A well-designed comprehensive ABA program is intensive, consistent and the goals encompass all aspects an individual’s life. Program goals target core deficits of autism spectrum disorder such as adaptive/self-help behaviours, language/communication development and play/social engagement.
In our experience, a family with a child with autism is likely to be faced with challenges in at least one of these three areas, sleeping, toileting or eating. These skills are imperative to our daily functioning and when one of these areas require additional support, it affects our ability to learn new skills and the ability to engage with daily life. With PLG, we offer solutions and support to improve a student’s sleep hygiene, eating repertoire and independent toileting skills. Every program includes one or all of these skills as target goals.
Communication involves both understanding information (receptive skills) and providing information (expressive skills). When there is a deficit in communication abilities, individuals may express themselves differently to have their needs/wants met. For individuals with autism, the communication deficit may result in challenging behaviours, aggression or “tantrums”. At PLG, we recognize the importance of a functional communication system whether our student is verbal or non-verbal. Gains in the areas of communication can always be achieved. Using our comprehensive assessment tools, we select communication/language targets specific to the needs of each student.
Play and social engagement refers to the behaviours that allow an individual to interact with others in a way that is meaningful for both parties and to adapt these behaviours to different situations. Deficits with play and social engagement can range from being unable to engage in independent play to sharing, turn taking and eventually cooperative play with social rules. Teaching a student what to play, how to play, who to play with and when to play are pivotal behaviours that allow a student to successfully participate and integrate into their community and family life. With this in mind, PLG strives to incorporate community outings, preschool support and extra-curricular activities into our program.
The research and literature recommend approximately 20-40 hours a week of intensive behavioural intervention. That being said, the recommendations do take into account student characteristics such as age. For example, an 18-month-old will have a difference in the number of hours per week than a 3 year old. Most young, early learners within our program are able to successfully manage and thrive with approximately 10-15 hours a week of 1:1 intervention. With this in mind, families of PLG are able to achieve the recommended hours of intervention with parent coaching. Parent coaching allows parents/caregivers to be an active participant and contribute to their child’s learning. When parents are able to implement ABA strategies and procedures throughout the day, their child benefits from a 24/7 therapeutic environment.