Beautiful Minds Blog

Beautiful Minds Center Names Niki Moore as their Shining Star for her hard work and dedication.

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Niki Moore, Behavioral Therapist , Beautiful Minds Center

We are very proud to share with your our first ever SHINING STAR. We would like to honor Niki Moore for her hard work and dedication to Beautiful Minds Center. Niki joined the Beautiful Minds Center team in 2014 as a Behavioral Therapist and is inspired by the work she currently does with our patients. She particular enjoys watching the children and families she works with grow and learn new skills through the interventions and behaviors she incorporates into their sessions. Her favorite part of working with Beautiful Minds Center is the opportunity to make lasting changes to the family unit. She also enjoys working with the Izralson sisters and has learned a lot from the multidisciplinary approach that serves the Beautiful Minds Center patients well.

Niki’s greatest accomplishment has been reducing violent and aggressive behavior in children who struggle with tantrums and rigidity. She feels that aggressive behavior in the home is detrimental to the child and being able to relieve those symptoms with effective strategies allows for a less stressful family environment. Although at times she finds maladaptive behaviors to be a difficult aspect of her work, she contributes staying emotionally and physically grounded to being able to create a space where she can be a model for good behavior. In order to stay grounded Niki takes care of herself. She says “Do not allow the business of life or feelings of guilt to distract you from giving yourself a break. Advocate for yourself. Do something to treat your senses every day.”

When asked how she has seen her work change people’s lives for the better, Niki stated that the most rewarding thing is to see her patient’s start to initiate and engage in interactive play with their peers. She feels extremely proud when one of her patients walks up to a peer and asks them to play.

Beautiful Minds Center would like to thank Niki Moore for her hard work and dedication. Your contributions are changing the lives of our clients and have given them the tools needed to grow, learn and progress.





Errand and Outing Tips for Kids with Autism

Going out with a child that has been diagnosed with autism can be overwhelming for the child and the parent. The child may not feel comfortable in their environment and that may cause them to panic or have a tantrum and their parents are constantly worried about what they will do if their child breaks down in public. Outings don’t have to be scary or cause stress. In fact with the right preparation, outings can be a lot of fun. Here are some tips on what you can do to decrease the level of anxiety in your child when planning an outing.

  1. Let them know what to expect – Setting expectations for your child is a great way to minimize stress and increase awareness of what is happening around them. Start off by letting your child know where you are going and give them visuals so they can better understand what to expect to see when they get there. Take pictures of the places you visit frequently like the park, your favorite restaurant, the mall, your family and friend’s homes etc. Providing this type of support will allow your child to manage outings more successfully.
  2. Involve your child in planning the day – Often parents drag their children with them on errand after errand without allowing them to participate in activities their kids find entertaining. Start your day by letting your child know what you need to do, but don’t forget to allow them to pick a few activities they want to do as well. This way you can get your errands done and your children will be happy because they can (A) be part of the planning process and (B) participate in some fun activities that they enjoy.
  3. What happens if things don’t go as planned – It is important to understand that at times things won’t go exactly as planned. Sometimes your plans will change, other times you will experience delays…It is also important to let your child know if there are changes made to your plans and to help them understand that delays and changes tend to happen. It is always good to have a back-up activity that your child will enjoy in case something like this occurs during your day out.
  4. Ask for assistance/Bring an activity with you– Your child is less likely to break the rules if they are busy. When you are shopping, have them help you pick things out (such as groceries, gifts, clothes etc.)If you are looking for something specific, let them know what it is and have them help you find it. Bring reinforcers, games and toys that they enjoy playing with along with you so that you can distract them or keep them occupied if they start to get fussy. Keeping them occupied and keeping them focused on something decreases boredom and allows for a parent to have additional tome to complete an errand.
  5. GREAT JOB is something all children like to hear – Don’t forget to praise your child for their good behavior. Telling your child they are doing a great job listening, following directions, being kind to others etc. shows them that their good behavior gets rewarded.

Whatever it is that you decide to do with your children, make sure they know what to expect and that they understand that sometimes things change. Involve them in your activities and reward them for good behavior. Most of all learn to be consistent with them so they know that you mean what you say and do what you say. Teaching your child to trust your word is important to a successful day out with your child.

Building Positive Relationships with Peers

Children with autism have a complex nature that is hard for most professionals, parents and teachers to understand, so imagine how hard it is for children to understand the proper way to interact with, and build relationships with children who have been diagnosed with autism. Due to the lack of awareness by peers, teasing and bullying have become major problems at school and affect many children who have been diagnosed with autism. It is important to help your child learn the best ways to react to unkind words and criticism and to know the difference between constructive criticism, teasing, bullying and play. Remember to keep your child’s temperament, age, and their level of communication in mind when working on strategies to help them through difficult interactions in order to build successful relationships and be part of positive social interactions.

Begin by teaching your child self-control to help even out their temperament. Teach them the importance of keeping their cool and reading situations properly. The first thing to focus on is to prevent them from the urge to lash out physically when confronted with a difficult situation. It is important for them to learn how to use their words and to control their energy level.

Teaching your children that it is important to take time to think about a response and to assess their situation is a valuable lesson and will allow them to truly process the situation. Work with them on how to differentiate possible situations and how to read social ques. They should ask themselves questions like: Was the comment they heard truly provoking? Was it a joke? Are they in danger or being bullied? There are many ways that social interactions occur and being able to read the situation properly is very important. Sometimes a simple “Excuse me” or “that wasn’t very nice” is a great responses to social situations that mean no harm. Telling a teacher or parent about a situation where they are getting teased or bullied before starting a fight or reacting in a temperamental way is a good way to handle a potentially more harmful situation. It is very important to understand and determine what an appropriate response to any situation would be and to discuss these responses and possible scenarios with your child.

A great way to showcase several different situations is to role play. This allows you to show your child examples of situations that may happen and practice different scenarios when your child is calm and able to process information. Social stories with visuals are also great tools to showcase different types of social interactions and how they can play out. Making a game out of your social stories can be fun as well. Create several versions of the same scenario and allow your child to pick from a list of options how they would respond. Depending on what they pick, you can change the ending to reflect the consequences of their answers. This will show them both verbally and visually how their actions can affect how others respond. In the end you want to make sure that your child is well rounded, happy and safe and able to interact appropriately with others.