From the January 2020 issue

Autism Diagnosis: What’s Next?

The team at Gateway Pediatric Therapy discusses the applied behavior analysis (ABA) intake process.

Brought to you by Gateway Pediatric Therapy

One of the first steps parents often take after their child is diagnosed with autism is to pursue Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Many local families are referred to Gateway Pediatric Therapy with locations throughout metro Detroit. The first phone call to Gateway is an important one as it will help guide the family’s journey, says Rachel Enright, M.A., BCBA, Gateway’s Vice President of Clinical Development & Strategy.

“It’s an initial step in developing a plan for treatment,” she notes. “During that intake call, a member of our team will ask questions about the child, gather background information, and generally start to understand what the family needs. We want to make the intake process as easy as possible because navigating an autism diagnosis can be confusing and challenging.”

Understanding the family’s insurance coverage is another important part of the intake conversation.

“Our team is here to help families navigate the insurance process, which can be quite the learning curve, especially for those who are going through this for the first time,” Enright says. “Every carrier has its own set of rules. We’ve worked with many families and many insurance networks over the years and are able to share our knowledge of that process.”

The initial intake call will also include a discussion of what diagnostic assessments the child has already had.

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Once all the relevant information has been gathered, Gateway’s clinical team meets to identify resources best suited to the family’s needs. Then an assessment of the child will follow in the clinic.

“It’s important for families to understand that an ABA assessment is different than an autism diagnosis. The diagnosis has already been completed before they start with us,” Enright says. “During the assessment in our office, we start to get to know the child and hear what the family is experiencing on a daily basis and ultimately work together to start to outline short-term and long-term goals.”

To that end, a clinician from Gateway will assess the child’s skills and strengths and identify potential target areas to work on.

“This behavior assessment generally lasts an hour and a half to two hours,” Enright says. “If it’s trending to run longer, we’ll generally schedule a follow-up appointment. We want to make sure the experience remains positive for the child.”

Following this assessment, the clinical team will analyze the results and begin to prioritize skills to teach as part of the child’s goals and formulating a treatment plan. The treatment plan will then be submitted to the insurance company.

“It usually takes a few weeks for the insurance company to approve the plan, but once we receive authorization, we are ready to begin services,” she says.

During the initial intake conversations, the Gateway team will discuss scheduling with the goal of working around school and other therapies the child may already have lined up.

“The intake process is really about having a conversation,” Enright says. “We appreciate when families ask us questions about our services or how we handle particular situations. As we enter into a relationship with them, we encourage families to be vocal throughout the intake process to ensure we understand their needs so that we can best provide services to achieve these goals.”

For more information on the services provided by Gateway Pediatric Therapy, call 248-221-2573, send an email to info@gatewaypediatrictherapy.com or visit their site at GatewayPediatricTherapy.com/our-approach.

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