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What is Autism?

Autism, referred to Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is defined as a group of disorders that effect brain development are are characterized by differing degrees of difficulties with social interactions, communication (nonverbal and verbal), as well as repetitive behaviors. Currently, the CDC reports that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with ASD. Autism speaks reports that “Studies also show that autism is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.” www. autismspeaks.com

Red Flags for Autism include:

• No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
• No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
• No babbling by 12 months
• No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
• No words by 16 months
• No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
• Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

Who diagnoses ASD, and who should I seek out if I have concerns?

Always discuss your concerns with your primary care doctor. Typically ASD is diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician, neuropsychologist or psychologist.. However, evaluation for autism typically involves other disciplines including a speech and language pathologist and an occupational therapist. Many times the speech and language pathologist or occupational therapist are the first to recognize the signs of autism and will refer the parent to get further evaluation for ASD.

What is an Autism Center?

Fox Therapy Center PLLC has undergone training to earn its certification of Autism care from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). This designation means that at least 80% of the Fox Therapy staff have undergoing a rigorous training process that will assist in providing speech pathology, and occupational therapy services for those who have Autism. ...more

What is ABA?

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) is the use of techniques designed to bring change in behavior. For children with Autism, ABA techniques help children build skills that address to change their behaviors in situations such as dinnertime and learning rote skills. ABA sessions most often occur in the home environment and typically occur for 20 hour per week. Data is collected on the various aspects of a client’s program. This is what guides their decision for introducing the next task to learn.

Why we do not offer ABA at this facility even though you are an Autism Center? 

ABA can be an important part of a child with Autism’s therapy regimen; however, we go beyond ABA services by offering and targeting not just behavior, but also underlying components that influence and impact a child’s behavior. As stated in August 2015 by Dr. Melody Musgrove, Director of the office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), within the U.S. Department of Education, there are “concerns within the field” of special education. Specifically, OSEP received reports that treatments for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are overly focused on ABA therapy. She noted that “programs may be including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists exclusively without including, or considering input from, speech language pathologists and other professionals who provide different types of specific therapies that are appropriate for children with ASD.” We are seeing this same pattern in the outpatient private practice setting as well. Parents need to be aware that there are several services, including speech and occupational therapy, that are beneficial for their children with autism. ABA specialists are not qualified to provide speech, occupational, and other related services.

Does my child Speech, Occupational Therapy and ABA or other services?

It depends on the needs of the child. The earliest intervention possible is the important for any child with ASD. Most children with ASD need several services including speech, ABA, occupational therapy and more. Limiting your child to only one service may limit their overall growth potential.

What is the difference between the therapy services?

ABA therapists will typically set up a comprehensive curriculum based on the child’s performance and behavior, and then apply strategies to shape the child’s behavior for learning. ABA therapists come from the perspective of problem solving why a child does what they do, and helping them become more successful by engaging in more appropriate behaviors. However, if you are most concerned with your child improving their communication skills and overall speech and language development, SLP’s are the professionals best able to recommend particular communication aids and strategies for the child to obtain functional communication and speech and language growth.

Just like ABA, SLPs also take data and use certain ABA techniques to help the child with behavior and learning strategies; but they also go beyond those techniques to help them develop functional and social communication skills that can be generalized to more natural settings. In addition, SLPs design individual therapy that takes into account critical components of the developmental stage of speech and language development of the child, communication stages, memory, and understand how to modify the cognitive load for the child to be successful.

Occupational therapy is also important for children with Autism. Occupational therapists address the underlying sensory concerns that are not behavioral in nature. They assist children in gaining independence in their daily living skills (i.e. shoe tying, buttoning), as well as address the integration of reflexes, overall coordination as well as processing skills. The assist child with transitioning and how to self-regulate in order to be able to handle differing sensory environments.

Understanding each profession, and their overall scope of practice is essential to so make sure that the client and family are able to make the most informed decision regarding their child’s care, whether it is behavioral learning with ABA, or reaching speech, language and communication milestones with speech and language therapy, or working to improve sensory regulation and develop self care skills with occupational therapy.

I know my child can receive Speech and Occupational Therapy services FTC, but where can I go to for ABA Services?

There are several ABA providers in the area, and the list is growing! Please contact your pediatrician as well as your insurance company for a referral and to see if the service are covered.