When a family is faced with a new diagnosis of autism for their child, the immediate feelings can be overwhelming. The child might be faced with vast educational and physical challenges, but sometimes the behavioral and social concerns can be far more consuming. There has been much progress over the past decade to serve the educational needs of children and young adults with autism. Many public and private schools have quality programs for individuals, enabling them to be integrated into a mainstream classroom. With the right support, a child with autism can make great strides in meeting educational milestones. What happens when that school day is over? Most children are home by 3:30, and participating in afterschool activities is usually challenging. For some families, the evening rush can be more difficult when there is a child with special needs. It can make a family dinner or a trip to the supermarket very challenging.
In 2010, a federal mandate was passed requiring insurance companies to cover ABA, under behavioral health care. The state recognizes ABA as being an effective method that is scientifically proven to help learners acquire many different skills and bring about meaningful and positive changes in behavior. Proud Moments ABA saw the vast need for quality services for children with autism and opened its corporate headquarters in Brooklyn about four years ago. They quickly expanded to provide these services in many locations across the Northeast. A BCBA (board-certified behavioral analyst) develops a tailor-made curriculum for each child, targeting deficits in the social and communication domains as well as any behavioral concerns. A behavior technician works under the guidance of the BCBA to deliver direct 1:1 instruction for the client. The behavior technician records all data with state-of-the-art technology and keeps the BCBA informed constantly so the curriculum can be revised as needed. This has truly been revolutionary for families as they can now have specialized professionals come to their homes to target behavioral concerns they have with their child. For most of their families, this is the first time they are receiving ABA services in their home, and they finally have access to professionals in their home to teach skills that are not easily taught at school, such as bedtime routine and interacting with siblings. Their motto is “I can. I will. Watch me.” Countless families have reported how much the entire family has learned and benefited from the Proud Moments staff.
Each of the Proud Moments offices hosts social skills groups for children with autism. “What is so isolating about having a child with autism is the lack of skills necessary for the child to be able to socialize with peers. These groups are run by a BCBA and offer the opportunity for the children to have fun while developing social skills that are crucial to their continued growth and development,” shares Devora Fromowitz, Proud Moments ABA’s clinical director for the North Jersey and Staten Island locations. Proud Moments ABA constantly hosts trainings for their staff and always invites community members to join so everyone can be more informed about autism and how to better support our neighbors and friends with this diagnosis.
Proud Moments ABA really prides themselves as being part of the community. They have developed great relationships with national organizations such as Autism Speaks and is excited to be a sponsor at the inaugural Autism Day at Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, on May 3, 2018. Many children with autism have many sensory concerns, and a day at any amusement park can present many challenges for the child; this is therefore a unique opportunity for many families. Proud Moments ABA staff members can always be found in their bright orange T-shirts at community walks and events to benefit research on autism. Their regional directors will be attending the Association for Behavioral Analysis’ annual conference in May to continue to be on the cutting edge of ABA and return to educate their staff about effective techniques.
ABA has been clinically proven to assist children in improving their behavioral challenges. While the progress can be slow at times, the benefits along the way can be priceless. ABA can be hard work for the child and the family. Tobey Lass, one of Proud Moments ABA’s BCBAs (and long-time Yachad advisers), describes the ABA services as a “family project.” It’s crucial for the family to be supportive and consistently reinforce the positive behaviors the BCBA and paras are working on. Ms. Lass continues, “ABA can be a very long journey for many families. But when the goals are met, the whole family benefits from the improved behavior and life skills from just one family member.”
By JLNJ Staff