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Help for Autistic Children

Autism spectrum disorder is an often misunderstood condition. It is a range of neurological disorders that involve some degree of difficulty with communication and interpersonal relationships. In addition, kids with this disorder suffer from obsessions and repetitive behaviors. It is difficult to find help for autistic children, and the burden of this usually falls directly on the parent.

This developmental disorder doesn’t just involve problems relating with others and interpersonal communication skills. Kids with autism think differently than others.  They often see words as pictures, shapes, or colors.  Or, they might hear sounds this way, too, or categorize them in odd ways. 

They might hear sounds in amplification or barely register them at all.  Lights might be so offensive to these kids that they get headaches or might rock repetitively as they try to process this over-stimulation.

Harp Learning Institute in Lodi, California treats autism and helps students gain academic success.

Kids on the spectrum often have fears that seem unreasonable to the rest of us, but to them, these fears are real.  And sometimes, these fears can be debilitating.  This is usually due to heightened sensitivity to visual and auditory stimuli.  

These children will usually pass vision and hearing tests, but still struggle to process visual and auditory information.  Of course, this is because we actually see and hear in our brains and take in light with our eyes and sound through our ears.  

This makes it difficult to navigate life, not to mention learning and academic pressures.


Autism has become an Epidemic!

Unlike other learning disabilities, Autism is on the rise. Affecting more boys than girls, approximately 24.8 million people are affected with it worldwide.  Autism isn’t affected by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background, and although there are some generalities, we know that might cause autism, it is really a mystery as to the true causes.  

More boys than girls are diagnosed with autism, yet we don’t really know why this happens, either.  As of 2018, one in fifty-nine is born with autism.  That’s nearly half the population!  And sadly, schools focus on simply making these kids comfortable instead of giving them a program that will help their sensory and brain wiring differences. 

ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through positive reinforcement.  Many experts consider ABA to be the gold-standard treatment for children with autism, but it only treats a student’s behaviors.  It doesn’t go to the core of the problem and treat it.  

Without Proper Treatment, Their Future is Bleak!

The sooner a child receives treatment for autism, the batter the chances for a normal and happy life.  That’s why we start our autism classes for three-year olds who qualify for our program.  To qualify, the child needs to be able to follow directions and focus long enough to complete simple activities. 

Unfortunately, it’s up to the parent to find programs that help, and there aren’t a lot of useful and affordable programs available.  It’s too easy to let years pass without treatment and hope for the best.  This is like waiting for a fire to put itself out!  Especially when these kids can do so much!  The goal is to get help for autistic children so they lead a normal and productive life. 

Harp Learning Institute will help children with autism through our five-step sensory based program.

About half of autistic adults are unemployed, while one third of those with high school diplomas may be unemployed.   Among those on the spectrum who do find work, most are employed in sheltered settings working for wages below the national minimum. 

While employers state hiring concerns about productivity and supervision, experienced employers of adults with autism generally give positive reports of above average memory and orientation to detail.  In addition, these employees show a high regard for rules and procedures.

Repetitive Behavior and Help for Autistic Children

Children with autism will often engage in repetitive behaviors such as lining up toys in a row or flapping their hands back and forth.  The “flapping” behaviors are called stimming because the child is making an effort to stimulate her nervous system. 

Sometimes the child will engage in compulsive behaviors like repetitive hand washing.  Routines can be a thing these kids will fall apart over. 

They crave routine in almost everything they do.  

Harp Learning Institute offers help for autistic children.
  • There can be a huge variance in the amount of stimming or obsessive-compulsive behaviors a child with autism might engage in, depending on environmental factors, degree of the disorder, and how severe his sensory issues are. 
  • Autistic children can display a multitude of repetitive behaviors.  The Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R) categorizes these behaviors as:
  • Stereotyped behaviors – repetitive movements such as body rocking, hand flapping, or head rolling
  • Compulsive behaviors – these are time consuming behaviors children with autism engage in to reduce anxiety.  They might put items in a row or stack things one on top of the other.  They might need to check to see that the door is locked over-and-over or wash their hands repeatedly.
  • Sameness – this is a resistance to change.  Kids with autism might get upset if they miss their favorite cartoon or refuse to let the furniture be rearranged.  They become rigid in their schedule to create order in their world.
  • Ritualistic behavior – this type of behavior is similar to sameness.  The child has unvarying daily activities, such as foods he’ll eat or clothes she’ll wear.  Once again, the child is trying to place order in a world that is chaotic and frightening. 
  • Restricted interests – these kids will have fixations on one item or an intensity of focus on something.  For instance, the child might be obsessive about trains or a single television program, toy, or game.  Some kids like certain animals or events and can tell you almost every fact about them.  These kids might carry a book about sharks with them everywhere they go or latch onto a toy like it’s a lifeline.
  • Self-injury – some but not all autistic children engage in self-injurious behaviors.  They might poke themselves in the eyes, bite their fingers, or bang their heads against a wall.
Children with autism are full of fears and frustrations. Harp Learning Institute uses brain-based learning and a seven step program that helps them function and do well academically.

Degrees of Autism

Most people are aware that there are degrees of autism, that there is a giant spectrum, and a child can fall anywhere on this continuum.  This is what makes it difficult to treat autistic children.  What works for one child might not work with another, although different treatments offer help for autistic children.  

To make matters worse, autistic children will have one “learning sense” that is significantly stronger than the other.  Through Lisa’s work with autistic children, she found that autistic students who are nonverbal have a stronger visual sense.  Those who can talk and communicate have a stronger auditory sense. 

Another thing Lisa discovered when working with autistic children is that their visual processing skills needs to be strong before “plugging” in their auditory processing skills.  Sometimes, it can take as long as a year of steady work to get a student up to speed in visual skill before the “miracle” of making strides in auditory processing skills occurs.

No matter what the student’s primary learning sense is, the Bravo! Learning System self corrects for any differences each autistic student might have.  Each skill in the program has a micro-skills test, and if the student doesn’t pass the test, she simply keeps practicing until she can pass the test. 

Of course, autistic students benefit from the brain integration exercises in the Bravo! Learning System where new neural pathways are built.  The only difference between an autistic student and one with another learning disability is the amount of time spent on specific skills in building these new neural pathways in the brain. Always remember; there is help for autistic children.

Harp Learning Institute in Lodi, California offers for autistic children.

Don’t Push on These Kids!

More than any other learning disability, kids with autism live in a constant state of fight or flight.  Because of this, you can’t push on these kids.  It just doesn’t work.  They might rebel by throwing a temper tantrum or they might retreat into themselves. 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have expectations and goals.  This doesn’t mean that you should let them sit in a room all day with an iPad or let them play video games hour after hour.  These kids are smart and can learn. 

They just need a step-by-step process where they start with easy skills they can master, those sub-skills the Bravo! Learning System is rich in, then given the chance to slowly build those sub-skills into major skills.

Kids with autism are smart and will surprise you on what they can learn if given the right set of tools, a loving and nurturing environment, and structure.  Kids with autism like to be given choices and they like to know what’s expected of them.  They like to know their routine will be fairly predictable and most of all…they love to be listened to! 

Lisa explains, “Kids with autism are so much fun.  They love to tell you about experiences they’ve had – both bad and good.  If you are a good listener to these kids, you’ll build trust with them and after that, magic happens!”

Kids with autism are often mistreated and misunderstood.  At Harp Learning Institute, we offer help for autistic children.

Mistreated and Misunderstood

Kids with autism are often misunderstood.  People think that they aren’t smart, when in fact, they’re often brilliant.  Of course, since they are usually weak or overly sensitive in auditory and visual processing skills, they often score low on IQ tests. 

This sets these children up for failure, because everyone thinks they aren’t smart, when in fact, they are.  

A child with autism has feelings.  Even though they might not understand that others have feelings, they are often locked into their own set of feelings.  If an autistic child feels like she can’t trust you, then you won’t make progress with her.  She’ll dig in her heels and refuse to do what was asked. 

These hyper-sensitive kids will go to the moon and back for you if you are trustworthy.  They build bonds with their parents and their siblings and will often choose a select few people out in their “world” to trust.  At times, this can’t be explained. 

Teachers at Harp Learning Institute work had to help autistic children overcome learning challenges.

“It’s like they can see right into your soul,” Lisa explains.  “Few people stop to think about what these kids might be going through.  I’m amazed that many of them can get through a day as well as they can.”

“These are fatigued learners who are often mistreated and misdiagnosed.  They are usually placed on heavy ADD/ADHD medications in an effort to get them under control.  This is so sad, because there’s so much passion and life inside these kids if you can carefully unpeel their layers of frustration and mistreatment.”

Kids on the spectrum have so much to say.  They just want to be heard.  They want to let you know what they’ve been through and want to share their unique talents and personalities with you.  We need to listen to them and let them contribute, whether it’s sharing facts about sharks or drawing beautiful pictures.  

There’s a Better Way!

At Harp, we agree that ABA can be beneficial, but we also believe that kids with autism can learn to process visual and auditory information so that it isn’t painful.  We have been treating kids and adults with autism for twenty years with tremendous success. 

Children and teens who couldn’t speak not only learned to talk and communicate but read, write, spell, and perform math computations and equations.  

Autism can be treated. 

We do it every day at Harp Learning Institute. The only difference between treating a child with autism and those with other learning disabilities is the amount it takes for them to reach grade level success.  At Harp, we have a level full of sub-skills that students with autism need to build a strong learning and communication foundation.  

In addition, these kids need choices. 

They feel powerless in a world they don’t understand and have a hard time navigating in.  Can you imagine if you were dropped off on another planet where you didn’t understand the language, the rules, or the system? 

And there were loud noises and bright lights, making it hard to navigate and understand what was expected of you?  Do you think you’d have an easy time of it?

Children on the spectrum need compassion. 

Children with autism need to be given choices and need to know when they’ve done something right so they can keep doing it.  They also need a sensible set of rules and a routine they can understand and predict.

“I’ve found most kids on the spectrum are eager to please once you build up a trust system with them.  It’s odd, but one component of that trust system is the follow-through,” Lisa explains.  “These kids will test you.  If you tell them that their time is up for an activity and that you’re going to take the blocks (or whatever it is) away, then you’d better take those blocks away.”

Most kids on the spectrum are eager to please, but they are often in programs that don't work for them.  Harp Learning Institute helps kids with autism overcome learning challenges.