What is Autism?
The Autism Society of America defines Autism as "a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a 'spectrum disorder' that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees."
Autism, once known as Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), is now an "umbrella" term for what are formally called Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
*With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
*This explanation is from the Autism Speaks website.
What are some common characteristics of Autism?
No two people with autism are exactly alike. But all people with ASDs have impaired communication and social skills, exhibit repetitive behaviors, and have narrow interests.
Some other possible characteristics can include:
- Language delays
- Gross and fine motor skill delays
- Self-stimulating behaviors such as hand-flapping or rocking
- Meltdowns (tantrums)
- Echolalia (repeating expressions over and over again at inappropriate times)
- Aversion to touch
Services for Children diagnosed with ASD
Pediatrics Plus believes in providing children and families the tools to remediate the core deficits of ASD. For children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pediatrics Plus provides different service options designed to accommodate each child’s individualized needs.
- ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) provided in the home through the Arkansas Autism Medicaid Waiver and EPSDT Programs and paired with occupational, speech, and/or physical therapy as needed.
- ABA in the clinic utilizing our specialized natural-environment spaces and equipment through private insurance plans and paired with occupational, speech, and/or physical therapy as needed.
- ABA as part of our developmental preschool specialized ASD classrooms for children ages 18 months to 6 years.
Our specialized ASD classrooms are comprised of a unique and collaborative blend of services determined by a multi-disciplinary team assessment, which may include ABA therapy. Each staff member is specialized in Autism Spectrum Disorder and the most up to date intervention methods utilizing a structure and curriculum that encourages dynamic intelligence, functional play, and improved social engagement. This classroom empowers families by providing the support and tools needed in order to create a successful home environment for all members of the family. Through a collaborative approach with professionals and families, our goal is to assist these children to reach developmentally appropriate milestones and ultimately thrive within an integrated classroom setting.
Our classrooms are designed to meet the unique needs of children diagnosed with ASD. Each classroom includes:
- Low stimulation environment
- Structured curriculum
- Small group instruction
- Individual instruction
- Individual visual schedules and transitional cues
Our Classroom Staff
Each specialty classroom includes excellent staff that are thoroughly trained in a variety of behavioral and autism-related interventions and other specialized services. Our multi-disciplinary teams include several teachers in each classroom, Occupational and Speech therapists, and Registered Behavior Technicians; RBTs operate under the direct supervision of a BCBA.These teams function under the direct supervision of regional supervisors. Our teachers, therapists, and behavior technicians are passionate about providing the best resources, education, and support that they can give.
Our staff participates in specialized training including but not limited to:
- Dynamic Intelligence
- Joint Attention and Co-Regulation
- Picture Exchange Communication
- Right Response Training
- SOS Feeding
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
100% of the Day:
- 3 teachers: 8 students
- 5 staff: 8 students
- 3 teachers
- 1 Occupational Therapist
- 1 Speech Language Pathologist
Applied Behavior Analysis may be incorporated into the classroom by Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs) under the supervision of a BCBA.
Resources for Preschool Parents
At Pediatrics Plus, we strongly encourage parent involvement. All parents or guardians of a child in our specialty classrooms will be required to attend monthly individual parent meetings. This is an opportunity for you to learn about your child's progress and ask questions. We have found it to be extremely beneficial for parents who also want to learn more about ASD and how to apply our classroom principles to the home. Parents will also have the opportunity to attend quarterly group parent trainings and will receive daily communication from the classroom teachers or therapists.
- Brooke S.