is for children who have been diagnosed with autism toward the severe end of the autism spectrum. The goal of the Autism Intervention Program is to give high quality intensive behavior therapy that helps children achieve their greatest level of independence, become part of their community and continue to make gains even after they no longer are in service.
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
The foundation of the Autism Intervention Program is a systematic scientific method called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is a method of analyzing behavior and then developing interventions to reduce negative behaviors and develop more positive behaviors.
All behavior happens for a reason. ABA is based on understanding the “ABCs of behavior.”
A is the “antecedent” – what happens right before a behavior occurs. This may be something a child hears, sees, touches or smells, as well as any help given to the child immediately before the behavior.
B is the “behavior” – the way the child reacts as shown through actions that can be seen or heard.
C is the “consequence’—what happens right after the behavior. A reinforcing consequence – something pleasant like praise, food or escape from a difficult task – will make the child more likely to repeat the behavior in the future. An unpleasant consequence will make the child less likely to repeat the behavior.
In the Autism Intervention Program, we believe that positive reinforcement, not punishment, is the best way to teach a child new skills. By studying the ABCs of behavior, we can find ways to change or remove antecedents, helping to prevent an unwanted behavior from happening or encouraging a desired behavior to occur. We can also use consequences to reinforce desire behaviors.
What is Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI)?
ABA and IBI are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably. ABA describes the theory and principles of behavior. IBI is a specific form of treatment for children with autism that uses ABA principles to teach desired responses or behaviors. Teaching generally occurs in a one-to-one setting, with the learning eventually moving into everyday settings. .
How does therapy work?
Service is different for each child depending on his or her age and abilities. Younger children are often taught the basic skills in a direct one-on-one approach. To be effective, the intervention with children not in school full time involves 20 to 25 hours per week, usually in your home. If you child starts in daycare or other community programs, we may also work with her or him in those environments, using “incidental teaching” and “activity-embedded teaching” (see page X.)
If your child is in school full time, we help your child develop skills outside of school to maximize learning in the school setting. When it is appropriate, we offer support to the school team to help them use the basic IBI strategies that work for your child in the classroom.
When your child begins in IBI, we complete assessments that help us determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses in learning. We also conduct a baseline curriculum assessment. Assessments are updated approximately every six months to give you an idea of your child’s progress.
Parents are important members of the IBI team. You can make a big difference by participating and reinforcing your child’s therapy. At all times, we will continue to support your understanding of autism, ABA and IBI through personal support, training and coaching.
How long will therapy continue?
Research shows that children maximize their benefits within two to three years of IBI. Not all children respond to IBI treatment. In fact, IBI could cause harm to children who do not respond positively to treatment. We don’t know if a child will respond to IBI before beginning treatment.
Your child will be assessed on a regular basis to ensure that he or she is receiving the right number of hours of therapy, and to determine when he or she is ready to “graduate.” This is based on a number of considerations
Your child may reach a point where he or she is learning new skills without special programming.
Your child may be displaying less incidents of behaviors that interfere with learning.
Your child may have achieved skill levels consistent with his or her ability to learn.
Your child’s medical condition may not allow them to take part in an IBI program (for example, uncontrolled seizures).
IBI may not be the right approach for your family, given the methods used and the time required.
Your child’s progress may level off and he or she may no longer be benefiting from intensive therapy.
Your child may have other issues (such as sleep problems) that make it difficult to make significant gains with IBI.
When your child is ready to graduate, or if it is determined that IBI is not an effective therapy approach for your child, we will assist you with referrals to other community supports and services.