Early Detection & Intervention is Key in Helping a Child with Autism

Early Detection:

It is possible for Autism to be diagnosed as early as 18 months. However, children with autism often exhibit more obvious signs by two years of age. Children should be monitored throughout their development for any “red flags” of autism and related disorders.

Early Intervention:

The impact of intervention is much more comprehensive when the skills needed to reach their full potential are taught early – They have a much higher probability of developing meaningful relationships and independent living skills; drastically improving outcomes for children with autism.

Warning signs that may warrant further evaluation include:
  • Does not babble or coo by 12 months
  • Does not make eye contact or avoids eye contact
  • Does not gesture by 12 months
  • Does not say single words by 16 months
  • Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
  • Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age
  • Rarely responds to their own name
  • Does not engage in pretend play
  • Does not understand typical emotions or show empathy
  • Does not handle transitions or changes in routine well
  • Does not know how to relate to others or prefers to play alone
  • Repeating actions over and over
  • Repeating words that are said to them
  • Having unusual reactions to everyday things
Any of these warning signs does not mean a child has autism. He/she should always be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team. This team might include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, or other professional who is knowledgeable about and has received specialized training in Autism.

SERVICES

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in-home

after school

social skills groups

assessments

consultations

evaluations

In-Home:

Each clients program is individually tailored to their needs. Typically goals are focused around functional communication and language, appropriate play skills, social skills, self-help skills and address behaviors excesses/ deficits.

Collaborative goals focus on enhancing the family’s capacity and increasing the child’s participation in valued activities.

After School/ Clinic Based:

Natural settings in the child’s community should be incorporated regularly into the intervention services provided. It is critical to helping a child generalize his or her skills for use in real word settings.

Some children benefit from clinic based services which may provide a child with a more structured environment in which he or she learns a variety of important skills. This approach can help children adjust to the routine of going to a different location to learn, thus helping them transition into a school setting.

Social Skills Groups:

Using group-based instruction, skills are taught or facilitated, which allows individuals to interact naturally with their peers through play or other developmentally functional activities.

Assesments:

Using evidence-based and systematic methods of assessment, Emerging Milestones staff identifies areas for support and recommends specific treatment targets and number of hours per week for Intervention Services.

Consultations:

Emerging Milestones also provide consultation services not only to parents/caregivers but also to Service Providers of children with challenging behaviors, social concerns, etc.

A Clinical Director will complete a compressive assessment and works with the caregivers to train them on procedures and techniques targeting the needs of the individual.

Consultation for Educational Service Providers can include brainstorming meetings, staff training seminars, curriculum development, teacher or aide training.

Evaluations:

Qualified Licensed Clinical Psychologists can provide comprehensive diagnostic evaluations for children, adolescents and adults who are thought to have autism spectrum disorder and related disorders.

Because many of the behaviors associated with autism are common to other disorders it is important to get evaluated by a qualified practitioner.

The assessment process generally involves a developmental history interview followed by administration of one or more psychological and/or educational assessment measures.

We provide services for children diagnosed with ASD and related disorders…

The essential features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are deficits in social communication and social interactions. In addition, children with ASD have restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and/or activities.  These symptoms are present from early childhood and limit or impair everyday functioning.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is based on a science derived from the principles of learning and behavior.  Principles are applied systematically to improve desired behaviors and reduce non- desired behaviors that may interfere with learning. Techniques are used to focus on defining behaviors, and identifying the antecedents (what happens before a behavior occurs) and consequences (what happens after the behavior) of the behavior. Various techniques are used in a way that can be measured in order to help bring about meaningful behavior change. ABA is considered an evidence-based “best” practice treatment that has passed scientific tests of effectiveness.

ABA Therapies

There are several therapies based on ABA principles, such as discrete trial learning, pivotal response training, natural environment training and the verbal behavior approach. All of these techniques include data collection to measure progress for target skills or behaviors,are structured, and provide positive and reinforcing strategies.

Discrete trial training is a structured therapy that uses an intensive one-on-one approach. DTT uses simplified and structured steps to break down a skill and eventually build it up. Drills (discrete trials) are then repeatedly presented to a child, which include a discriminant stimulus (a brief instruction presented to the child), a response (behavior child exhibits following the SD), and a consequence (stimulus change that increases or reduces the behavior). Specified behaviors are targeted and added to the child’s individualized goal plan. Children will receive positive reinforcement for producing a desirable response. For example, a therapist can ask a child to “sit down” and if the child sits, he/she will be praised or rewarded with high-fives or a preferred item.
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) is a naturalistic intervention that relies on naturally occurring teaching opportunities and consequences. The focus of PRT is to increase motivation by reinforcing the child’s attempts at communicating. There are four identified pivotal areas: 1. motivation, 2. child self-initiations, 3. self management, and 4. responsiveness to multiple cues.
Natural Environment Training is child-directed and focuses on what intrinsically motivates the child. This type of training focuses on providing structured learning opportunities in a naturalistic setting in order to give meaning to the skills being taught. The activity or situation is chosen by the child, and the caregiver or teacher follows the child’s lead or interest. These teaching strategies were developed to facilitate generalization and maximize reinforcement by using the child’s interests and natural motivation.
The verbal behavior approach focuses on enhancing a child’s ability to learn functional language. Language is treated like a behavior that can be shaped and reinforced. The goal is to understand what a child is saying and why they are saying it. The focus is to identify the functional language deficits and teach appropriate skills that address the motivation to use verbal behavior. The main three types of verbal behaviors are typically identified as mands, tacts, and intraverbals.

Intensive ABA Program Description – Our Approach

Emerging Milestones Services are designed to remediate core deficits associated with Autism spectrum disorders. Our program provides best practice behavioral health intervention with a focus on the client’s individual communication skills, self-help skills and behavior excesses/ deficits.

Parent/ guardian/ caregiver participation, training and support is the foundation of a successful and sustainable intervention. Caregivers are required to actively participate in treatment sessions, to learn treatment techniques, and to implement these techniques when the EM team is not in the home.

Caregivers will meet regularly with mid and high level staff to discuss treatment progress and work together during sessions. Caregivers will also be taught the fundamentals of Applied Behavior Analysis and developing appropriate preventative and reactive strategies to address behavior (s).

The ultimate goal of treatment is to support our clients to a competency level that facilitates discharge from services.