ASK is an Indiana-based parent-to-parent organization that works throughout the state to “give support, answer questions and provide information and resources” to families with special-needs children. Their staff parent liaisons, who are parents of special needs children and extensively trained, help families “anticipate child and family needs, identify appropriate resources, and access community systems to help them meet the needs of their children.”
The Institute offers extensive online resources, including videos, webinars, assessment tools and other educational references. The ARI is focused on extensive research, continuing medical education, online learning, domestic and global outreach, and an adult program called the Autistic Global Initiative that provides online training and other assistance for sustaining daily living and employment.
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.
As “the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization,” the Autism Society’s mission is to improve the lives of all affected by autism. They increase “public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy.” The ASA has been instrumental in passing federal, state and local legislation and publishes the journal Autism Advocate.
By Dr. Breanne Hartley, BCBA-D
Senior Clinical Director
Children are being diagnosed with autism earlier and earlier. Some children are as young as 18 months when they receive an autism diagnosis. Identifying an autism diagnosis at an early age can result in better future outcomes for a child, that is, if steps are taken to help children receive effective services, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Early intervention, as it relates to ABA is oftentimes referred to as Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI).
- Early, because a child begins receiving treatment between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old.
- Intensive, because of the amount of time treatment is provided. Research demonstrating the effectiveness of an Applied Behavior Analytic approach demonstrates that the optimal number of hours of treatment should typically range from 25-40 hours per week.
- Behavioral Intervention, because it relates to the principles of behavior (such as reinforcement, shaping, and prompting) that have been demonstrated as effective strategies in changing behavior for decades.
Deciding to enroll an 18-month-old child into a therapeutic program that recommends upwards of 25-40 hours per week of intervention can be quite intimidating. However, children with autism demonstrate developmental delays in comparison to their typically developing peers. Therefore, the “intensity” of an ABA program helps to bridge the gap between a child on the autism spectrum and his/her typically developing peers. A quality ABA program will incorporate hundreds of valuable learning opportunities into a single hour of intervention. These learning opportunities are specifically tailored to meet each child’s unique needs, with the intent of teaching him/her the necessary skills to acquire age-appropriate behavior.
I have spoken to many parents who are hesitant to enroll their child in treatment that requires the level of intensity of an ABA program. However, the concentration on an individual child’s specific needs, paired with the magnitude of learning opportunities in a single day, allows for each child to achieve their personal best outcomes.
Because autism can lead to a lifetime of learning delays, the earlier a child can receive treatment, the better their long-term prognosis will be. I have never spoken to a parent who stated that they got their teenager with autism into treatment too early!
LittleStar Center is a founding member of Indiana Providers of Effective Autism Treatment (INPeat). The organization mission is to enhance the professional success of member organizations, to facilitate relationships with payers, encourage and facilitate the adherence to high ethical and professional standards, and to promote a better understanding of the services provided by members. Read INPeat’s statement on the class action lawsuit filed in Indiana requesting ABA insurance coverage from Anthem. LittleStar Center Executive Director is the board president. For more information about this organization, contact her via email.