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Frequently Asked Questions About Our Program
Over the years we have been asked hundreds of different questions about autism ranging from what autism is and how it should be treated to exactly how we operate our state-of-the-art Autism Treatment Program. We've taken the most common questions and answered them below. We've also included questions suggested by Catherine Maurice, a parent of an autistic child and advocate for effective services, that, in her opinion, should be asked of all behavior analysis service providers. You may also be interested in our Clinical Services FAQs, which answers specific questions about our treatment philosophy and procedures.
If you don't see the answer to a question you have, please give us a call. We'd be happy to speak to you, at no charge, to discuss treatment options for your own child.
Q. WHAT KINDS OF SERVICES AND INTERVENTIONS DO YOU PROVIDE?
A. We provide services to improve the child’s’ speech, language, communication, cognitive, social, self-care, and academic skills; and to reduce problem behavior. Our interventions are based on applied behavior analysis (ABA), which has been scientifically-proven to be the treatment of choice in treating individuals with autism. These services are also sometimes called Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI).
Q. WHERE DO YOU PROVIDE SERVICES?
A. We have therapy centers in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, Florida. We also can provide services at the child’s home or school – anywhere in the world.
Q. WHAT IS YOUR SUCCESS RATE?
A. A recent independent evaluation has shown children in our program are making 3 months worth of progress on standardized tests for each month of therapy! Furthermore, the average child in our program is mastering more than 150 new skills each month. We are confident this incredible progress would rank among the best in the world, if such data were available from others.
Q. HOW MANY HOURS PER WEEK DO YOUR SERVICES REQUIRE AND HOW MUCH OF THIS IS ONE-TO-ONE TIME?
A. We offer different programs designed to fit each child’s individual needs. Clinical research, and our experience, indicates that at least 20 hours per week of therapy is necessary in order to produce the best results. The exact number of hours recommended for each child is based on our comprehensive evaluation of the child's present level of functioning. We currently have children in our program receiving 10 - 30 hours of therapy each week. This is typically all one-to-one therapy. However, for children who have progressed to the point where they need, and can benefit from, small group instruction, we will provide therapy with two children and one instructor.
Q. WILL YOU PROVIDE LESS THAN 10 HOURS OF THERAPY PER WEEK?
A. Only for very young children for whom 2 consecutive hours of therapy would be clinically contraindicated. Even then, the duration of therapy would be systematically and gradually increased to at least two hours per day. Research and our own experience indicate that children do not make adequate progress when receiving less than 10 hours of therapy per week. We do not feel justified in providing therapy that has little chance of success.
Q. CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT MY CHILD WILL LEARN TO TALK OR BECOME INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM HER OR HIS PEERS?
A. No. Despite some disreputable agencies making these unethical and unsubstantiated claims, it is simply not currently possible to make such assurances. Although the large majority of children in our program have learned to talk, we will not mislead families by providing impossible to achieve guarantees.
Q. WHAT IS THE COST OF YOUR PROGRAM?
A. The cost varies according to the chld's specific needs and the location of services. Please contact us and we'll be happy to discuss your child’s needs and the costs of services. Our goal is to provided the highest possible quality at the most reasonable cost. Furthermore, many insurance companies and Medicaid now cover our services.
Q. DO YOU ACCEPT INSURANCE OR OTHER THIRD PARTY PAYMENTS SUCH AS MEDICAID?
A. We accept most forms of insurance, which now cover ABA therapy for children who have been diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) including children on the autism spectrum. Unfortunately, we do not accept Medicaid, which has not yet established reasonable rules and regulations for ABA providers.
Q. HOW LONG DOES THERAPY USUALLY TAKE?
A. There is simply no way to predict how long therapy will last for a given child. Even with our highly trained staff and special teaching methods, the children in our program progress at different rates, although every single child makes progress. There are many, many factors affecting therapy outcome (e.g., age, number of hours of therapy, parental involvement). Many of our students successfully leave our program in 1 – 2 years.
Q. AM I REQUIRED TO MAKE A LONG-TERM COMMITTMENT?
A. No. However, we suggest giving the program 90 days to properly evaluate how well your child will progress. The large majority of children begin making progress within the first few days. However, some children need longer to get adjusted and show dramatic progress.
Q. WILL THERAPY BE TOO DEMAINDING FOR CHILDREN WHO ALREADY HAVE BUSY SCHEDULES?
A. Typically, children prefer our ABA sessions to most other routine activities. We make learning fun and the children want to attend. Children often run into our therapy rooms and some even ask their parents to take them to therapy. These are good signs that the child is not “burned out” by too much therapy.
Q. WILL YOUR PROGRAM WORK WITH CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT DIAGNOSED AS BEING ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM BUT MAY "JUST" HAVE A SPEECH DELAY?
A. Absolutely. Our specialized treatment is effective with children with and without formal diagnoses. We have successfully served many children with mild to severe speech delays but who have not been formally diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. They progress quickly.
Q. DO YOU PROVIDE PARENT TRAINING?
A. Yes. Parent training is a vital aspect of our program and we encourage all parents to take advantage of these opportunities.
Q. WHAT TYPE OF INVOLVEMENT IS EXPECTED FROM PARENTS?
A. We encourage parents to take an active role in their son’s or daughter’s treatment. They may observe treatment sessions, ask questions and discuss progress daily with the Therapist, attend meetings and trainings. Of course, these are optional activities; however, we have found that children whose parents play and active role perform better in the long run.
Q. ARE PARENTS WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE IN, OR OBSERVE, TREATMENT SESSIONS?
A. Yes. As part of our parent training, we encourage parents to participate in actual teaching sessions, so they learn the same teaching skills our therapist use. We also have television cameras in each treatment room so that parents may observe their child’s therapy from another room without distracting the child (not available in all locations).
Q. WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY FOR WORKING WITH CHILDREN WITH AUTISM/PDD?
A. We believe every child can learn, no matter how severely impaired, when appropriate teaching methods are used. We also strongly believe that children should want to learn, so we emphasize positive reinforcement procedures. Both of these have been supported by a great deal of clinical research.
Q. WHAT TYPE OF LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION PROCEDURES DO YOU USE?
A. We use procedures that have been scientifically-proven to be effective in teaching speech, language and communication skills to children with autism. Presently, we use a combination of Discrete Trials and Verbal Behavior therapy procedures. This is the most effective treatment known for improving speech, language, communication and behavior.
Q. WHAT TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE DOES THE PROGRAM SUPERVISOR HAVE?
A. The program supervisor is the most critical factor in determining whether or not a program succeeds or fails. Our program supervisors are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with advanced training specifically in teaching children with autism and related disorders. Unlike many other agencies, the program supervisor is a true expert in applied behavior analysis. Individuals without this expertise simply do not have the formal education and training necessary to develop and maintain highly effective programs. This is supported by the Behavior Analysis Certification Board, the credentialing agency for Behavior Analysts.
Q. WHAT TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE DO YOUR THERAPISTS HAVE?
A. Our Therapists undergo extensive training in applying behavior analysis procedures to children with autism. This training is competency-based, meaning that they must actually demonstrate that they can properly carry out each teaching skill. They do not work with alone with children until they have shown they can apply all the teaching skills in real teaching situations, under supervision. All of our therapists undergo this competency-based training, even those who come to us with years of teaching experience.
Q. WHAT KINDS OF ONGOING TRAINING DOES YOUR STAFF RECEIVE?
A. Our program supervisors receive formal monitoring, feedback and training at least monthly. They also attend local, state, and national workshops and conferences related to applied behavior analysis, autism, and effective teaching. Our Therapists receive informal and formal monitoring, feedback, and training on a weekly basis.
Q. HOW IS THE CHILD'S PROGRESS EVALUATED?
A. We clearly and objectively define every single skill that is being taught to the child and the criterion for mastery of each skill. This way, everyone knows exactly what skills are being taught and what is expected. Each day, progress data are collected on each of these skills. These data are reviewed at least weekly by the program supervisor. He or she then determines the appropriate course of action for each skill being taught.
Q. HOW ARE PARENTS INFORMED OF THE CHILD'S PROGRESS?
A. The Therapist discusses the child’s progress with the parents at the end of each daily session. Progress is also reviewed with the parents during periodic meetings. The parents may also review their child’s progress data, which are updated daily, at any time between meetings.
Q. DO YOU WORK WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS?
A. Yes. We believe it is important for all persons concerned about the child's well being to work together collaboratively.