Behavioral Health Agency in Forest Hills

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the Importance of Professional Assessment

February 2, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one out of every 54 children (about 1.85%) have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children with autistic brains experience the world differently, and have special needs in education and daily life. Proper assessment and treatment is vital to giving these children the best possible quality of life. What is ASD? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is defined as a developmental disability. Autistic brains work differently, which means that people with ASD have difficulty fitting in with neurotypical people. Autistic people tend to communicate, interact, behave, and learn differently. These differences mean that some people with ASD are severely intellectually challenged. However, this is not always the case. Many people with ASD display average to gifted intelligence. In earlier diagnostic systems, such people were sometimes diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), while “autism” was reserved for those with more profound intellectual disabilities. Today, we consider everyone with a certain set of behaviors to be part of what we call the autistic spectrum. While intellectual functioning may vary, people on the autistic spectrum share certain difficulties with managing their social behavior, emotions, and communication. ASD is not a common disease like the flu. There is no known method for prevention. Its causes are unknown. There seems to be some genetic component. One theory, involving vaccinations, has been conclusively debunked. ASD cannot be diagnosed with a blood test or a brain scan; rather, it must be diagnosed by a trained professional, based on observation of behavioral cues. There’s no pill to cure it, either. Parents of autistic children need to work with therapists and behavioral professionals to understand and provide for their children’s unique needs. Signs and Symptoms Because ASD is behaviorally diagnosed, there are a number of behavioral cues which may indicate that your child is on the autistic spectrum. Parents should not attempt to diagnose their children themselves. Rather, you should consult a professional if you observe a pattern of typical autistic behaviors. Children with ASD may have difficulty with the symbolic aspects of language. They may find it difficult to communicate their needs or desires using words and gestures. They might not understand pointing to indicate objects. They may “parrot” words or phrases, repeating what you say, or inserting favorite phrases into conversation where they appear to be irrelevant. They are more likely than neurotypical people to forget words or skills. In severe cases, they may not react when spoken to, even though they have normal hearing and react to other sounds. People with ASD famously have difficulty with social skills. Your child may have trouble expressing, and interpreting emotions. Because of their difficulty understanding emotions, they may often hurt other people’s feelings without intending to do so. Some people with ASD display little interest in other people; they avoid eye contact and want to be left alone. Others are very interested in people, but lack the social skills to talk and play normally. Autistic people process sensory information differently, and often have difficulty shutting out unwelcome stimuli. This can manifest as unusual reactions to sights, sounds, smells, flavors, and tactile and kinesthetic sensations. Autistic children might not like to be held or cuddled, or they might enjoy it only when they initiate the cuddle. They may attempt to calm themselves with repetitive “stimming” behaviors such as pacing, rocking back and forth, or flapping their hands. Finally, people on the autistic spectrum often have difficulty adapting to change. They like repetition and routine. They may not enjoy exercises of imagination in the same way that neurotypical people do. Children with ASD may not “play pretend” by, for example, pretending to feed a doll. Getting a Professional Assessment If your child is showing signs of a developmental disability, prompt professional assessment is critical for their well-being. In New York and New Jersey, ABC Achievement Therapy Services provides compassionate expert assessment and treatment. The first step is a consultation. A member of the administrative team meets with the family, discusses their needs and concerns, and explains what services are available. Then the team reviews your insurance eligibility and payment options. Professional assessment is conducted by a licensed Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). These experts have intensive training and a variety of tools at their disposal. They conduct interviews and tests, usually in the home setting, to determine a child’s skill level. The assessment will be used to develop an individualized Autism treatment plan, which guides the child’s treatment. Treatment There is no cure for ASD. However, there is effective treatment. CDC studies show that early intervention treatment services can make a critical difference in a child’s development. Children who receive these services before the age of three are more likely to learn how to walk, talk, and interact with others. Effective treatment for children on the spectrum is possible. ABC specializes in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and offers insurance-accepted, at-home ABA therapy. Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most common and widely respected methods of treating ASD. It is a method of intensive education in emotional, cognitive, and physical skills, focused on improving behavioral patterns. Applied Behavior Analysis applies clinically tested techniques in a personalized program of careful monitoring and behavioral correction. Applied Behavior Analysis follows a seven-step process: Evaluate the patient’s behaviors and determine which of them need to be changed Set behavioral goals Establish a method of measuring improvement Evaluate the patient’s current level Teach new skills and methods for avoiding negative behaviors Review progress regularly Determine whether further behavior modification is necessary When it’s used to help autistic children, Applied Behavior Analysis focuses on three areas. Social skills include self-expression, tact, self-control, and observing the emotional reactions of others. Cognitive skills include reading, basic mathematical skills, and other academic preparation. Adaptive learning skills include such areas as fine motor skills, hygiene and grooming, domestic and cleaning skills, and professional behavior at work. These skills lead to increased opportunities, involvement with others, and future independence. They also decrease problem behavior and other barriers to learning. If you suspect that your child might be showing symptoms of ASD or any other developmental issue, seek professional consultation immediately. The sooner you have a professional assessment and treatment plan, the better the outcome for your child.

Achievment Behavior Care

Achievement Behavior Services is a boutique agency providing quality individualized applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to children on the autism spectrum. Established in 2015 ABS is licensed and trained ABA therapists implement behavioral therapy methods in the child’s environment to improve social, behavioral and adaptive skills.

Our Service List

+ In-home aba services
+ Parent Training
+ Initial Assessment
+ BCBA Supervision
+ Social Skills Groups
+ BIP (Behavior Intervention Plans)
+ School Consultations
+ CE Credits coming soon
+ Direct Care
+ Family Training

New York & New Jersey

+ 5 Boroughs | Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx
+ Westchester | Yonkers
+ Rockland County | Monsey
+ Long Island | Nassau County & Suffolk County
+ New Jersey | Bergen County, Union County, Hudson County, Essex County, North Jersey, Central & Southern Jersey

Behavioral Health Agency in Forest Hills