How do I know if my child has autism?
There are several screening tools available or parents such as the M-CHAT as young as 16-18 months (www.m-chat.org/), the POEMS as young as 9 months (contact us for information on the funded Winnipeg Foundation project for Manitobans). You can do these on your own or with a professional such as a psychologist or your pediatrician. They will give you a cut off score that will suggest whether your child should be referred for further diagnosis. You should look for signs in your child; for example, trouble with social interactions and eye contact, trouble sharing back and forth interests, repetitive behaviours and words or phrases, fixated interests in only a few things. If you have any concerns get an assessment now. If nothing comes out of the assessment, no harm done. But the earlier your child receives a diagnosis the earlier they can get access to treatment – and early intervention is key.
How do I choose a treatment?
Parents of children with autism have the difficult job of sifting through the tonnes of information on autism treatment on the internet. There are very well meaning people, including professionals, that market a wide variety of treatments that may or may not be effective. The best way for parents to get good quality information is by being well informed on what research says is most effective through expert task panels. The long and short of it is that ABA continues to be the #1 recommended therapy for autism. But don’t take our word for it; here are a few of our “go to” resources for parents:
- The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) www.asatonline.org
- The National Autism Centre National Standards Report 2009 & 2015 www.nationalautismcenter.org
- The National Professional Centre on ASD Evidence-Based Practice Report www.autismpdc.fpg.unc.edu
- The Report of the Surgeon General of the United States profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access/NNBBHS.pdf
How do I find a qualified ABA provider?
The Association for Behavior Analysis International has an Autism and Parent Partnership Special Interest Group that put together the first guidelines for qualified ABA practitioners in 1998, was revised for a 4th time in 2013, and can be found on the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT) website (http://www.asatonline.org/research-treatment/book-reviews/abai-autism-special-interest-group-consumer-guidelines/).
The ASAT guidelines are international, so there are small variations dependent upon country and state or province. The key points for Manitobans looking for ABA service provision are:
- Your provider should hold a certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (bacb.com). Anyone can do a search on the BACB site to find if someone is certified or not. This certification ensures that your provider has demonstrated both the education, supervised practice necessary, and international examination to provide ABA.
- In Manitoba, individuals should be licensed and regulated to practice ABA with the Psychological Association of Manitoba (PAM; cpmb.ca). PAM also provides lists of all their members. This license ensures protection for the public by regulation of the practice in Manitoba, so any concerns or complaints about the provider can be made to the PAM body. This licence also ensures that your provider has demonstrated education, supervised practice necessary, and international examination to provide ABA as a psychologist, if ABA is a competence of the psychologist.
- The Manitoba Psychological Society (MPS) provides a referral directory for individuals seeking services from qualified providers. On their site you can choose the treatment type (ABA), and a list of qualified licensed providers will come up (http://members.mps.ca/).
- By cross referencing both the BACB and MPS sites you can find the practitioners in Manitoba who are both licensed and certified.