Autism Resource blog:

Parent Support University: Week 26

Oct 5, 2020
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Speaker 1 (00:01):

All right. My name is Adam Dreyfus and I am the chief science officer of AnswersNow. And one of the co-founders, this is a, it says we're live. Our live parents support a university here on Friday night six o'clock Eastern time, three o'clock Pacific time. I will say if you've done any videos live on Facebook, they changed the interface almost every time I come on. So it takes it a second. What is AnswersNow? What are we doing here? Well, I've got, I've got my AnswersNow t-shirt on which says that we are official AnswersNow is a service that connects parents directly with a BCBA. So we've been around for about four years. Started as a chat service where we just wanted to make sure that a parent had somebody like in their pocket, right?

Speaker 1 (00:52):

Like that's the biggest issue that a lot of parents face is they see their clinician once every two weeks, once a month. And they got their kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and stuff comes up pretty frequently. And they're just not that many BCBAs out they're board certified behavior analysts out there. So we've been around for about four years. Now we're taking insurance we're doing direct service via telehealth. We're entirely a tele-health company. So everything we do is a through a device of some kind, right? Like your phone or a laptop or a computer. So we're doing direct services now, parents support taking insurance, and taking Medicaid. And what we've been doing through the pandemic here through the COVID 19, that we've all been in since March, is this the parent support university where once a week we've been taking one of the evidence-based practices which is I'm already getting kind of jargony.

Speaker 1 (01:50):

One of the proven interventions that we've got in the ABA applied behavior analysis, as it relates to individuals diagnosed with autism. And just talking about a little bit, just deconstructing it, because one of the things that we hear all the time from parents in addition to I'm super stressed out, I'm really overwhelmed. And I'm feeling very isolated is once they get connected and start sort of entering this world it's super jargony and it's overwhelming, and there's a lot of barriers to entry. One is you don't get to see your BCBA very often. The other is BCBAs send you homework assignments, articles to read videos to watch and parents, like, it's just kind of too much. I don't even know what some of these words mean. So parents support university we've been doing for the last six or seven months once a week has been taking those, those jargony kind of things like today we'll be talking about visual supports.

Speaker 1 (02:45):

Yeah. That's one of those ones that sounds pretty straightforward, right? Visual supports. I think I have an understanding of what that is, but we're going to tell you exactly what it means. We do encourage you to check out, where you can find out more information about us. You can, you can sign up, you can see if you qualify through our eligibility form through, you know, if your insurance covers us you can check out our blog. You can, I've got a whole bunch of these kinds of videos on there. But just learn a lot more about us. We also have a contest going right now for kind of like a back to school packet. And so we encourage you to check that out, let me make sure I have the exact right address for that.

Speaker 1 (03:32):

So that's And so it's a back to school package worth over 500 bucks. It's got all kinds of stuff. It's for only right now for Virginia residents we are a Richmond based company. And so it's just for Virginia residents but definitely check us out, And what exactly is this a parent support university? What are these evidence-based practices? So I want to definitely give credit where credit is due. So what we've been doing, and I explained this in most of the videos is I want to say 10, 12 years ago, maybe a group of universities got together and were like, all right, what do we just know works for kids on the spectrum? Because if you're a parent you know, more than anybody that about every six weeks, there's some new piece of information, some new books, some new video, some new foods, some something that promises, you know, a radical cure.

Speaker 1 (04:35):

And it can be crazy overwhelming for parents and really frustrating. And you go online, you look in on the message boards and you're just trying to figure it out. So they're like, what, what do we know works? Can we tell parents like a hundred percent, this will, this will work if you use it. So they made a list of evidence-based practices. They went and kind of tested those out again, just to kind of make double, triple, quadruple shore. I was actually involved in some of that here in Virginia and some of the school divisions. And so you can go to the website, national professional development center, and they've got these things called the afirm modules, A F I R M. And they unpack each one of these evidence-based practices and show you how to, how to do them, how to collect data on them.

Speaker 1 (05:19):

Each video, each module is probably an hour and a half, two hours, and there's about 25 of them. And these are just these ones what we're doing right now, it's just kind of like a little snippet of it. So visual supports almost all of the time when you hear the term visual supports in this context, right? The context of autism and applied behavior analysis, they need visual schedules and usually like a first then board there are professional first, then boards you can kind of get, so what does that mean? A first then board? This is what it means. It's this simple first the kid whoop, does this read a book? Then they get to go on a swing. Again, there's all kinds of really expensive ones. You can make them yourselves BCBAs tend to have like little, you'll see them like a sheet like this with Velcro and kind of professional pictures on them.

Speaker 1 (06:16):

But actually, I like to just show like that works right. If you've got a piece of paper and you just show, you don't even need like the first then, cause a lot of these kids don't are not reading, but you're just showing them that, Hey, first this thing happens, then this thing happens. And what you're trying to do is just give them a, a sense of a w keep them from having a behavior that can kind of overwhelm the situation, same thing with the visual schedule. And that's exactly what it looks like. It just is a little series of pictures. You see them in classrooms all the time is the best way, right? You know, first we have circle time, then we go outside, then we have a snack. And the thing that you want to remember, the thing that is really key to this is although children and adults on the spectrum have a lot of challenges some more mild, some more severe than others.

Speaker 1 (07:14):

They're generally specifically related to communication, social skills and repetitive behaviors, not tantrum behaviors, but repetitive behaviors that can kind of interfere with other things. They just want to stack blocks or lineup cars or something like that. And so one of their strengths though, is visual. Because, this is a little bit theoretical, but because they struggle with being able to understand what people are saying kind of like you would, if you were in a foreign country and you didn't understand what people were saying, you just tune it out at a certain point. You don't spend the whole time in Italy being like a wonder what they're saying, let me listen a little harder. You're like, I just don't know Italian. So what would you do? You would rely on your visual skills a lot. You're like, all right, let me, I'm thirsty.

Speaker 1 (08:06):

Or I'm hungry. Let me seek out some way of getting myself you know get me up, get myself a snack. So you're looking for visual cues. You're looking for a sign for a restaurant or a sign that shows you as someone holding a cup of coffee. Kids on the spectrum tend to be really, really strong at this because a lot of the other things require a lot of work and it can be frankly kind of exhausting for them. They're very, very good at looking around and trying to figure things out. So the more you can kind of support that, cause we're mostly yap, yap, yap talking folks, right? You and if that's a challenge for you, then you rely on the visual stuff. Now we all rely on visual supports all of us stop signs, you know you name it, your calendar is a visual support.

Speaker 1 (08:57):

So visual schedules, visual supports. Here's a really good example. This is one from their website. So this is a visual support for getting a kid to turn off a device. This comes out of the national professional development center packet to help people out through the COVID crisis. I absolutely recommend it. And this is one of the things. So every parent will tell you like, man, it can be really hard to get them to turn off the phone, turn off the iPad, turn off the TV. Again, very visual. What is it about those devices? This is a mild going a little bit off here. Yeah, it's so great. They just watch their iPad. Not all of them. Some could care less about that, but it's the predictability, right? You hit that video, that YouTube video that you've seen a hundred times, it's going to be the hundred first time it's going to look exactly the same.

Speaker 1 (09:53):

You hit Nemo play on Nemo, Nemo is going to happen. That's another thing that, that these kids, like a lot in adults is predictability. We neurotypicals, I'm not super happy with that term, but it's a common term. Tend to be very unpredictable, right? We don't always do what we say. We don't always mean what we say. We don't always, we don't always behave predictably. We, Oh, I'm hungry. I'm going to go over here. This is very difficult for a lot of the kids on the spectrum who really like a nice tight structure. So first then, which I showed you and visual schedule, or is the main way that we talk about visual supports. I run a large school for kids with autism. So here we are in you know, we opened up our school for in-person about three weeks ago and we put in tons of visual stuff, right.

Speaker 1 (10:48):

We put tape on the ground so that they know where to sit. We put arrows in the hallway so that they can be guided to a, it helps them out. We put lots of posters up in the bathrooms, like how to wash hands, how to wear a mask because it's pretty difficult to just tell somebody these things. And so we've definitely upped our entire visual support game at the school. And so just a quick reminder, I'm Adam Dreyfus. I am the chief technical officer, chief technical chief science officer. The chief technical officer just woke up wherever he is and was like, wait, what, what happened? Did I get demoted? Sorry about that Morry. Nope, chief science officer, one of the co-founders of AnswersNow, is where you can find out a lot more information about us and we are right this second.

Speaker 1 (11:41):

I think this is the last day we're running a giveaway for a $500 back to school package, go to And you can enter there. You're feel free to ask any questions. There we go. All right. I can see some of the comments, comments are now on the left side rather than the right side. There's our little back to school packet. Thank you, Mariane, for posting that. Even if you don't have questions about visual supports, which I can imagine, not a whole lot of people do, it's pretty straightforward. And you can definitely go and take the course the afirm modules and learn a lot more about visual supports. But again, it's a pretty straightforward, so feel free to ask questions. And also we want to do more of these, right?

Speaker 1 (12:27):

We used to do these Facebook live events and they would get a fair amount of people kind of go up and down. That's very dependent on the time of day and when we're doing it but what would you like to learn more about what can answers now help you learn a little bit more about, we've got one kind of a bank that we'd like to do in a couple of weeks about just like, what is his behavior? And I know that sounds really simple, like what is behavior, but what we really want to talk about is like, cause we hear all the time, man, this person that came into my house was amazing. Right. They really helped my kid out. They helped them learn how to talk more social skills. And if you can step up back for a second.

Speaker 1 (13:07):

Yes, there generally speaking, like those folks are really amazing. It's nonmedical, right? They're not giving your kid a shot. They're not giving your kid any medicine. It's all just how they interact with the kid. So we want to talk about like, how do they think, right. Okay. That's a little bit of what this parent support university is. Just try to give you a sense of how behavior analysts think, how do they evaluate things? How do they, what are the tools in their toolkit? So it sounds like a simple topic. What about what is behavior? But I'll give you an example of that. Like a little tease kind of coming up. So a lot of times we'll have a teacher or a parent or someone say, I don't know why Adam did, what did he just kinda came out of nowhere?

Speaker 1 (13:52):

Well, a behavior analyst never thinks that, right. There's always a reason. And always a very specific, specific reason, right? Like a very specific reason why somebody did something and it's knowable, we can figure it out. And that is, that's pretty empowering. Right? That gives you a sense of like, Hey, we, we've got this, the other one. Yeah. Anytime anybody's ever doing anything, any kind of behavior it's working for them. And that's really important. Did you think, well, how is slapping yourself in the face working for you? How is running away working for you? How are like all these behaviors that seem really, that are really challenging to deal with mostly to kind of fall in the categories of aggression, like you're hurting somebody else or self-injury, you're hurting yourself. Well, if you come from the position that there is a reason it's work, it is working for them.

Speaker 1 (14:43):

And how do you know what's working for them because they're doing it? That's how, you know, that's the same and it's the same for you. And it's the same for me. And it's the same for everybody. Mariane just very nicely put up the afirm modules in the, in the chat over there on the left. If you want to go check those out, we've been promoting them for the last few months. It's an amazing resource. And our favorite thing about it is it's free. Because we know that in addition to being stressed out, isolated and feeling very much on your own a lot of the therapies are really expensive. And so parents tend to be spent a lot of money out of pocket to support their kids and we try to find as many free resources as we can so that you are not. You don't have to spend on what sounds like a special curriculum that you have to buy.

Speaker 1 (15:34):

You can just go take that for free. It'll make you three-quarters of the way to be in a good behavior analyst. So again, just want to remind you that you can find out more about us at visual supports is what we're talking about today. So this is, I want to kind of go back to this one because it seems very simple. Where are we? And this is a simple countdown and they've even added a highly preferred series of visuals, right? Like if you're not familiar with these you probably don't have kids between the ages of two and seven. But these, these are the paw patrol pups. And so this will draw most kids kind of attention to this. They're like, Oh, paw patrol. And it's just letting them know, like, instead of just coming up and taking something or just using your voice, Hey, I'm going to take away, you know, I'm going to, the iPad goes away in five seconds, there's a countdown, Hey, five, four, three, two, one power off.

Speaker 1 (16:34):

It's a great one. I know tons of families that, this particular support has helped them a lot. And you can go to that the afirm website and download the whole COVID packet support. They've got a lot of visuals in there, a lot of schedules, a lot of stuff to help kids learn how to put masks on how to learn a little bit about social distancing. There are no unteachable kids. That's one of the things that we have definitely come to deeply appreciate cause a lot of the individuals that we engage with on a day-by-day basis especially on the more severe end of the autism spectrum disorder, a lot of doctors and experts have told parents very early on, like, you know, this, this kid's on teachable. You're going to probably want to institutionalize them.

Speaker 1 (17:25):

And I've never met a kid who can't learn. So again, thank you Mariane for putting the comments the links over there on the left, the afirm modules and our back to school. So if you click that back to school link, there and you are a Virginia resident you can see a little picture there, there's backpacks and headphones and all kinds of stuff and $500 worth of stuff in a giveaway. But what is really here for is to let you know that help is a lot closer than you think AnswersNow was born out of frustration with six, eight, 10, 18 month wait lists. That's an unacceptable amount of time to have to wait to get help if your child definitely is in need. And so AnswersNow is all about reducing the barrier of entry to expert help for parents and caregivers out there and doing it in a very easy to use platform.

Speaker 1 (18:25):

So definitely check us out at, I am going to sign off here shortly, but look for us again in this space. We will be back feel free to email us any questions, suggestions that you have about, Hey, I'd like to learn more about this. We're going to be talking about articles. We're going to be talking about sort of how behavior analysts think what parents can do during this crisis, how you can help support kids in school. There's all kinds of topics. But you mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa are at an article, are the expert in your kids. And so you might have even better topics for us. So I want to thank Mariane want to thank all the folks out there who have tuned into this parent support university over the last several months, check us out on our YouTube page.

Speaker 1 (19:17):

But mostly go to find out how to sign up, how to get connected to your own BCBA. You can definitely check out the back to school giveaway. We want to thank you for your time and for your attention. We hope you and your family are doing well in this extraordinarily challenging time. And we look forward to hearing from you soon. So thanks very much. I'm Adam Dreyfus chief science officer of AnswersNow, and one of the co-founders and we will talk to you soon.

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