How Can We Help?
I have pulled some of the most frequently asked questions and compiled them into one place. Should you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
How do I get a diagnosis for my child?
Begin by making an appointment for an evaluation with your family physician. You may then be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist to make a formal medical diagnosis.
An educational diagnosis provides supports in school. Follow this link for more information.
What are the sypmtoms of ASD?
Symptoms/behaviors of ASDs can range from mild to severe, and may seem to appear gradually or suddenly. Atypical development may be observed from birth, or more commonly, become noticeable during the 12- to 36-month period. Symptoms include:
Social Deficits - Children with autism have difficulty in social interactions. They may avoid eye contact and interactions with people and resist or passively accept attention. They are often unable to read social cues or exhibit emotional reciprocity. Thus, they are unable to predict or understand other peoples’ behavior. They may also have difficulty controlling emotion, may be disruptive or aggressive at times, or may lose control, especially when frustrated or presented with a new situation or environment. Head-banging, hair-pulling and arm-biting may occur.
Communication Difficulties - Communication skills are affected in children with autism, but difficulties vary. Some children may have good basic language skills, but exhibit difficulty initiating or sustaining conversations, such as not giving others the opportunity to respond. Others may experience delays or regression in language development; still others remain mute or may use language in unusual ways, such as repeating a phrase, or parroting what they hear (echolalia). Body language is also often hard to read in children with autism. Facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures often do not match verbal content and emotions. They have difficulty expressing what they want or need. They may also appear deaf, not responding to their names or attempts at conversation.
Repetitive Behaviors - Patterns of behavior, interests and activities may be restricted, repetitive or stereotyped. For example, a child may spend long periods of time arranging specific toys in a particular manner, rather than playing with the toys. Intense preoccupation with certain topics, such as obsessively studying maps, may also be seen. Odd repetitive motions, either extreme or subtle, such as arm-flapping, freezing, rocking back and forth or walking on their toes may also occur. Often, people with autism demand consistency in their environment. A minor change in routine may be tremendously upsetting.
Sensory Difficulties - In children with autism, the brain seems unable to balance the senses appropriately. Many autistic children are highly attuned or even painfully sensitive to certain sounds, textures, tastes or smells. Some seem oblivious to cold or pain, but react hysterically to things that wouldn't bother other children. In some people, the senses are even scrambled. For example, touching a certain texture may induce a gagging response.
Unusual Abilities - In rare cases, some children with ASDs display remarkable abilities, such as drawing detailed, realistic pictures at a young age or playing an instrument without training. Some can memorize difficult lists of items, such as statistics or names (this is called islets of intelligence or savant skills).
What is Applied behavior analysis (ABA)?
“Applied Behavior Analysis is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree, and to demonstrate that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior" Baer, Wolf and Risley, 1968
How do I get started?
Once you have a diagnosis, you can schedule a consultation. When you have found a provider you are happy with, they will typically spend a few weeks getting to know your child and establishing rapport. From this point a formal assessment is completed by observation, parent questions, and simple testing. This will allow your BCBA to develop program objectives to support your child's learning.
What does an ABA session look like?
Learning is structured mainly through play so your child will be engaging in activities that they enjoy and are motivated by. Sometimes we work at the table where it may be easier to teach specific skills. Sessions are typically 2 hours in duration, a few times per week. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to be involved, helping these skills to be generalized across people and environments.
How many hours of ABA should my child receive?
Many children with an early diagnosis are recommended anywhere from 15-40 hours of ABA per week. Often, this is not practical for the family. I emphasize quality services over quantity and your child will receive this when working 1:1 with the BCBA during all therapy sessions. In addition, I want the parents and caregivers to feel confident delivering ABA techniques independently so parent training is an integral part of your child's ABA program.