norwood park autism services

All about services at the Norwood Park Autism Center

Welcome to our Key Autism Services, Norwood park ABA Center! Below you will find detailed steps of what to can expect if you are considering enrolling your child in our center-based ABA program!

To get started you will need to speak with our intake team and get approval from your insurance for an ABA assessment. After completing an assessment with a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), your child will be assigned to a team of highly qualified behavior therapists (BTs).  The BCBA will create a custom-tailored program for your child, targeting a variety of skill areas such as communication, social skills, daily living skills, and behavior reduction. Your child will have the opportunity to target these skills in an individualized setting with their team of BTs, as well as attend one of our unique NPC programs. Parents are informed about their child’s progress with regular updates from their BCBA, as well as receive a weekly newsletter from the center director.

Behavior Therapy Programs:

Each of our programs are put together by the team of BCBAs at NPC.  Our BCBAs work together to build a curriculum and program that targets the individual needs of each child. Each child will attend individual, group, or a combination of those programs with his or her assigned behavior therapist, who help the BCBA’s facilitate the programs and groups.

Early Learners:

Our Early Learners program is geared toward the 2-4 – year-old age group.  This program is structured like a preschool day, allowing the learners to practice the skills they would need in a school setting, while receiving individualized programming. Some of these skills include following group instructions, group transitions, waiting in a group, sharing and turn taking, fine motor activities, and sensory and movement activities. Each learner will work 1:1 with a behavior therapist, as well as spend much of the day with his or her peers, providing opportunities for communication, socialization, and toleration of less preferred activities. Our curriculum for the early learner program creates fun and exciting opportunities for learning throughout the whole day!

School Readiness Program:

Our School Readiness program targets children ages 5-7.  This program follows a daily schedule of a mix of group time and 1:1 sessions with each child’s team of therapists. Some of the goals targeted in this program include reciprocal conversation, collaborative play, gross motor play, self-advocacy, transitions, and toleration. The learner’s individual goals are incorporated to the group goals, allowing for more natural opportunities to practice. The school readiness program curriculum allows the children to learn about different topics in a variety of modalities, making learning fun and exciting, and preparing the children for attending school with their peers.

Pre-Teen Social Group:

The pre-teen social group meets 1-2 times weekly and is targeted toward leaners aged 10-13. This group follows an evidence-based curriculum and targets a variety of skills. Some of the skills targeted include executive functioning, daily living skills, conversational skills, collaboration and compromise, puberty, emotional regulation, money management, and team building.  Each member has individual goals which are then incorporated into a small group setting.

Speech and OT:

KAS has recently partnered with Pop Pediatric Therapy to provide onsite speech and occupational therapies at the Norwood Park Center. This allows for collaboration and goal building across disciplines, providing a well-rounded approach to the child’s therapy.

Special Activities:

We often have special activities and events at NPC such as spirit weeks, birthday celebrations, and milestone celebrations.  Additionally, the staff create fun and creative opportunities to target the strengths and unique abilities of each child, allowing everyone to shine!

Ready to see how we can help your child? Contact us here:

Your Child is a Sunset: Strategies for Managing Stress as a Special Needs Parent

Stress is a normal and unavoidable part of life, but families with children with autism can experience more stress than other families. Many families feel immense pressure to “parent perfectly”, following all of the recommendations and strategies provided by their BCBAs, SLPs, and other providers 100% of the time. This approach, however, as a “fixer” of our child’s challenges, often leaves us feeling like we are falling in quicksand. The more we try to fix, the faster we fall in. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy offers a different approach, focusing on strategies to move through inevitably difficult and stressful situations. Here are just a few strategies derived from the ACT:

Your Life is a Movie:

Think back to a time in your life when you felt stressed. Maybe your child was having a meltdown in the grocery store, and all the tips and tricks you usually implement aren’t working. Imagine yourself as a bystander in the situation. What’s something kind you would say in this moment? Maybe you’d say something such like, “I’ve been there!”, or “You got this”. Practicing self-compassion will not only help you move through stressful situations in the moment, but also model these skills for your child. 

Milk, milk, milk:

Have you ever noticed that if you keep saying the same word over and over, it starts to sound strange or loses its meaning? Try saying the word “milk” over and over for 45 seconds straight. Eventually the word loses all of its associations, and becomes a series of meaningless sounds. We can use this same strategy to move through uncomfortable or anxious thoughts. 

Your Child as a Sunset:

ABA Therapy can be immensely helpful in identifying interventions to support our children’s independence. It is also important, however, to sometimes resist the urge to problem solve, and appreciate our children as sunsets. This means we enjoy their beauty and unique qualities without focusing on how long the moment will last, or how we could improve it. 

For more information on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, see a list of resources below:

The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT by Russ Harris

Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes

Additional References:

Hahs, A.D., Dixon, M.R., & Paliliunas, D. (in press). Randomized controlled trial of a brief acceptance and commitment training for parents of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science

Paary-Cruwys, R. (Producer). (2019, February 13). Acceptance and commitment training with Dr. Adam Hahs [Audio podcast].

Harris, R. (2006). Embracing your demons: an Overview of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Psychotherapy in Australia, 12, 2-8. 

The Unique Benefits of In-Home ABA

Have you ever wondered about in-home ABA?

Keep reading to learn why we love this option for kids with autism.

A few years ago our Regional Clinical Director, Valerie Jaramillo, BCBA, was working with one of our kiddos. He was a young child who struggled with communication.  His parents were deeply concerned about his ability in the future to advocate for his own needs. They worried how he would answer questions, make friends, and have relationships. How would he tell people what he needed? How would his behaviors reflect the frustration that came from his delay in communication? It wasn’t that he didn’t understand what he wanted. Instead, it was an issue of how to communicate in the way the adults and peers around him understood. 
 
The family had tried an ABA program once before for a short time but hadn’t yet found the right fit. Valerie created a team for him in his home and started the process of creating programs. The long-term goal was to teach him how to communicate in a much more effective way. His ABA program was designed specifically to meet his needs. First, his therapists worked to use visual prompts to teach him responses to simple questions and greetings. When his communication skills started to grow, so did his treatment programs. His team included the community in his programming to allow for natural environment training, NET for short. Sessions started to fade out of the home and move into the community. They would walk to the corner store and practice making purchasing decisions. Then they practiced how to pay for it. The child and his team also enjoyed daily trips to local parks to meet with family friends and other peers. Step by step, therapists facilitated as this young child practiced his new skills. He learned to make friends and play with others. He worked hard, extremely hard, and his therapists supported him the entire way.
 
Each child is different and what they work on varies. Valerie explains that there are certain moments that emphasize just how beneficial in-home ABA programs are. It is one thing to practice a skill in a therapy room. It’s entirely different to join in the activities right there when the skill is needed. For example, when a child is approached at the park by a new peer, his therapists can help him practice his communication skills. Sometimes, they can even support the development of a new friendship. At Key Autism Services, our teams have witnessed hundreds of inspirational moments like this as our kiddos grow up in front of our eyes.
 
After experiencing stories that showed us how incredible in-home ABA is, we put together a list of benefits. There are many different services for kids with have autism. Each child is different so the variety of programs is exactly what we need. The benefits below are some of the reasons we love in-home ABA.
 

The unique benefits of in-home ABA: 

 

A familiar environment

 
It isn’t uncommon for our kids to go through a period of resistance when they start a new program. Conducting therapy in a familiar environment reduces the time it takes to adjust. Home-based ABA eliminates the need for the child to spend time adapting to a new an unfamiliar environment. New environments are often scary or take added time to get used to.
 

Eliminate a transition

 
Transitions can be a challenge for many of the children we work with. In fact, transitions themselves are often a goal we are working on during ABA Programs. Home-based ABA eliminates any need for getting ready to leave the home, transportation, or entering a new facility. This means we can spend the entire time practicing skills instead of overcoming resistance to attend each session
 

Home-Based ABA Saves time

 
Home-based ABA saves time for the entire family! Parents aren’t tasked with the extra errand of drop off and pick up from yet another appointment. Instead, they have ongoing support throughout the day incorporated into their typical routing. We save valuable time to spend productively with the therapy team versus in the car.

A Comfortable Environment for the Child

 
When ABA is done in the home, the child has a chance build rapport with new team members in a comfortable and safe space. They can focus just on a new team member and not have to factor in outside variables. It can be both distracting and scary to adapt to new children and unfamiliar spaces. With a therapeutic team in the home, the first step is meeting the therapists and building a strong relationship with them. Then, they can begin working to bring their new skills into other environments, on step at a time.
 

Reinforcers – Using each child’s favorite toy and activity. 

 
Reinforcers are a key part of behavior analysis. But the best reinforcers are the ones that motivate the child by using what they already love to do. These toys and activities are usually already in the home. Therapy teams can use the access to these reinforcers to spark motivation.
 

Naturalistic teaching

 
Conducting therapy in the child’s natural environment will allow for practice of skills directly related to family concerns.
 
For example, many of the kiddos in Key Autism Service’s home-based ABA programs are working on interactions with siblings. Therapy teams can work on this directly in their natural setting. They create programs that are structured around real interactions. Together, they can practice and improve communication with siblings. It doesn’t end with siblings, ABA can address any relationship or daily response.
 
Another common example is setting boundaries around electronics. At home, it isn’t unusual for a child to prefer to spend time on their iPad, video game, or other electronics. The behavior stops them from engaging with family or doing their homework. ABA teams wan work with the child to set limits with these items. ABA therapists motivate kids and teens to mange their time.
 

Generalization

 
Conducting therapy in the child’s natural environment will help to teach skills where the child needs them every day. When teaching how to brush teeth in a bathroom it may surprise you how important the bathroom setup itself can be. Imagine learning to find the toothpaste in drawers to your right then going home to find that they’re always in cabinets above you! Children may also need to learn how to use their specific appliances. Teaching these skills at home in the space and with the items that they will actually use can speed this up.
 

Parental involvement

 
Conducting therapy in the home promotes parental and family involvement. Parents are encouraged to sit in or observe sessions when possible. Many family members want to learn the goals and programs their child is working on. They can then incorporate what is learned to better assist with their child’s programming when the therapy team is not there
 

Sibling involvement

 
ABA therapy allows the incorporation of siblings into the therapy session. Time can be used to educate siblings, work on social skills, build a positive sibling relationship etc.
 

Involvement of other family members

 
Home-based ABA therapy can incorporate other relatives or caregivers present in the home. Can train nannies, grandparents, etc so that the whole team is on the same page with a consistent treatment plan.