Autism Awareness Month

Therapy room at Lighthouse Autism Center with toys on a table with blue chairs and book shelves above

Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month, so we’ll examine its history, how it was started, and how everyone in the community can contribute to raising awareness.

Autism Awareness Month

World Autism Day takes place each year on April 2nd, but because it’s such an important event for millions of families and individuals around the world, we, as a community, get the chance to dedicate the entire month of April to autism awareness. Sanctioned by the United Nations, this year will mark the 17th annual World Autism Awareness Day!

April is dedicated to fostering understanding, acceptance, and support for the autism community. This period serves as a critical platform for educating the public about autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the rights and opportunities of those affected. Through various initiatives and activities, Autism Awareness Month aims to transform the narrative around autism, while also addressing the challenges autistic individuals face daily. It’s a call to action for people to be more inclusive and supportive, creating a world where everyone, regardless of their place on the spectrum, can thrive.

Join us to learn more about this event, take a look at how to celebrate Autism Awareness Month, and explore ways to encourage autism acceptance.

autism awareness month infographic

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

Understanding 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. Common disorders found within the autism spectrum include:

  • Autistic Disorder
  • Rett syndrome
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (also known as Heller’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 autism tools for parents involves learning the early signs of autism in children and infants. It is important that you are familiar with the 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 autistic people will be the same. 

Children with ASD also tend to excel at particular things and have above-average intelligence. Some 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 autistic people are just as important as increasing understanding and awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Interesting facts about Autism Awareness Month

Prepare for Autism Awareness Month by reviewing the facts about this event.

  • In 1972, the Autism Society launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s Week, but it wasn’t until 2007 that the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2nd the official Autism Awareness Day. 
  • Although Autism Awareness Day still officially falls on April 2nd, most countries recognize the entire month of April as Autism Awareness Month.
  • If you’re wondering what the color for Autism Awareness Month is, it’s blue. It’s also the official color for the “Light It Up Blue” campaign. However, many people choose to wear other bright colors to help promote this month as well.

How to raise awareness about autism

April serves as an opportunity to promote the inclusion of autistic individuals in all aspects of society, including education, employment, and community involvement. By encouraging the understanding and acceptance of autism, we can work towards creating a more inclusive world for autistic people.

One way to support Autism Awareness Month is by participating in events and activities that promote understanding and acceptance. These can include fundraisers, walks, and educational workshops. Another way to show support is by patronizing businesses that employ autistic individuals or donating to organizations that provide resources and services for the autism community.

Autism Awareness Month also recognizes the important role of caregivers in the lives of autistic people. Caregivers face unique challenges and often go unrecognized for their unwavering dedication and love. This month is an opportunity to show appreciation for caregivers and the vital role they play in supporting individuals with autism.

In addition, Autism Awareness Month highlights the need for continued research into the causes and treatments of Autism Spectrum Disorder. By investing in research, we can improve our understanding of autism and work towards more effective interventions and support.

How to celebrate Autism Awareness Month and beyond

While it is important to have a month dedicated to raising awareness about autism, we don’t believe that autism acceptance should be limited to a single month — it’s something that should be practiced daily. If you would like to raise awareness about autism everyday, here are some actions you can take.

Educate yourself

True awareness begins with personal education. Delve into resources to gain a deeper understanding of autism and its impacts on individuals and families.

Attend local events

There are ongoing autism awareness events throughout the year. Show your support by attending these events, taking your friends and family, and even volunteering if you have the time.

Stand up for others

If you see an autistic person being bullied or hear someone talking negatively about them, it’s time to stand up and let them know that it’s not okay. Taking a stand makes a significant difference in fostering a respectful and inclusive society.

Set a positive example

Through your actions, demonstrate that all individuals, autistic or allistic (non-autistic), deserve equal respect and kindness. Being a positive influence encourages others to follow suit, creating a ripple effect of acceptance and support.

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. 

If you’re allistic, it’s easy to help autistic people 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 if you know they will decline), and encourage other allistic people to treat autistic people with respect and understanding. 

You can also become more involved by calling or writing to local legislators, state representatives, and other leaders about proposed legislation that could impact autistic people. 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.


Let’s recap by taking a look at some of the most fundamental principles of Autism Awareness Month.

When is Autism Awareness Month?

April is Autism Awareness Month and serves as a global opportunity to expand understanding and acceptance of ASD. However, actively raising awareness and continuing to support people with ASD every day of the year is important to do your part in creating a more inclusive and supportive society for all people.

Why is autism awareness important?

Understanding ASD breaks down the barriers of ignorance and misconception, allowing autistic individuals to thrive in environments that acknowledge and respect their unique challenges and strengths. Awareness fosters empathy, encouraging communities to adapt and create supportive structures, such as inclusive education programs and workplace accommodations, which empower autistic individuals to live fulfilling lives.

What are the autism awareness colors?

Blue is the official color of autism awareness. Even so, during the month of April, wearing bright, bold colors in celebration and support of autism is widely accepted and encouraged!

Celebrate diversity with Lighthouse Autism Center

Contact us at Lighthouse Autism Center for more information about Autism Awareness Month. We offer a range of autism resources and information about our unique Lighthouse Fusion ABA therapy program that you can access online.

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

Autism & Routine Changes: Summer Routines – Lighthouse Autism Center 

Summer brings a break from the rigors of school, but for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the change in routine can be challenging. The structure provided by school can be comforting and stabilizing, and disrupting that routine during the summer months may lead to anxiety or difficulties adjusting. However, with careful planning and consideration, you can create a summer routine that supports your child’s needs while also allowing for fun and relaxation. Below are some tips for keeping a summer routine for a child with autism. 

Tips for Keeping a Summer Routine for an Autistic Child

For many children, summer vacation means a break from school and its strict schedules. However, not all children will be excited about that. A change in daily routine can be a source of great stress for autistic individuals and their caregivers. Structure and routine provide a sense of predictability and security that can alleviate stress caused by the unknown and lessen the cognitive load required to navigate daily life. As such, autistic children often exhibit a strong attachment to their daily rituals and schedule, making autism and change of routine challenging to manage for both caregiver and child. 

Top Summer Routine Tips

Establish a Visual Schedule 

Visual schedules are invaluable tools for children with autism as they provide predictability and clarity about what to expect throughout the day as well as help manage transitions between activities, providing clear cues and timeframes. As such, you’ll want to create an anticipatory schedule (basically a laundry list) of each day’s events.  

Visual schedules for individuals with autism are particularly helpful in mitigating the stress of the unknown by providing a clear and consistent visual cue about what will happen and in what sequence. By using pictures, symbols, or written cues, these visual supports for those with autism can help your child understand and anticipate upcoming transitions, reducing anxiety and increasing their capacity to cope with changes in their routine.  

Utilize Cues 

Some children respond better to auditory cues than visual ones, so incorporating sound-based cues into their daily schedules can be highly effective. Unlike visual prompts, auditory signals such as timers or alarms can cut through the noise of other activities, providing a clear and distinct indication that a transition is approaching. 

Prepare for Transitions 

Transitions between activities or environments can be challenging for children with autism. Prepare your child for transitions by using visual timers, countdowns, or transition cues to signal upcoming changes. Provide warnings and reminders before transitions occur to help your child prepare mentally for the change. 

Maintain Consistency

Maintain consistency to help manage a routine. While some flexibility is necessary during the summer months, try to maintain consistency in certain aspects of your child’s routine, such as waking up and going to bed at consistent times, mealtimes, and therapy sessions. Consistency helps provide a sense of stability and security for children with autism. 

Allow Downtime

It’s important to balance structured activities with downtime to prevent overwhelm and fatigue. Create quiet spaces in your home where your child can retreat when they need a break from stimulation. Encourage activities that promote relaxation, such as reading, listening to music, or practicing deep breathing exercises. 

Plan Outdoor Activities for Autistic Kids 

Summer camps can be an enriching experience, offering structured environments with outdoor activities for autistic children. This will give your child the opportunity to learn new skills and build social connections within a supportive setting. The immersive nature of summer camps provides repetitive scheduling, which can promote a sense of security and predictability.  

Encourage Socialization

Summer is an excellent time to facilitate social opportunities for your child with autism. Arrange playdates with peers who understand and accept your child’s unique needs. Consider joining support groups or community events where your child can interact with other children and families in a safe and inclusive environment. 

Incorporate Sensory Activities 

Many children with autism have sensory sensitivities or seek sensory input. Incorporate sensory activities into your child’s summer routine, such as swimming, playing in a sensory bin filled with rice or sand, or engaging in activities that provide proprioceptive input like jumping on a trampoline or swinging. These activities can help regulate sensory processing and promote relaxation.  

Planning a Structured  Autism Summer Program While  Staying  Flexible

Structure your child’s day with a mix of structured and unstructured activities. Structured activities can include arts and crafts, puzzles, board games, and educational activities tailored to your child’s interests and abilities. Consider enrolling your child in summer camps or programs specifically designed for children with autism, where they can engage in structured activities in a supportive environment. 

While routines are beneficial for children with autism, it’s essential to remain flexible and adaptable. Be open to making adjustments to your child’s summer routine based on their changing needs, interests, and preferences. Flexibility allows you to accommodate unexpected events or opportunities while maintaining a sense of structure and predictability. 

In conclusion, creating a summer routine for a child with autism requires careful planning, consideration, and flexibility. By establishing a structured yet flexible routine, incorporating sensory activities, maintaining consistency, and allowing for socialization and downtime, you can help support your child’s well-being and enjoyment during the summer months. Remember to celebrate small victories and cherish the special moments shared with your child as you navigate the summer together. 

If you need professional assistance in designing and implementing a summer vacation schedule, chat with our experts at Lighthouse Autism Center. Our innovative program, Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy, helps autistic children develop the skills they need to adapt to changing environments. 

Discover more helpful autism resources and tools for parents.  

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

6 Questions Parents of a Child with Autism May Have

Here are a few common questions that parents may have about autism. These questions and answers can help you with your autistic child. 

6 Questions and Answers for Parents of an Autistic Child

Hey there, parents! Do you have a range of questions about your child’s recent autism diagnosis? You’ve probably been searching far and wide for the necessary answers. Well, this article is a go-to guide with six questions many parents of autistic children may have. Consider this information as autism parent support, where all the knowledge is provided to you. 

1. How can I make doctor/dentist appointments easier on my child to avoid tantrums?

There are several things parents can do to make these necessary visits as easy as possible. Simple things such as buying play stethoscopes or creating picture books can go a long way. If you own an iPad or iPhone, you guessed it: “There’s an app for that,” it is called iPrompts, a visual program for autistic people. 

Walk your child through what is going to happen at the visit so they understand what to expect before getting there. The same is true for dental visits. It may take multiple visits before your child will actually sit in the dentist’s chair, but you can help them get comfortable enough to tolerate most of these visits. You can also talk to your child’s doctor or dentist about extending the time of visits so you child can adjust to the setting and people.  

2. How can I tell when something is hurting my child when they’re nonverbal?

According to Rebecca Landa, the director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute located in Baltimore, “We know that autism is a multisystem disorder. When it’s not evident that there’s a certain body system not working as it should, we have to look to other indicators. Any time there’s an alteration in a child’s behavioral pattern, this could tell us something we need to be paying attention to medically.” This is why it’s important to know if your doctor works with other autistic patients. In the case of nonverbal autism symptoms, doctors can adopt a personalized and holistic approach to ensure the child’s comfort during these visits. 

3. With so many support groups out there, how do I know which one to join?

Autism resources for parents are definitely available. Your doctor should at least know of a few nearby support groups to recommend. The key to joining a support group of any type is to make sure you are joining a group of people who have accepted the issue (in this case, the diagnosis of autism) and are making an effort to move forward. The goal of a support group is to do just that: offer support and different perspectives on how to handle issues as they happen. You want to be able to get insight from parents who have been where you are so that they can offer tips on how to get through the phase you are in. Autism tools for parents can ensure you are equipped with the necessary information and know the correct places to seek guidance. 

Support groups and support networks are important. Your doctor should be able to offer you a list of local support groups. 

4. How can I learn all I can about autism to help my child, and what are some trusted sources?

While it’s impossible for any individual to know about all the content on the internet or have a list of every reliable source out there, there are a few credible sources your doctor should be able to direct you to. These reliable sources will undoubtedly lead you to other trusted sites. Programs such as virtual training for parents can ultimately guide you to reputable people and institutions.  

The most reliable websites are those that are government sites or educational sites. For example, PubMed Health and Autism Society are credible sites that offer resources to parents and people with autism. 

5. How can I keep everyone involved in my child’s care on the same page?

Communication and collaboration is essential because it is a team effort when it comes to making sure that the therapists, doctors, and educators are all working together. Some websites allow parents to set up an account and have the doctors, therapists, teachers, and caregivers all log on to talk about the child. You can also keep a journal. You can ask one of the persons involved to be the “case manager,” but make sure you choose someone who understands your child’s condition and treatment plan and is respected by the other people on the “team.” Most professionals have their own ethical obligations, depending on their specific speciality area, that require them to collaborate with other clinicians who work with the same child.  

6. How do I help my other children understand their autistic sibling?

Your doctor should encourage you to have your child’s siblings participate in the therapy sessions if appropriate, or atleast understand the types of therapy their sibling is in and what they are working on. Sometimes, resentment or anger can build because other children do not understand the behavior of autism in siblings. One way that you can help all of your children is to seek out therapy that involves all of your kids. It is important to include your other children, but not force them to participate. Taking the time to explain autism to their siblings will help your other children understand that their siblings’ differences are a natural part of their personality. It will help promote acceptance and lessen confusion. Your autistic child will also be able to learn appropriate social cues through the example of their siblings, and it helps your other children feel as though they are a part of the child’s care. 

Lighthouse Autism Center

When it comes to autism and parenting, Lighthouse Autism Center provides the highest quality ABA therapy services to ensure your child gets the best possible care. Find out about the Lighthouse Fusion ABA Therapy and more to help your child. 

Together, we can unlock your child’s potential

INFOGRAPHIC: Why is Early Intervention for Autism So Important?

The Importance of Early Intervention with Autism

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.

Early Autism Intervention: Why is Early Intervention 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

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

Visit from Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese at Indiana 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!

Meet the Winners of Lighthouse Autism Center’s 2019 Values Awards

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

Register for the BCBA Education Event

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

Lighthouse Celebrates 7 Year Anniversary

7 Year Anniversary for Lighthouse Autism Center

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!

Four Lighthouse Autism Center staff members holding hands in a line with children in branded t-shirts on the grass facing trees

ABA Autism Center

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

Dealing With Insurance to Cover ABA Therapy

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.

Veronica Perea: Lighthouse Autism Center Award Winner

Recognising Outstanding ABA Therapy at Lighthouse Autism Center

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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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