Want your child with autism to see the world? A world champion told us, “Be strong and stay encouraged.” Travels with Autism: Part 2: A Life Lesson


A dream abandoned

When my children were little, I dreamed of taking them out West to see the Rocky Mountains and national parks. My younger son’s autism diagnosis and challenging behaviors put that dream out of mind for years.

This summer an opportunity popped up to go to Wyoming, and off we went, just the two of us. So …

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Want your child with autism to see the world? We used TAGteach for a smooth flight! Travels With Autism: Part 1: The Airplane


Travels With Autism: Part 1 — The Airplane

Over the summer I took my 20 year old nonverbal son with severe autism on a trip to Wyoming. This involved a 3 ½ hour flight from the East Coast to Denver and a 1 ½ hour flight from Denver to Wyoming; it was about six hours of plane travel, not counting time waiting in the airports.

Since my son has lots of experience with 7-hour car trips, I wasn’t overly worried, but an airplane is a different environment, and you can’t just pull over and take a break. I took pains to be prepared and had a plan of positive behavioral supports in place for the flights.

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Autism, finger licking and face rubbing, again! TAGteach victory, again!


A few weeks ago, a behavior popped up after a long absence: finger licking and face rubbing. Having already dealt with this once before, I was ready to tackle it again.

This time, my son (nonverbal, severe autism) added a new twist – a much more complex presentation of this behavior: he licked his fingers and rubbed vigorously around his mouth with one hand, then the other hand, and finished up by frantically rubbing his fingers together. The skin around his mouth was red and rubbed raw, with tiny white blisters popping up on his cheeks.

It took three long walks over three days to address this issue (often I use long walks as a time to work on behaviors). My plan was to tag and reinforce Hands Down behavior, also described in the previous post.

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Autism, the coughing stim, and TAGteach

Children who cough. White isolated studio shots.


Recently my son with autism had a bad flu that lasted for ten days. As his illness unfolded, he developed a deep cough.

Initially, a sick child coughs because of the irritation. However, as many autism families have experienced, a deep cough can turn into an unpleasant self-stimulatory behavior.

Problems of the coughing stim

If this problem develops, you have a situation where the child may walk up to people and cough loudly into their faces or ears, or may cough over someone’s dinner or the produce aisle at the grocery store. It’s unsanitary and stressful for all concerned.

When my son’s cough developed I decided to take action to prevent the possibility of it turning into a stim. With TAGteach I had success in one day.

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“Behavior” is a lightning rod word in the autism community. Are we all on the same page when we talk about it?

Behavior (1)

“Behavior” is a huge concern in the autism community. Yet, when we talk about “behavior,” we’re actually using a technical term that has a specific meaning. Since so many issues in the autism community relate to “behavior,” it’s important that we all talk about the same thing!

The Mirriam-Webster on-line dictionary states that behavior is:

  1. the manner of conducting oneself
  2. anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation
  3. the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment (1)

The Iris Center for the study of disabilities says:

“Behavior is something that a person does that can be observed, measured, and repeated.” (2)

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Ten important things to build a strong relationship with your child’s support team

10 tips

Your special needs child will do best with a strong team of professionals and parents working together. You are the expert when it comes to your child. The professionals working with your child will have more success when you work to support a relationship with them. Here are 10 tips from Bethan Mair Williams to help you get the most for your child through a successful relationship with your support team. Bethan is a Speech Language Therapist/Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with more than twenty years of experience in working with children with special needs, training and supervising classroom staff, and developing data collection and interpretation systems.

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Horses, helmets and autism, oh my! How TAGteach taught a little boy to keep his helmet on during therapeutic riding

autism parent help, TAGteachThe problem

What do you do when a child with autism will not wear something that is required for safety?

This was the problem facing a therapeutic riding center with one client, an eight-year old boy with autism. The boy would not wear the safety helmet.

The rules are clear: no helmet, no horse.

Jon Luke, a determined volunteer at the center, tells how he asked for and found a solution. A boy, a horse, a happy ending. Watch this drama unfold!

The volunteer asked the TAGteach community for help

“I volunteer at an equine therapeutic riding center and am looking for some help with getting a young Hispanic boy with autism to wear a helmet. We need to have him wearing a helmet but he keeps pulling it off. Has anyone had a similar challenge and, if so, what did you do to successfully get the rider to wear the helmet?

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Alone in the woods with autism again, this time with finger-licking, face-rubbing, and, thankfully, TAGteach

Copy of Alone in the woods...


TAGteach is really a wonderful way to deal with difficult behaviors that can pop up when you least expect it.

A damaging behavior appears

Last fall I took my son out for a hike in a beautiful park with a trail around a small lake. We were having a nice time when I noticed with dismay that he was licking his fingers and rubbing his chin and neck, although there was no apparent medical problem.

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Injury! TAGteach to the rescue — for crutches and a walking cast

The Injury

TAGteach is a great tool for dealing with those “pop-up” challenges that erupt when we least expect them.

A few days ago my teenage son (non-verbal, severe autism) stumbled in the evening when going up the stairs. The next morning he was unable to put weight on his left foot, so he hopped bravely around the house on his right foot.

We made an appointment for him right away and pulled out some old crutches for him to use.

Autism parent help TAGteachFirst Problem — Crutches

Although my son has seen people use crutches, he has never used them himself. So, I had the task of immediately, on the spot, teaching him to use crutches.

Luckily, he understood right away to place them under his arms, grip the handles, and lean on them. The part that was confusing for him was swinging them forward.

Immediately, I had my tag point: Swing crutches forward. (What you want, One thing, Observable, Five words or less). I showed him how, and after a few tags he was able to swing them forward quite well.

We hobbled off to the doctor and, after an exam and x-rays, walked out, not with crutches but with a removable padded walking cast. (Luckily, nothing was broken, only sore.)

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