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Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July, but to some parents of children with Autism it's a nightmare!

One of client's mom expressed her concern regarding the fireworks on the 4th of July. Her older son is extremely sensitive to certain sounds including dogs barking, cars, and fireworks. I told her that a lot of children are sensitive to the loud sounds of fireworks. She then explained to me that the severity of the behavior that he displays when he hears the fireworks. He will slam all doors shut, shut all windows, and start screaming and crying. I asked her what interventions she has tried in the past. She said that she has tried putting head phones on his ear. However, he also has sensitivity to touch and so the pressure of head phones really bothered him. So two weeks ago we started introducing the head phones. The first day we started with having him put the head phones on his ear for 5 seconds. We used our fingers as a visual for him to see when the 5 seconds was over. We used a really good reinforcer, his gameboy and utilizing the premack principal. It was a success right from the beginning. I told mom to follow the procedure each time he asks for his gameboy. And each time to increase the time by 10 seconds. And by the third day have him wear the headphones for 1 minute. And by the 5th day have him wear for 5 minutes but this time allow him to play with his gameboy with the headphones pugged into the game. And by the next week have him wear the headphones whenever he wants to play with his gameboy.

I called mom today to check up and see how it's working so far. And good news... her son is now wearing the headphones whenever he plays with his gameboy. Therefore I told her that on 4th of July, allow him to wear the headphones during the fireworks. But I explained to her that this is a temporary solution. She will eventually have to take off the headphones. But try to keep them on as long as possible to at least give her a break from the behaviors.

As a side note, I am not usually her son's therapist. I am her daughter's therapist, but I felt for her when she was explaining the situation to me. So I stayed for 30 minutes after my regular session to work with her son. Her son has been approved for services, but has not started yet.

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