Wednesday, May 18. 2011

Insurance Coverage for ABA Services

In recent weeks, we've had mixed experiences working with insurance companies and obtaining coverage of ABA services. The hard work of parents and advocates has really paid off in some states, such as Minnesota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. We've even seen great progress with military insurance coverage thanks to the work of Jerry Shook and others with the Behavior Analysis Certification Board. But California is a different state of affairs.

The small subgroup of families that even have ABA services included in their health insurance plans are now finding out that the only ABA services authorized require 100% implementation by licensed clinicians. Now as a licensed clinical psychologist myself, I know that it is unrealistic for me to be present for every hour of a child's intervention. Not only is it cost-prohibitive for a licensed provider to be present for every hour of ABA intervention, it isn't evidence-based practice! The data on intensive ABA programs has historically relied on the undergraduate student implementers of the intervention, not licensed professionals.


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Los Angeles, CA, August 6, 2010 – O. Ivar Lovaas, a distinguished professor of psychology at UCLA, a pioneer in the research and development of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to treat children with autism, and the founder of the Lovaas Institute, died on August 2nd at age 83.

The publication of Dr. Lovaas's landmark study in 1987 demonstrated that nearly half of children with autism who received early, intensive behavioral therapy achieved normal-range IQ scores and were able to attend regular education classrooms by the end of first grade without the help of an aide. Many of those children in the study who did not achieve optimal results still demonstrated marked improvement. This study paved the way to the development of practical, effective therapy based on the collection of objective, measurable data, in contrast to earlier treatment which had been based on theories unsupported by scientific research. Since that time, his work has been validated by independent treatment sites which achieved comparable outcomes when they were trained in his methods.


Continue reading "World Renowned Pioneer Of Autism Treatment Dies At 83"

Wednesday, July 7. 2010

iPod, iPhone, & iPad ABA Apps GIVEAWAY

The most recent issue of Meeting Point includes a list of a variety of applications for use with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Have you tried one of these apps? What have you used that you like? What have you tried that didn’t work? We will be randomly selecting two contributors to this blog to win a $25 gift card to the iTunes store. Thanks for sharing!

*Note that winners will be announced after July 16, by the name they use in this blog. They will be contacted privately via email to receive the gift card.

Wednesday, July 7. 2010

Top 10 Pretend Play Materials

The most recent issue of Meeting Point includes a list of the "Top 10 Pretend Play Materials."

I'm interested in other people's experiences. Any materials you would add to or delete from this list?

I recently came across a picture from 1990 of the UCLA Young Autism Project staff. I immediately shared it with my friends and colleagues from those days. We had a great time reminiscing about how young we were, those funky fashions, and how hard we worked for Dr. Lovaas. It was a wonderful time that I will never forget.


Continue reading "Insights from the UCLA Young Autism Project"

Friday, June 4. 2010

Training ABA Therapists and School Aides

Posted under: Research

Here's a trick question to get things started. True or False: In order to earn a degree in special education, one simply needs to take all of the courses required for a special education degree? The answer is false. In order to earn a degree in special education, one needs to PASS all the courses required for a special education degree. I think of this distinction often when people ask me, "How long does it take to learn ABA?" or "How long will it take to train my child's school aide?"

Learning ABA, or more specifically, implementing ABA therapy correctly is only indirectly related to time. Implementing ABA therapy correctly is directly related to performance. In an earlier blog, I mentioned that at the Lovaas Institute, we train instructors in such a way that emphasis is placed on the evaluation of performance-based objectives, relevant to the implementation of behavioral treatment for children with autism. Our internal certification process requires a demonstration of the skills you have learned. Certification indicates to parents and other professionals that you not only know what to do, but can actually do it.


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Let's move away from the topic of branding for a moment to again focus on the importance of 1) using appropriate terminology, 2) describing procedures fairly and accurately, and 3) assessing research in light of a specific child's characteristics and the skill to teach. I spent a previous blog discussing requesting vs. labeling (mands vs. tacts) in this light. Let's now debate the question, "Which is better: conducting massed trials or task interspersal during discrete trial teaching?"


Continue reading "Massed Trials vs. Task Interspersal - Evidence-based Decisions"

Wednesday, February 24. 2010

Top 10 Early Preschool Games

Posted under: Family

The most recent issue of Meeting Point includes a list of the "Top 10 Early Preschool Games."
I'm interested in other people's experiences. Any games you would add to or delete from this list?

Monday, February 22. 2010

Early Play Activities

Posted under: Research

When teaching a child with autism to engage in interactive play, it's important to consider whether or not the child is likely to seek out similar interactions on his own. On one hand, a child may not interact with others because he hasn't yet learned specific ways to interact (e.g., by imitating others, by responding to other's questions or comments, etc.). On the other hand, a child may not continue to seek out similar interactions on his own if he does not find the interactions naturally reinforcing.

Below are five of my favorite early play activities that teach a child to participate in a short play scenario with an adult.


Continue reading "Early Play Activities"

To continue the discussion, I thought I'd share my specific opinions related to each of the guidelines in the last post. I must emphasize that these are my opinions that I purposefully offer up for debate. I'm very interested in starting a dialogue with those whose opinions differ from mine.

1) One general term should be agreed upon as a general umbrella term under which all brands fall. When discussing their brand, individuals should always start by disclosing that their brand falls under this general term.


Continue reading "Weakening the Evidence for ABA Therapy, Part 2 - A Dialogue"

Wednesday, February 3. 2010

Weakening the Evidence for ABA Therapy - Is it Our Fault?

Posted under: Research

A recent research study by Dawson and colleagues has created both excitement and frustration for some proponents of ABA therapy. The study, conducted in a randomized controlled trial design, was published in the November 2009 issue of Pediatrics and demonstrated that behavioral intervention with toddlers resulted "in significant improvements in IQ, language, adaptive behavior, and autism diagnosis." ("Randomized, Controlled Trial of an Intervention for Toddlers With Autism: The Early Start Denver Model" Pediatrics, November 2009). However, proponents of ABA have pointed out that the New York Times coverage failed to mention that the study uses applied behavior analytic principles (http://www.blogcatalog.com/search.frame.php?term=aba+therapy&id=905ac454e81811bf6f06a9117f2f8761) and that the CNN coverage perpetuated a common misconception about ABA by comparing the pleasing, playful therapy of the study with "ABA, which is delivered at a desk" (http://blog.navigationbehavioralconsulting.com/).


Continue reading "Weakening the Evidence for ABA Therapy - Is it Our Fault?"

Friday, January 22. 2010

Eye Contact - What to Teach and How to Teach, Part 2

Posted under: Research

Here are a few examples of how eye contact may be focused on early in behavioral treatment. While I present the information in terms of programs that may be used in therapy, all of the examples reach a level (some quickly and some with practice) at which parents can also practice them at appropriate times throughout the day.


Continue reading "Eye Contact - What to Teach and How to Teach, Part 2"

Friday, January 15. 2010

Eye Contact - What to Teach and How to Teach

Posted under: Research

ABA therapy for children with autism is a science of both what to teach and how to teach. The more prominent discussions concerning ABA often revolve around how to teach. The use of discrete trials, incidental teaching, and generalization training are all examples of strategies of how to teach that have been assessed in the research. Yet just as important as how to teach is deciding what to teach. ABA therapy for children with autism has been engaged with this question through the years as well. One example of this engagement I find interesting is when and how to teach a child eye contact.


Continue reading "Eye Contact - What to Teach and How to Teach"

Wednesday, December 23. 2009

Mands vs. Tacts - Example from ABA Therapy

Posted under: Research

One issue I have always had in the field of education is the tendency of some advocates to take a theory or preliminary research and immediately apply it to educational endeavors as a whole. Those familiar with debates concerning whole language vs. phonics, open classrooms, and even whether or not elementary school children should receive grades are well aware that enthusiasm for the theory can supersede the evidence to support it.


Continue reading "Mands vs. Tacts - Example from ABA Therapy"

Friday, December 11. 2009

Mands vs. Tacts - Evidence-based Decisions

Posted under: Research

I've spent a lot of previous blogs talking about the importance of 1) using appropriate terminology, 2) describing procedures fairly and accurately, and 3) assessing research in light of a specific child's characteristics and the skill to teach. Let me put that into practice by debating, "Which is better: initially emphasizing requesting or labeling (i.e., mands or tacts) in ABA therapy for children with autism?"


Continue reading "Mands vs. Tacts - Evidence-based Decisions"

 
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