The Value of Comprehensive ABA Therapy for Your Child

Can a comprehensive ABA therapy approach be even more beneficial to children with autism? A local expert shares wisdom about how it works.

ABA is considered the gold standard therapy for children with autism, yet the ABA therapy centers with an integrated approach know that children can also benefit from speech therapy and occupational therapy. If this is the case for your child, should you choose a therapy center that provides comprehensive ABA therapy — plus speech and OT — all in the same location?

There are benefits to a comprehensive and integrated approach to therapy for children with autism, says Jamie McGillivary, BCBA and President and Founder of Healing Haven in Madison Heights.

“Autism is a multifaceted diagnosis, and we believe in taking a multifaceted approach to therapy, as long as it’s evidence-based,” says McGillivary. She differentiates between a multidisciplinary approach and an interdisciplinary approach to therapy for children.

“In a multidisciplinary team, there are multiple professionals, for example, a BCBA, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist. They each have their own goals, working toward the intent of benefiting the child with autism. In an interdisciplinary team, these same therapists work together on shared goals for the child. They also identify any overlaps to maximize the benefit of their work with each other to meet the therapeutic goals of the child,” she explains, adding that Healing Haven embraces an interdisciplinary team approach.

What comprehensive ABA therapy looks like

With a true interdisciplinary team approach, all therapists are open to taking the time to meet on a regular basis and share what they think will be effective for each child in their care. They’re also open to learning from each other.

“This is helpful for everyone involved because we all gain various perspectives. It never hurts to have multiple sets of eyes on an issue,” says McGillivary. “And, as it relates to parents, we all have our individual understanding of barriers parents might face that we can share with each other. It’s also a comfort for parents to not have to repeat their story over and over when all the therapists are on the same page. That’s a stress reducer for parents.”

What’s even more beneficial to families is when all the therapists are under the same roof. At Healing Haven, children can spend time with their BCBA and ABA therapy technician, then work with their speech therapist and occupational therapist, all in the same space. This saves parents time and effort because they don’t have to drive around to separate therapy offices for these services.

“A lot of parents wear the hat of teacher, nutritionist and chauffeur. They have to take the time to go from one center to the next and take on the stress of having to coordinate all that. It’s so helpful for the parent to go to one location, sit down and relax, knowing that their child is taken care of,” she says.

Nothing replaces the intimacy of being in the same physical space to maximize the effectiveness of therapeutic growth for a child with autism. When therapists share space, they can cross-train and learn about each other’s fields.

“When we get a report from an outside occupational therapy provider, for example, we can see what they are working on but won’t always understand the richness of how they are being taught,” McGillivary explains. When therapists can walk down the hall and see for themselves the methods and techniques the OT is using, they have a better understanding and can learn from the experience — and this benefits the child.

What parents should look for

When therapy providers collaborate — and communicate effectively with each other — families benefit, says McGillivary. And parents should be involved in this process.

While most ABA therapy centers require parents to participate in regular training for ABA therapy, the same requirement for speech therapy and occupational therapy isn’t as common.

Healing Haven requires parent involvement in all three types of therapy, and this gives parents a better understanding of what their child experiences in therapy. By working with an interdisciplinary team, parents can better learn how to help their child generalize skills from the clinic to the outside world. This holistic approach also offers parents the opportunity to share their own family goals.

“There’s an enormous benefit to the child when parents are on the same page with us,” says McGillivary. “The ultimate goal for your child is to give them the skill set they need to move to a lesser level of care, and the best way to do that is to make sure what we do in the clinic continues to carry over into the home. That is our definition of true success!”

Learn more about comprehensive ABA therapy for your child at Healing Haven. Visit thehealinghaven.net.

Claire Charlton
Claire Charlton
An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Metro Parent. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively on a variety of topics and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting. Claire has two grown kids and loves to read, run, camp, cycle and travel.

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