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Tips for a Happy New Year!


We all know the deal, at the end of the year we have high hopes to get in shape, find a better job, eat healthy. If you’re a parent, your resolutions tend to be more about the children than yourself but for parents of children with special needs, there are a few exceptions.

Here are some ideas on how to do both:

  1. Make sure you have a good support system to give you time for yourself

    Find a caregiver that understand your family and the needs of your children so you have time for yourself to workout, go to the store or a night out with your significant other or friends.  This will allow you to refresh and will make you a better parent.

  1. Organize your paperwork

    When you have a child with special needs you have a large file of paperwork including the official diagnosis, school information (IEP’s, medical paperwork) to transition plans.  Make sure you have a file that is easy to find and in order.  This will ensure that you will have it when you need it.

  1. Experience new things

    We all know that following a schedule is important for children and families living with autism.  With that, we tend to do the same, either because they are reluctant to try new ones or because we feel we just don’t have time. If you can, try to find new activities for the entire family to enjoy together.  This is not only fun but participating in activities often provides opportunities to practice social skills, get physical and be part of the community.

  2. Do something for yourself

    You don’t have to be a special needs parent to feel guilty about putting you needs first every once in a while.  You can’t be a good parent if you are tired and have no energy. Know when you are at your wits’ end and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Ask for help, do something you enjoy and then get back to being a parent.

  3. Date night

    When you are parents of child with autism your marriage is truly put to the test, with 64% of couples end in divorce.  You must make time for each other to talk and support one another.  Go out to dinner, take a walk, go to the movies.  Just take the time to love one another and remember why you fell in love!

  4. Stay away from the internet

    The internet can be a horrible place for special needs parents, especially if your child is newly diagnosed.  There is so much information out there that can not only confuse you but can also do more harm than good.  There are a few great resources out there but talk to your medical team to find out what they recommend.

  5. Get more sleep

    Sleep!  Parents with special needs children have a lot of stress.  All parents deal with day to day issues but when you have a child with autism on a scale from 1-10 they are at 30.  You have to rest and take care of yourself so you can be the ama

  6. Make your transition plan NOW!

    Parents need to not only think about the issues your child is dealing with now but what happens when your child reaches 22 and ages out of the system.  There are programs and transitional programs depending on the needs of your child to help them go to college, get a job, go to the grocery store and be part of the community.

  7. Find a support group

    Everyone needs a group of other parents who “get it.” When my oldest was born, I joined a group of first-time moms. We met regularly to hear speakers talk about pertinent issues. Those speakers were great, but the best part of the group was getting to know other moms who were parenting babies of the same age. We shared our successes and failures, as well as information and advice.

    Today, some of my favorite people are the special needs moms I get to see regularly or who are a click away in a private Facebook group. We support each other. We laugh and cry together, and we troubleshoot when one of our kids is having an issue. Having these moms to turn to keeps me sane.

  8. Don’t apologize for your special needs kid

    You know you’re doing the best you can, and your child is doing their best, too. Most of the time you’ll find that no apology is necessary.


Here’s to bringing the best to you and your family. And, may your resolutions last beyond the end of January.

Happy New Year!

Tips to Keep Your Holiday Happy

ALP - Tips to Keep Your Holiday Happy


The Holiday’s are hectic enough but for a family with a child with autism it can add even more stress.

Here are a few things that can help keep the season bright!

1.  Keeping your child on his/her routine will help minimize behaviors during the time off from school or in home or clinic services.

2.  The lights, the sounds, the smells, relatives and guests are the main culprits to sensory overload during the holidays. Try to minimize how much company and excitement is around at one time in order to prevent tantrums, aggression and self-injurious behavior.

3.  The tree and the decorations may cause issues so try decorating the tree while the children are asleep.

4.  Shopping with a child with autism is stressful enough but during the Holidays with the crowds and decorations could be a stressful situation. Make it easy on yourself and order gifts online- 80% of all purchases during black Friday were made online so join the revolution.

5.  Visual or tactile toys are often a better choice for children with autism and other neuropsychological disorders. Toys that make loud sounds or involve too much stimulation or are too complex and may cause a bad reaction. Check out the websites below that have toys for kiddos with autism:
6.  Talk with relatives and guests about your child so they are not surprised if there is a behavior or meltdown. Educate them on autism; the more people who understand ASD the better!

7.  Generally, kids do better in the morning than in the late afternoon or evening when they are tired. Schedule events and gatherings earlier in the day rather than late in the day.
8.  Above all, parents need a break. Having children is hard but parents with a child with autism have another level of stress. Take time for yourself, relax and try to enjoy the holidays as much as possible. You deserve it.

9.  Have realistic expectations, things may not be perfect but the real meaning of Christmas is having your family together, focus on that rather than making sure everything is perfect. No matter what your situation, perfection is what you make it.

Autism Learning Partners works with families with children with autism every day and we celebrate YOU this Holiday season.

For more information on Autism Learning Partners and our services visit or call our care management team at 844.599.5588 today!



Autism Learning Partners Acquires Proof Positive ABA Therapies

 Autism Learning Partners Acquires Proof Positive ABA Therapies


Autism Learning Partners Acquires Proof Positive ABA Therapies – Creating One of the Largest Autism Therapy Platforms in the United States

Autism Learning Partners (“ALP”), a national provider of therapy to children with autism spectrum disorders, headquartered in Glendale, CA, today announced its acquisition of Proof Positive ABA Therapies (“Proof Positive”), a rapidly growing provider throughout the United States. Autism Learning Partners (formerly known as Pacific Child & Family Associates) began offering services to children with autism and other developmental disabilities in 1988.

Proof Positive, with offices in Costa Mesa and Commerce, CA, will continue to operate with its current management team as a wholly owned subsidiary of Autism Learning Partners.

The combination of these businesses, which will operate under ALP’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Winter, creates one of the largest autism therapy providers in the U.S., and one of the few scaled providers in the country serving children with autism. “I believe Autism Learning Partners and Proof Positive working together will be an exceptional partnership,” Jeffrey Winter said. “Both organizations are committed to common core values around excellence, teamwork and compassion for the many families and children we provide exceptional care to. In fact, the combined organization will be providing care for over 2,500 clients nationwide.”

Heather Grimaldi, MS BCBA, Clinical Director and Founder of Proof Positive commented, “It was my dream to start a company that put families first and to try to help as many people as possible. I’m so proud that we were able to fulfill this and now expand on it. With joining ALP’s phenomenal team, we are ecstatic to be able to grow even larger and look forward to helping more families.”

Equity financing for the Proof Positive acquisition was provided by Jefferson River Capital LLC (“JRC”), now the single largest shareholder of Autism Learning Partners. Other shareholders include funds managed by Scopia Capital Management LP as well as funds managed by Great Point Partners. JRC is a single family office based in New York and includes a dedicated direct private equity investment platform.


Jeffrey P. Winter, President & CEO
Autism Learning Partners

Free Autism Educational Event, November 15, 2016

Rachael Schneider, MA, BCBA-LBA, Associate Clinical Director
Autism Learning Partners, Buffalo
Cell (716) 912-7094


Free Autism Educational Event, November 15, 2016  – Myths and Misconceptions About ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and Autism

Amherst, NY: Autism Learning Partners in collaboration with Daemen College are hosting:

Myths and Misconceptions About ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and Autism – a FREE Educational Event on November 15, 2016, from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at Daemen College Room 120 RIC, 4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226. Admission and Parking are free.

Join Autism Learning Partners (ALP) & Daemen College for a Panel Discussion/Question & Answer session led by clinical experts in the field of Autism and related disabilities discussing Autism and the evidenced based practice of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). An impressive lineup of clinical subject matter experts include, Gina T. Chang, PhD, BCBA-D, Licensed Psychologist CA #PSY 26473 and Chief of Clinical Operations, ALP, Rachael Schneider, MA, BCBA Licensed Behavior Analyst, Associate Clinical Director, Buffalo, NY, ALP and Vicki Madaus Knapp, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Licensed Behavior Analyst, Assistant Professor, Daemen College.

This event is designed for Pediatricians, Social Workers, Service Coordinators, Teachers, Speech and Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Parents who will learn about the growing epidemic of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which affect 1 in 68 children and is more prevalent in boys 1 in 4. Attendees will learn about ABA, an evidenced based treatment which has proven to be effective in ASD and in other developmental disabilities.

Dr. Gina Chang, emphasizes, “Applied Behavior Analysis is the science of learning. Research has shown us time again of ABA’s incredible power to significantly change the lives of people with a variety of developmental disabilities, including autism. From teaching communication, critical social attention skills, and a myriad of other daily living skills, ABA when wielded in the right hands, has the capacity to truly set patients on a trajectory to a more independent and fulfilling life.”

After attending this event, attendees, will be able to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder, describe the breadth of ABA therapy, understand myths vs. facts about ABA therapy, understand what ABA therapy looks like in the home setting, skills taught through ABA, and who should seek ABA therapy, recommend an evidenced based treatment (ABA) to patients, clients, or students with a diagnosis of ASD, and recognize the appropriate credentials for professionals overseeing ABA therapy programs. As the local Clinical Director in West Seneca, NY, Rachael Schneider is “honored to empower the New York community with awareness of Autism and navigate colleagues and families who work with children with ASD.”

To RSVP for this amazing event please visit Space is limited. Early registration is highly encouraged but on-site registration welcomed.

For questions contact the ALP Clinical Director for Buffalo, NY at or call (716) 912-7094. For more information on Autism Learning Partners visit

About ALP:

Autism Learning Partners (ALP) is a leading healthcare organization providing services across the country.  ALP is heavily focused on supporting a comprehensive and coordinated approach to care delivery that addresses the whole child. ALP is a leader in the field and for close to 30 years, ALP has been supporting families with Autism Spectrum Disorder.



Tips for the New School Season

Autism Learning Partners - Back to School

Tips for the New School Season!

Some great tips to make it easier for your child (and you!) to transition to a school schedule.


If the child has never attended the school, visit it to show him the building, its entrance and grounds so it’s a familiar place come fall.


As school approaches, talk about how much fun it will be and encourage your child to share how they feel about attending.


All summer long it’s been late to bed and lazy mornings.  Start preparing your kids at least a week before school starts by calling a family meeting and getting back on the school schedule.  Lack of sleep makes  it hard for any child to be productive during the school day.


Indicate the first day of school on the calendar so your child understands when it begins and can process any fears.


If possible, arrange for your child to meet their teacher a week or so before school starts, or to meet any other children you know will be attending.


Take your child to buy a backpack, notebooks and whatever else is needed. Color code the notebooks for each subject and help personalize them with your child’s name and pictures of family and home.


Pick out the first day’s outfit so it’s not a surprise.

Overall, being prepared and reducing stress before school begins will help the whole family ease into the new fall schedule.


All children (and many adults!) have difficulty with social skills, but kids with ASD face even more challenges, since any difficulty speaking or understanding language can make it hard to manage social situations. Also, social rules are not simple, they require interpreting sometimes complex situations and reacting appropriately.

Here are some tips that could be helpful to any parent teaching social skills:

OBSERVE: The first step is figuring out what the child has difficulty with. Sometimes it’s obvious, for example if the child speaks too loudly or plays too rough. Other children are simply more quiet, which can make it hard to read what they have trouble with. Observe how they are in a group or class versus when they’re with one person. Do they know when to speak or what to say? Fixing a problem is easier when you know what it is.

UNDERSTAND ANXIETY: Some children who have a hard time with social skills have raised anxiety levels. It’s not always obvious, but can be worth exploring with their doctor or therapist.

FEELING VS. DOING: Children who act out or exhibit negative behavior have a reason for it, and that’s okay. Let them know that their feelings are genuine and natural, but that their reaction to it is what’s important. If someone is mean or too physical with them, for example, help them understand that the appropriate thing is not to kick or scream, but to walk away or find an adult who can help.

EXPLAIN!: You can’t expect a child to know what to do if you’ve never explained it to them. Children who have difficulty with social interaction aren’t learning the rules on their own and need things spelled out with language and examples they can understand. For younger kids this may mean repeating “no kicking” each time such an incident occurs, while older kids could be told that people don’t like to stand so close to each other when talking, for example. Always use praise when the child recognizes and improves their problem behavior.

GIVE THEM A SIGN: We often support behavior with words, but a sign or gesture can also help kids remember. Coming up with a gesture that means “pay attention” or “don’t stand so close” can be a helpful, non-verbal reminder. Also, with older children, seeing is believing. Try to record certain situations using your phone, then review it with them and have them comment on what behavior was appropriate or inappropriate. Be discreet, though—don’t be that parent who films every moment of their children’s lives!

REPEAT: Practice makes perfect, so give the child opportunities to practice good behavior with people and in places where they feel safe. Eventually, expand it to different people and places so it becomes a more general behavior. Don’t get frustrated if they don’t do it automatically, remember they need reminding. And don’t forget to praise progress and positive behavior.

USE REAL TIME EXAMPLES: The best way to practice and learn a new skill is within a real situation.  Playgrounds, group settings and family settings all offer opportunities to practice and demonstrate new skills.

BE POSITIVE Nobody likes to be nagged, so always remember to give praise or offer some type of positive response when a skill or behavior is done well.

For more information on ALP social skills classes contact us at today!


Siblings and Autism

Autism Learning Partners - Siblings and Autism

Siblings and autism

It is not always easy being a sibling of a child with autism. However, sibling relationships create benefits for both children and sibling bonds are special.

For your child with autism, siblings are often extremely beneficial for developing social skills and supporting the child with ASD.  Children with autism do best when they have a sibling who plays with them, helps them learn social skills, prompts them to use language, and is involved in different aspects of their siblings program.

There will likely be times where you need to compromise on the attention given to both children.  And although your child with autism will have a lot asked of them for treatment and intervention, your other child will also have their own, different expectations.  This can be a difficult struggle for parents as they process feelings of conflict, guilt and concern for the well being of all their children.   But the balance you create will benefit everyone.

A sibling’s motivation and cooperation is only sustainable if parents provide them with confidence, self-esteem, independence, and support on their own journey to build a strong personal identity.

Here are some tips to help siblings adjust to life with a sister or brother who has autism:

  1. Talk about autism. Be open and honest in explaining autism and how it affects their brother or sister. Children will certainly have questions which you should be prepared for and feel comfortable answering. Include them in discussions about the child’s programs, classrooms, and special needs, and encourage their comments and suggestions.
  2. Show Praise and Gratitude. Having a sibling with autism is challenging. Praise your children and reward them for helping out. Their sibling will always require their patience and contribution. Let them know you are thankful for their efforts.
  3. Focus on the Sibling. Set aside some special “alone time” for you and the sibling on a regular basis. This is time for them to be a kid, and for you to enjoy their company and interests. Make this time fun and special, and allow the child to express his or her unique personality. Siblings should experience their own childhoods and enjoy separate sleepovers, play dates, and extracurricular activities that explore their individual talents and interests.
  4. Devote some regular quiet time just for talking. Create an atmosphere where your children feel safe expressing their emotions. Let them know you hear them, and that you know it is hard having so much attention and effort go to their sibling. Remind them of things that are special about them and ask if there are things you have neglected to acknowledge.

It can be valuable to know that children raised with a sibling who has autism often mature into well adjusted adults who exhibit extraordinary compassion and caring for others.

Pacific Child and Family Associates Changes Name to Autism Learning Partners

Autism Learning Partners Announcement Logo

Pacific Child and Family Associates (PCFA) Changes Name to Autism Learning Partners

Pacific Child and Family Associates (PCFA), a leader in the delivery of services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), is changing its name. The company will be called Autism Learning Partners in order to better reflect its mission.

“We’ve grown as a health care delivery organization, both technically and geographically, from California to Massachusetts,” said Jeffrey P. Winter, the company’s President and CEO. “We wanted a name that more accurately describes what we do and who we are.”

The name was chosen after company principals studied the market and requested feedback from more than 200 of the families it services.

“We wanted to include ‘autism’ in the new name to clearly identify the community we serve,” explained Winter. “We serve children with developmental needs other than Autism, but the vast majority of our clients are on the spectrum.”

The word ‘Learning’ was included to reflect Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the science of learning across all areas of development and the dominant treatment method of individuals on the spectrum. ABA therapy is designed to improve communication, social relationships, schooling and ultimately a positive work/life experience.

Finally, the word Partners’ was included to reflect the company’s encouragement of communication and coordination among family members and other professionals in the child’s life, which Winter says “is vital to progress and development.”

In addition to the name change to Autism Learning Partners, the company will soon unveil a new website.

Autism Learning Partners provides services throughout California, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas, New York and Washington D.C. Autism Learning Partners also offers an interdisciplinary model including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy at its subsidiary, Children’s Learning Connection in Orange County. Their services are provided in homes, schools and our clinics across the United States.

For more information about Autism Learning Partners and our services visit or call us at 818.241.6780.

For questions about our name change or PR opportunities contact Donna Harrell at 818.241.6780 or email


505 N Brand Blvd | Suite #1000 Glendale, CA 91203


Rich Mancil joins Autism Learning Partners as Executive Director

Rich Mancil, Ph.D., BCBA-D, a doctoral level, board certified behavior analyst (BCBA-D), has joined Autism Learning Partners as Executive Director of its New Mexico region.

Mancil earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2007, where he gained clinical experience working with individuals with issues including self-injurious behavior, rumination, and sleep disorders as well as complex communication issues. He has over 16 years of experience working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders, cognitive disabilities, developmental disabilities and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Mancil describes the first time he taught a child with autism to speak as “the most amazing experience of my life,” and as the moment he decided to spend his life helping people with autism. In 2005 Dr. Mancil’s own son was diagnosed with autism, magnifying his drive to improve the lives of families affected by it even more. “I know the frustrations, the sleepless nights, the stares, the tears and fears,” he explains.

“We’re very excited to have Rich join our team,” said Gina T. Chang, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Autism Learning Partners’ Chief of Clinical Operations. “His clinical background, personal and professional experience and dedication are a true asset to our company, and will be a great resource for families touched by autism in the New Mexico area.”

Dr. Mancil has family native to New Mexico, and prior to moving here he created the Master’s program in ABA at Louisiana Tech University and the first BACB-approved course sequence in northern Louisiana. He also created and directed the Autism and Behavior Analysis Research Institute located at Louisiana Tech University, where he set the research agenda and oversaw direct services to children and adults, as well as provided Organizational Behavior Management to various Louisiana schools, agencies and businesses. Prior to this he was the executive director of the Kentucky Autism Training Center and an assistant professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Louisville as well as a private practitioner. While living in Kentucky he also designed and set up model classrooms across the state for preschool, elementary, middle school and high school students on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Mancil has multiple published articles and book chapters on a variety of issues in the areas of autism, ABA and communication. He serves on the editorial board of several journals including Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Preventing School Failure, and the Journal of Early Intervention.

For more information on Autism Learning Partners and our services visit us at or call our corporate office at 818.241.6780 to speak to our PR representative

Skills Programs at Autism Learning Partners

Autism Learning Partners Skills Program

By: Celina Lopez, M.S. BCBA
Executive Director, North Los Angeles Region