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Does My Child Need Services? How Do I Select A Provider? How Do I Pay For Services?

 

Does My Child Need Services?

intro 1There are many steps to this process of assessing need and it would be hard to identify all steps for a family with questions. It is likely that if you, as the parent, believe that your child is delayed, you are likely correct. Our experience is that parents wonder for quite some time before making their concerns known and once a parent voiced a concern, s/he is typically correct. Some potential steps that a parent might be at and a couple tips in relation to each step are offered below. We cannot advise you in this process in the absence of specifics related to you and your offer, therefore please consider the following as ‘tips’ but please contact a professional for advice in accordance with your concerns.

Are you concerned your child might have autism?

If you are concerned that your child might have autism, you should likely contact your child’s pediatrician and schedule a time to discuss your concerns. You could also contact a clinical psychologist or pediatric neurologist, as they are able to conduct diagnostic assessments. In the interim, we’ve attached a list of potential red flags for you to consider. You could share your notes in relation to each of these skills with the professional you select.

pdfDownload our list of potential developmental red flags

Did your child recently receive a diagnosis of autism?

If your child just recently received a diagnosis, we have heard just how confusing this time can be for a family. With the Internet and the huge amounts of information that is available, it can be overwhelming. We also know that some of the information seems to conflict with other information and there are many parents with strong personal opinions that are shared online. Our best recommendation it to reference Internet sites and professional organizations with a solid reputation in order to contact information that is actually helpful and reputable. One person’s opinion is simply that and reading of many persons’ opinions will likely just further complicate your search for information. So basically you want information but you can get lost online if you’re not clear what you’re looking for. It’s important to begin the process of seeking intervention for your child, but we understand this can be very confusing. Please see our resources page for recommended websites. In addition, finding a professional with expertise within autism is very important so that you can find a professional that you can trust and ask very personal questions (see our tips below for selecting a provider).

 

How Do I Select A Provider?

A Quality ABA Provider...

  • Has a clinical team with the necessary educational requirements and credentials. It is essential that there are board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs) on staff (more on this later).
  • Recommends intervention hours in accordance with evidence-based practice and each learner’s needs (rather than recommending a pre-specified number of intervention hours).
  • Uses evidence-based treatment techniques.
  • Uses a variety of ABA-based techniques, such as DTT, NET, and fluency-based instruction; NOT just DTT.
  • Designs individualized curriculum programs for each learner’s unique needs as opposed to implementing cookie cutter programs.
  • Provides accountability by collecting and graphing data to determine if intervention techniques are effective.
  • Examines graphed data regularly and makes modifications to interventions if little or no progress is being made across 1 to 2 weeks; does NOT let a learner’s progress stay stagnant for months at a time.
  • Believes every individual is capable of learning and does not blame the learner when progress is not being made; instead, teaching procedures are modified until an effective strategy is determined.
  • Conducts functional behavior assessment prior to designing behavior intervention plans for challenging behavior.
  • Does not use punishment techniques without first exhausting reinforcement techniques.
  • Avoids teaching rote memorization of skills that can only be used under overly specific conditions (e.g., with certain people, in particular settings, and using specific materials) and builds in methods to program for generalization and real-life application of skills.
  • Ensures learned skills are maintained after mastery by creating ways for the skill to be reinforced in the natural environment and/or by continuing to practice them in accordance with a maintenance schedule.
  • Has a clinical team that is a good match for your child. Specifically, you can look at each clinician’s expertise and see if it is a match for what it seems to be that your child needs. If your child is not eating many foods and the specific clinician states they have strong skills in treating food selectivity, then a possible match is suggested.

Other factors:

~ Consider that beyond a BCBA, there are BCBAs and BCBA-Ds. BCBA-D level clinicians have doctorate degrees and an increased criterion for this different certification.

~ In addition, you can look at the specific degree of the clinician. A master’s degree in behavior analysis is the most closely aligned degree to the field of behavior analysis. Other degrees such as a master’s degree in occupational therapy or a master’s in counseling/marriage and family therapy mean that the individual did not participate in a master’s degree program in behavior analysis. This individual is then trained in a different field and has taken a limited number of courses in behavior analysis and then taken the test to be certified. Research has not yet examined these different paths to becoming a behavior analyst and the relative outcomes that can be achieved. A natural conclusion for any parent to reach is that more classes and training that an individual has in actual behavior analysis, the better. This can be a perfect discussion to have with any clinician you are considering!

 

How Do I Pay For Services?intro 2

There are now many options for funding sources for a family to consider. First, there are always some state and federal resources such as Medi-Cal and your local Regional Center. In addition, most states have now passed legislation to ensure that insurance companies have to assist families and provide medically necessary services (such as ABA). In addition, your child’s local school district can assist with providing educationally based services after your child’s 3rd birthday.