Frequently Asked Questions
What is Autism?
The terms Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are synonymous terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive and rule bound behaviors. Autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify that 1 in 59 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder. While autism can result in life long behavioral and social impairments, early intervention can drastically alter the impact of the disorder. Since a young child's brain is still developing, the earlier intervention can begin, the better the outcome. There is empirical evidence (decades of research) documenting the effectiveness of ABA therapy as a proven treatment for autism.
What is ABA?
ABA stands for Applied Behavioral Analysis. ABA analyzes individual child behaviors and skills in order to determine why a child may be exhibiting maladaptive behaviors or struggling to perform a particular skill. The Lead Therapist and Clinical Coordinator then use this analysis to develop a treatment plan that teaches more appropriate behaviors and skills.
Who will work with my child?
The bulk of each child’s therapy is conducted by Behavior Technicians. Behavior Technicians are typically college students or recent college graduates in the fields of psychology, education, or other human services careers. Behavior Technicians are supervised by Licensed Supervisors. Our Clinic employs two Licensed Supervisors; Dr. Wegner and Kimberly Sattler. Dr. Wegner is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with education and experience is in the field of Applied Behavioral Analysis. Ms. Sattler holds a Master's Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Ms Sattler & Dr. Wegner work together to assess and evaluate a child's needs and develop an appropriate treatment plan. All members of the child’s team are hired by Autism and Behavior Center and must undergo training and weekly supervision.
What are the requirements to become a Behavior Technician and what kind of training and supervision are staff given?
The requirements set by the state are that all Behavior Technicians must be 18 years of age and have a clean police record. We do complete caregiver background checks for all therapy staff. Once hired, staff are provided with 40 hours of training by the Clinical Coordinator and the Clinical Psychologist as mandated by the state for all providers. The first 20 hours of training covers the basic theories of Applied Behavioral Analysis, data collection, confidentiality, and professionalism. The second 20 hours of training consists of 1:1 direct training with the child/children the staff will be working with. Once trained, every Autism Service Provider is supervised on a weekly basis.
How often will my child receive therapy?
The number of therapy hours and type of therapy each specific child needs is prescribed by our clinical psychologist based on their initial evaluation on each individual’s challenges and strengths. Ideally, children receive 30-35 hours of therapy per week.
Where does therapy take place?
Autism and Behavior Center is a clinic based program. All sessions are held at the Autism and Behavior Center located just 1 mile east of Hwy 53 & Clairemont Ave in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
How long is each session?
Sessions are generally 2-4 hours in duration.
What does a 1:1 ABA session look like?
Sessions vary depending on an individual child’s needs but a typical session will combine social activities, table work, behavioral programs, independent play, fine and gross motor skills, language development, and self-help skills. These programs vary significantly based on a child’s individual age and developmental level. Here are some examples for a 3-4 year old child with autism:
Social Skills: Social Skills are taught within a natural context; meaning that rather than sit at a table and talk about rules for social engagement, staff and children engage in social activities. Staff provide scaffolding and prompts to help the child recognize his/her role as a social partner.
Table Work: Isolated skills (names of objects, facts, etc) are taught using DTT (Discrete Trial Training). DTT isolates specific skills and targets just this skill until the child obtains mastery.
Language Development: If possible, language skills are taught within a natural environment. This means that rather than sit at a table and teach a child to say "cracker" when shown a picture of cracker; staff wait until the child is hungry and then teach the child not just the label for cracker but how to communicate that he or she wants a cracker. Language is taught as a typical child learns language. This means that rather than teach a memorized scrip "I want cracker please"; the child first just has to say "cracker". then a verb may be added ("eat cracker" or "open cracker").
Behavioral Programs: Behavior programs aim to decrease unwanted behaviors and increase desired behaviors like behavioral regulation (accepting/tolerating changes in routine, losing, being told “No”, waiting, sharing).
Play: Play programs are aimed at teaching children how to play functionally with toys. Play programs include independent play as well as dramatic & pretend play.
Motor Skills. Programming may address motor skills including both Fine Motor (stringing beads, cutting, drawing) and Gross Motor Skills ( running, jumping, throwing/catching ball, balancing, etc.)
Who pays for therapy?
If you have private insurance, you should first contact your insurance company to determine what benefits will be covered.
If you do not have private insurance available to you, or if your insurance policy does not cover ABA, Medicaid covers ABA therapy under the Behavioral Treatment Benefit. The Behavioral Treatment Benefit through Medicaid is available to children who receive Badger Care as well as those children who qualify for Medicaid through Katie Beckett or SSI.
Some parents whose children do not have insurance and do not qualify for medicaid choose to privately pay for services.
What is the parent/caregiver’s job in Therapy?
We encourage parents and caregivers to be very involved in their child’s programs. We have experience working with a very wide variety of families and can individualize our interactions to make it successful for everyone. Ways that parents should be involved include:
- Communicating on a regular basis with the team about and priorities or concerns they may be having regarding programming.
- By practicing the skills their child is learning and applying in daily life.
- Attending team meetings and parent training sessions
- Ensuring that their child is available to take advantage of the full amount of therapy hours recommended by the psychologist.
- Ensuring that children are well rested and ready for each therapy session