Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

May 07

Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas
Linda Wright, M.A., CCC-SLP/L, BCBA
Clinical Director
East Coast Office
Lovaas Institute

Collaboration and Progress

Seventeen years ago I was a psychology student at UCLA and became introduced to the work of Dr. Ivar Lovaas when I signed up for one of his classes. Little did I know what a profound impact he would have on my life. Fascinated by the groundbreaking work in autism at his UCLA clinic, I jumped at the opportunity to intern there. I will never forget the first child I helped treat nor all the other children and colleagues who followed and taught me so much. Autism has been my passion ever since.

In earlier years data reported that only 1 in every 10,000 children was diagnosed with autism, while today's data report 1 in 150. Autism is no longer considered the mysterious and hidden disorder it once was but is receiving a tremendous amount of attention and is studied by numerous researchers nationally and internationally as well as described in media publications such as Dateline, 20/20, Time and Newsweek. Organizations such as Autism Speaks and the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) were founded as a result of parents' advocacy for the improvement of their children's lives and are funding important research into the causes and treatment of autism. Such efforts have led the government to respond by signing the "Combating Autism Act of 2006," which authorized nearly $1 billion in funding available over the next 5 years for detection, research and treatment of the autism spectrum disorder.

At the same time parents of children with autism are continuously seeking information about current treatment programs and possible cause(s) of their children's problems and are making important decisions about how to help them. To illustrate, many parents have become familiar with the work of Dr. Ivar Lovaas and have been encouraged about the benefits of behavioral treatment. Although treatment outcome data do differ across children, we at the Lovaas Institute are encouraged by our close collaboration with parents, teachers, physicians, speech pathologists, occupational therapists and many other professionals, and such collaboration will no doubt continue to help improve the treatment outcome in children with autism in the future.

It is important to point out that the treatment outcome achieved by the UCLA Project has been replicated by other service providers such as the Wisconsin Early Autism Project and the Central Valley Autism Project and is in the process of being replicated by providers in other countries such as in Norway, England, Israel and Japan.

Linda Wright

Birthday Celebrations

Alex's mom had only one good picture of her son from his third birthday. Looking at it she painfully remembered how he had shied away from his guests and isolated himself in his bedroom, refusing to come out and join the party.

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Dynamic... Creative... Scripted Pretend Play

Play scripts are often an important component in teaching creative and spontaneous pretend play. Some people mistakenly believe that scripted responses result in robotic play however, research data indicate that scripted responses often serve as stepping-stones to spontaneous statements.

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Data Collection

As many teachers know, keeping appropriate data on a skill is not as easy as it seems. On one hand, data needs to be collected in order to track a child's progress. On the other hand, data collection cannot be so overwhelming as to interfere with teaching a child.

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Knowledge vs. Training

As research proving the effectiveness of behavioral treatment grows, more and more people have started to say that they have received "training in ABA therapy." Further, some individuals will state on their website that they are "Lovaas trained." Anyone making these claims should be scrutinized closely.

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Quotes and Anecdotes

"I just want to tell you, you are doing an awesome job with the new Lovaas newsletter! Keep it up. Fairly soon, everyone will have bookmarked Lovaas Institute site as a resource and be signing up for the newsletter. It's so awesome that you guys are doing this, and have made your site into something really special. I always tell people how awesome Lovaas has been for us... maybe when they see how detailed, professional, and creative the information is... they will see why I've been saying what I have!"

California

"I have a high functioning grandson (5 years of age) who fits your model to a "T". THANK YOU for good practical advice that I can use in my interactions with him that will be beneficial to both of us."

Minnesota

"Thank you for the newsletter. It's wonderful way to communicate with the autism community."

California

"I am interested in any information dealing with IEPS especially with children in full inclusion."

Pennsylvania

"I just received a message about Meeting Point. What an incredible resource. Parents are so lucky to have you."

Indiana

The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.

From the Editor

Thanks to all of those who have written to us in the past few months. This newsletter has been a constant balancing act. On one hand, we want to provide a newsletter that's accessible enough to those with only a little understanding of behavioral treatment. On the other hand, we want the information to be clinically and professionally rigorous.

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On the Lighter Side...
...5 outrageous reinforcers sure to add fun in therapy

Wake Up! Fall asleep and snore loudly on the child's lap. Then wake up suddenly for the school bell — "ding ding ding!"

Keep My Arms Down! Put one of your arms out and when the child pushes it down, make a cranking sound, and raise the opposite one up. When the child tries to hold both down, raise a foot.

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Searching for Answers
Part 4 of a 4-part series

Because of Bronwyn's participation in behavioral treatment, her family has found many milestones to celebrate. Her mother states, "Of course the amount of talking she is doing is one milestone we've celebrated. We hang on every word she says."

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