Are you one of the many parents out there looking to get started with autism spectrum therapies? Are you curious, asking yourself, “Are any autism home support services available near me?” If that’s you, I’ve got great news! Regardless of whether you’re in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix or even Springfield IL, here’s what you need to know.
There are many different types of autism spectrum therapies out there. They type of therapy you’d need would largely depend on the specific issues your child presents. However, one of the most effective and scientifically verified treatments is behavior therapy.
You may have heard of other terms such as ABA Therapy or ABA Treatment. Well don’t get confused, these terms are all synonymous and refer to behavior therapy.
If you’re wondering what behavior therapy is, in a nutshell, it’s a type of treatment that focuses on improving a wide range of behavioral challenges. So whether your child has autism, maladaptive tendencies, or a mere skill deficit, behavior therapy can address all these behavioral symptoms.
That’s right! Your child doesn’t need to have a diagnosis to benefit from or utilize this type of autism disorder treatment.
However, this therapy approach has been proven to be quite effective for individuals with autism. Therapy focuses on behaviors that are significant for the individual’s well-being. Therapy also seeks to address how the individual interacts socially with others.
Starting Autism Spectrum Therapies
So the next logical question is, “How do I get started with behavior therapy?” Well, the answer to that question depends on who’ll be paying for services. In my eBook Navigating Autism Spectrum Disorder, I go into more detail on how this might look, so I’ll be brief here. In short, much of it boils down to whether your insurance will cover the cost or if you’d be paying out-of-pocket. And no, you don’t have to have a massive salary to pay for services!
If your insurance covers behavior therapy, they would have a list of therapy providers in the network. So you can use that list as a starting point to begin narrowing down the list of providers. These providers would have already gone through a verification process with your insurance company. So, in this case, the search to find a therapist could be quicker. Usually, your insurance would provide you with a case manager to help coordinate therapy services. For those unfamiliar with how the process works, case managers are a huge help.
If you’re paying out of pocket, you’ll have to find a provider and any other supports on your own. For some, this may be a bit of a challenge, unless you’re in a network where you have connection and access to these kinds of resources. To find a therapy provider, you can begin by doing a preliminary search via the internet. You can search for a “behavior therapist,” which will generate a list of providers with locations close to you.
However, if you’re new to how therapy works, I’d recommend you reach out to someone more knowledgeable. Autism-specific organizations are usually a good place to start. Especially if they have an established history of service in your community. I suggest starting there because behavior therapists are prevalent in the autism community. So it’s likely that they know of companies and professionals that provide behavior therapy.
So do an internet search for an “autism center,” “autism support” or something related. Look at each organization’s reviews. Call those organizations and let them know what you’re looking for. Meet with someone from the organization. Make a list of some interview questions. Ask them what they’d recommend and if they know of any good therapists that provide the autism therapy you need. If you’re doing all of this solo, then getting information from a credible third party in the autism community can be a huge plus!
Questions to Ask Prior to Starting Autism Spectrum Therapies
If you’re new to behavior therapy, it can be intimidating to think of interviewing a company or therapist. You may feel inadequate because you don’t know what questions to ask. However, you have every right to ask questions, and you should. You should feel satisfied with the answers and get a good understanding of their experience and how it relates to your child’s needs. Here are a few questions you should ask a company or therapist prior to starting autism spectrum therapies:
- What are your credentials?
- Please explain what those credentials mean (if you’re unfamiliar with those credentials)
- How long have you been working with autistic children?
- What kinds of behavioral challenges have you had experience with?
- Have you worked with children that have similar issues to those my child has?
- Describe what that experience was like? What challenges did you have? How did you handle them?
- What credential level therapist will be working with my child?
- What are your expectations of me as a parent?
- What’s the protocol if I’m concerned about the way therapy is going?
What should I expect?
Behavior therapy usually starts with an Assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to get an idea of what the problem behaviors are and what motivates those behaviors. The lead analyst, otherwise known as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) would conduct the assessment and oversee all aspects of therapy. After the BCBA completes the assessment, ongoing therapy follows.
Depending on how the lead analyst sets up therapy services, the BCBA may not necessarily be the only one conducting therapy sessions. The lead analyst has many jobs and will often utilize a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) to assist with the provision of therapy. The RBT is usually a training technician working towards gaining board certification.
Know that finding a therapist that’s a good fit isn’t always easy. Be aware that each therapist will work a bit differently. You can always test and evaluate how different therapists work with your child. Despite that, there are some basic things to expect from therapy. The therapist should:
- Collect, compile and report data on your child’s progress
- Regularly communicate with you on how therapy is progressing
- Conduct parent training
- Have regular direct contact with the child
- Adjust procedures/strategies as needed depending on data trends
- Provide treatment in settings where the problem behaviors are occurring
These are just a few of the core things to look for that are specific to autism spectrum therapies.
Autism spectrum therapies can be a tremendous benefit. One part of it is finding a good therapist. The other is how well you apply the strategies you’ve learned. And if you do this well, it’ll only be a matter of time before you see significant improvements!
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to visit eduAUTISM.com, where you can access a host of resources. You can also schedule a consultation call by clicking here. Thanks for visiting!
A.D. Daisley holds a Masters Degree from the University of Central Florida and has been working in the field as a Behavior Analyst since 2005. He has provided services to children and adults with varying diagnoses such as autism, mental retardation, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). His scope of experience also includes coordinating therapy to individuals and families in conjunction with other supports including School Teachers, Adult Day Training Facility Staff (ADT’s) and Speech/Occupational therapists. He is the Director and Behavior Analyst at Alternative Outcomes since 2007. A.D is also the Director of Creátre, a non-profit organization that uses the arts for the purpose of skill training, outreach and to display community leadership.