Schools for Autistic child – different options, why ABA and what to look out for
When typing ‘schools for Autistic child’ into Google, countless links pop up to a vast variety of different schools for autistic children offering an assorted range of therapies and services. This can only add to the pressure parents face when trying to choose a school that would best suit their child’s needs. There are definitely more therapies out there than there are hours in the week and money in the bank to try them all out.
Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, and social skills therapy are just a few of those most commonly offered by schools for autistic children. Many schools for autistic child also offer cognitive-, play-, art- or music therapy.
However, Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is the only intervention that is considered an evidence-based best practice treatment by the US Surgeon General and by the American Psychological Association. “Evidence based” means that ABA has underwent rigorous scientific tests proving its usefulness, quality and efficacy. ABA therapy can include a wide variety of different techniques. That is why it is important to first do thorough research before deciding on a school for autistic children, to ensure that their child receives the best ABA.
When looking for ABA schools for autistic children one must consider the following:
- Staffing: When investigating providers or centres, we strongly encourage you to see if they have a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst on staff, ask questions about the credentials of the staff that are working there and with your child.
- Safety: Your child is precious, thus it is important to know that they are in safe hands. Background checks should be considered standard practice and are typically done by schools, centres, and most providers.
- Expectations: There is no ABA magic wand, it takes hard, dedicated work by a lot of people to help your child reach their potential. Watch out for grandiose promises about idealistic outcomes. Providers who promise instant cures should be probed.
- Plans: Each plan for each child should be individualized, focusing on skills that are valued by you and that facilitate skills that can be used in real world settings and that lead to meaningful adult outcomes.
- Data: Data collection is a critical component of all ABA programs. Providers, centres and schools should be able to regularly provide you data in a format that is understandable, and they should explain how to interpret the data.
- The Future: Plans should address generalization which refers to the ability of being able to use a skill in all appropriate situations, such as at home or on vacation. Maintenance which refers to keeping a skill once you learn it, should also play an important role.