What do I do when my child has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder?
When your child has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, you may feel helpless and inadequate to aid your child’s development. As you begin to look at the treatment options that are available, you will find that there is a wide range of support services and programs out there, to help you and your child.
ABAlink is dedicated to providing support, information and referral services to parents and carers. We provide friendly advice and recommendations regarding ABA programs, suitable therapists or service providers and general support and information.
What can you tell me about Service Providers?
ABAlink believes that families who wish to implement ABA programs have a right to know whether those who offer to supervise ABA programs or to support an ABA program implementation, have the competency to do so effectively and also how they are qualified.
In Australia, as in the US, the most senior and experienced professionals who supervise ABA programs are sometimes referred to as “ABA Consultants”. Others who train or work under their supervision might be called, depending on their qualifications and experience a Clinic Supervisor, Program Manager, Case Manager, Senior Therapist or Lead Therapist.
Families therefore need to satisfy themselves that the qualifications and experience of the professional or paraprofessional are adequate for their needs.
What is the job of a Service Provider?
It is the job of a service provider to:-
- set up an initial introductory workshop with the family
- develop and supervise the programs your child will work on
- provide ongoing training for therapists, including training on how to accurately collect data needed to track your child’s progress
Want to know more about ABA?
ABA has more scientific research to support it than any other treatment program for children with Autism. ABA is the application of the empirically validated principles of “behaviour” to the process of increasing skills and reducing unwanted behaviour. In an ABA program each skill to be taught is broken into small steps so the child can learn more easily and these steps are taught systematically in a hierarchy.
ABA programs are highly individualised and cover all areas of the child’s development – communication, play, social / relationship, academic and motor skills. All decisions about the child’s program are determined by the continuously collected data. This allows the child to make the best possible progress and to have a program tailored to their unique configuration of strengths and weaknesses.
An ABA program should be enjoyable for the child, due to the positive reinforcing environment, positive relationships, and because the child, often for the first time, is successful.
Can I access more information?
Online Information Guide
ABI NSW / Leaning to Learn
- CAMBRIDGE CENTER FOR BEHAVIOURAL STUDIES
- CENTRE FOR DISEASE CONTROL – AUTISM INFORMATION CENTRE
- THE SCAFER AUTISM REPORT
- THE ASSOCIATION FOR SCIENCE IN AUTISM TREATMENT
What does a therapist do?
The first task for a new Therapist is to try to build a rapport with the child they will be working with. This may take several sessions, as all children are different. The Therapist needs to get to know their likes and dislikes, what makes them laugh, and how to motivate them to want to learn.
Knowing how to motivate a child with autism and provide the right kind of reinforcement to encourage learning is essential – and they may not be interested or motivated by the same things that typically developing children are interested in. Some detective work is needed to find out what makes the child you will be working with “tick” or as one ABA Service Provider once said “Find out what floats their boat”.
Where does the therapy take place?
The ABA Therapist works one-on-one with the child. Initially the therapy takes place within the home. However, as the child grows and develops the sessions can take place elsewhere – at kinder, school, shopping centre, playgrounds etc.,
Moving the therapy outside of the home environment is an important part of the child’s education, as she/he needs to be able to generalise the skills developed within the ABA program to other environments and with other people – and to be able o cope with the distractions encountered in the outside world.
How are therapy sessions structured?
Most ABA sessions can run anywhere from 1.5 to 3.0 hours, depending on age, ability and stage of program. A session of this length may seem like a long time for a young child to concentrate. However, there are many small play breaks. Typically, a very young child is only working with a therapist for 1-5 minutes at a time; and is then free to have a play break whilst the therapist records his/her data and prepared for the next task. About once every hour the child is given a much longer break.
Do therapists work on their own?
Initially, a therapist will overlap with either the Program Supervisor or another more experienced therapist, who will provide training and guidance.
After that period ends, they are expected to attend regular clinic / team meetings where video review or impromptu training may take place in front of the supervisor and/or other therapists and other therapists working on the program.
The Program Supervisor will provide feedback to the therapists and parents on their performance, update the program and discuss any concerns that either the parents or therapists may have.
How do I find a therapist?
Finding a therapist/s is one of the most difficult aspects of setting up a home program. Many families running ABA programs will have to employ some inexperienced therapists. It is essential that therapists have had a Working With Children check.
ABAlink has a database of therapists and can assist you with placing the right therapist for your family. For your next step please CLICK HERE