressive identification, meaningful hand raising, purposeful questions, memory retention, collaborative/competitive play, waiting, standing/walking in lines, group-specific social goals, relationship building, and much more… All through the avenue of play! 

What Can We Expect?

This is not your typical ABA program… Kids in our Camp ABA program benefit from traditional ABA while feeling the excitement of being at summer camp! This program features Natural Environment Teaching and a one-to-one child to behavior technician ratio. Kids will get to meet targets, develop skills, practice modified behaviors, and play with others their age! Every day, they will participate in fun camp-themed activities that are accompanying targeted skills and engaging lessons. 

Last year’s campers had themed weeks like beach week, nature week, space week, camping week, farm week, and more! Every day had fun activities tied to engaging lessons like building a beach ecosystem in a jar tied to a lesson about water safety, planting lima beans in soil tied to identifying safe and dangerous plants, making clay dinosaur fossils while learning how fossils form, making avocado art while learning how to garden, and more!  

How Do I Learn More?

If you want to learn more about our Camp ABA program, click here! Camp ABA runs Monday-Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and is insurance covered with an autism diagnosis! Camp will begin around mid-June so make sure you sign up soon! We understand how challenging summer months can be for you and your child, so we are eager to help! Click the link below to contact us or call us at 248-486-3636 and ask about signing up for camp! Don’t wait to transform your child’s summer break- space is limited! 

TOC Talks Episode 7: “Do You Know Your ABA’s?”

In this Episode of TOC Talks, Andrew sits down with Jessica Dodson, our ABA Director to talk all about what ABA is and what all is involved! They discuss what a BCBA is, how to become one, and what student program we offer to help on the way to becoming a BCBA. Tune in to find out why our ABA program is different from others and how our ABA goes beyond just the program in our center. This is not one to miss!

Check It Out!

Want to learn more about our ABA program? Check out what we have to offer! ABA & Autism Services – The Oxford Center

Check out our episode and don’t forget to subscribe to TOC Talks! We can be found on all your favorite Audio or Podcast platforms as well as video podcasts on our YouTube and Facebook pages! Find us at the links below!

Want to stay connected and up to date on what is happening at The Oxford Center? Make sure to follow our Social Media Pages! If you would like to find our TOC Talks Podcast page, click on the link below.  

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TOC Talks – Do you Know your ABA’s? TOC Talks EP:7 | RSS.com

Gracie Kistner: A Journey to Finding Hope Again 

“I don’t think you realize you’ve lost hope until you find it again.”

-Emily Kistner

If you have been to our Brighton location of The Oxford Center or if you have visited our website, you are probably familiar with Grace Kistner. For those who are not familiar with Gracie, she is an adorable little girl who loves exploring, watching Candy Crush, watching the minnow in the Axolotl tank, and giving hugs. Gracie’s journey began long before discovering The Oxford Center, but it changed her life and her family’s life once treatment began here. 

Gracie’s Beginning

Born at 5lbs 1oz, Gracie was tiny, but always happy and healthy. At 6 months old, she began missing milestones and the doctor noticed low tone. At 9 months old, she still had low tone, head lag, and was not meeting milestones. Gracie began Physical Therapy, and her parents, Andrew and Emily, were encouraged not to worry. Gracie’s parents were often told that every child is different, they grow at their own pace, and that she would probably just catch up one day. 

At 12 months, the developmental delays and low tone continued, and Gracie’s parents found a new Physical Therapy clinic to try, as not much progress was made with the current PT they were in. After several months, Gracie began to make progress, eventually sitting up on her own, but it was slow, and Gracie hated every minute of Physical Therapy. Watching their baby cry through 45 minutes a week of therapy was devastating to Gracie’s parents, but they pushed on, knowing it was what she needed. Aquatic Therapy was mentioned to Gracie’s parents, and as Gracie had loved the water since she was an infant, they enrolled her. Gracie loved it from the first session, and seeing Gracie’s joy and not one tear during this new Physical Therapy brought her mom to tears. 

Diagnosing Gracie

At 24 months, Gracie was still developmentally delayed, still missing milestones, and started displaying spasms and twitches. This led to a new part of Gracie’s journey, with consults to Neurology, Genetics, and Physical Medicine and Rehab. Blood tests were done and an MRI of the brain, but everything came back normal. The lack of answers to explain Gracie’s delays and spasms was frustrating but was the start of a pattern that would be repeated often throughout Gracie’s journey.  

At 3 years old, Gracie was still delayed, still not speaking, and progress was slow, so a new consult was placed to a Developmental Delay Pediatrician. Within minutes of walking into the doctor’s office, Gracie was given a diagnosis of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy. As Gracie’s parents had been told for years to be patient and that Gracie may still just catch up one day on her own, this was devastating. They were told that there was no cure for Cerebral Palsy, and the only treatment was therapies. After learning this, Gracie’s parents began every therapy they could find for her, eventually adding OT, Speech, and Hippotherapy to her current aquatic and clinic Physical Therapy. Gracie began to gain strength in her core, using a gait trainer, and a reverse walker with a seat sling and pelvic stabilizer. Gracie’s parents took her everywhere to let her explore with her newfound mobility using this equipment. Gracie’s parents tried alternative therapies to help as well, including chiropractor and cranial sacral massage. 

Finding The Oxford Center

In December 2019, Gracie’s parents discovered The Oxford Center after a family member heard an ad on the radio about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for Cerebral Palsy. Willing to try anything that could help Gracie, a Discovery Session was scheduled, and an hour drive was made from Toledo, Ohio to Brighton, Michigan to learn more about it. From the moment Gracie’s parents walked into The Oxford Center, they were made to feel at home. Gracie connected instantly with the staff, and this was so important to her parents as they knew she needed to trust and love the people who would be working with her. After learning how HBOT could help with Cerebral Palsy, Gracie’s parents were told about Intensive Physical Therapy that used TheraSuit. Willing to try anything, appointments were scheduled, and arrangements were made to relocate for eight weeks to begin this new journey in February 2020, and oh, what a journey it was. Gracie’s parents found something they didn’t realize they had lost. Hope.  

Wanting to document the therapy sessions and the progress hoped for, Gracie’s parents took pictures and videos to share with family and friends back home who were praying for Gracie. The progress that Gracie made was phenomenal, both from HBOT and TheraSuit. Cognitive improvements were seen as Gracie learned how to safely slide down the stairs, something her parents had worked on for months. Physical progress was seen as she learned to take steps with parallel bars and push from sitting to standing. Gracie’s trip was cut short due to COVID, but her parents scheduled her to return for another round of both therapies in September of 2020, and again saw much progress both physically and cognitively.  

Oxford Kids Foundation

After the second trip for therapies in September 2020, Gracie’s parents wanted to schedule another trip, but as they had paid out of pocket for two rounds of each therapy already in addition to housing and living costs, they were out of money. That was when they heard about the Oxford Kids Foundation. The Oxford Kids Foundation is a 501(3)c non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers that helps provide funding and access to essential therapies that are not covered by insurance in the state of Michigan. Immediately, Gracie’s parents applied for a grant to help with costs for another trip. They were approved for a grant and with the help of a GoFund me started by Andrew’s sister, a third round of therapies began in January 2021 and eventually a fourth round in May of 2021. Gracie’s parents are so incredibly grateful for the opportunities that were made possible for Gracie through the help from the Oxford Kids Foundation. 

Autism Diagnosis

Gracie made incredible progress during her therapies at The Oxford Center, but her parents noticed some things that were concerning. Gracie seemed to be very sensitive to certain sounds, was overly focused on spinning objects, would crawl or walk away from her parents, and many more. She had been evaluated for Autism at age two, but as she looked at the psychologist and reached for her, a diagnosis was dismissed, and her parents were told “Autistic kids don’t do that”. If you are unfamiliar with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it presents differently in girls than it does for boys. Girls tend to be more social naturally, while boys may not be. After learning more about ASD, Gracie’s parents decided to have her evaluated again in June of 2021. This new specialist was experienced in evaluating girls for concerns of Autism, but also separating the characteristics of Cerebral Palsy and developmental delay from ASD. After many questions and an in-person evaluation with Gracie, it was confirmed that Grace was on the Autism Spectrum. This diagnosis added a new path to Gracie’s journey in the form of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  

Gracie is Walking!

During Gracie’s Discovery Session in December of 2019, a nurse asked her parents what their goals were for her. While they had many goals, the primary goal was for Gracie to be able to walk. While she was small at that point, they knew there would come a time when they would no longer be able to carry her, and the ability to walk would greatly change all of their lives. In the fall of 2021, Gracie began walking independently. Her parents will forever remember the “firsts” that happened at The Oxford Center. The first time she stood up from sitting, the first time she stood independently, and the first time she walked across the lobby of The Oxford Center to get to her favorite nurse, Elizabeth. So many firsts that at one point Gracie’s parents weren’t sure they would ever see, and so many “firsts” to come. 

What is Gracie up to Now?

Gracie attends ABA and also has Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. While she is still nonverbal, she is learning to communicate on a “talker” and has been able to make her need and wants known this way. She is continuing to gain strength and new skills, and her parents can’t wait to see what else is in her future. 

Want to Learn More About the Oxford Kids Foundation?

The Oxford Kids Foundation helps hundreds of children, like Grace, get access to the therapies they need every year! This Foundation has the power to change the life of a child, a parent, and an entire family. This mission is one that is close to the heart of us all here at The Oxford Center. That is why The Oxford Center is hosting the Oxford Kids Foundation’s 13th annual ‘Be The Change’ Fundraising Gala

The ‘Be The Change’ Gala will take place on April 22nd at 5 P.M. Buying a ticket to the Gala will get you access to an elegant multi-course plated dinner, access to our live auction, and amazing entertainment. Plus, you’ll have a chance to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. All proceeds from the event go directly towards helping children receive the therapies they desperately need! 

We’re also offering an online auction, open to the public, which includes unique and exciting baskets, vacations, experiences, and more! Even if you can’t make it to the event, you can still bid on some amazing items and help support a great cause. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to give back and have a great time doing it. Visit theoxfordkidsfoundation.org to get your tickets and access the auction today! 

February 2023 Newsletter

Launching our New Nutritional Services

The Oxford Center is thrilled to welcome Nicole Cunningham to our team as the head of our nutritional services program. Nicole is a certified Functional Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (FNTP) and Restorative Wellness Practitioner (RWP). Nicole offers individual and whole group nutrition classes that are highly personalized and customizable to what will best suit each individual. Our nutrition coaching seeks to help you learn more about food and how it interacts with your body, learn what foods and diets will work best for you and your specific needs, and support you on your journey to making ever-healthier nutritional choices. Clients will find that it is empowering knowing that you can change and improve your health without needing help from anything else.    

Nicole’s journey with nutrition began 10 years ago with the birth of her son, Cameron. Cameron was born with over seven true food allergies and about a dozen food sensitivities that caused his body to break out in rashes and made eating exceedingly difficult. She spent countless hours poring over research, trying different foods, and tracking the effects different foods had on her and her son’s body.  Eventually Nicole’s efforts paid off, and she eliminated all but one of her son’s food allergies. Through this journey, Nicole discovered a passion for nutrition and understanding the effects someone’s diet might have on their body and overall health.

Nicole has personally gone through everything a client would go through and is here to help guide every client on their way to understanding food and their body and improving their overall quality of life. 

“TOC Talks” Podcast

The Oxford Center is excited to launch our new podcast, “The Oxford Center Talks” (or TOC Talks for short!). Our new podcast will be released on Thursdays once a week and will be able to be found on all streaming platforms with a video podcast on our Facebook and YouTube page. Every week, follow our Marketing Director Andrew Kistner as he dives into different issues and stories here at The Oxford Center with a new special guest every week! In our podcast, you can hear the personal stories of some of our patients and their journey with The Oxford Center, learn more about how some of our services can benefit different conditions, learn more about some of our staff here at The Oxford Center, discover new techniques and tips to help improve your life, and more! If you have any topics or ideas you’d like to hear about in our podcast, let us know! You can submit any thoughts, suggestions, or questions by emailing our podcast host himself, Andrew Kistner, at andrew@theoxfordcenter.com.  

Check out our first episode below and don’t forget to subscribe! 

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TuneIn

Tips and Tricks for Managing ASD at Home

Any parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) knows what a challenge it can be to manage the condition at home, ON TOP of managing everything else at home. Being a parent is such a wonderful gift, but it is also a full-time job and can be exhausting at times. Adding on managing an ASD diagnosis could very easily prove to be exhausting for many parents. Thankfully, The Oxford Center can share some tips and tricks to help you manage while providing the best environment possible for your children and yourself.    

Jessica Dodson, our ABA Program Director, says “At The Oxford Center, we help create routines within a successful environment to not only help the child grow, but the whole family. I have so many parents that focus on comparing how their child is doing against how another child is doing, so I always remind my parents and caregivers that everyone has their own separate path and journey. Most importantly, remember that we will all make it through our paths with a little teamwork and perseverance.” 

Compass Logo

COMPASS Program Update

Our COMPASS program is underway! All of our students have been working very hard this past month. Our COMPASS program is targeted towards teens and adults diagnosed with autism and other developmental disorders. In this program, we help these individuals learn the skills needed to move on to the next stage of their life whether that be going to and succeeding in higher education, living independently, obtaining and maintaining meaningful employment, and more. 

We talked to Matt Nivison, our COMPASS Coordinator, and he has this to say about the first class of COMPASS students. “The first class is going excellent. I am so incredibly proud of them all. You can see how hard they’re working, how quickly they’re picking things up, and just how much they want this. Every day, they’re actively taking steps to succeed and grow and it’s so cool to watch it happen in an environment where they don’t have to worry about the negative consequences that we all faced in our first jobs. They’re learning what works for them while gaining experience and confidence! It’s really, very cool”. 

The program will run for approximately 6 months, 5 days per week, for 3 hours per day. If you would like to learn more about the program or ask about enrollment, please feel free to contact us at 248-486-3636.

Oxford Kids Foundation Annual Fundraising Gala

Don’t forget The Oxford Center will be hosting the 13th Annual Fundraising Gala Dinner and Auction for the Oxford Kids Foundation on April 22nd! This event is a longstanding and beloved tradition in raising funds to support children with disabilities, chronic illness, and traumatic injuries.  

Tickets for the Gala are available for purchase now. Tickets will feature fine dining, access to our silent/live auction, and drinks will be available. For more information on the Gala and how to purchase tickets, please click here.  

If you or anyone you know is interested in sponsoring the “Be the Change” gala event, please click here for more information or contact andrew@oxfordkidsfoundation.org to look over a sponsorship packet. The Oxford Kids Foundation is also accepting donations of any unique quality to be included in the Gala’s silent/live auction. If you would like to make any item donations to the Gala auction, please contact Andrew Kistner at andrew@oxfordkidsfoundation.org.

We can’t wait to be a part of the change with you!

Tips and Tricks for Managing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at Home

Any parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) knows what a challenge it can be to manage the condition at home, ON TOP of managing everything else at home. Being a parent is such a wonderful gift, but it is also a full-time job and can be exhausting at times. Adding on managing an ASD diagnosis could very easily prove to be exhausting for many parents. Thankfully, The Oxford Center can share some tips and tricks to help you manage while providing the best environment possible for your children and yourself.  

Tips and Tricks to Help you Manage ASD at Home  

  • Establish a routine: Having a structured routine can provide comfort and stability for individuals with autism. Keep a consistent schedule for daily activities, such as mealtimes and bedtime.  
  • Create a sensory-friendly environment: Autistic individuals may have sensitivities to light, sound, and touch. Try to minimize sensory triggers by using soft lighting, avoiding loud noises, and incorporating soft textures in the home.  
  • Use visual aids: Visual aids, such as schedules and diagrams, can help individuals with autism understand and follow routines. Use pictures, symbols, and charts to help with communication and organization.  
  • Encourage independence: Autistic individuals often benefit from learning and practicing new skills. Encourage independence by allowing them to participate in daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning.  
  • Provide a quiet space: It is important for individuals with autism to have a quiet space to retreat to when they become overwhelmed. A designated quiet room or corner can provide a calming environment.  
  • Practice social skills: Autistic individuals may have difficulties with social interaction. Encourage and practice social skills at home by playing games and engaging in conversation.  
  • Implement calming strategies: Autistic individuals may become overwhelmed and need to calm down. Implement calming strategies, such as deep breathing exercises, to help manage emotions.  
  • Seek professional help: If necessary, seek the help of professionals, such as therapists or behavior specialists, to support individuals with autism and provide resources for managing autism at home. 

Managing autism spectrum disorder at home can be a challenge, but with patience, understanding, and the right strategies, individuals with autism can lead happy and fulfilling lives.  

How to Practice Self-Care While Managing ASD at Home

As parents, we love our children and always want the best for them. Sometimes, we get so focused on taking care of our children and families that we forget about taking care of ourselves too. We all know that self-care is the first step in being able to care for someone else, so let’s look at some ways to help take care of yourself first! 

  • Prioritize self-care: Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends. 
  • Seek support: Connect with other parents in similar situations through support groups or online communities and consider seeing a therapist or counselor for individual support. 
  • Practice mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or yoga, into your daily routine to reduce stress and increase self-awareness. 
  • Take breaks: Make time for short breaks throughout the day, even if it’s just a few minutes of quiet time. 
  • Set realistic expectations: Be realistic about what you can accomplish and delegate responsibilities to other family members or caregivers when possible. 
  • Use respite services: Consider using respite services to provide temporary relief and allow for some personal time. 
  • Take vacations: Plan and take regular vacations to recharge and refresh. 

Remember, taking care of yourself is crucial for being able to provide the best care for your child with autism. Prioritizing self-care can help improve your physical and emotional well-being and increase your ability to manage autism at home. 

How Can The Oxford Center Help?

The Oxford Center is dedicated to providing the best possible services for each of our children and helping parents be as successful as possible. In our Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program, we place a focus on not only working with your child to ensure success, but we focus on working with you too. We know that consistency is important for a child with ASD, so we want to make sure we spend time working with parents to go over what their child is learning during ABA therapy and how parents can best support that learning at home.

Jessica Dodson, our ABA Program Director, says “At The Oxford Center, we help create routines within a successful environment to not only help the child grow, but the whole family. I have so many parents that focus on comparing how their child is doing against how another child is doing, so I always remind my parents and caregivers that everyone has their own separate path and journey. Most importantly, remember that we will all make it through our paths with a little teamwork and perseverance.”

Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your child be successful at 248-486-3636.

Does ABA Therapy Cause PTSD in Individuals with Autism?

Some recent studies have shown that ABA therapy may have a link to PTSD in individuals with autism- but is this always accurate? How do you know what is best for your child? How can you find the best, safe, care for them? The Oxford Center can help answer some of your questions!

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis, which is a scientific approach to understanding and modifying behavior. It is often used in the treatment of autism and other developmental disorders. ABA can also help in educational settings to improve academic performance and social skills. ABA therapy typically involves breaking down complex behaviors into smaller, measurable components. It uses positive reinforcement techniques to teach new skills and improve existing ones. There is a wide range of ABA programs available throughout the country, with many programs operating slightly differently from one another.

Research Study Overview

In 2018, an independent researcher named Henny Kupferstein published a research study titled “Evidence of Increased PTSD Symptoms in Autistics Exposed to Applied Behavior Analysis”. This study sent an online questionnaire to 460 respondents to measure the connection of PTSD symptoms with adults and children exposed to applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy in early childhood intervention. According to this study, “Nearly half (46 percent) of the ABA-exposed respondents met the diagnostic threshold for PTSD, and extreme levels of severity were recorded in 47 percent of the affected subgroup” (Kupferstein 2018). The type of ABA therapy used in the study were programs that force eye contact, punish self-stimulating behaviors (stimming), and force participants to work at tables without alternative seating for hours. These programs use both reinforcement and punishment procedures as a way to modify behavior.

Limitations in the Study

This study includes an account of the limitations of the research. The study acknowledges a disproportionate amount of female versus male responders. Kupferstein also writes “These accompanied significant discrepancies in reporting bias between caregivers and ABA-exposed individuals, which highlight the need for the inclusion of the adult autistic voice in future intervention design” (2018).

This study fails to note the dependency on the type of ABA program being described. ABA programs that use punishment methods, force eye contact, provide no appropriate stimulation, etc. are bound to be unsuccessful and psychologically damaging for children with autism and other developmental disorders. The quality of care given to our children matters, always. This study fails to survey respondents who attended a high-quality ABA program that does NOT use punishment and other harmful methods. The research in this study is not accurate or complete for all ABA programs.

What The Oxford Center Offers

The Village of TOC offers the best location in the country for natural environment teaching in our ABA program.

Programs at The Oxford Center are different from the programs in the study. Our ABA program provides the highest-quality care and attention for your children. At The Oxford Center, our synergistic approach to autism is unlike any other ABA center. We provide center-based ABA services and other beneficial therapies like occupational therapyspeech therapyphysical therapy, art classes, music classes and more. We use natural environment teaching (NET) and offer the best facility in the country for NET. NET allows children to learn and grow in a real-life, simulated environment which is extremely important for a child with autism.

The Oxford Center offers The Village of TOC, the only facility of its kind in the US. This is the best location in the country for natural environment teaching. The Village features indoor sidewalks, streetlights, crosswalks, grass, park benches, and roads. Twelve fully functioning retail stores, including a dentist office, hair salon, coffee shop, grocery store, and more, surround our park setting. Our features at The Village of TOC allow individuals to learn in a safe and controlled natural environment. Our ABA program uses NET to teach real-life skills while in a simulated real-life environment. We reward with play to improve social skills all while working to ensure goals. In our park setting, children are able to ride bikes and scooters around the indoor roads to boost engagement.

The Oxford Center Difference

At The Oxford Center, we always put the needs of our children first. We promote skill acquisition with natural teaching techniques and incorporate physical activity and music to teach skills.  Our ABA program encourages attending skills only to the point that allows the child to function successfully across their environments. We promote pivotal response theory, which is a child-directed reinforcement procedure that uses individual interests to reinforce positive behavior. Our program does NOT use any type of punishment procedure… EVER. We seek to create a positive, engaging, and caring environment for our children, always.

Contact our team at The Oxford Center today to discuss the learning possibilities available through our ABA and NET programs. Call us at 248-486-3636 to schedule a no-fee discovery session.

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