INFOGRAPHIC: Why is Early Intervention for Autism So Important?

INFOGRAPHIC: Why is Early Intervention for Autism So Important?

It’s vital to be able to assist a child with autism as early as possible. We take a look at the benefits of early intervention, the signs of autism, and how we can help evaluate your child.

INFOGRAPHIC: Why is Early Intervention for Autism So Important?

Recognizing the signs of autism in early childhood can help improve a child’s chances of success in the future. Here’s a quick look at why early intervention is so vital and the positive results of identifying the early signs of autism in children:

infographic - early intervention for autism

What are the early signs of autism?

As a parent, you may be wondering what some of the autism symptoms you should keep an eye out for are. There are key developmental milestones that can help you identify whether your child has autism or not. You can also keep an eye out for certain early signs of autism, such as social, behavioral, or emotional practices, which may indicate the early signs of autism.

How early should you try to assist a child diagnosed with autism?

Depending on the child, early intervention programs can begin from as early as 18 months of age.

How early intervention can help

There are many benefits to early intervention, but here are some of the specific benefits a child can gain, including improving:

  • IQ, including improvements in IQ tests
  • Language abilities, including listening and understanding
  • Coping skills, including emotional regulation
  • Physical development, such as balance and coordination
  • Social interactions, including a child’s peers and with a child’s parents
  • Nonverbal autism where there’s a lack of or limited use of verbal communication

Evaluating your Child

Are you seeing the signs of autism in your child but don’t have an evaluation yet? Early intervention is crucial to improved outcomes and increased success and independence in the long run. You can view our list of early signs and symptoms of autism in babies, toddlers, and young children. Then, you can connect with Lighthouse’s network of professionals who understand how to identify children with autism, and who can let you know more about how early autism can be diagnosed.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Autism Awareness Month

Infographic: Autism Awareness Month

We take a look at Autism Awareness Month, what it is about, when it was started and how everyone can do their bit to raise awareness about autism.

This amazing infographic was given to Lighthouse by Andy Mohr Toyota. The infographic shows the importance of Autism Awareness Month and how to #LightItUpBlue!

autism awareness month infographic

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined by the Autism Society of America as “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.”

The autism spectrum includes a range of conditions affecting social skills, behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. It is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. The disorders found within the ASD spectrum include:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (also known as Heller’s syndrome)
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
  • Asperger’s syndrome.

Signs and symptoms are usually noticeable in early childhood and emerge between 24 and 36 months of age. One of the most important things you can do for your child is to learn the early signs of autism in children and infants. It is important that you are familiar with typical developmental milestones your child should be reaching as well. 

Some of the most common signs of ASD in children are:

  • ​​Not responding to their name 
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell, or sound
  • Repetitive movements and phrases
  • One-sided conversations without needing a response.

Of course, ASD is unique in every person, and no two people have the exact same symptoms. 

Children with ASD also tend to excel at particular things and have above-average intelligence. Some of the things that they might excel at include music, academics, and visual skills. Roughly 40% of those diagnosed with autism have above-average intellectual abilities. 

Inclusion and acceptance of autism spectrum disorders are just as important as educating the community and bringing awareness to autism. So when is Autism Awareness Month? Let’s find out below.

Autism Awareness Month

Want to learn more facts about autism? 

  • In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s week, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the official Autism Awareness Day was declared to fall on April 2nd by the United Nations General Assembly. 
  • Although Autism Awareness Day still officially falls on April 2nd, most countries recognize the month of April as Autism Awareness Month. 

How People Can Raise Awareness About Autism

It is wonderful to have a month to raise awareness about autism, and it’s an incredibly busy time for organizations and individuals. However, we don’t believe that autism awareness should be limited to a single month – it’s something that should happen every day.

If you would like to raise awareness about autism, here are some of the things that you can do:

  • Educate yourself: Awareness starts at home, and you should do everything that you can to understand more about autism and how it affects people.
  • Attend local events: There are ongoing autism awareness events throughout the year. Go to these events, take your friends and family and even volunteer if you have the time.
  • Stand up for others: If you see someone with autism being bullied or hear someone talking negatively about them, it’s time to stand up and let them know that it’s not okay.
  • Set a positive example: It’s important that you show others how to treat people with autism. Always act with kindness and help those with autism, and you will become a positive role model for others.

Methods of Inclusion and Acceptance

One of the biggest issues that people with ASD face is the feeling that they are not included and accepted. This could be for children in school or an adult at work. 

It’s easy to help people with autism feel more included. Keep an open mind and an open heart when interacting with autistic people. Invite them into your circles and to events (even when you know they will decline) and encourage others to treat people with autism with kindness and care. 

You can also become more involved by calling or writing to local legislators, state representatives, and other leaders about proposed legislation that could impact those with autism. Be aware of how new policies affect access to things like services, research, insurance, and more. Speak up and encourage others to do the same.

Contact us at Lighthouse Autism Center for more information about Autism Awareness Month and how you can help.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese Visits Lighthouse Autism Center’s Newest ABA Center

On Wednesday, September 25th, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese visited Lighthouse Autism Center’s newest ABA therapy center in Elkhart, Indiana. The newest center opened in August and is the seventh center opened by Lighthouse Autism Center, which provides ABA therapy services in Mishawaka, Granger, Plymouth, Warsaw and Portage, MI.

Mayor Visits Elkhart ABA Center
Elkhart Mayor meets student at Elkhart’s newest ABA center.

The new center will provide intensive, center-based therapy utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to nearly twenty-five families in the Elkhart area. The therapy programs are custom made for each child and work on things like social skills, communication skills, living skills and school readiness skills.

During his visit, Mayor Neese had the opportunity to meet with Founder and Executive Director, Gregg Maggioli, who has a son with autism. “My son attended one of the first ABA centers in the state of Indiana. When I saw the impact it had on his life, and the life of my family, I knew I had to find a way to bring this service to other families with autism.”

While touring the facility, Mayor Neese was able to observe children working, playing, participating in a simulated classroom setting, and even spoke with one child as she practiced asking and answering questions. When asked about his time at the center, Mayor Neese said, “I’ve only been at the center a short time, but I can see that the staff at Lighthouse are second to none, genuinely care about the kids and are truly making an impact on the lives of children with autism.”

Lighthouse Autism Center is now enrolling children at their newest center in Elkhart, Indiana. To schedule a tour, call 574-387-4313.

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

2019 Lighthouse Values Award Winners!

Each of Lighthouse Autism Centers seven centers are guided and operate based on seven core values. These include:

1. Care about people more than anything.
2. Judge people by more than their metrics.
3. Don’t separate the vision from the operations.
4. Put a premium on innovation & creativity.
5. Be completely trustworthy.
6. Give away credit.
7. Be yourself.

Every year, each of our centers holds an award ceremony to honor employees who embody the Lighthouse values. These employees have been nominated and recognized by fellow colleagues for excellence in one of the Lighthouse values. This years list of winners include:

Care about people more than anything.

Chelsea Gibson
Megan Losos
Kasandra Richardson
Olivia Ganser
Macie Wrightsman
Melissa Williams

Judge people by more than their metrics.

Clair Snodgrass
Hannah Woods
Emily Adams
Hannah Ruhe
Emily Matson
Jodie Carlson

Don’t separate the vision from the operations.

Allyson Furnas
Danielle Wilson
Ashley Maust
Chaeney Brown
Tiffany Taubert
Amanda Walorski

Put a premium on innovation & creativity.

Christina Fields
Hannah Cernak
Chris Adams
Kara Kulp
Shawna Rupert
Hailee Neverman

Be completely trustworthy.

Leah Puckett
Jordan Musial
Alex Martin
Sarah Hall
Kaylee Bursart
Autumn Dilts

Give away credit.

Tayler Mylin
Tosha Chatman
Arika Amsden
Cassie Gaines
Morgan Hoogland
Samantha Green

Be yourself.

Lanae Asher
Caroline Gardner
Lydia Parks
Ariel Schneider
Madelyn Horvath
Dreanna Dallich

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

Lighthouse Sponsors Continuing Education Event for BCBA’s

Lighthouse Autism Center will be sponsoring a continuing education event in partnership with the Career Academy of South Bend on Saturday, September 14, 2019. For more information, see the flyer below.

To register for this event, click here.

BCBA, CE, Continuing Education

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Clinical Corner – Keep a Summer Routine

Summer vacation for many children means a break from school — and its strict schedules. But for children with autism, a change in daily routine can be a source of great stress.

Julie Mower, executive director at the Phoenix Center, a not-for-profit school in Nutley serving the educational, therapeutic and behavioral needs of students ages 5 to 21 with autism, said keeping some type of routine is important. Many children with autism crave a schedule that is the same every day.

She offered parents or caregivers some tips for a less stressful summer:

• Create an anticipatory schedule, basically a laundry list of events of a particular day.

• If a family is taking a trip or vacation, talk about that vacation with the child in advance. Look on the destination’s website with the child so he or she can see what the new environment is going to look like.

• Summer camps are a great way to engage an autistic child. Mower said it’s important to visit the camp and visit the counselors ahead of time so the child gets used to the new environment.

• A timer or an alarm is also crucial. Some children respond better to auditory cues than visual ones. So for example, Mower said if a family is getting to leave an event in 10 minutes, have the child set the alarm so he or she understands it’s time to go when the alarm goes off.

• Swimming can be a fantastic fun summer activity for a child with special needs. Mower said it’s important to pick a pool that can accommodate a child’s needs. She said an indoor pool can amplify sound and trigger auditory sensitivities that outdoor pools may not. An outdoor pool may not have the echo effect, but factors like temperature and chlorine may affect a child’s experience in other ways.

• Headed to the beach? Mower said sand can provide a totally different sensory experience for children who are not used to having bare feet. Have them use water shoes so their feet are not directly exposed to the sand. She suggested towels for them to sit on and for those with tactile defensiveness, bring digging tools for them.

Mower said the bottom line is not to get stuck in maintaining the same routine — but if a family is going on a trip, create a new routine. Embed some normal routines such as consistent dinners and bedtime. Have activities planned and take some breaks — with those tips, families with autistic children will be able to better enjoy the summer months together.

To read the full article, visit https://nj1015.com/children-with-autism-spectrum-should-keep-a-summer-routine/

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Shining Examples – Avery

Avery enrolled at Lighthouse Autism Center nearly two years ago. When Avery first came to Lighthouse, he was a very different boy than he is today. “Avery was a very shy and quiet boy. He did not want anyone to look at him or interact with him in any way,” said his Program Manager. With consistent ABA therapy, supportive therapists and a highly qualified BCBA designing unique programs just for Avery, he has made huge strides in school readiness skills, social behavior, and daily living skills.

When asked about Avery’s progress, Program Manager and BCBA, Krissi Borkholder said, “Avery has made incredible progress. He can work independently, read at a third-grade reading level, has full conversations and even requests to play with his peers!” Avery continues to work on other school readiness skills such as writing short stories, typing, learning math concepts and working appropriately on group activities.

Avery’s parents could not be more happy with his progress. “We have had the opportunity to see him grow and blossom in virtually every aspect. Being able to see him come into his own and be able to express himself, articulate his feelings, and express his emotions has almost been like we’ve really gotten to know Avery for the first time. Words are not enough to express our appreciation to the incredible staff at Lighthouse for all of their had work and support along the way.

At LAC, we are seeing incredible progress made by our learners every day.

Lighthouse Celebrates 7 Year Anniversary

Lighthouse Autism Center celebrating seventh anniversary

This past May, Lighthouse Autism Center celebrated it’s seven year anniversary. It’s hard to believe we have been open seven years already. It seems like not all too long ago we were welcoming our first group of kiddos to our center in Mishawaka. Since then, we have grown so much, opening six centers and preparing to open a seventh. We have provided services to hundreds of kids and families and had the opportunity to work with some of the most wonderful and talented colleagues. While Lighthouse has grown and changed, our mission has remained the same – bringing quality, center-based ABA therapy to children and families in need. On this anniversary, we celebrate the joys and successes we have achieved together with our kiddos, families and staff, and look forward to the many more that lie ahead!

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

Lighthouse Autism Center Announces New Center in Elkhart!

Lighthouse Autism Center, a therapy center for children with autism, is excited to announce it will be opening a new center in Elkhart, Indiana. This will be the seventh location for Lighthouse Autism Center, which opened its first center in Mishawaka, Indiana in 2012.

Lighthouse Autism Center provides intensive, center-based therapy utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The therapy programs are year-round and each child’s therapy plan is uniquely tailored to their specific needs. Currently, ABA therapy is the only behavioral intervention recommended by the United States Surgeon General for individuals with autism.

Lighthouse was founded by Gregg and Sandy Maggioli, who are parents to a son with autism and have nearly a decade of experience working in autism services.

“We are excited to bring our services to the Elkhart community. With over seven years of experience providing quality ABA therapy and as parents of a child with autism ourselves, we know how important these services are for families,” says Gregg Maggioli, Founder and Executive Director of Lighthouse Autism Center.
The new center will be located at 23426 US-33 in Elkhart. The center is projected to open in September. To schedule a tour or learn more about enrolling your child, contact our Family Outreach Coordinator at 574-387-4313.

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

How to Find the Best ABA Center Part 4 – The Intake Process

Does the center offer support for dealing with insurance companies and helping you navigate the insurance process?

Insurance Support by Lighthouse Autism Center may be re-used under CC BY 2.0. Attribution should include a link to this page.

Dealing with insurance by yourself can be a nightmare. Many insurance companies can prove to be difficult when it comes to covering ABA therapy. That is why it is so important that a quality ABA center has someone on their administrative staff who is dedicated to dealing with insurance-related issues, processes, and questions.
When going through the ABA therapy coverage process, you will likely have many questions. You want someone on your team who is thoroughly familiar with the ABA coverage process. This ABA coverage expert will know what kind of documents you need, what kinds of obstacles you might run into in getting coverage, and how to overcome those obstacles. A quality ABA center should have someone with this skill set on staff and readily accessible to all families. This way, every parent or caregiver who comes to the center will have an insurance expert on their team.
What if your insurance decides to deny coverage in the middle of therapy? Would your child be immediately denied services if insurance won’t pay anymore? You might want to ask them about how they have handled scenarios like this in the past. A quality ABA center would have their ABA coverage expert help you work through a situation like this and work through the appeals process.

Does the center call you back?
When you call the center to inquire about services, how good are they at getting back to you? Were they prompt? Did you have to call back multiple times?
If a center is not calling you back after you inquire about services, that is generally a bad sign. The intake team might be too disorganized and chaotic to promptly call back new inquiries. In this case, this is an ABA center that you will want to avoid.

Does the center provide a clear and comfortable intake process?
The process of giving you a tour of the center, collecting information about your child, providing a therapy program proposal, and ultimately enrolling your child is all part of the intake process. The intake process is essentially the process you go through to enroll your child at an ABA center. You, as a parent or caregiver within the intake process, should be able to answer these questions:

  • Are you on a waiting list for enrollment?
  • Are you waiting to hear about your insurance coverage?
  • Does your child have a start date yet?

You should be able to easily answer all these questions if the intake process is well-communicated and transparent. If you can’t answer some, or all, of these questions, you might need to re-evaluate the ABA center you are working with. A confusing intake process is a symptom of deeper problems within the ABA center’s management and potentially their therapy overall

Does the center have a family outreach/support person to answer questions and provide resources no matter what?

Family Outreach by Lighthouse Autism Center may be re-used under CC BY 2.0. Attribution should include a link to this page.

Getting ABA services for your child can be complicated to say the least. An quality ABA center will be there to guide you and answer your questions about autism and autism resources, even if your child does not go to their center.
A family outreach or family support coordinator is someone at an ABA center that families can rely on to answer questions about ABA, finding autism resources in the community, and referring to other agencies if needed, and more . For instance, the family outreach coordinator should be able to answer the following:

  • Where you can go for a dentist that works with patients with autism?
  • Who are the local doctors that do autism testing and what are their respective wait times?
  • Are there different resources in the community for children versus adults?

Without the family outreach/support component, an ABA center won’t be serving the community as well as they could. A lack of family support resources can show you that a center is not very interested in helping families in the community.

Does the center stop talking to you if you don’t have insurance coverage?
You can quickly get a sense for how much a center is focused on your insurance coverage, not your child, when you first speak with them about services. How quickly do they ask you about what insurance you have? Is it among the first 3 questions they ask you?
Generally speaking, if the ABA center staff ask you about insurance before discussing anything else, it shows you what is most important to them. You can imagine that an ABA center like this might see you as a big stack of money. You’ll want to avoid such a provider, because they will not be focused on doing what is best for your child and your family. This type of ABA center will do what is best for their bottom line before they consider you.
Another great way to tell if the center only cares about finances is to see what happens after they find out that you don’t have insurance that covers ABA. Do they quickly end the conversation and get you off the phone? Do they not return your calls afterwards?
An ABA center that puts the needs of the community first will not abandon you after finding out you don’t have coverage. Instead they might:

  • Show you the various options for coverage such as buying a policy.
  • Offer to add you to a list for updates as changes might occur with insurance or open enrollment.

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.

Lighthouse Autism Center Award Winner, Veronica Perea: Put a premium on innovation & creativity

Lighthouse Autism Center’s Company Values are at the core of everything we do. We live our values every day, and it is reflected in our standards and expectations for providing outstanding ABA therapy. This week, we want to recognize and award our own Veronica Perea for the value “Put a premium on innovation & creativity!” Veronica is from Lingonier, IN, and started at Lighthouse on June 20th of 2016!! Veronica chose Lighthouse among many ABA centers she researched online because she realized it was a place full of kind people. She loves working at Lighthouse because she gets to see all the amazing children improve and become more independent everyday! Congratulations on the award Veronica!!! 😄👏🏆

Ready for a career where you can make a difference?

How to Find the Best ABA Center – Part 3: Training and Safety

The time and effort that goes into training and safety can tell you a lot about the quality of an ABA center. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the training and safety practices that ABA centers should be using to provide quality, ABA therapy services.

Therapists that are working 1 on 1 with children should have a bachelor’s degree in a related field

Lighthouse Autism Center may be re-used under CC BY 2.0. Attribution should include a link to this page.

When it comes to the therapists that will be working 1 on 1 with your child, it’s important to know that they have the right credentials. ABA therapists ideally should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. The ABA therapist’s bachelor’s degree should be in psychology, education or a related field. If they do not have a degree, they should at minimum have a broad base of experience working with children with autism, with additional training provided by the ABA Center.

Therapists that are working 1 on 1 with children should be Registered Behavior Technicians

Registered Behavior Technician(RBT) is the standard certification for ABA therapists that work 1 on 1 with children with autism. The RBT certification is the first level of certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. If you find out that a center’s ABA therapists are not RBTs, then you should see that as a big red flag. To give you an idea of how important the RBT certification is: Medicaid in Indiana will not cover ABA therapy that is not performed by an RBT.

Your child’s program should always be supervised by a BCBA, or at a minimum a BCBA in training, with constant supervision from a BCBA.

Lighthouse Autism Center may be re-used under CC BY 2.0. Attribution should include a link to this page.

The clinicians overseeing your child’s whole therapy program should be Board Certified Behavior Analysts(BCBA), or at least someone who is working towards becoming a BCBA. Anyone working towards a BCBA is required to be directly supervised by a BCBA.
A Board Certified Behavior Analyst is the graduate-level certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Someone who is certified at the level of a BCBA is an independent practitioner, with a master’s degree, clinical training, and has passed a board exam, who can provide behavior analysis services.
What is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in training? Ideally, it is someone who has completed their master’s degree, is being supervised by a BCBA, and is going to sit for their BCBA exam within the next 12 months. According to the certification board, most people working towards their BCBA certificate are required to be supervised by a qualified BCBA for nearly a year.
This is important to know, because there are many ABA centers who have therapy program supervisors that are neither a BCBA, nor a BCBA in training. By making sure your child’s program supervisor is at least a working towards their BCBA, and supervised by a BCBA, you are ensuring that your child’s program will be overseen by someone who is qualified, competent, and knowledgeable in ABA. You don’t want to have your child’s program overseen by someone who has haphazardly fallen into their role as a behavior analyst.

Safety training

Lighthouse Autism Center may be re-used under CC BY 2.0. Attribution should include a link to this page.

Safety, safety, and more safety! ABA centers MUST master safety. With such a large volume of children who must be supervised constantly, it is crucial that the ABA center is vigilant at all times when it comes to safety protocols and procedures.
One of the best ways to check if safety is being maintained at a center is to ask about the training of the staff, beyond ABA skills.
Are the staff CPR trained and First Aid certified? Not having staff that are CPR and First Aid trained poses a great risk. There may come the time when a child’s life is in danger and requires CPR, medical attention, or care for an injury.
Another question to ask: are the staff trained in crisis management? Crisis management is a set of techniques and strategies developed to minimize violent incidents and escalating crises. Children with special needs may often engage in challenging behaviors and create potentially dangerous situations. Having the right tools to safely manage these types of risks is crucial for any ABA center.
Another important question: Does the center have appropriate safety protocols throughout the center that staff are trained on? Does the center have dialed-in procedures for lock-downs, tornado drills, and fire drills? Just like at a school, an ABA center needs to have all these procedures and more in place to be truly safe for your child.
Another way to measure the safety of an ABA center is through looking at their security mechanisms and child-proofing. Does the center have effective security mechanisms on entries and exits to prevent children from eloping? Does the center have their drawers and cabinets adequately child-proofed so that children can’t access harmful cleaning chemicals? If they have a kitchen, is there a locked drawer for items that could be sharp?

Do they background check the staff?

Lighthouse Autism Center may be re-used under CC BY 2.0. Attribution should include a link to this page.

Any company that is working closely with children should be background checking their staff. If it concerns you as a parent that some centers do not background check their staff, then your head is in the right place!
Gain the peace of mind of knowing that the ABA center you send your child to is doing background checks. Simply ask and find out for yourself.

Find a Center Near You

Interested in finding an autism center near you? Click Find a Center below to view a full list of current autism therapy centers.