Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a therapy for children with autism, is an intensive and comprehensive one-on-one teaching.
Autism and ABA Therapy Services
As signs of autism begin to appear in a child’s life, parents are usually the first to notice the symptoms. They may observe that their child is not responsive to other people, avoids eye contact, or engages in repetitive and sometimes harmful behavior. Raising a child is a rewarding and challenging time for any family, but when children are faced with the behavioral or developmental issues associated with autism, sometimes extra support and guidance are needed. That’s where we come in.
At Community Connections Healthcare Services, our services are designed to meet the unique needs of children and their families, helping everyone overcome obstacles and create foundations for future success. In the comfort of a child’s home, Community Connections comes to the aid of children facing the challenges of autism by offering services such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Services vary by office location, so please contact us today at 919-665-HOPE (4673) to determine if ABA therapy is available in your area.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA)?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most comprehensive and effective approach to improving the lives of children and the families of children with autism. The ABA approach uses a mixture of psychological, educational, and developmental techniques based upon the needs of the child. This includes teaching social, motor, language, communication, and cognitive skills.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- Increase skills in language, play, and socialization
- Decrease challenging behaviors that interfere with learning and daily functioning
- Reduce or eliminate ritualistic or self-injurious behaviors
- Increase attention span
- Increase independence and improve adaptive skills
Studies have shown that ABA techniques are a proven treatment and the method of choice for treating individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at any level. Even if the child does not achieve a “best outcome” result of normal functioning levels in all areas, nearly all children with autism benefit from intensive ABA programs.
Behavioral Services Include:
- Behavioral assessment and plan (performed by a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst, BCBA)
- Assisting the child to engage in or remain engaged in appropriate behaviors
- Minimizing the child’s challenging behavior
- Utilizing principles of reinforcement to achieve goals
- Providing time structured activities
- Collaboration with and support for the parent, guardian, and/or individual who customarily provides care in an effort to provide ongoing behavioral support
Autism is the most common condition of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), a category of neurological disorders marked by noticeable impairment in areas of development. It is typically identified within the first three years of a child’s life and is characterized by:
- Difficulties with social interactions
- Repetitive behaviors
- Verbal and nonverbal communication problems
- Obsessive or severely limited activities and interests
Asperger’s Syndrome, a milder form of autism, is characterized by children who display autistic social behaviors but have advanced language skills. For more information on the services that are available in your area for children with autism, contact Community Connections Healthcare Services today. Services offerings may vary by individual office location. Find a Community Connections Healthcare Services office location near you.
The Tricare Autism Demonstration Project is available to active duty military families. Military dependents diagnosed with Autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, or CDD are eligible to participate in the program. The Tricare Autism Demonstration Project provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, a comprehensive, structured program individually designed to address skill deficits (i.e., language, cognitive, social, play, self-help) and problem behaviors in diagnosed children. Additionally, up to 40 hours of 1:1 in-home therapy by an ABA Technician are provided per week. The program also covers monthly supervision, an initial assessment and treatment planning, parent training, and progress reports provided by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
How to Get Started
If you would like to start an ABA program for your child or would like more information regarding ABA therapy, please call 919-665-HOPE (4683) or fill out our online contact form. We will be able to discuss what ABA is, how it can benefit your child, the typical costs involved, Tricare Basic/ECHO/Demo funding, community resources, and any additional questions you may have.
Initial Meetings generally last 1-2 hours. The meeting includes an introduction to Community Connections, an overview of the Tricare Autism Demonstration Project, a review of all prior testing your child has undergone, and a discussion regarding your child’s current skills, behavioral problems, and needs.
Initial Assessments provide in-depth information about your child’s skills in the following areas:
- Gross Motor
- Fine Motor
- Play Skills
We use assessment tools that will give an objective measurement of your child’s performance compared to typical developing children. The assessment typically lasts 1-2 hours and will determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses, outlining specific areas for improvement. Follow-up assessments will allow our team to track your child’s progress, tweaking the therapy program if needed. Following the initial assessment, a telephone consultation will be conducted and a written report will be prepared.
Additional consultations are available by appointment. Consultations can be for a variety of services, including:
- School Observations
- Attending Meetings (I.E.P., Mental Health)
- Additional Therapist Training
Recommendation letters for CAP, insurance companies, IEP goals, etc are available upon request.
Therapy services will provide 15-40 hours per week of home-based, 1:1 therapy. Therapy will address a variety of areas, including:
- Language Skills
- Cognitive Skills
- Social Skills
- Self-Help Skills (Potty-Training, Grooming, Eating)
- Gross Motor Skills
- Fine Motor Skills
- Play Skills
- Behavioral Issues
We file claims with Tricare for all billable services and bill you for cost share once per month. You will receive a detailed invoice that shows the services provided.
Myths About The Autism Demonstration Project
15-40 Hours Per Week of ABA Therapy Is Too Much/Unusual
In fact, the opposite is true. Research studies have shown good results for ABA therapy programs that emphasize the “intensity” of the program. Children in the studies typically receive 30 – 40 hours per week of 1:1 therapy. Many well-respected research organizations have recommended this treatment. For example, the National Standards Report issued by the National Autism Center recommends that children receive at least 25 hours per week of an established treatment for 12 months per year and that treatment begin as soon as possible. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) discusses the success of ABA therapy at up to 40 hours per week. Autism Speaks also has a lot of information about ABA therapy and defines “intensity” as 25 – 40 hours per week. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends treatment through a comprehensive therapy program, which should include “intensive intervention, with active engagement of the child at least 25 hours per week, 12 months per year.”
Quantity Does Not Beat Quality
However, quality does not trump quantity either. 3-6 hours per week with a fantastic ABA therapist will yield minimal progress due to lack of repetition and practice. There are NO research studies that demonstrate effective low number ABA programs. In fact, a 1987 study by Dr. Ivar Lovaas compared the results of two groups of children: one group that received 40 hours per week of direct therapy and a second group that received 10 hours per week of direct therapy. The results showed that 47% of the 40-hour/week group achieved normal intellectual and educational functioning compared to the 2% of children in the 10-hour/week group who also achieved normal intellectual and educational functioning.
Quality and quantity are both critical for an ABA program to be effective. A significant aspect of the ABA therapy technique is practice and repetition, with regression a common problem for children on the autism spectrum. Gaps between therapy sessions will inhibit a child’s progress and often lead to concepts being re-taught. A lower number of hours may be appropriate for higher functioning children or children who have made significant progress and are not far behind their typically developing peers.
My Child Will Not Receive High Quality Therapy Under The Demonstration Program /Paraprofessionals Should Not Be Allowed To Do The Direct Therapy.
Major studies demonstrating the effectiveness of ABA therapy for children with autism have utilized this exact model (a program is designed and overseen by a high-quality licensed/certified professional with direct intervention done by paraprofessionals.) Often, the studies use college students for the paraprofessional role. The quality of your child’s therapy will be strongly related to the quality of the professional guiding your child’s program, the quality of the training provided to the paraprofessional tutor, and the quality of the ongoing supervision provided by the professional. With well-trained and supervised staff and a high-quality consultant, your child can make excellent progress.
Parents Are Solely Responsible For Deciding What Their Child Is Taught / ABA Providers Should Teach ONLY What the Parent Requests.
Imagine your child has a medical symptom, such as a chronic stomachache, and you took him/her to the doctor for help. The doctor asks you, “So what tests should I run?” and “Do you want medicine for your child? And what kind?” As a parent, you may not know what tests are available or appropriate, or even the ordered tests should be administered. You may have some information about tests or treatments you would like the doctor to consider. Ultimately, it’s the doctor’s job to examine the child and give their professional opinion about the necessary medical care. While parent input is strongly desired and encouraged in the treatment of their child, they are not expected to bear the responsibility of creating the entire ABA therapy treatment plan. A good ABA therapy program should be systematically planned and tailored to address the child’s individual needs, utilizing parent input.
Parents Must Be Home / Attend All Therapy Sessions.
Nowhere in Tricare’s Demonstration Project policy does it require parents to be part of every single therapy session, or even be home during every single session. The Demonstration Project policy allows for therapy to be provided in a variety of environments, including the child’s home, school, and community. While parent involvement and participation are HIGHLY desired and encouraged in an ABA program, there are many reasons why a parent may not be involved in every session. For example, the child has difficulty separating from the parent or responding to anyone other than the parent; there are other children in the home the parent also needs to attend to; one or both parents are deployed; therapy is being provided at school; therapy is being provided during a social event for the child to work on social goals or the parent works.
My Child Is Too Young For ABA Therapy.
All research in this area strongly indicates that the sooner a child begins therapy, the better their prognosis. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that intervention should begin “as soon as an ASD diagnosis is seriously considered rather than deferring until a definitive diagnosis is made.” The National Standards Report issued by the National Autism Center also recommends that treatment begin as soon as possible. Under Tricare’s Autism Demonstration Project, children are eligible for coverage as soon as they reach 18 months of age.
My Child Must Be Attending School To Be Eligible for The Demonstration Project
This misconception tends to arise from the section of the Demonstration policy requiring parents to submit the child’s IEP or IFSP. However, if the child is not enrolled in school (whether too young, parent choice, or home-schooled), the Demonstration policy allows for the child’s doctor to submit a letter to replace the IEP / IFSP requirement.