1. What is Autism?
Autism is a very complex medical condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, socially interact with others and their ability to regulate behaviors and sensory stimuli.
Autism was first described by a U.S psychiatrist Leo Kanner in 1943 from a group of eleven children that were under his care. That same year, a German pediatrician named Hans Asperger described some of the children he was treating as having high IQ’s, but lacked social skills, empathy and having one-sided conversation. Asperger’s Disorder was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 as a separate disorder from autism. It was removed from DSM-5 in 2013.
2. What is ABA?
ABA is Applied Behavior Analysis. Applied is the principal that is used to change socially significant behavior. Behavior is an observable & measurable act that is the focus of the intervention. Analysis is the measurement of behavior to determine functional and replicable relationships between intervention and outcome. ABA is based on scientific methods and is founded on seven core dimensions (Baer, Wolf, Risley, 1968).
ABA is the most researched, evidence based and comprehensive approach for treatment of autism spectrum disorder. According to National Standards Project published by the National Autism Center, two thirds of established interventions for autism are based on behavior interventions.
The earlier a child gets ABA intervention the better. However, it is never too late to teach children and adults the behavior skills they need to function and live a good quality of life.
3. Do you work with children that are nonverbal?
Absolutely. It is estimated 25 to 30% of autistic children are nonverbal and it is higher for some communities. Our approach is to teach each child the best way for them to communicate by utilizing devices, the written word, PECS, etc.
4. Do you take children with aggressive behaviors?
Absolutely. We understand autism has a huge behavior component. We believe most children with autism will have more behavior problems if they are not able to communicate effectively or have sensory needs that are unmet. We understand that every behavior has a function. Our staff will come into your home or where the problem behavior is occurring. They will determine the function of the behavior and write a treatment program that focuses on wanted or appropriate behaviors.
5. Do you take older children?
We provide services and treatments to individuals with autism spectrum disorder from birth to 21 years old. We know that adolescents and teenagers are often the neglected population. As a result, we have created and designed programs and services tailored to them. Please read our different services and programs.
6. How do you accommodate sensory needs of your clients?
We know and understand individuals with autism have either hypo or hyper sensory needs. We will use various approaches to meet the individual’s sensory needs, including sensory diet, movement, brushing, etc., by consulting with an Occupational therapist and others.
7. How are the number of hours determined?
That is a great question. Each child/adult must have an annual comprehensive multi-disciplinary evaluation including parental/guardian input. We take those recommendations and write an individual treatment plan for each child/adult which of course can change and evolve as circumstances change.
8. Do you force families to do family training, what if I don't have time?
We completely understand our families’ limited time and will work with each family to individualize their parent/guardian training schedule. For example, we will accommodate Saturday family/caregiver training and counseling.
9. Do you require the child to be not enrolled in any other education/therapy programs?
Absolutely not. We believe each child’s needs are individual and if school or other therapeutic therapies are needed, we will collaborate with those professionals to assure consistency and cooperation to meet your child’s therapeutic needs.
10. Can I spread paying my out of pocket expenses for what my insurance does not cover or if I am paying privately?
We will work with each family’s circumstances to assure treatment continues and is consistent.
11. How do you measure success and progress?
We believe celebrating every step whether it is little or big. We understand often autistic individuals have uneven skills and learn differently. We will monitor and celebrate each client’s success. We evaluate and monitor progress on a daily bases. In addition, We do evaluations every 6 months to figure out how to best teach in collaboration with the family and other professionals as necessary.
12. Do you discharge for no or slow progress?
Absolutely not. We typically will not discharge for no progress or slow progress. We would rather change what and how we are teaching to assure our program fits the needs of each individual. Our goal is not to fit the individual to our programs, rather fit our programs to each individual. We think that approach will assure success and progress. We understand behavior therapy is not one size fits all.
13. Do you suspend services?
Suspension of services and treatment will only occur while we try to find alternate solutions. For example, there are no staff available in your area and it may take time to find and hire qualified and competent staff.
14. How does your school consultation program work?
We can evaluate your child’s behavior and do a behavior functional assessment. We can also teach and train your child’s IEP team how best to teach your child to be successful in school.
15. Do you discharge clients if their parents have lots of questions?
No. We love families that ask us questions about their child’s treatment and services. In fact, we believe families that ask questions are better informed, and informed families are empowered families. We think empowered families help their children the best. “Ask away” and we will answer to the best of our ability!
16. How will my culture and values be included in my child's treatment and services plan?
We love this question! SKILLS-ATPE understands research has stated all behaviors are culturally embedded, everyone has a cultural, ethnic, linguistic and racial identity, and that no behavior is ever independent of social or environmental context. Our professional therapy staff will never assume their perspective and priority is the same as the families perspective. Furthermore, we understand that teaching styles, methods and curriculum materials are culturally embedded which is why our SAT method will be tailored to each client through changing, bending and revising to meet the needs of each individual client’s needs. For example, research states that verbal language is more important to Anglo-European cultures, whereas self-care is more important to Hispanic and African cultures. Another example is eye contact is an insult in some cultures whereas it is valued and important in others. We will teach each child/individual not just based on their need, but based on how their culture influences their need in their autism diagnoses.