In 2012, Lighthouse Autism Center opened its first center in northern Indiana with a mission of bringing quality Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to communities in need.
As parents of a child with autism, Gregg and Sandy experienced first-hand the transformative impact of ABA therapy. Gregg and Sandy’s third child, Victor, was diagnosed with autism at the age of four while residing in Carmel, IN, an area that at that time did not offer ABA services.
One year later, when Victor was just five years old, the first ABA center in Indiana opened in Carmel, allowing Victor and the Maggioli family access to crucial ABA therapy services. Gregg and Sandy became heavily involved in the center – Gregg as the chairman of the board and Sandy with the accounting and insurance departments.
Through their ABA experience with Victor, Gregg and Sandy realized a passion for bringing this type of therapy to other families in need. When a family friend who also had a child with autism visited the center in Carmel, she told Gregg and Sandy, “this is exactly what I’ve been trying to find for my son.”
As parents of a child with autism, Gregg and Sandy knew they could combine their unique experience with their passion for bringing ABA therapy to families in need. “Being a parent of a child that has autism gave us a very unique view into the needs of parents,” Green Maggioli said. “Smaller cities like Mishawaka didn’t have the same level of service as larger cities and we made it our mission to bring ABA to these smaller communities.”
Lighthouse Autism Center would not be the fun and caring center it is without our talented and dedicated staff. Our Staff Spotlight, Madelyn Horvath, is one in particular that has truly made an impact on the lives of our children. Madelyn stated, “My favorite thing about working at Lighthouse is that it doesn’t feel like work. I genuinely love coming here and being with these kiddos.”
Madelyn graduated from Valparaiso University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She began her career at Lighthouse in February 2016.
Madelyn has put her heart and soul into her work and it shines through. she said one of her favorite and most fulfilling parts of her job is when a child reaches their goal. she said, “I love having expectations be blown out of the water when a kid surpasses a goal that at the start seemed unlikely to be successful. I love telling a parent at the end of the day something their child did awesome and seeing the parent’s face light up like i just told them their child won the lottery.”
Additionally, she has card for her two autistic brothers since she was 16. She said, “I have a very special place in my heart for these kids. I love that when I talk about my job to people who have no idea what i do that when i’m done talking, they go “wow, I can tell you like what you do.”
ABA therapy allows Lighthouse therapist to tailor an individual program for each child, with goals that are developmentally appropriate and that help them learn new skills. Here are three wonderful examples of how ABA therapy leads to positive achievements.
Went from not responding to his name or making eye contact to independently sustaining eye contact with peers and adults while responding to his name.
Increased his communication skills by using a picture exchange communication system to answer yes or no questions and request preferred items.
Went from being unable to sit independently in a group setting to being able to sit independently for more than 15 minutes in a group setting and follow the group leader.
Increased her communication skills by using full sentences to express wants and needs.
Went from showing many bad behaviors when asked to do preferred activities to performing several non-preferred activities with no behaviors!
Went from refusing to perform activities outside of those she preferred to consistently selecting other activities when her preferred activity is not an option.
Increased his communication by using a picture exchange communication system to request wants and needs.
Went from having minimal appropriate play skills to playing proficiently with nearly all toys.
Went from being unable to feed himself to using a spoon independently and has nearly mastered using a fork.
Does the center offer support for dealing with insurance companies and helping you navigate the insurance process?
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?
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.
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!!! 😄👏🏆