Recovery from autism is still a controversial topic and many in the autism field are still afraid to discuss it. We at CARD have seen recovery for decades and we make it happen for some of the children that we treat. We are not the only ones. Treatment providers all over the country who have been doing top-quality ABA treatment for children with autism, for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for two or more years, have been recovering children for years. Let me explain exactly what we at CARD mean when we say a child has recovered from autism. We mean that the child no longer displays clinically significant impairments related to autism. In other words, there is nothing left to treat, the child is doing just fine. But it’s not good enough to just take our word for it, so here is how we measure it.
San Diego, CA | December 19, 2011 – The National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR) has awarded the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) a Community Project Grant to conduct a randomized trial of a playgroup for teaching social skills to children with autism spectrum disorders. Twenty-four children, ages five to seven, will learn critical social skills, such as sharing, turn-taking, initiating play, joining play, and maintaining play over the course of a 12-week program called Creating Opportunities to Meet Peers and Advance Social Skills (The COMPASS Project). The study will take place at CARD’s San Diego location with no cost to participants.
Skills® – an innovative web-based tool to design and manage a comprehensive, individualized
treatment program for children with autism and related disorders. Skills provides a comprehensive assessment, almost 4,000 lesson plans, and a progress-tracking system. It covers eight areas of development: social, motor, language, adaptive, play, executive functions, social cognition, and academic skills. Answers to the assessment questions link directly to customizable lesson plans, stimuli, worksheets, and data sheets, which are all printable. The system also graphs assessment results and treatment progress, allowing you to keep track of your clients’ mastery of targets and activities. In addition, a clinical timeline graph allows you to evaluate the effects of life events, challenging behaviors, and procedures being conducted by other treatment providers on the child’s progress. *In 2011, research was published showing that the Language portion of the Skills® Assessment has excellent test-retest and inter-rater reliability (Dixon, Tarbox, Najdowski, Wilke, and Granpeesheh).
A few thoughts on meaningful outcomes of treatment for individuals severely affected by autism.
I can’t pretend to speak to why the rest of the autism community focuses on the difficulties associated with autism, but I can speak to why it may appear that we at CARD, and other people in the applied behavior analysis (ABA) community, focus on areas of difficulty. Put simply, it’s because these are the areas that people ask us for help with. No one goes to a treatment provider and asks for help dealing with what’s great about their child— they don’t need to, they simply appreciate it every day. But it’s quite true that there are thousands of strengths associated with autism. Any attempt at a list is going to sound like I am stereotyping people, which would be ridiculous. But here are a couple strengths that come to mind.
I am often asked “What is the most important component of an effective intervention for autism?” When I was first asked this question, I made a list of the various components of a high-quality applied behavior analysis (ABA) program. However, I quickly abandoned that line of thought as I reflected on the variety of interventions that exist in the field of autism treatment and the importance of determining which ones are effective.
When parents talk to pediatricians and educational professionals about an undesirable behavior, it is not uncommon to be told that many children will “grow out” of that behavior. This is often reassuring for parents because it means, 1) other children also engage in this undesirable behavior, and 2) the undesirable behavior might go away on its own. As a parent it is easy to think “If other typical children are also engaging in this behavior it must not be a huge problem,” and “Other children have ‘grown out’ of this behavior, so I don’t have to do anything except wait…
They drive her 400 miles per week, so that she can get a few hours of ABA services, and they are doing whatever they can to cobble together something resembling a full-time, intensive ABA program. They are retired – they are supposed to be traveling and playing golf.
Adel Najdowski, PhD, BCBA-D Director and Co-Creator of SKILLS and Manager of Research and Development at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders Recovery from autism is still a controversial topic and many in the autism field are still afraid to discuss it. We at CARD have seen recovery for decades and we make it happen for some of the children that we treat. We are not the only ones. Treatment providers all over the country who have been doing top-quality ABA treatment for children with autism, for a minimum of 30 hours per week, for two or more years,…