April 20, 2024
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April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

An Interview with Proud Moments’ Clinical Director Devorah Weiss

Yael’s Story: The first indication that something was wrong came when Yael’s kindergarten teacher complained that Yael didn’t participate in group activities, didn’t follow directions given to the class and required a separate invitation to line up for lunch, bathroom or dismissal. She also complained that during free play Yael didn’t interact with her peers and chose to sit on the beanbag with her thumb in her mouth.

Things seemed to get harder as Yael grew older and she was expected to sit, read and write. She fidgeted in her seat and couldn’t concentrate on a task for more than a few seconds at a time. The slightest noise distracted her. The lights were too bright, the chair too stiff. At home, too, Yael was unable to complete routine tasks, such as dressing, without several reminders. She seemed to get stuck at intervals and forgot what she was doing.

At age 6, Yael didn’t initiate play or conversation with her friends or siblings. She sat on the sofa and stared into space for hours. She had few interests. Although she craved friendship, she had no idea how to interact with peers. After a series of formal assessments by the school psychologist, it was determined that Yael had a sensory processing disorder, ADHD and problems with social skills.

After several unsuccessful attempts at treating her ADHD with medication, however, Yael’s parents brought her to a developmental pediatrician for a second opinion. At age 8, Yael was correctly given the diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder).


What is ASD?

DW: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. Many people have a specific picture of what autism looks like and this picture is often extreme, with behaviors that include arm flapping and head banging. However, ASD covers a wide spectrum of behavioral challenges, and many children with this diagnosis are high-functioning individuals. In fact, many of the children that we serve are in mainstream schools or integrated classes.


Why is ABA known as the medical community’s “treatment of choice” for individuals with ASD?

DW: While there are many alternative treatments out there that claim to treat or even cure ASD, ABA is the only treatment that has been scientifically proven to effectively treat individuals with ASD. When implemented properly, ABA treatment has far superior results than any other methodology. This is due, in part, to the years of research and development of ABA by experts in the field.


What is ABA?

DW: Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is an evidence-based approach that has been scientifically proven successful in helping children and young adults with ASD. It is a behavioral therapy that views each behavior in the context of its environment and aims to arrange this environment to bring about positive change. It utilizes individualized behavior plans that focus on increasing desirable behaviors, such as functional communication and adaptive learning skills, while decreasing behaviors that are less appropriate. Progress is monitored throughout the duration of the therapy to ensure that a behavior plan is effective.


Who is Proud Moments Therapy?

DW: We are a team of professionals, board-certified behavior analysts and trained behavioral technicians. We are very passionate about the services we offer and the work we do, providing quality, individualized behavioral therapy to children and young adults with ASD. We are able to provide services in a wide variety of environments—at home, in the community or other settings. Services are covered by most major commercial insurance companies and are in addition to any other services the child may be receiving.

Depending on the specific insurance, we are able to provide eight to 25 hours of service per week at no out-of-pocket charge to parents. Services include direct care with the client, family and parent training by a board-certified behavior analyst, as well as treatment planning and social skills groups.


What kind of strategies do you use?

DW: Using ABA, children are taught appropriate ways to behave, to develop and strengthen communication skills, and to enhance their social skills. ABA strategies are used systematically, breaking each area of focus into smaller components that can be closely measured to ensure a child’s progress and growth.


Can you tell me how you teach social skills?

DW: As they develop, most children learn the “social rules” naturally. For some, however, this doesn’t come naturally and they need to be taught the skills, just as children need to be taught math and spelling. Our social skills program is designed to provide an engaging curriculum based on the principles of ABA that is tailored to each child’s individual needs. We work on developing social-skill goals using a hierarchy of tools that are organized in a progressively developmental order.


How can I learn more about Proud Moments Therapy and its services?

DW: You can contact me directly at the North Jersey office at 973- 210 -9040 or visit us online at www.proudmomentsaba.com.

Devorah Weiss serves as the clinical director at Proud Moments Therapy in North Jersey. She has 15 years of experience working with children and young adults with an ASD diagnosis and has specialized training in Natural Environment Teaching and Errorless Learning. Devorah served as a consultant for classroom teachers and school personnel in mainstream and special-education settings. She trains and supervises the implementation of ABA principles in the classroom and home settings. Devorah has celebrated many milestones with her clients and their families and takes pride in each client’s achievements.

(Sponsored by Proud Moments Therapy)


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