“If they can’t learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn” – Dr O Ivar Lovaas
You may be thinking how does one start to analyse the child with autism at home, community and at school? Something which may seem daunting and a huge task.
The Star Academy prides itself on using an evidence-based treatment to reverse autism one child at a time, that being Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy (ABA). ABA is based on the premise that if behaviour is followed by a desirable consequence that behaviour will occur more often in the future, where as if such behaviour were to be followed by an undesirable consequence, then the behaviour will occur less often in the future. It is this premise that allows ABA to be an effective form of intervention for skill repertoire building and behaviour management.
So how does The Star Academy go about analysing skill deficits and behaviour management…
The Star Academy analyses skill deficits in terms of the 8 domains of human functioning, namely academic, adaptive, cognition, executive functions, language, motor, play and social domains, thus encompassing skills that fall into each area of your child’s life – home, community and school. Each domain contains a set of specific skills a child should have as well as to what extent each of those skills a child should obtain at a specific age level. Using this as the basis for skill analysis, your child’s Supervisor and allocated team will then probe various skills in each domain to determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses and based on this your child’s Supervisor will then create a tailor-made ABA program that will include lesson aimed at helping your child improve their specific skill deficits. As your child continues to progress, their team as advised by their Supervisor, will continue to build on those initial skill deficits in order to ensure your child strengthens those skills and all aspects of those skills, as well as probe new skills to continuously ensure your child is learning and growing in their skill acquisition.
In addition to skill repertoire building, The Star Academy uses ABA to also analyses a child’s problem behaviour. This is done by first identifying the function of the problem behaviour, the reason for the behaviour occurring. ABA classifies problem behaviour into four categories namely, attention-maintained behaviour, behaviour maintained by getting access to tangible items, escape maintained behaviour and automatic behaviour. In order to determine which function is attributed to which behaviour your child is engaging in, information will be garnered by means of indirect observations (interviews with the child’s caregivers and questionnaires) and direct observations (data obtained from the child’s team of instructors during the first few one-on-one sessions) – in order to obtain a comprehensive overview of your child’s behaviour in all areas of their life home, community and school. In addition to determining the function of the behaviour, the child’s Supervisor will also take into account medical considerations, the severity, intensity and frequency of the behaviour as well as the child’s skill repertoire. Once this data has been received, the child’s Supervisor will then create an individualised behaviour intervention plan, to help put measures in place to appropriately manage and reduce problem behaviour.
Thus, the saying “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,” stands true and as such, each child at The Star Academy receives a tailor-made ABA program aimed at increasing their specific deficits, deficits that occur within the 8 domains of human functioning encompassing all areas of the child’s life – home, community and school, as well as managing and reducing their excess behaviour, behaviour the child engages in as way to communicate their needs or get their needs met.
Like all children, a child with autism is still a busy body and as such interacts in many different domains on a day to day basis such as their home, community and school. It is for this reason why The Star Academy incorporates all areas of a child’s life -home, community and school, when analysing skill deficits and problem behaviour, in order to ensure optimal opportunities to increase skill deficits and reduce problem behaviour across all environments.
The Star Academy can analyse the child with autism at home, community and at school in the following ways:
At HOME …
We collect data from the child’s home environment by observing the child’s relationship with their family, caregivers and pets, in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of their skills, deficits and behaviour. We conduct one-on-one home session to generalise skills learnt during our one-on-one therapy at the Star Academy centre to the home environment, as well as to help teach necessary home skills that a child might be struggling with. We also conduct parent trainings, so that we can educate all involved about ABA, to ensure consistency across the child’s different environments as well as to guarantee optimal chances for the child to receive ABA treatment.
In the COMMUNITY …
Dependent on the case, The Star Academy works with a multidisciplinary team, incorporating feedback from Teachers, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and Optometrists, working on skills they feel the child needs improvement on by incorporating it in the child’s individualised ABA program. We also assist children with activities within their community such as swimming and horse riding, as well as teaching and increasing skills needed for community involvement, such as getting a job.
At SCHOOL …
The Star Academy also provides school facilitation programmes, where we aim to create a specific education plan for the child, one that will assist the child in all areas within a school setting. A trained Star Academy instructor accompanies the child to school with the aim of assisting the child where necessary and eventually allowing the child to become an independent learner in the classroom.
Overall, using an evidence-based form of treatment (ABA), The Star Academy is able to successfully analyse the child with Autism at home, community and at school, ultimately teaching each child the way they learn.
– Chad Edery