Autism Alert!!  On March 26th, 2012, a Federal Judge in Miami ordered AHCA, the agency who manages Medicaid, to pay for Applied Behavior Analysis services for children who have a medical diagnosis of autism and who are on Medicaid.  Children up to the age of 21 years old may receive up to 40 hours a week of services.  AHCA is expected to work very hard to overturn this decision, so services may be time limited.  Contact us for more information!

Prevelence:
The number of children with diagnoses of Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome has exploded over the past several years. Between 150—250 children per 1,000 are estimated to fall somewhere within the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the National Institutes of Health.

In the 1980’s Autism was a diagnosis that was virtually unheard of outside of the schools and agencies who served individuals with developmental disabilities. Now it is regularly discussed on the news, and mainstream magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and People, have had multiple cover stories devoted to the topic. But what is it and where does it come from?

The causes of autism are not currently known. We do know it is neurobiological and does not occur as a result of poisoning from the chemicals in childhood immunizations. Beyond that, scientists are struggling to develop a method for identifying the causes of autism in order to affect a cure.

The diagnostic criteria for Autism is below, by following the hyperlink to the CDC web site, one can obtain the criterion for Asperger’s Syndrome as well. Click the Autism Speaks logo to see video of children with ASD.

Regardless of the cause of autism, the only interventions with repeated evidence of success are those that use Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Intensive early intervention using ABA has been shown to reduce or eliminate the signs and symptoms of autism in up to 50% of children. These children typically enter into school and no one knows they once had the diagnosis.

For the other 50%, and for those children who did not have access to early intervention, ABA can still provide the best opportunity for lasting changes that will increase the child’s ability to function in mainstream society.

Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General states, “Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior” - Department of Health and Human Services.*

For more information about ABA services for your individual go to the In-home services page.

* Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999.
 
Diagnostic Criteria for 299.00 Autistic Disorder
A. A total of six (or more) items from (1), (2), and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3):

1. qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity

2. qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime)
  • in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
  • lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level

3. restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • stereotyped and repetitive motor manners (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects 

 

B. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: (1) social interaction, (2)language as used in social communication, or (3) symbolic or imaginative play.
 
C. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
 
For more information: the Centers for Disease Control Web site
 
Autism Resources

There are many resources for parents who are seeking information about autism. Unfortunately, many people are only too happy to take advantage of parents desperate for a cure. For this reason, we suggest you start with this presentation. Dr. Gina Green is a world renowned expert on the treatment of Autism, how to determine what evidence-based research means, and how to tell the difference between evidence and quackery. Clicking on this slide will bring you to another site to view the presentation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karola Dillenburger and Mickey Keenan, along with Ken Kerr and Mary Henderson, live in Northern Ireland, where Applied Behavior Analysis is only available on a very limited basis due to the scarcity of Behavior Analysts. Together, they helped start the non-profit organization, Parent’ Education as Autism Therapists (PEAT). Parents are taught the basics of Applied Behavior Analysis in order to provide the much-needed therapy to their own children. In addition, Dr Keenan, a BCBA, began a Master’s program in ABA in the Psychology Department at the University of Ulster a few years ago. Dr. Dillonburger, also a BCBA, recently accepted the coordinator’s position in the new Master’s program in Autism Spectrum Disorder at Queen’s University of Belfast, in the Education Department, effectively doubling the ABA graduate programs in Northern Ireland. Clicking on their book cover will bring you to the Google book search sample page. The book’s foreword, also written by Dr. Gina Green, may be helpful in understanding why your path as your child’s advocate may contain many odd turns. The forward, by the authors, will give you additional information about how PEAT was formed, and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies

a non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge in behavior analysis, has an incredible autism section on their website. Included topics are definitions of behavior analysis, how to select a competent behavior analyst, and several other resources. One of the best resources is streaming video of 3 clips done by Dr. John Jacobson for the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Originally done as a 20-minute presentation, it has been divided into three shorter segments, better viewed through streaming video.

 

Dr Jay Moore of Athabasca University has developed a Behaviorism Tutorial. It is a little “heavy”, but well done. Although the logo is for Athabasca University, this tutorial originates from the Cambridge Center web site.

The Association for Behavior Analysis International

is an organization dedicated to furthering the field of behavior analysis through their annual conference held each year on Memorial Day Weekend. In addition, they offer specialty conferences with a focus on autism, behavior analysis in education, and international concerns.

This site will bring you to a page with several research journals relating to individuals with developmental disabilities and autism, as well as performance management and other topics that are not behavior analytic, per se, but are fields in which behavior analysts contribute.

 

At the

Association for Science in Autism Treatment

website,

 Check out theMedia Watch section.