How to Interview an ABA Provider

How to Interview an ABA Provider

If your child is in need of ABA services for autism, you should have no shortage of service providers to look at. Not all ABA service providers are created equal. Asking specific questions in your interview with any potential ABA provider is the best way to determine if they can help with your child’s needs.

Here’s a list of questions you should ask in any interview with a potential ABA service provider.

Interview Questions ask ABA Service Providers

How Many Hours of Therapy Does My Child Need?

This question will have a different answer for every child, as each child has unique needs. A BCBA should be recommending hours for your child–not the company or corporate policy. If you are considering a care provider who has ‘set times’ for programs, your child may not receive the correct amount of time for their needs.

Does Your Program have Behavior Requirements?

Some behaviors and issues will need to change over time, but forcing the issue through strict programs or adherence to certain behaviors is not the way to go. Be sure to routinely check your child’s program and progress if you think any requirements of the program are too strict.

ABA therapy works to help people with ASD adapt to neurotypical social norms. Having strict requirements to not allow normal ASD behaviors may lead to unnecessary behavioral challenges with many people.

Can I Observe the Program or My Child in the Program?

One of the most important aspects of ABA therapy is continuing a program at home. Information should always be available on how your child is progressing. If an ABA service provider refuses to share information or allow observation you may want to take a closer look at the program.

Daily records should be available to parents if they want to know what is going on in treatment. If an ABA service provider is unable to share information, it may be time to take a closer look. Quick note: information and records may take a few days to be logged, each clinic is different.

Do You Develop Plans Separately for Each Child?

In order to get the most out of ABA therapy, each child needs a custom-built program. ABA programs built on general needs will not help each child enough to address specific behaviors and needs

If you are presented with a brochure of programs or therapy ‘packages’ mentioned in a consultation, you need to really look at what is being offered. More often than not your child’s needs will not be met with a universal ABA therapy plan. Package deals for ABA therapy are not actually ABA therapy. Proper ABA therapy programs need to be individually created for each person.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Finding After-School Programs for Children with Autism

Finding After-School Programs for Children with Autism

After-school programs can be a great option for both kids and their parents. Children who show an interest in a given subject or activity will always want to engage in more of it. Parents who need a bit more childcare or want to try to introduce new things to their children will also be interested in finding after-school programs.

Finding a great after-school program for children with autism, however, can be a bit more challenging. Many standard after-school programs are not set up to handle certain needs of children with autism. So, how can you find a great after-school program for children with autism?

Know Your Child’s Needs

When you start looking for an after-school program for a child with autism, you need to know that child’s needs. How are they with new things and changes in routine? Do they have extreme sensory sensitivities?

Answering questions like these can help you determine which programs will work and which won’t before diving into more research. Some children with autism will thrive in after-school programs designed for neurotypical children–it all depends on the needs of that individual child.

Talk to Your Child’s School or Autism Service Provider

Before looking at programs online, talk to your child’s school or ASP. Many autism service providers offer after-school programs and activities. If you’re looking for programs specifically built for children with autism, this is the best place to start.

Having a conversation with your child’s teacher or therapist can also allow you to ask about specific programs. Outside of being able to recommend after-school programs in general, your child’s teacher therapist can recommend programs that your child would do better in. Getting a personal recommendation is always better than reading reviews or information online.

Look Up State-Sponsored Programs

State-sponsored programs, along with county- & city-sponsored programs, can be a great way to start the search for after-school programs and activities specifically designed for children with autism. Statewide (or even nationwide) programs will give you the information you can use to search for programs more relevant to your child: local programs.

When you start the search for local programs, make sure to talk to your child’s school or the school district. Many schools or district websites have lists of programs and activities designed for children with different needs. If you can’t find something on a website, be sure to make a phone call. Talking to a representative is the best way to find out if they offer a program suited to the needs of your child.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Making School Schedules Easier for People with Autism

Making School Schedules Easier for People with Autism

Transferring from school to break and back again is hard for every child. The changes in schedule and routine are a lot to handle. This goes doubly so for children with autism.

Children with autism have more difficulty than neurotypical children when it comes to understanding and accepting changes to routines. With Thanksgiving and Winter break coming up, we decided to take a look at some great ways to make school schedules easier for children with autism to understand.

Developing Priorities

Developing priorities can help make life easier for autistic children in school programs. While priorities can start with little things, they can gradually start focusing on times, dates, and other longer-term things.

Determining values can help steer us toward more fulfilling outcomes, even on a day-to-day basis. If your child is working toward learning to tie their shoes independently, for instance, repetition will help them achieve this more quickly. The downside to a lot of repetition is that you aren’t able to get other values-related tasks done. Putting the things you value most at the front of your list can help tackle important issues first.

Prioritizing times, events, and other things on a schedule can help children with autism understand that a larger-than-normal change is coming. The best way to start developing priorities for your child is by talking to their primary care providers. The insight they will be able to give can help you know what kind of priorities your child will be able to set and maintain.

Making an upcoming change easy to follow and understand can help ease the transition.

Autism School Supply Checklist

Making sure your child has the right supplies for school and any events can make schedules seem easier. How? Because your child will have tools and personal items they know will be used at specific times throughout each school day.

Every program has different requirements for school supplies. Before looking at our general list, you’ll definitely want to look over any list of supplies or materials provided by your child’s school.

The following are general items with brief guidelines to highlight some of the most important things to make sure your child has at school.

  • Lunch box. Having a reusable lunch box with compartments may help your child get into a regular lunch routine. Buying several of the same lunch boxes can help if you don’t have time to wash one every day. Compartments in lunchboxes can help your child understand where their regular lunch foods will be every day.
  • Comfort Items. Make sure your child has their favorite comfort item to bring to school each day. Things like stuffed animals or a favorite blanket may help your child settle into a comfortable routine at school each day.
  • Correct School Supplies. After looking at a supply list provided by your child’s school, go shopping with your child and allow them to pick versions of the supplies they are comfortable with. Remember to buy extras of expendable supplies so they will have the same item they are comfortable with after the first one is done.
  • Organized Backpack. A backpack with extra pouches or internal dividers is a great way to set up your child’s bag for easy use that can help them get into a regular school routine. Putting things in the same place can help them remember where their things are throughout the school day.
  • Emergency Sheet. Be sure to include any information a teacher, aide, or therapist may need in your child’s bag. This sheet should include any and all information regarding sensory issues, specific behavioral issues, preferences, and anything else they may need to know if your child is having a difficult time.

Parent-Teacher Communication

The best way to ease a child with autism into a new schedule or routine is to have great parent-teacher communication. A child whose parents are preparing them for a specific program will expect that specific program. Having a teacher that follows up is crucial for a smooth transition.

Talking to a teacher or administrator about the needs of your child beforehand can make the changes of a school schedule less turbulent. You should also observe your child’s behaviors before, during, and after school. Their behaviors around their school may indicate how they view the environment, especially if they have issues with communication or speech.

Families should always monitor the behaviors of their children before and after school to determine if anything needs to be looked at or changed.

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants

If you have questions regarding autism treatment, education, or plans to use ABA therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to make sure no family is turned away due to financial constraints. Our therapy team would love to talk to you. Find the location closest to you and give us a call. We’re here for you.

Lessons from a Farm

Lessons from a Farm

Growing up my grandparents lived on a farm in northeast Ohio about an hour from my parent’s home. During my childhood, the farm was my happy place for so many years. As a child fitting in was not my strong suit and I didn’t have the wisdom I possess now that fitting in is never the goal; belonging to our own hearts is. Whenever we visited my grandparents I felt at peace against the chaos of the world. I suppose I knew a little about belonging because on the farm I felt it. 

As a child every summer my parents would take us for a week to learn and live with my grandparents. My grandma Virginia was a beautiful quilter and wanted to teach all her grandchildren to sew. Kristen, my sister, took to this quickly and to this day has a quilt rack in her office. Me? I am perfectly capable of sewing (thanks grandma) and it literally makes my stomach sick to focus on details that small. To this day I also still take my sister my mending pile.

Country Living

To escape the task of sewing I trotted at the boots of my grandpa Bob and did whatever chores he was doing. Each morning before the sun would rise we would get up and put on our “shit” boots then head down to the barn. I would pull the hose bringing water to the chickens, pigs, sheep, cows, goats, ducks, and my favorite; the cats. We would scoop food together, muck out stalls and make sure all the animals were ready for their day. After our early morning activities, my grandpa would pour me a bowl of cereal, slap it onto a metal tray, and we would watch whatever farming show was on in the morning on the shaggy carpet of their living room. Throughout the day I would drag buckets of water to my grandpa as he planted and by night we would rock on their porch swing eating popsicles made from my grandma’s grapevine. 

I was in love with this life. Walking through the fields, watching the animals, nursing bottle-fed sheep in the morning, and kicking off my very important shit boots right alongside my grandpa. There was never a moment when there wasn’t something the earth needed or wanted. My grandma told me on a farm that the work is never done, it is waiting for its keeper. When summer ended we would visit the farm about twice a year to see my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Traditions of their own came with the holidays and gathering with my family, while different from me, filled me with quiet gratitude.

In the spring of 2020, my marriage was at a critical juncture and at the same time the world shut down for 12 weeks. I was at home terrified daily for my business in the first days of the pandemic and I knew in my heart that something had to change in my life. I had spent the last decade in Illinois building my business, making friendships that will last a lifetime, and becoming a mama to three beautiful boys. At the time I didn’t know my marriage would end but I did know I needed a happy place and missed my family dearly. I then did something that to this day I don’t know if it came from wisdom or fear. I bought a three-acre farm in Johnstown Ohio sight unseen in 24 hours. My children and I moved to the farm in August of 2020 and within a month I separated from my ex-husband.

Re-Discovering Life in the Country

The past two years have been nothing short of painful but they have also brought me incredible joy. I am a woman who always has to know why and to this day I’m not really sure why I’m here in Johnstown or bought the farm. The only thing I can settle into is this is our healing house. The family who built this house put such love, care, and detail into the home. Each room of the home has a detail that reminds me of beauty and each acre of the land has something new to explore. When I bought the home, I slid open their junk drawer to find a piece of paper to say thank you. Instead, I found this, “Have the Heart of A Shepherd and the Spirit of a Warrior.” It felt like my soul’s mantra and is now on a painting in my office. This home has wisdom I do not yet carry.

When I bought the farm I thought I could replicate the farm my grandparents made for our family. I imagined the 4th of July with my cousins, weekends with my aunts and uncles, and a deep gathering of family members. When I left my marriage some of my extended family turned on me claiming I was either lying about the reasons I was leaving my marriage or breaking God’s plan to follow the man in my marriage. The rest of my extended family either went silent or attacked my beautiful father for supporting his daughter.

It wasn’t the loss of my marriage that broke my heart, it was the loss of my family. It wasn’t until what felt like betrayal and grief passed that I realized I couldn’t lose what I never had. I accepted that I loved my family and they did not love me in return and that was OK. This allowed me to choose the family I deserve versus being hurt by the family I was born into. I know I’m more than the pain they attempted to bring to me and still attempt to bring by spending time with my ex-husband spinning hateful stories about me and my dad.

Farm Introspection

On the farm, I’ve learned a great many things about myself, how to be present, and how to love what is right in front of me. I have also learned that one week in the summer does not in fact give the skill sets you need to actually run a farm. Turns out I really dislike vegetable gardens, have killed my darling black raspberries, and at five Henry has a better green thumb than me with his pumpkin patch and sunflowers. It also turns out that finding time to add any animals to the farm feels like a task I’ll never have time for but something my soul is still curious for. Baby steps. This fall I’m going to take horseback riding lessons and actually take Simon, my boxer, back to obedience school instead of buying a puppy. The farm has after all taught me to pay attention to what is right in front of me.

Each day I try to find a piece of time to care for the land or the home. Some days I fail at this and some days I remember. But like my grandma said, my farm is always waiting for its keeper. Life is not what I expected it to be when I moved in night from Illinois to Ohio. There are days I still doubt where I am, what I’m doing, and if I’m making the right choices for my children. In those moments I smile gently to my soul reminding myself to bloom where I am planted

Xoxo,

Jessie Cooper

Listening & Control

Listening & Control

A few weeks ago I wrote to you about the power of listening to each other. This week I’d like to dive more deeply into how to navigate the multifaceted ways of listening, being listened to, or being ignored on a human level. You see, listening to others, I think, is one of my superpowers. Not being listened to is part of my shadow work and I can quickly see red become quite an unpleasant person to deal with if I don’t catch it. Basically, I have some great life experiences on both sides of listening that bring value to my life and I hope to bring value to yours.

Backing up and starting at the beginning I would love to say that listening to others is part of my nature. The truth is it would be impossible to know if I’m a good listener by nature because I watched my own dad from a young age do this across all walks of life. If you haven’t met my dad, you will know it’s his nature, because his family of origin does not possess this gift. Quite the opposite in fact. My dad owned a farm market throughout my childhood and I spent countless hours at his ankles as he met farmers, employees, and community members.

Really Listening to Others

When my dad meets a person something special happens, no matter how busy he is my dad stops what he’s doing to truly listen to how the other person is. This carried him well as a business owner but it was in his retirement I truly saw his gift for listening when he met my son Dametrius all those years ago. My dad started a community garden in the Hilltop (inner city) of Columbus to teach children to garden and provide food for the community. My son was four years old at the time and lived in the house next door. In meeting Dametrius, a young bi-racial boy without much more than the clothes on his back my dad did it again; he listened. In his listening, he found that Dametrius’s mom was sick, in listening he heard their family needed help, and from helping my son all those years ago built an incredible friendship that allowed me to become his second mom. A friendship that was not only with Dametrius but to the community of the hilltop. Each and every person on the hilltop was (and is) equal in my dad’s eyes and to this day he will give the clothes off his back to anyone in need. My dad is a walking example of the beauty that treating people equally can create and how listening creates connection.

Back to me (tada!), You can see that I had an incredible role model in listening and so when it came naturally to me I followed it. At first, I followed listening into my career and helping individuals with disabilities and autism as I’ve written to you about in the past. I’m embarrassed it wasn’t until I left my marriage that I truly started to learn to listen to my own soul. I was so fixated on helping people to repair my own wounds that I didn’t stop to listen to myself. At least not on the level that my soul truly needed. 

At the time that I was divorcing both my home life and the world were falling apart with COVID. As my worlds fell apart I learned the hard way (yes mom I know) that listening isn’t a gift that everyone has much less even a desire. I was naive at the time and thought that listening to others was something everyone did just like Dad and me.

Finding Someone to Listen to You

In the months following my separation I was met with my entire extended family, lawyers, a guardian, and the legal system not listening to me. As I recanted my experience inside my marriage and the help I needed for myself and my sons, shoulder after shoulder turned away from me. For the family that I lost at first I felt betrayed, then heartbroken, and finally accepted the loss for what it was and grieved. To the lawyers, I switched to time and time again (five to be exact) until I finally found a lawyer that listened. It was through this painful process that I learned to witness the aftermath of not being listened to. Not only in outcomes but in my own reactions.

In a world that seems to be stuck in dysfunctional, and at times oppressive, systems, listening to our fellow humans is a lost art. In knowing how deeply impactful listening is, it turns out I not only see red but become a very demanding, persistent person, when I feel I am not being listened to. It was just this past week, through an experience at my son’s school, that I finally realized exactly how I slip into a controlling narrative. Turns out I become controlling when I’m not being listened to. Knowing this will help me refrain from trying to control outcomes and instead ask the simple question, “why aren’t you listening to me?”. 

You see I’ve come to learn that not everything turns out the way you want it to and that control is something we (ok I) desperately want but never really had to begin with. We can’t always change the outcomes into our own perfect story or get what we want. There are billions of us on earth so I can begrudgingly put down the need to control (again, and again, and again). This would however be much simpler if we were first heard, and then were asked to put down control. In writing this I very much doubt I am the only person who struggles with control when they do not feel heard.

Being Heard

Being heard is the key because when a person is struggling, what I learned from my wise father is they have a story to tell. In that story might be a gift, a lesson, a kindness, and often is a need not met. If you spend the time listening, you can learn the needs of others, if you learn the needs of others you find that they aren’t much different than yours. That we are all more similar than different. 

So how do you struggle, when are you not your best self, who is not listening to you? 

What my darling do you have to say? Perhaps today, pour a cup of coffee (or wine), find a trusted companion, and start to share. 

Xoxo,

Jessie Cooper