What is your therapeutic approach?

Our therapeutic approach is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and incorporates strategies that have been proven effective for helping children.  Using the process outlined below, we create a treatment program that is individualized to your child and tailored to the needs of your family. 

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are disorders of brain development that are characterized by difficulty in social interactions and communication, and often have repetitive interests and activities. It is called a spectrum disorder because it affects everyone differently and with different levels of severity. 

While autism is not curable at this time, it is treatable and a treatment such as ABA therapy can significantly impact the quality of a child’s life, especially when the therapy is started at a young age and delivered many hours a week.

If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism, click here for our “What Now” guide.

How is Autism Diagnosed?

Unlike many medical conditions, autism cannot be diagnosed with a blood work or an x-ray. Instead, diagnosis is based on observing how a child acts or behaves. Children with an autism spectrum disorder struggle with social interactions and communication, and repetitive interests and activities. A list of “red flag” behaviors can be found here.

Signs of autism are visible by age 3, although are often apparent much younger than that. In fact, you can monitor your child’s progress against developmental milestones starting as young as 4 months of age. Although children all develop at their own rate, missed milestones may indicate a problem. Visit firstsigns.org to review their chart of milestones. On their site, you can also watch videos that show the differences between typical and delayed development.

In you suspect something, trust your instinct! Please don’t wait. Autism is treatable, and the right treatment can change your child’s life. Early childhood, a time of tremendous brain development, is the best time to impact your child’s future. Parents are usually the first to know. 

If you are worried, we suggest the following:

  • Contact your pediatrician to discuss your child’s development. Your doctor may refer you to a diagnostic clinic, a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, neurologist, or other specialist.
  • If your child is between 16 and 30 months of age, your doctor may ask you to complete a free, online screening tool called the M-CHAT to help you capture your concerns for the discussion.
  • Start therapy as quickly as possible. If your child is under three years old, contact your state department of health’s early intervention coordinator and ask for a free developmental screening. 

If your child has recently been diagnosed with autism, click here for our “What Now” guide.

What is ABA?

Applied Behavior Analysis is a systematic, individualized approach to helping your child develop and learn. Since children with autism have difficulty interacting with others, they often miss out on learning from the world around them the way that other children do. ABA therapy, in response, teaches them the skills that are delayed or missing, especially those that are the foundation for future learning: imitation, verbal and non-verbal communication, social skills, imaginative play skills, academic-readiness skills, and self-care. For a more detailed description of ABA therapy, click here.

For maximum benefit, ABA therapy should be delivered “intensively”. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of 25 hours/week. Outside of therapy, it should be a way of life. The best outcomes will occur when a child’s therapeutic team, family members, and school staff all use the same methods.

If you have a young child who has recently been diagnosed with autism, please consider starting ABA therapy as soon as possible. Research has shown that providing your child with intensive ABA therapy at a young age, a time of incredible brain development, is your best bet in helping him or her be as successful as possible in life.

See the next question to read more about why ABA is considered the gold-standard in treating children with autism.

Why ABA?

ABA therapy is the most recommended, scientifically-proven treatment for children with autism. In fact, it has been endorsed by organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Academies of Science, Autism Speaks, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH), and the Surgeon General.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, “The effectiveness of ABA-based intervention in ASDs has been well documented through five decades of research… Children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior, and their outcomes have been significantly better than those of children in control groups.”

How do you assess children and develop a program?

One of our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) will get to know you and your child in order to set initial treatment goals (e.g., development of skills such as communication skills, play skills, toilet training, cooperation and turn-taking, or a reduction in behavior problems) and develop an individualized treatment plan.

What do therapy sessions look like?

After first building a relationship with your child, a trained Associate Therapist will use proven teaching strategies (combining "work" and "fun") to help your child build new skills. We work on skills until they can be used very naturally in your child’s daily life. During each session, therapists will collect data on your child's progress.

How do you involve parents in therapy?

Since parents are the most important member of any child’s team, we will teach you the ABA strategies we are using with your child so that you too can use them to support your child’s development.

How do you assess my child's progress?

The data and information collected during therapy sessions is used by your child’s BCBA to continually assess your child’s progress and tailor the therapy accordingly. The information about your child's progress is always available to you, and we will show you what it means.

How do you keep parents informed?

 You and your Little Leaves team will meet monthly to review your child’s progress and discuss questions or concerns.