What is ABA Therapy for Autism?

ABA Therapy is short for Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy and is regarded as the gold standard for autism treatment. It is a form of therapy that is based on the principles and the science of human behavior and learning. As the go-to method of autism therapy, ABA has been used to improve communication, social and learning skills by using key tactics like positive reinforcement, mainly with individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism. It employs a system of rewards and consequences to curb and eventually eliminate negative or harmful behaviors, helping to mold behavior in a positive way. 

It has also been effective in treating other conditions such as anxiety, OCD, phobias, eating disorders, substance abuse and more. 

How Does In-Home ABA Therapy Work?

No two kids are alike which is why ABA Therapy has several phases and can be customized to your child’s specific needs. ABA Therapy starts with an initial consultation and a functional behavior assessment, administered by a qualified and trained ABA Therapist or Behavior Technician. During this assessment, the ABA Therapist will start by asking the parents, in-home family or direct caregivers questions about the child’s strengths, abilities and challenges. They will meet and get to know the child, interacting with them and getting a feel for their communication levels, their social skills, how they learn, their personality and more. All the information gathered here will be used to create a custom behavior plan for your child. 

What Do the In-Home ABA Therapy Sessions and the ABA Behavior Plan Entail? 

The ABA Therapist assigned with the child will then work the BCBA, or Board Certified Behavior Analyst to formulate the behavior plan. They will share the observations made during the assessment to start with an initial plan of action for the individual child moving forward. This dictates what the ABA Therapist will work on with the child during all subsequent In-home ABA therapy sessions. It will align with the child’s needs, unique strengths and challenges and will dictate treatment methods and goals. 

Goals set usually aim at correcting problematic behaviors or harmful behaviors, such as aggression, emotional outbursts, self-injury, and tantrums; it will help increase or improve learning, communication, and social skills. Behavior plans also include principles and strategies caregivers, teachers, and other influencers in the child’s life can use to help the child meet his or her behavior goals. This helps keep everything the child is learning streamlined and reduces the chance for conflicting ideologies that could confuse the child and set them back in their progress. 

More specifically, some of the intervention methods utilized in different behavior plans can include: 

Verbal Behavior Intervention: focuses on improving communication skills with kids who display non-verbal behaviors. 

Early Start Denver Model: Uses play-based activities to integrate multiple goals. 

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention: Recommended for kids under age 5 and teaches functional and adaptive skills, social interaction, and communication skills in a focused, intensive manner. 

Pivotal Response Training: Allows the child to take charge and lead in a learning activity with the therapist suggesting several choices for the child to select from, based on the child’s displayed tendencies and skills. 

Discrete Trial Training: Teaches via structure and task completion, offering rewards on jobs well done. 

The Importance of In-Home ABA Therapy 

The best place to do this is in a natural environment for the child, so the therapist can get a full understanding of what factors are at play in the child’s behaviors. It will also give the child the utmost sense of comfort, knowing that they are in a natural environment, giving the therapist a much more accurate assessment of the child’s natural tendencies and habits than if the child were to be assessed in an unfamiliar environment. Other places your therapist may spend time with the child in, are in other natural settings like at school, where the child is accustomed to spending time. This allows the therapist to observe the child as they go about their daily activities. 

ABA Therapy and Caregiver Training 

Being in a natural setting also allows the ABA Therapist to get the support of the other caregivers and educators around the child, like the parents and the teachers in his or her life. Having the principles and the different behavior intervention strategies reinforced by other authority figures in the child’s life is key to helping them succeed in reaching their goals. The ABA Therapist assigned to work with the individual child will provide training for caregivers and oftentimes ask that they participate in the one-on-one therapy sessions. The training will help caregivers navigate challenging behaviors and help steer the child into more positive ways of responding. 

Ongoing Evaluation

The aim of the ABA Therapy sessions is to reveal any causes of any detrimental behaviors while working to replace those behaviors with more positive, constructive ones.  Over the course of the child’s therapy journey, there will be more assessments made based on the data that is collected. The approach will be adjusted as more sessions are completed, as time goes on and as progress is made. The behavior plans are designed to be scalable and malleable, allowing the therapist to build on it and adjust it as the child grows and learns. 

What are the Results of Successful In-Home ABA Therapy? 

ABA Therapy helps kids with Autism communicate more effectively, show more interest in the people and activities around them, engage in more socially healthy ways and will help them become more independent by being able to ask for things themselves, having fewer tantrums or outbursts, being more focused at school and by eliminating self-harming behaviors. 

To get more of your questions answered, reach out to our staff to schedule a consultation with the Key Autism Team.

Autism Friendly Places in Lake County, Indiana

Finding fun things to do each day with our kids is not always easy.  We want them to have a great time while learning.  In addition, we want our kids on the Autism spectrum to experience the enjoyable and educational things that our community has to offer. That being said, planning a great day for our kids with ASD can actually be easy and stress free.  It just takes learning about our neighborhoods. There are hidden gems out there and you need to know where to look. This article will provide a road map to Autism friendly places in Lake County Indiana.

5 Autism Friendly Fun Places In Lake County, Indiana:

  1. Located in Crown Point, Indiana, Deep River Waterpark is sure to be a good time for the entire family. The park has an assortment of slides and pools and puts a premium on safety.  The park also has “Splashtacular” Night Out events for kids with Autism and their families. This is a great place for summer fun, and your child will have a blast.
  2. Also in Crown Point, is the beautiful Lemon Lake County Park. The park features fishing, hiking, a dog park, playgrounds, and more. There is room to run and play. Lemon Lake is a family friendly place and your child will enjoy the beautiful nature and fun activities to participate in.
  3. For kids who love nature, check out Hammond Lake Front Park and Bird Sanctuary, in Hammond. Your child will love seeing all different types of birds, and the respite from the urban sprawl of Hammond. This is a great place to relax and see some beautiful animals in their natural environment. The trails are accessible for walking disabled.
  4. Kids on the Autism spectrum may have difficulty going to a movie due to sensory issues. Just across the border in Chicago is Studio Movie Grill. Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered and children are free to move around, talk, or even dance in the aisles during the movie. This is an experience kids with ASD may not get to enjoy otherwise.
  5. Located in Lake Station, Indiana is Bellaboo’s Play and Discovery Center. This fun and autism friendly play center is loaded with activities for kids of all learning and functioning levels. Watch the calendar for fun seasonal events.

Go ahead, Explore:

The places listed above are just a sample of what Lake County, Indiana has to enjoy for kids on the Autism Spectrum. They are fun, and sure to be enjoyed by everyone in the family. In addition, don’t hesitate to explore what other places have to offer for kids with Autism. Sometimes, just asking the management of a place about how they might be Autism friendly, can open the door to new offerings. Museums, parks, restaurants, and other public locations are eager to be inclusive and offer fun for everyone. Lake County, Indiana is no different, and as time goes by, more places are sure to be Autism friendly. We’ll be sure to keep our eyes open and share more lists as they become available.

With popular autism therapy, some skills take time to learn

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The longer a child receives a popular autism treatment, the greater her gains in language, daily living, and other skills. The number of hours spent on the therapy each week is also important to its success.

That’s the upshot of an unusually large study of the therapy, applied behavioral analysis (ABA)1.

ABA therapy breaks skills and behaviors into discrete steps, rewarding success at each step. But it is expensive and may require up to 40 hours per week. The new work is the first to tease apart the effects of the duration of ABA and its intensity; both aspects together compose the therapy’s ‘dose.’

The findings could help clinicians maximize the therapy’s effectiveness and limit its costs.

“It’s really difficult to nail down how much is exactly enough: What is the actual dose that a kid needs in treatment, and what are the trade-offs?” says study leader Dennis Dixon, director of analytics at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) in Woodland Hills, California.

The study also shows that certain types of skills routinely take children longer to master than other skills. For example, reliably remembering to turn in homework requires sustained practice over time, whereas language skills may develop more quickly with intense drilling.

“That’s a much more fine-grained or nuanced look at this than other people have done,” says Tristram Smith, professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester in New York, who was not involved in the work.

More imore:

The researchers analyzed data from 1,468 children in eight U.S. states who were receiving ABA treatment that followed the CARD model. The children were between the ages of 18 months and 12 years, received at least 20 hours of ABA therapy each month and had been receiving the treatment for at least one month.

The team tracked the number of skills the children mastered in each of eight skill domains over 36 months. The domains range from academic skills, such as matching objects by color, to social skills, such as responding appropriately to greetings.

For every domain, the children who spend either more hours per week or more months in therapy learn more skills than those who do less in either dimension, the researchers found. Duration has a bigger effect than intensity. For example, children master 0.78 of a motor skill, on average, per additional hour of treatment per week. But they learn 2.01 motor skills per additional month of treatment. The precise relationships vary from one domain to the next.

Because the two components of dose are measured on different time scales, however, it is difficult to directly compare them, Dixon says. In short, both components matter.

Still, the importance of duration came as a surprise, he says. Most studies have focused on the role of the therapy’s intensity. And most, but not all, have found that more hours per week translates to greater benefit. The new work appeared 19 September in Translational Psychiatry.

Domain differences:

The researchers also assessed the relative importance of intensity and duration for learning different skill sets.

When working on adaptive skills, such as brushing teeth and getting dressed, or on executive function skills — attention, memory, and self-control — most children tend to make slow, steady progress. More hours per week leads to greater gains, but the effect is small relative to that of extending treatment length.

By contrast, dialing up either intensity or duration both greatly improve children’s mastery of language skills.

The results are difficult to compare with those of other studies, however, because they are based on data from CARD rather than on standardized measures, says Zachary Warren, director of the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Warren was not involved in the work.

If the results hold up, they could help clinicians plan the parameters of the therapy to offer a child, Dixon says. For example, clinicians might choose to work on executive function in a child for only a few hours a week and continue to practice it for many months. And they might re-evaluate the treatment if the child’s language skills don’t progress rapidly despite spending many hours each week on them.

One of the study’s investigators, whose 8-year-old receives ABA therapy, found the results personally reassuring.

“I took comfort in the fact that empirically we can see that both intensity and duration are creating value,” says Erik Linstead, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science at Chapman University in Orange, California. “My child is spending hours and hours a week in therapy. This made me feel like, okay, I’m glad that we’re doing this.”

Source: https://spectrumnews.org/news/popular-autism-therapy-skills-take-time-learn/

Autism Symptoms Rarely Isolated, CDC Researchers Say

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Nearly all children with autism are dealing with at least one other condition — and often several — ranging from anxiety to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, sleep, behavioral and gastrointestinal issues, a new study suggests.

In an analysis of records on almost 1,900 kids on the spectrum, researchers found that over 95 percent presented with at least one issue in addition to autism.

The findings come from a study published online this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders led by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study relied on data collected from five communities across the country on 4-year-olds and 8-year-olds through the 2010 Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. The surveillance program — which is used to establish the government’s rate of estimated autism prevalence — relies on health and educational records.

Researchers looked for evidence of the 18 most common co-occurring conditions or symptoms in the children with autism, including cognitive issues, regression, behavior problems, congenital or genetic conditions and language disorders.

On average, they found that each child had 4.9 of these secondary conditions, with a higher prevalence among 8-year-olds compared to 4-year-olds.

Moreover, the study found that kids with autism who had co-occurring conditions were more likely to be diagnosed with the developmental disorder at younger ages.

“While the reasons behind this high prevalence are still unclear, their presence contributes to the ASD phenotype heterogeneity, which is a potential barrier to a timely diagnosis of ASD and a challenge for studying ASD etiology because of difficulties in defining a single early ASD behavioral marker,” the study authors concluded.

The researchers said their findings support the need for a “comprehensive system of care” for those with autism and greater consideration of co-occurring conditions in order to enhance early detection of the developmental disorder.

Source: https://www.disabilityscoop.com

Autism Insurance Mandates Trigger Influx Of Service Providers

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Indianapolis company is bringing two autism therapy centers to central Ohio as part of a plan to ultimately open 20 sites and provide about 1,000 jobs across the state.

The Hopebridge centers, slated to open in late April in Dublin and Westerville, are among 10 the company plans to have to operate within a year, said chief executive Dennis May.

Four have already opened: three in the Cincinnati area and one outside Dayton. Other centers are planned for Akron, Cleveland, and Toledo. They join a network of 17 Hopebridge clinics across Indiana and Kentucky.

The expansion comes after an Ohio law went into effect last April requiring individual and group insurance plans to cover kids 14 and younger for autism-spectrum screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Advocates say a key element of the law is its inclusion of applied behavior analysis, or ABA, which uses techniques based on human-behavior principles, such as prompting a child to imitate and repeat the desired behavior several times, offering rewards each time it is performed correctly.

Similar law changes have happened in 45 other states, leading to spikes in service providers, particularly those offering ABA, which has proven effective but has long been denied by insurance companies, said Lorri Unumb, vice president of state government affairs for Autism Speaks.

“It’s such a wonderful thing,” Unumb said. “This not only expands access or creates access for children with autism and will change the trajectory of their lives forever, but it also spawns new business.”

Hopebridge, which offers ABA, factored the law change into its decision to expand into Ohio, May said. Access to care also was a consideration.

“There’s really a shortage of the number of providers for the number of children, the size of the state and the need in the state,” May said. “We’re excited to support those families that have needs.”

Marla Root of the Ohio Autism Insurance Coalition said the group works to introduce providers to Ohio.

“We definitely have already seen some providers from other states looking to come into Ohio, absolutely, and we’re hoping that’s the case,” she said. “We have a lot of need and, especially, we have a lot of underserved areas.”

Some providers, however, continue to hang back as Ohio works to include ABA as a Medicaid benefit, Root said.

The change in law also has led to an increase in demand, exacerbating the need for more providers, said Melissa Bacon of the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence. There have been new providers, she said, but it takes time to obtain needed certifications and approvals.

“It’s not like you can just turn a switch on and have that happen,” said Bacon, who directs policy, strategic initiatives and stakeholder engagement.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 68 children has been identified as having autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disability that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges.

May said the Hopebridge clinic-based model is different from other providers that offer in-home treatment because it gives kids the space needed for therapy as well as social interaction with other children. The centers also offer comprehensive, collaborative care, with one-stop access to speech, occupational and physical therapies as well as ABA, he said.

Speech, occupational and physical therapies were generally covered before law changes, Unumb said, but it is significant that ABA has been added.

She said Ohio is a bit different from other states because, since 2013, ABA coverage was required for individual and small-group plans provided under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A child with severe impairment could require 20 to 40 hours of ABA therapy each week, services that could cost as much as $70,000 a year, Unumb said. The new laws open the therapy up to children from non-wealthy families.

“It’s absolutely life-changing,” she said. “We see all over the country children who had no access to ABA therapy before making remarkable gains.”

© 2018 The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

 

Source: https://www.disabilityscoop.com