Autism Treatments

The Star Academy focuses on Applied Behavioral Analysis as an intervention to treat Autism Spectrum Disorder in children and adolescents. Developed by Ivar Lovaas, Applied Behavioral Analysis, more commonly known as ABA therapy, focuses on decreasing negative social behaviors and increasing, or building on, a child’s social and adaptive skills in order to achieve positive social interaction and community integration. ABA is taught through what Lovaas termed discrete trail training, meaning the environment and interactions of the child are controlled by the therapist in order to achieve interactive learning and to facilitate appropriate social interaction. This is done by placing a variety of instructions and then highly reinforcing all appropriate and correct responses. The Star Academy focuses on 8 domains which include, Social, Language, Adaptive, Academic, Motor, Play, Cognition and Executive Function curriculums. In addition to this, Facilitated Communication and Alternative and Augmentative Communication is a strong component of treatment at Star, specifically for children and adolescents who have vocal limitations.

The Star Academy also advocates a collaborative approach concerning autism treatments, as research has shown that the severity of the symptomology of this disorder resides in one’s gut. Various Biomedical Interventions as treatments for Autism form part of a tailor-made therapy plan for each child. Anti- fungal and Anti- yeast treatments involve mediations that rid the body of yeast infections and as well as processed sugars. There are various diets that serve to ‘clean’ the gut, such as the use of vitamin and supplement therapy have also shown promising results as treatments for Autism. Chelation therapy as a treatment for Autism is one of the more rigorous forms of treatment, by using chelating agents to remove heavy metals from the body such as mercury, arsenic and lead. The importance of collaborating with a certified biomedical practitioner cannot be overemphasised. These treatments are not to be embarked on without the close supervision of a certified medical practitioner.

In its collaborative approach Applied Behavioural Analysis is fully supported by research, it finds strength as the most empirically supported of all autism treatment, as it uses data to support its effectiveness, concerning both behavioural interventions and planned learning. As described above there are various interventions and autism treatments, ABA therapy has been designed for long term treatment, preferably starting between the ages of 2-4 years and with a minimum of 40 hours for at least 2 years. Research has proved that 88% of children who have been a placed in ABA therapy have retained skills learnt as much as 8 years later, marking its effectives as superior in comparison to others.

 

Autism treatment South Africa

Autism treatment in South Africa is finally making the strides it needs to make. Ilana Gerschlowitz, Managing Director at The Star Academy, travelled internationally searching for the best treatment, not only for her own son but for the many other families who had come to see her as a pioneer in the South African context. These families relied on Ilana as a rare gem who told them that all hope was not lost in a world full of closed doors. Now, a decade on, Ilana has changed the face of autism treatment in South Africa. Ilana has brought Applied Behaviour Analysis at a credentialed, certified, gold-standard level to us. Recognising that autism was in fact a treatable, medical condition, Ilana is also in the process of making biomedical intervention more readily and affordably available to South African families by aligning brilliant local doctors with international doctors experienced in biomedical intervention.

What families need to know when seeking autism treatment in South Africa is that:

  • Autism is treatable
  • Recovery is possible for some individuals on the autism spectrum
  • Biomedical treatment allows an individual to respond more quickly to behavioural intervention
  • Behavioural intervention helps an individual catch up the developmental delays found in autism
  • A good Applied Behaviour Analysis programme is:
    • Intensive
    • Comprehensive
    • Closely monitored
    • Tailor-made
    • Inclusive of training of significant others in the child’s life

Autism treatment South Africa: At the time of writing this article, The Star Academy had opened its doors in eight centres countrywide – four in Johannesburg, two in Pretoria, one in Durban and one in Douglasdale. Perpetually called to help families in need, Ilana also ensured provision of remote services in locations such as Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ghana, Rustenburg, Mauritius and even London. Ilana’s reputation spreads far and wide and she regularly holds calls with families from all over Africa and the world.

Autism treatment South Africa: What autism treatment in South Africa needs now, is government support and medical aid funding, so that families can more easily access the intensity of intervention they need for best outcomes. While The Star Academy does everything in its power to give access to intervention and power in the form of knowledge to as many families as possible, it is difficult to ensure that every child receives the treatment they need and deserve in today’s financial climate. In the United States, Applied Behaviour Analysis is recognised as a medical necessity for children on the autism spectrum, and is widely funded by medical aids. These medical aids recognise that the more resources are pooled into early intervention, the less need there will be for intervention over an individual’s lifespan.

The Star Academy is growing quickly and trying to keep up with the increase in need for its services, driven by the exponential increase in the prevalence rates of autism.

 

Autism treatment solutions:

There are several methods that can be considered as Autism treatment solutions, play therapy, OT (Occupational Therapy), speech therapy and Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy to mention a few.

  • Play Therapy: this is a form of counseling that uses play to communicate, enhance social skills and eradicate psychosocial challenges. Children are able to express themselves through the form of play and portray their feelings and experiences on toys and through games.
  • Occupational Therapy: this is the form of using assessments and interventions to retain, create and recover new, lost or current activities.
  • Speech therapy: this focuses on the fluency, language and voicing issues a child could have, this aims at eradicating any issues around communication and prevent any hindrances around speaking.
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy: this is the application of the principles of behaviour to challenges that are socially important in order to produce practical change. ABA works off the methodology of operant conditioning which is a learning process through which the strength of behaviour is modified by reinforcement, for example if you ask a boy to ride a bike and he carries out the instruction correctly he would obtain reinforcement which could be anything from primary to secondary, be it a juice box or two minutes of play with a ball. ABA therapy aims to decrease undesired behaviour and eradicate any skills deficits that are a result of these behaviours. This form of therapy works on building skill repertoire and developing effective behaviour management solutions. ABA therapy offers one on one therapy which gives the child a better chance at success by having individual attention. Qualified Supervisors design unique programs for each child and a set team is put in place to carry out the requirements of the program. As much as ABA works on diminishing problem behaviour and building skills do we play with the child in the most age appropriate way and promote social skills and interaction.

The good news for parents is that because of The Star Academy’s comprehensive curriculum, Autism treatment solutions and thorough training procedures, your child’s motor, sensory, language and other needs can all be addressed in one programme.

The Star Academy which is the leading organization providing ABA therapy does this in a variety of ways suitable for children at all levels and stages of their development, children can attend the academy full time, part time, through school facilitation or in the home setting, making it an available form of therapy for any child in need. Having centers all around South Africa allows for many children the opportunity and the chance of recovery.

The Star Academy is a beacon of hope to families who have children with autism, having trained instructors that care greatly for children and work around the clock to push for recovery is something all children need.

This autism treatment power house aims to spread the message that recovery is possible.

The Star Academy’s motto: “Reversing autism, one child at a time”

 

Autism treatment center:

The Star Academy is the leading Autism treatment center in South Africa! Offering world-class services to children around multiple provinces across South Africa, neighbouring countries as well as abroad! The Star Academy has centers in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban, and provides services to clients in Cape Town, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Rwanda, Mauritius and London.  How did we expand our reach so widely? Our reputation precedes us, and word of mouth allows us to help more and more individuals every day.

The Star Academy is proudly affiliated to CARD and is one of the most successful affiliated sites!

The beacon of hope known as The Star Academy offers treatment to children with Autism as well as other related disorders like ADHD, The Star Academy’s approach to Autism is ABA- Applied Behaviour Analysis, this is “the application of the principles of behaviour to challenges that are socially important in order to produce practical change.” ABA strives to decrease problem behaviour that could be a hindrance in their social, emotional and functional aspects in life and enhancing skills the child could be good at. This Autism treatment center power house believes that the right treatment can lead to recovery. As we all know, every child is different, unique and no different a child on the spectrum thus they need to be treated as such, The Star Academy has great supervisors and instructors that come together to push recovery for every child. As I mentioned every child is different hence each child has a specially designed program that is suited to their capabilities, to enhance the skills they are good at and to tackle the ones not so good at in a manner that is best suited for them.

The Star Academy truly caters for all children’s specific needs, be it at school, in a community setting or in the home environment. At school, we provide school facilitation in which a supervisor will design a program that is best suited for a child in that environment, to work on skills that may be needed in that setting and to combat any learning impediments. In the community, be it in the mall, at a garage, the local park or the doctor’s office, a program will be designed to combat these challenges and same goes for the home setting, whether it is table manners or gardening that needs to be taught, develop a morning routine or to play appropriately with siblings, this is all possible at the Academy.

The Star Academy is able to build on play skills, adaptive skills, vocational skills, communication skills as well as leisure skills. Not forgetting that they have the leading treatment in behaviour interventions, striving to diminish behaviours that could be problematic.

Recovery is possible with the right team at your side.

Autism symptoms and treatment

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects one in many different ways. There is a wide range of symptoms of ASD where some may be mild, others severe, and still others somewhere in between. The symptoms are commonly discovered in early childhood which is usually the first two years of life and it is said that early intervention is critical, especially since the younger the child is upon first receiving treatment, the fewer developmental gaps there are to close.

Signs and symptoms may include but are not limited to repetitive behaviours which include repetitive movement with an object like fidgeting with a car or repetitive body movements such as flapping of hands or rocking. They may have an interest or obsession about certain things or topics. A person with Autism may also get upset by slight change in routine, have little or no eye contact, and may also repeat words or phrases rather than communicating in a way that is meaningful to others (an in turn, for the person communicating).

Autism is widely known and accepted as a lifelong disorder, however it can be treated and with the right treatment, recovery is possible. Therefore with that said all of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, and more, can be treated.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) – This is a research-based Autism treatment. In this treatment each child’s program is designed to meet the needs of the child as an individual. It is mostly one on one therapy which focus on language, play, adaptive skills, social, executive functioning, motor, and cognitive skills. Under each category ABA aims to equip the child with tools and skills that will promote independence. Research shows that children who begin this treatment at an early age make more significant changes than those who receive this intervention later in life, but it also shows that those who receive this treatment at any stage in life make more progress than those who never receive it.

With all that said Autism is treatable and with proper research of Autism symptoms and treatment one can find a treatment program which will address the child’s deficits as an individual.

The good news is that The Star Academy is your one-stop shop for autism symptoms and treatment. Our staff are experts in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis, specific to autism spectrum disorder. Many parents find that they receive more information and clarity in their initial parent meeting with our Managing Director, Ilana Gerschlowitz, than they have in their entire journey up until the point of meeting her. She dispels many of the myths around autism, including those that it is not treatable or that there is little hope and that parents should start making provisions for institutionalisation later in life.

Autism support groups in South Africa:

“It is never too late to expand the mind of a person on the autism spectrum”- Dr Temple Grandin

The Star Academy aims to support families, care givers and the community with pupils who are on the autism spectrum with Autism support groups in South Africa. The organization provides parent, sibling and extended family support and guidance. They take every media opportunity they can across as many demographics as possible to create awareness and improve the knowledge and understanding on Autism. Hosting workshops and provide frequent training for people interested in this line of work, expanding and enhancing their skills creates hope and confidence in families who have someone close to them on the Autism spectrum.

We can never come to think what a parent with an autistic child feels or goes through, no words can amount to what they deal with daily as we can all relate that no day is the same, a new day comes with new learning curves and different challenges that need to be tackled with compassion. Autism support groups in South Africa allow parents, care givers and siblings the opportunity to debrief with people dealing with similar obstacles and are able to shed light on their stories.

“Shared pain is lessened and shared joy is increased.”

The Star Academy acts as an information line for the Autism community, the organization has a set of skilled workers who are able to provide assistance for families and people dealing with Autism. They are able to give you information on where to get a diagnosis, information on schools and centers that provide treatment for pupils on the autism spectrum, provide support and advocacy, where to participate in community activities, Autism support groups in South Africa and so on. Many parents within the Star Academy family have combined forces to form their own autism support groups in which they share resources and shortcuts to finding the best biomedical treatment options and stories of their own child’s successes and trials at The Star Academy.

As one mom of an autism support group said, “you may think us “special needs moms” have it pretty tough. We have no choice, we just manage life when things get really tough. We have made it through the days we thought we would never make it through, we have even impressed our own selves with all that we do. We have gained patience beyond measure, love we have never dreamed of giving. We worry about the future but know this “special” life is worth living. We have bad days and hurt sometimes, but we hold our heads up high. We feel joy and pride and thankfulness more often than we cry. For our kid’s we aren’t just super moms, no, we do so much more. We are cheerleaders, nurses and therapists who don’t walk out the door. We handle the good with the bad, we don’t know what the future holds but we give our kids the best, we don’t get breaks but we will do whatever it takes, for our kids to be accepted is really our aim, when we look at them we just see innocent little souls, don’t you see the same? They deserve all the love we hope you feel the same.”

 

Autism spectrum disorder treatment

The amount of progress that can be expected in autism spectrum disorder treatment is still a topic of debate, however there is much evidence supporting  effective autism treatment. The synergy between various therapies, as well as biomedical interventions have also proven effective in autism treatment.

In South Africa, medication tends to be used to treat specific behaviours related to autism such as hyperactivity, aggressive behaviour and sleep disorder. Autism affects individuals differently, so appropriate medication is used for specific reasons.

A more functional approach to medical treatment in autism has shown to optimise outcome much more effectively. Biochemical assessment and supplementative therapies in autism treatment are being researched and applied with positive benefit. An example of effective therapy in autism treatment is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy applies our understanding of how behaviour works to real situations. The goal is to increase behaviours that are helpful and decrease behaviours that are harmful or affect learning. ABA therapy programs can help increase language and communication skills, improve attention, focus, social skills, memory, and academics as well as decrease problem behaviours. ABA therapy programs are child specific and tailor made to suit individual child needs. This has proven to be highly effective in autism treatment. Almost half of children who receive Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) will recover from autism, meaning that they will achieve scores in the normal range on standardised assessments, function independently in a mainstream setting, and be indistinguishable from neurotypically-developing peers.

Dietary intervention may be appropriate to address certain symptoms or disease in autistic patients. Some children demonstrate an improvement when dietary restrictions are implemented. There are many dietary interventions that are associated with alleviation of autism symptoms, an example of a particular one is the gluten free diet. The Gluten Free diet is the removal of all wheat protein (gluten), and milk protein from the diet.

Many parents and physicians have found that implementing the gluten free diet relieves many of the symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders. The benefit of a gluten-free/casein-free diet is based on the theory that children with autism may have an allergy or high sensitivity to foods containing gluten or casein. The idea behind the use of the diet is to reduce symptoms and improve social and cognitive behaviours and speech.

The use of vitamins in autism spectrum disorder treatment is also one which should not be overlooked. There are several reasons to suspect that children on the autism spectrum may not be getting sufficient nutrients, including chronic diarrhoea or constipation, gastrointestinal inflammation, and a tendency to restrict food choices. In addition, the possibility exists that children with autism do not break down or process the nutrients they do consume in expected ways.

Mega-vitamin therapy and other nutritional supplements are common in autism treatment. It is important to consult with a biomedical professional when considering dietary and medical changes for your child.

Contact The Star Academy, South Africa’s leaders in autism spectrum disorder treatment.

 

Autism Specialist

For continued employment at The Star Academy, staff are equipped and required to achieve and maintain their  Board Certification as an Autism Technician (BCAT) from the Behaviour Intervention Certification Council (BICC) in the United States. The BICC strive to provide the highest standard of treatment to those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is achieved by using the principles and procedures of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and consistent development, implementation, coordination and evaluation of all aspects of the certification and certification renewal processes for BCATs which makes them the most viable autism specialist. There are many benefits to being an autism specialist at The Star Academy, including but not limited to:

  • Knowledge and hands-on experience in the field of Autism.

BCATs have to provide ongoing ABA instruction to clients in order to maintain their certification. This includes, but is not limited to being exposed to various personalities, behaviours, deficits, challenges and programmes to meet those deficits. A percentage of this service delivery must be overseen by a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst to ensure top-quality service provision.

  • Continuous learning through monthly trainings from various specialists.

The clinical director of The Star Academy, Jenna White, is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and conducts monthly training sessions aimed at facilitating more exposure to the different facets of autism and how to treat it effectively and efficiently. In addition, she provides access to formal Continuing Education events which cover specific topics within autism treatment and involve multi-modal training experiences.

  • Professional development

Instructors are also given the opportunity to manage cases. This occurs after achieving their Board Certification as a Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst (BCABA) from an intensive course provided by the Florida Institute of Technology or similar international institution. Case managing entails drawing up programmes through monthly workshops (consisting of a meeting between the client, the client’s parents, therapy team, and case manager/supervisor). During a workshop, the case manager/supervisor therapy team probe through a variety of content to determine what the client knows/not knows.  A cohesive skills acquisition programme is then put together to meet the client’s needs.

  • Increases the confidence caregivers give to their employees

Due to all the staff at The Star Academy being Board Certified as Behaviour Analysts/Autism Technicians, parents can rest assured that their children are in the hands of autism specialist who have a firm foundation of knowledge and expertise and who receive continual monitoring, training, and support.

The Star Academy holds itself to a high standard and is easily the most well-credetialled institution in the field of behaviour analysis on the African continent. The Star Academy wields an undeniable commitment to the cause in the exemplary autism education that they put into all members of staff.

AUTISM SOUTH AFRICA – RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE

TREATMENT FOR AUTISM IN SOUTH AFRICA – THE MAGIC OF ABA

At the Star Academy the teaching methodology we use is called ABA. Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA has five decades of research in support of it being an effective methodology for children with autism and the old “aspergers” diagnosis. ABA is operant conditioning and uses positive reinforcement to teach children the skills they missing. ABA has been proven effective an Autism treatment internationally and also for autism in South Africa.

Diagnosis of Autism in South Africa:

What does it truly mean to have an autism diagnosis? Autism simply means that the child is developmentally delayed and what we call skills deficit which brings me to our developmental curriculum. Our instructors at the Star Academy are Board Certified Autism Technicians and are registered with the BICC which is the Behavioral Intervention Certification Council based in the USA that regulates ABA globally. Our trained team of Autism Technicians are experts in childhood development. It is for this reason that we are successfully able to set a curriculum for each child. In addition to this we also use a holistic developmental curriculum, the “Skills” developmental curriculum for autism spectrum disorder.

Individual treatment:

Each child will be allocated a case manager who uses the Skills Developmental Curriculum to set their Individualised Education plan (IEP). One thing we know for certain is that no one child with autism has exactly the same skills deficits. Therefore it is important to design and individualised IEP for each child to catch up their specific skills deficits.

ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT OF AUTISM IN SOUTH AFRICA

Assessment of Autism South Africa:

When we assess a child with Autism or Aspergers we will look at 8 developmental areas. These include:

  • Cognition
  • Language
  • Executive Functioning
  • Motor
  • Play
  • Adaptive
  • Social
  • Academic

These areas are inter-related and if a child has skills deficits in one area it will result in them having deficits in other areas. It is therefore important to make sure that we carefully assess and determine which skills the child with Autism or Aspergers is missing so that we can design a program to catch them up.

ABA method for treatment of Autism in South Africa:

ABA includes behaviour modification. Many children with autism will engage in maladaptive behaviours and the only way to reduce these behaviours is to focus on skill acquisition. Each child will also receive a behaviour intervention plan which is aimed at addressing that specific child with autism’s skills deficits.

According to Dr Ivar Lovaas – “If you have seen one child with autism you have seen ONLY one child with autism.” It is for this reason that we never group children with Autism or Aspergers together but rather design an IEP for each child who attends the Star Academy in South Africa.

For some children who have prerequisites skills for school we facilitate them at mainstream schools in addition to working on their skills deficits one-on-one. Once we have caught up their language skills we can focus on social goals which will help them to be socially successful. Children with autism do require a solid set of language skills before they can be successful socially or keep up with the classroom environment.

AUTISM IN SOUTH AFRICA IS AFFECTING MORE AND MORE FAMILIES

Autism South Africa, on the rise – Autism is on the rise worldwide. Autism in South Africa is increasing exponentially at a rapid rate. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA recently released their latest statistics showing that every 1 in 59 children born in the USA is receiving an autism diagnosis. In South Africa we do not have a body taking these statistics, so accurate local figures for Autism South Africa are not available. But Autism in South Africa is increasing more or less on par with the increases seen in the USA and other countries around the world.

Trouble diagnosing Autism South Africa – Many doctors and physicians have a low awareness of autism and thus fear and avoid making the diagnosis. Much of the exposure at medical school presents Autism as something to exclude when diagnosing. There is also an out of date tendency to simply label it a neurological disorder, and to call these children retarded, when in fact we know it is a treatable biomedical disorder.

AUTISM SOUTH AFRICA – WHAT IS AUTISM?

Autism is a serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.

ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder):

The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths possessed by each person with autism. Aspergers Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder are examples of conditions that are now considered Autism Spectrum Disorders and are different from what is considered classic Autism.

Autism signs:

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Parents with concerns should seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes. Early recognition, as well as behavioural intervention, educational and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning.

Environmental triggers for Autism:

There is a growing body of opinion that suggests that genetically predisposed children are encountering a neurologically toxic environmental ‘triggers’ that disables them and disconnects them from the world (proposed triggers include heavy metal toxicity, pesticides, viruses, and parasite/viral/bacterial-induced toxicity).

AUTISM SOUTH AFRICA – POSSIBLE SIGNS AND DIAGNOSIS

Autism requires a medical diagnosis

The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests and repetitive behaviours.

People may experience:

  • Behavioural:inappropriate social interaction, poor eye contact, compulsive behaviour, impulsivity, repetitive movements, self-harm, or persistent repetition of words or actions
  • Developmental:learning disability or speech delay in a child
  • Cognitive:intense interest in a limited number of things or problem paying attention
  • Psychological:unaware of others’ emotions or depression
  • Also common:anxiety, change in voice, sensitivity to sound, or tic

If you are concerned that your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder you should approach a medical practitioner for assessment.

The Autism South Africa organisation assists families in accessing assessment and diagnostic services by qualified professionals. If you would like to be assisted in getting a diagnosis for yourself or your child, please download and complete the assessment application form below. Please send it to director@autismsouthafrica.org or deliver it to your nearest Autism SA office:
Download ASD_Assessment_Questionnaire

AUTISM SOUTH AFRICA TREATMENT AND RECOVERY

Recovery is possible for Autism South Africa – The Star Academy provides support to families in South Africa whose children have been diagnosed with autism. Our experience has shown that with the right treatment recovery is possible. Research has shown that children who start Autism intervention early, and receive a high intensity applied behaviour analysis therapy on a weekly basis for at least a few years achieve the most significant gains. The Star Academy offers a school based solution to support the parents of children with Autism in South Africa.

Board certified Technicians for Autism South Africa – All staff members at The Star Academy Autism Schools across South Africa and Africa have participated in an international ABA Board Exam, achieving certification as Board Certified Autism Technicians (BCAT). This certification further validates the autism-specific treatment skills of our team members in South Africa and their competencies in using the principles and procedures of applied behaviour analysis.

Our Approach to treatment of Autism – One of the many interventions for autism is ABA – Applied Behaviour Analysis which involves the application of the principles of behaviour to issues that are socially important to produce practical change. PROMPT, (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) is a holistic, dynamic, multi-sensory therapeutic program developed for the assessment and treatment of speech production disorders. These therapies combined with the correct nutritional and environmental supports are highly successful in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Read more about our approach to treatment.

AUTISM SOUTH AFRICA HOPE AND SUPPORT

Stories of hope for Autism South Africa – There are many other families fighting Autism and winning all across South Africa. And there are many real stories of hope about children who have lifted the limits placed upon them and are recovering from Autism. Please explore our Resources section and our Facebook page to learn more. Or contact us to learn more about recovery from Autism in South Africa.

 

Toegepaste Gedragsanalise, oftewel Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is ‘n hedendaagse wonderwerk. Ongelukkig is ABA taboe in sommige outisme gemeenskappe. Daar is menigte redes hiervoor, wat later in die artikel verklaar sal word. Vir eers wil ek egter simpatiseer met ouers, professionele persone en volwassenes wat met outisme leef, wat deur ander aanbeveel is om ABA te vermy in die behandeling van outisme.

As professionele instrukteur met 8 jaar ondervinding in die veld van outisme, kan ek getuig dat daar ‘n besliste verskil is in die kwaliteit van ABA programme van een diensverskaffer tot ‘n ander. Uit eie ervaring kan ek vele stories vertel van hoe lewens van kinders met outisme verander en verryk word, en dus die lewens van hul gesinne deur die gebruik van kwaliteit ABA as behandeling- en onderrig middel.

Die pad tot kwaliteit behandeling is vir vele families ’n lang, soms hartbrekende een, totdat hulle uiteindelik ‘n goeie gehalte ABA-program vind. Die doel van hierdie artikel is om ouers in te lig dat “goeie” ABA bestaan. Bewustheid van goeie ABA programme en diens leweraars is van uiterste belang – elke dag wat ’n kind op die spektrum sonder intervensie gaan, raak hulle verder agter en die gaping raak al groter

“Ons kinders het nie tyd om te mors nie” – by die Star Academy, neem ons hierdie
stelling baie ernstig op.

Om die kenmerke van goeie ABA te herken, moet ons kyk hoe outisme gedefinieer word, wat ABA is en sowel as die mees algemene wanopvattings oor ABA.

Definisie van outisme:

Outisme of Outisme Spektrum versteuring (ASD) word gedefinieer as uitdagings met betrekking tot sosiale kommunikasie en sosiale interaksie. Dit sluit in tekorte in sosiaal-emosionele wederkerigheid, tekorte in nie-verbale kommunikasie en n tekort in die ontwikkeling, instandhouding en begrip van verhoudings. Dit sluit ook beperkte, herhalende patrone van gedrag en belange in.

Outisme-kenmerke kom gewoonlik gedurende die eerste drie jaar van ‘n kind se lewe voor. Sommige kinders met outisme bereik nie die ontwikkelings mylpale in vergelyking met tipies ontwikkelende kinders nie, waar ander wel die mylpale haal, net om vaardighede soos spraak, oogkontak, ens. te verloor. Dit staan algemeen bekend as regressiewe outisme.

Die DSM-5 gee ‘n omvattende definisie van wat outisme is. Die definiëring van outisme is egter nie genoeg om ‘n behandelingsplan te ontwikkel nie. Outisme is ‘n komplekse spektrum versteuring – elke persoon met outisme het unieke sterk punte en uitdagings. Outisme wissel in omvang van aansienlike ondersteuning wat benodig word om funksioneel op te tree in die alledaagse lewe, tot sommige beperkinge tot ‘n andersins ‘normale’ lewe.

Verder behels ‘n outisme diagnose soveel meer as wat ons in die verlede van bewus was. Dit sluit nou in wat voorheen bekend was as Asperger sindroom, ‘n deurdringende ontwikkelingsversteuring en kinderlike-disintegrasieversteuring. Daarmee gepaard is daar menigte ko-morbide afwykings waarmee ‘n kind op die outisme spektrum ook gediagnoseer kan word, soos; ‘n ‘Fragile’ X-sindroom, Epilepsie, Sensoriese Disintegrasieversteuring, Downsindroom en aandag afleibaarheid- en hiperaktiwiteit versteuring, om net ‘n handvol te noem. Sommige kinders met outisme het ook gastro-intestinale versteurings.

Dit beklemtoon die kompleksiteit van die outisme spektrum en herinner my aan een van my gunsteling stellings: “Sodra jy een persoon met outisme ontmoet het, het jy net een persoon met outisme ontmoet.” Dit kan nie meer waar wees nie. As jy na die behandeling van outisme kyk, moet hierdie stelling te alle tye in gedagte gehou word. As ons die definiëring van outisme en die moontlike ko-morbiede afwykings wat elke kind met outisme mag he in ag neem, is dit duidelik dat ‘n geïndividualiseerde behandelingsplan die enigste weg vorentoe is.

ń Dieper kyk na ABA

ABA is die toepassing van gedragsbeginsels op kwessies wat sosiaal belangrik is om praktiese verandering teweeg te bring. Die beginsels van gedrag verklaar dat ‘n wenslike gevolg van ‘n gedrag die toekomstige frekwensie van die gedrag sal verhoog, terwyl ‘n ongewenste gevolg die toekomstige frekwensie van daardie gedrag sal verminder.

In meer vereenvoudigde terme, beteken dit dat as ons gedrag (dit is enigiets wat ons doen of sê) versterk of ‘reinforce’ (iets goed gee), hierdie gedrag meer dikwels sal voorkom; as ons nie ‘n gedrag versterk of ‘reinforce’ nie, sal die gedrag minder gereeld voorkom of stop.
Hierdie beginsel geld beide in die navorsings konteks sowels as in ons alledaagse lewe. Kom ons kyk na ‘n voorbeeld hiervan in die alledaagse lewe: As jy op die snelweg jaag, maar nooit gevang word nie, is die kans dat jy hierdie gedrag sal herhaal redelik groot. As jy op ‘n dag afgetrek en beboet word, sal jy die volgende dag twee keer dink voor jy in daardie gebied jaag. As jy ‘n tweede keer op dieselfde plek oorgetrek word, sal jy waarskynlik elke keer by daardie plek by die spoedgrens bly. Dit bring my tot my volgende punt: hoe meer konsekwent die gevolg van ‘n gedrag, hoe sterker is die verandering in daardie gedrag.

In ABA gebruik ons hierdie beginsels om eerstens, op die vaardighede van die kind met outisme (vaardigheidsontwikkeling) te bou en uit te brei en tweedens enige uitdagende / onvanpaste gedrag wat ‘n kind met outisme vertoon, te verminder (gedragsbestuur).

Vaardigheidsontwikkeling

Die Star Academy se kurrikulum bestaan uit 8 domeine: Taal domein, ‘Adaptive’ domein, Speel domein, Sosiale domein, Kognisie domein, Uitvoerende Funksies domein en Akademiese domein. By die Star Academy word die kind as geheel geassesseer om sy of haar sterktes en tekortkominge te bepaal, in elk van die voorgenoemde ontwikkelings areas. Dit lei die Star Academy ‘supervisor’ in die ontwerp van ‘n geïndividualiseerde program wat spesifiek voorsiening maak vir daardie kind se behoeftes.

Gedrags beheer

Die oorgrote meerderheid kinders met outisme sukkel om hul behoeftes te kommunikeer on ‘n sosiaal aanvaarbare wyse. Probleem gedrag vind dikwels sy oorsrong in hierdie kommunikasie-gaping. By die Star Academy analiseer die instrukteurs hierdie gedrag om die funksie van die gedrag te bepaal – wat probeer die kind met hierdie gedrag kommunikeer? Sodra die funksie bepaal word, word ‘n meer toepaslike / sosiaal aanvaarbare manier om hierdie behoefte / begeerte te kommunikeer, vir die kind aangeleer. Hierdie leer proses behels dat die onvanpaste gedrag nie meer lei na dit wat die kind probeer kommunikeer nie, en die vervanging van die probleem gedrag met ‘n nuwe gedrag wat konsekwent lei tot dit wat die kind wil he.

Algemene voorbeelde van hierdie proses in die praktyk:

John wil ‘n peuselhappie hê (voorloper) – Hy tantrum (die gedrag) – Hy kry die peuselhappie (die gevolg). Dus sal die toekomstige frekwensie van tantrum gedrag toeneem namate hy leer dat hy ‘n peuselhappie kry wanneer hy tantrum.

John wil ‘n peuselhappie hê (voorloper) – Hy tantrum (die gedrag) – Hy kry nie ‘n peuselhappie nie (die gevolg). Dus sal die toekomstige frekwensie van tantrum gedrag afneem, aangesien hy leer dat hy nie ‘n peuselhappie kry nie as hy tantrum.

John wil ‘n peuselhappie hê (voorloper) – Hy vra vir ‘n peuselhappie (die gedrag) – Hy kry die peuselhappie (die gevolg). Dus sal die toekomstige frekwensie van toepaslike kommunikasie toeneem namate hy leer dat hy ‘n peuselhappie kry wanneer hy toepaslik vra.

Hierdie is slegs ‘n vereenvoudigde verduideliking van hoe ABA gebruik kan word om ‘n kind se kommunikasie vaardighede te verbreed en hul probleem gedrag te verminder. ABA is meer kompleks as wat in hierdie artikel uitgedruk kan word. Dinge om in gedagte te hou wanneer jy die voorbeelde lees;

  • Kinders met outisme maak gebruik van onvanpaste gedrag om baie behoeftes / begeertes / emosies ens. te kommunikeer. Sommige funksies van die gedrag is maklik om te bepaal terwyl ander funksies van gedrag meer kompleks kan wees. Die tipe analise wat gedoen word om te bepaal hoekom die gedrag plaasvind, kan wissel op grond van die gedrag.
  • Sommige kinders word geleer om hul behoeftes te kommunikeer deur middel van spraak, ander word geleer om dit te doen deur alternatiewe kommunikasie strategieë te gebruik.
  • Die gepaste gedrag om hierdie behoefte / begeerte te kommunikeer, word geleer deur die gedrag aan te spoor en dan die aansporings sistematies te verminder totdat die kind onafhanklik kan kommunikeer.
  • Teen hierdie tyd kan mens dink dat dit onrealisties is om elke geval van toepaslike kommunikasie te versterk deur die kind te gee wat hy / sy aangevra het. Jy is absoluut reg! Strategieë om dit aan te spreek word by die program ingebou. Sodra ‘n kind sy / haar behoeftes / begeertes suksesvol kan kommunikeer, word die versterkingskedule stelselmatig verminder.

Hierdie is net ‘n paar van die vele waardes wat ‘n ABA-program goed maak! Hierdie strategieë en metodes wat binne die program gebruik word, rus ‘n kind met outisme toe om die beste lewe te leef wat hy / sy kan lewe.

Daar is niemand met ‘n groter, meer stresvolle, meer uitdagende taak om die pad vorentoe te beplan as ouers wat pas by die wêreld van outisme aangesluit het nie. Die eerste stap, en die mees natuurlikste stap wat ouers neem, is ‘n soektog op die internet vir ondersteuning en advies te loods. Ons sluit by gemeenskappe aan en leer uit ander se ervarings. In vandag se lewe, met die stygende syfers in outisme diagnose, is daar talle aanlynondersteuningsgroepe, artikels wat inlig bied oor besluite wat geneem moet word, die behandelingsopsies, ens. Dit is magies in die manier waarop dit ouers verbind met ander wat hul stryd verstaan. In hierdie moeilike, deurlopende stryd teen outisme maak ‘n ondersteunings netwerk die pad na ‘n ‘beter’ lewe ‘n bietjie makliker. Al hierdie (soms kontrasterende) inligting kan egter oorweldigend wees en lei tot meer spanning en angs. Nie almal stem saam met die pad vorentoe nie.

Ek sien dikwels hoeveel ouers die ABA-waters toets, bang om te begin, maar so desperaat is om hul kind te ondersteun in die stryd teen outisme. Alhoewel dit nooit te laat is nie, is vroeë ingryping noodsaaklik. Om hierdie rede is dit noodsaaklik om die woord van “goeie” ABA te versprei en sommige wanopvattings op te klaar:

1. ABA is eksperimenteel in die behandeling van outisme

Hierdie stelling kan nie verder van die waarheid wees nie. ABA is ‘n empiries-gebaseerde wetenskap met meer navorsing om sy doeltreffendheid te ondersteun as enige ander terapie wat vir kinders met outisme gebruik word. Wetenskaplike, eweknie-geëvalueerde studies oor die praktyk en effekte van ABA word al vir meer as 30 jaar uitgevoer. Data-insameling is ‘n belangrike aspek van ABA en dien as bewyse van die individu se vordering oor tyd.

2. Outisme word behandel deur die gebruik van straf

Straf leer ‘n kind om nie van ‘n spesifieke gedrag gebruik te maak in die teenwoordigheid van die straf stimuli nie. Dit leer nie die kind hoe om die meer toepaslike gedrag as ‘n vervanging nie te gebruik nie. Ware ABA word gekenmerk deur die gebruik van positiewe versterkings prosedures. Geen aanstootlike stimuli word in die onderrigproses gebruik nie. Een van die hoofdoelwitte van ABA is om onvanpaste gedrag met gepaste gedrag te vervang. Dit kan nie deur die gebruik van straf gedoen word nie.

3. Die gebruik van ABA as ‘n behandeling vir outisme veroorsaak dat kinders soos robotte optree

Wanneer ABA op die regte wyse geïmplementeer word, is dit onmoontlik! ABA het baie verskillende onderrigstrategieë waarvan gebruik gemaak word om kinders met outisme te leer. Sommige is meer gestruktureerd, terwyl ander die vorm van speelaktiwiteite aanneem. Een van hierdie strategieë word ‘Discrete Trial Training’ (DTT) genoem. Hierdie instruksie tegniek behels gereelde herhaling van die geteikende vaardighede. Dit is ook ‘n baie gestruktureerde manier van onderrig. Vir sommige kinders op die outisme spektrum kan dit nodig wees om ‘n meer gestruktureerde onderrigtegniek te gebruik om die grondwerk te lê vir bemeestering van bogenoemde vaardighede. Alhoewel sommige onderrigtegnieke meer gestruktureerd is, sluit ‘n toepaslik-ontwerpte program strategieë in om die ontwikkeling van “klein robotte” te voorkom.

Die meeste kinders met outisme leer nie soos hul vriende op skool nie. Dit is dus vir ons ‘n manier om hulle te onderrig. In ABA doen ons presies dit. As dit lei tot die ontwikkeling van “robotte”, is dit beslis nie die toepassing van goeie ABA nie.

4. ABA is slegs vir kinders met outisme

ABA is baie effektief in die behandeling van outisme, maar dit stop nie daar nie. Adolessente en volwassenes kan ook baie baat vind by ABA. Daarbenewens kan ABA gebruik word in die behandeling van ander versteurings soos ADHD en Down Sindroom.

5. ABA is ‘n tegniek wat gebruik word om diere op te lei

Soos vroeër genoem, is ABA gegrond op die beginsels van gedrag. Hierdie beginsels word gebruik om nuwe vaardighede te onderrig en om probleemgedrag te onder beheer te bring. Dit is waar dat sommige mense dit in die opleiding van diere gebruik. Die gebruik van ABA is egter nie beperk tot een spesifieke veld van gedrag nie, en ook nie die sukses daarvan nie.

6. ABA gebruik eetgoed in die onderrigproses wat kinders met outisme afhanklik maak van eetgoed

Die waarde van versterkings in die onderrigproses kan nie genoeg beklemtoon word nie. Wanneer ‘n kind gemotiveer is om te leer, kan die bou van suksesvolle vaardighede en gedrags beheer gewaarborg word. Afhangende van die kind, word eetgoed en drinkgoed die meeste gebruik as versterkers om motivering te verseker. Daarbenewens sluit ‘n effektiewe ABA-program altyd strategieë in om dit oor tyd te verminder. Dus is die gebruik van eetbare / tasbare versterkers soms algemeen in die aanvanklike stadiums van die program, maar deur middel van ‘pairing’ en gedetailleerde beplanning vir die toekoms word kinders geleer om versterkings in hul natuurlike omgewing te vind.

Hierdie is net ‘n paar van die wanopvattings wat bestaan oor ABA.

Onthou die volgende belangrike feite wanneer u wanopvattings waarneem wat in die pad kan staan van effektiewe behandeling van outisme:

  • ABA is ‘n effektiewe behandelingsplan vir kinders met outisme en verwante afwykings. Dit kan gerugsteun word deur jare van wetenskaplike navorsing.
  • Die doel van ABA is om op ‘n kind se vaardighede te bou en toepaslike maniere van kommunikasie te leer, met die doel om kinders met outisme in die gemeenskap te sosialiseer. Dit beoog ook om diegene met outisme met die nodige lewensvaardighede toe te rus om produktiewe en aktiewe lede van die samelewing te wees.
  • ABA poog om diegene met outisme te bevry deur hulle ‘n manier te gee om te kommunikeer en die vermoë te gee om te leer. Daarom moet toegang tot “goeie” ABA ‘n basiese mensereg wees.