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Category Archives: ABA Therapy

Autism, Early Intervention and ABA Therapy

What is autism?

child with autism
Those with autism often have sensory sensitivity.

Autism, as defined by the Autism Society of America, “is 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. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Symptoms and signs of Autism generally emerge between 24 and 36 months of age. There is no known single cause of autism…”

Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are general terms used for grouping complex disorders of brain development. These developmental disorders are characterized in different degrees by:

  • Social interaction difficulties
  • Nonverbal and verbal communication difficulties
  • Repetitive behaviors

While the signs and symptoms of autism can appear as early as 6 months, and typically by age 3, there are many children who are diagnosed much later, and some individuals may not diagnosed until much later in life. It’s critical that parents and families are educated on the signs of autism as well as the steps to take if they think their child may have autism, in order to achieve the best outcomes for their child.

Diagnosis

If you suspect a child may have autism, the first step is to contact the child’s pediatrician or their general practioner. The pediatrician will perform an assessment and will typically be able to determine if a child has autism or not.

In some cases, a pediatrician will refer families to a psychologist, a physician that specializes in mental health. The psychologist will perform a standardized assessment (included but not limited to CARS, ADOS, MCHAT, etc…) to evaluate if the child has autism and the severity. This step is critical in the diagnosis and evaluation process, as most insurance companies require a standardized assessment (such as those listed above) in order to approve an authorization for treatment (such as Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, ABA Therapy and more).

Early Intervention

Data shows that the earlier children are diagnosed with autism, the earlier they start receiving interventions and the better their outcomes are. This leads to a better overall quality of life for the child and the family. This is one of the biggest reason’s families are encouraged to understand what autism is, recognize the signs of it, and take the steps to get their child the help they need.

Types of Intervention – ABA Therapy

ABA therapy
ABA therapists working one-on-one to administer therapy.

Once a parent receives an autism diagnosis, they often are left in shock and confusion as to what to do next. While a physician or psychologist may refer them to a specific therapy center for services (whether that be ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or something else) but that is not always the case. The best thing you can do for your child is research the services and interventions available to you in your area.

Specifically, many doctors will recommend Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services for children with autism. This is the only type of therapy recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General for the treatment of autism. ABA therapy aids in the development of new skills, shapes and refines previously learned skills and decreases socially significant problem behaviors. It often involves the following components:

  • Qualified and trained BCBA’s (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) lead and oversee a child’s therapy program
  • After a detailed assessment of a child, the BCBA will create a unique program with consideration given to the child’s ABA therapy goals, preferences and the overall family goals.
  • Goals will be developmentally appropriate for that child and will include things like sociability, communication, play, self-care, motor development and academic skills.
  • Highly qualified and trained therapists will help a child achieve these goals through detailed instruction plans that break down skills into skill sets. The child will then work on the most basic skill sets and build up to more complex skill sets, with each skill set building off of the previous one.
  • Therapists continually collect data on your child to determine which skill sets are improving, which one’s are not, and how the therapy program may need to be modified in order to make sure your child achieves their goals
  • Regular meetings with family and staff take place to allow for planning, review of child’s progress and to make any needed adjustments.

 

If you would like to learn more about early intervention and ABA therapy, contact us here.

 

My Child & Autism: How Much is Too Much?

Prospective parents visiting our center often ask the question, “how much is too much therapy?” At Lighthouse Autism Center, we specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, an intensive type of therapy that is the only therapy for children with autism endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Children with autism need consistent, targeted, therapy to minimize skill gaps. Intensive therapy, such as ABA, has been shown to be incredibly effective in helping children and adults with autism live more fulfilled lives. Furthermore, the earlier children begin this therapy, the more effective the therapy will be.

If we think of ABA therapy in the same way we think about school for our children, we will see that the time spent is equal. The average child is in a classroom for 6 to 8 hours a day, five days a week. They are being taught and instructed in the classroom and those lessons are carried over at home. ABA therapy is the same. Most of our children spend eight hours each day at our centers where they are being taught life skills, school skills, and working on decreasing inappropriate or problem behaviors. These same skills are also put into practice in a home setting.

Looking to give your child with autism the Lighthouse advantage? Learn more about our ABA therapy options today!

My Child & Autism: How Long is Therapy?

One of the most common questions parents ask when approaching the idea of therapy for a child with autism is “how long will my child need therapy?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or one solution for a child with autism. Each child is unique in their skills and goals. This means that each child’s therapy plan and programs, and the length of that therapy plan, will vary.

However, on average, most children are enrolled at a center for two years. While a child may only be enrolled for two years, that does not mean they only need two years of therapy. At Lighthouse, the goal is to transition children back to a classroom setting where some form of therapy continues. This may mean having a classroom aid work with them or setting up an IEP with the school. Other children may not need any support at all.

Ultimately, there is no “cookie-cutter” approach when it comes to your child. At Lighthouse, we understand that and are dedicated to giving your child a personified experience that will help them to reach their fullest potential.

Want to learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center, contact us today!

What is CPI Training?

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we take great pride in the safety of our centers. Specifically, all of our employees receive two weeks of training before beginning therapy with a child, are First Aid and CPR certified, and most notable, are Crisis Prevention Intervention, or CPI, certified.

What is CPI?

CPI can best be described as nonviolent crisis intervention training designed to teach best practices for managing difficult situations and disruptive behaviors. Therapists learn how to identify at-risk individuals and use nonverbal and verbal techniques to defuse hostile behavior. This type of training not only ensures the utmost safety of the children at our centers, but also, the safety of our staff.

To learn more, visit https://www.crisisprevention.com.

Have a child in need of ABA or speech therapy? Contact LAC today!

My Child & Autism: Siblings

When a child is diagnosed with autism, it affects the entire family. While we often think of the parents or caregivers as those primarily affected, siblings are deeply affected as well. So, as parents, we must ask ourselves, what can we do to help both our child with autism as well as their brothers and sisters?

Educate and Set Expectations

It is important to make sure siblings understand the diagnosis of their brother and sister and what that means. Sit down and have a conversation with your child about autism and what that may mean for their relationship with their sibling (ie: Sam can’t express his wants or needs verbally so he may scream or Sam hears things differently than other people and that’s why we need to turn the music down, etc…). Be sure to have open communication with your child and be sure to let them know it’s ok to ask questions. Furthermore, having a sibling with autism can often mean having unexpected and upsetting reactions with others who may not understand their diagnosis. Prepare your child for different scenarios they may find themselves in with friends, schoolmates, or even strangers, and how to properly and respectfully react to things they may hear or experience.

Quality Time

Often times, so much time is dedicated to the child with autism and their needs, that the siblings can begin to feel neglected, or “left out.” Make sure you’re spending time with all of your children. Consider setting up a special one-on-one activity once a month with each child, or plan activities the entire family can do together. This will ultimately create a stronger family that is prepared to deal with the challenges faced by raising a child with autism.

Have a child in need of ABA or speech therapy? Contact LAC today!