We know you may have questions about ABA therapy, and how SEAS provides services, so we thought we would answer some commonly asked questions.
ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis and is an evidence-based therapy used to improve communication, social, and adaptive skills through the use of positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is when a reinforcer (something preferred) is given to someone after they engage in a targeted behavior so that they are more likely to engage in that behavior again in the future.
1. A child says “ball” and they are given a ball. (Asking for the ball is positively reinforced by receiving the ball. In the future, the child is more likely to say “ball” when they want a ball!)
2. You say “clean up” and your child cleans up so you say “Great Job! You can have 10 extra minutes on the iPad tonight!” (Cleaning up is positively reinforced by getting more time on the iPad so your child is more likely to do it in the future!)
3. You go to work and every other Friday you get your paycheck. (Going to work is positively reinforced by getting your paycheck!)
During an in-home ABA session, your child receives 1:1 services to work on a variety of goals within the environment they are most comfortable in - their home!
Clinic-based ABA sessions provide a more structured setting for your child to work on learning new skills. Clinic-based ABA sessions also allow for increased social opportunities with peers their own age, practice following a routine similar to that in a school setting and access to a variety of therapists and learning materials which promotes generalization of skills. Additionally, in the clinic setting, your child’s therapist has constant access to their supervisor increasing the quality of services your child receives.
Our sessions at SEAS look like fun! We pride ourselves on the fact that our kids look forward to coming to therapy and oftentimes don’t want to leave. Our clinic is designed to offer a space for every learner and includes a sensory room, a quiet room, a craft room, a gaming room and tons of toys and activities for every age and interest.
A majority of our therapy is play-based using natural environment teaching which means our therapists follow your child’s lead and target skills within play. This approach is not only more enjoyable for children, but it is the way children naturally learn and is scientifically proven to require less trials to mastery than with drills. Once a child turns 4 or 5 and the treatment team (which includes you!) feels it’s appropriate, we will introduce a limited amount of table time, generally about 10-20 minutes per hour, in order to begin to prepare them for table work in the school setting.
So do we! Our goal is to help your child get their needs met and enjoy life to the fullest.
We would never attempt to invalidate anyone’s individual experience with ABA. ABA is an evolving field and regretfully in the past (and sadly maybe still currently in some places) ABA has been used in a way that could cause harm and could cause trauma as there was a focus on compliance with tasks and a rigid focus on the functions of behaviors rather than consideration of the child as a whole. Thankfully over the past several years there has been a huge shift in the field to focus on compassion over compliance as we continue to listen to and learn from the experiences of autistic adults.
Compassion over compliance means that we value your child’s right to be happy and engaged in their learning. We do not force compliance but instead promote compassion.
If you’re not sure whether or not your provider is providing compassionate ABA, we encourage you to ask questions about their views on compassionate ABA, how they teach new skills and how they address decreasing behaviors. Ask to observe sessions if they’re clinic-based and don’t be afraid to advocate for your child if you feel like something isn’t right!
Each of our treatment plans are individualized based on the needs of the client and determined by reviewing previous reports completed by other providers (including physicians, speech therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, etc.), assessments, observations and caregiver input. We teach a variety of skills including communication, social and adaptive skills.
Some examples include:
Clinical recommendations for hours are individualized and dependent upon the needs of each child. Most of our kids receive services between 10-30 hours a week.
No, we do not utilize restraints.
No. In consideration of reports from autistic adults that eye contact is often painful and/or that eye contact makes it difficult for autistic individuals to concentrate, we believe it is inappropriate to force eye contact.
No, we do not block stimming as autistic adults have reported that they often engage in stimming for self-regulation or simply because they enjoy it. Quite frankly, we all probably engage in some kind of self-stimulatory behavior whether it’s twirling our hair, biting our fingernails or tapping our feet. The ONLY time we will make an exception to this is if the stimming is causing harm to the child or others (such as headbanging, pulling out hair, etc.) and then we will work hard to provide a replacement that is as close to the original stim as possible.
Example: if your child pulls out their hair, we may give them baby dolls with hair to pull out or a ball of yarn to pull out individual strands. If they like the feeling of pulling out their hair, we may provide a scalp massager or comb!
Absolutely not. Sometimes, you will hear us say we are going to use something called planned ignoring or we’re going to ignore the behavior. This never means we’re going to ignore your child. Instead we’re going to ignore the targeted behavior, acknowledge how they are feeling and immediately give your child another way to get their needs met.
In this example the behavior “screaming and hitting” was “ignored” because we did not address it. Instead, Abby was prompted to ask for her marbles back and this was reinforced by Zach giving her the marbles. As a bonus, there was also a teaching opportunity for Zach to ask for more marbles rather than take them from his friend!
Yes! Unfortunately, you cannot watch all of your child’s sessions as we have multiple children receiving therapy at the same time and HIPAA regulations prevent us from offering this. We do, however, offer the opportunity for parents to come in to observe either on our cameras or face to face when requested, but the observation is restricted to one room in order to maintain the privacy of other children.
Caregiver training involves meeting with a BCBA or BCaBA to discuss your child’s progress, answer questions you may have and teach strategies that are used within your child’s sessions. These training sessions may be quick and address a specific question or concern, or more involved to discuss a specific strategy and how to apply it to your child’s life at home.
Caregiver training and involvement is important because studies show that when caregivers are involved and there is consistency in expectations, children are likely to make progress more quickly. It also allows us to make sure that what we’re working on is appropriate for your child and your family!
ABA is appropriate for people of all ages and abilities, but unfortunately, if you’d like therapy to be covered by insurance, the first thing you’ll likely need to do is get your child a diagnosis of Autism. If you’re not sure where to go to get your child evaluated, please feel free to reach out as we’ve compiled a list of local providers.
If your child already has a diagnosis, the first step is to give us a call or email us. From there we will schedule an initial intake appointment to learn more about your child, write up a treatment plan, and submit everything to insurance. Once approved, we can get started! It is important to note that we do often have a waiting list, however, we do our best to get services provided to everyone as quickly as possible while still maintaining the highest level of care.