BCI Fellowship Program with Worcester State University

College interns have been part of BCI’s culture for the past several years. Many of those interns came from Worcester State University. While a typical internship lasts a semester, we wanted to create a program that provided greater benefit to the interns. The end result was a fellowship program we developed with WSU.

Currently, we have three Worcester State University students participating in the yearlong fellowship program. Here’s a checklist of what participants in the fellowship program will experience:

  • Attend week-long comprehensive training for ABA techniques, jargon and methods as well as BCI specific staff requirements. Training culminates in an exam that must be passed in order to begin child specific orientation.
  • Attend and pass 8 hour CPI (non-violent crisis prevention and intervention) training.
  • Shadow Staff for complete sessions with a variety of clients.
  • Implement skill acquisition programs.
  • Implement Behavior Management Guidelines (BMGs) and/or Behavior Support Plans (BSPs)
  • Collect and graph data on skill acquisition goals.
  • Collect data on rates of behavior.
  • Participate in weekly/bi weekly supervision with Clinical Coordinator

What are the best sports for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

WORCESTER, MA…

With the beginning of September comes not only the start of a new school year, but a new sports season. While families pack up the mini-vans for soccer, football and other playing fields, some parents of children with ASDs are left to ponder what sport can my son or daughter do.

“As with every child, the best sport is the one your child enjoys and excels at. That said, though, autism does impair social and communication skills and may have a negative impact on gross motor coordination. That means “typical” team sports such as soccer, basketball and hockey may be particularly tough,” Dr. Jeff Robinson, Ph.D., founder of Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI), a company of behavioral clinicians specializing in the care of children with autism in Central Massachusetts. “Individual sports, however, may be just the ticket.”

Some of the sports Robinson recommends as being beneficial for children with autism include:

  • Swimming – Children with autism who have a tough time with ball-handling skills can do well with basic strokes and typical water play. There’s also no reason why a kid with autism can’t take part in a swim team especially since swim team members compete individually.
  • Track and Field – For kids with autism, track and field may be a terrific outlet. Track events require fewer non verbal communication skills than most team sports, yet kids who excel at track are valued team members.
  • Bowling – Even though it’s loud, bowling seems to be a natural sport to many kids with autism. Perhaps it’s the repetition — bowl twice, sit down. Or maybe it’s the satisfaction of seeing the pins come crashing down. Whatever the reasons, bowling is a great sport for social events that include kids on the autism spectrum.
  • Horseback Riding – A terrific sport for kids with autism. In fact, many autistic kids ride horses as a therapeutic activity (as such it’s termed “hippotherapy”). It’s not unusual for autistic kids to find it easier to communicate with animals than with people — and many autistic children excel at horsemanship.
  • Hiking – Hiking, which can be an individual or group activity, is an easy way to get exercise and enjoy nature without the pressure of intense social communication.
  • Martial Arts – While martial arts aren’t sports in the typical sense, they are physical outlets. They also combine the elements of predictability and structure with the challenges of physical interaction with other people. For many kids with autism, the martial arts are a wonderful way to build physical skills along with self-esteem.

“Whether you have an ASD or not, being active physically benefits you from both a physical and mental perspective,” said Robinson. “With children with ASDs, physical activity is even more critical to their well being as it can provide a way to connect with other children socially, even if the activity is not a team game per se. You simply cannot underestimate the value of physical activity to the development of an ASD child.”

Based in Worcester, Mass and with offices in Mansfield and West Boylston, Mass., BCI provides much needed services to children with autism and their families. BCI instructional programs are delivered using discrete trial training, task analysis, and systematic prompting procedures implemented by ABA therapists who have successfully completed pre-service training, on-site, and quarterly evaluations by their clinical supervisors. Instruction is provided across a variety of domains, included by not limited to: Activities of daily living, functional and augmentative communication, functional academics and community outings and safety awareness. Social skills groups with peer models are also offered as part of BCI’s services. A heavy emphasis is placed on generalization and maintenance of skills, in addition to family training, so that families may implement the supports and carry-over skills in the home.

BCI accepts Harvard-Pilgrim, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health, Tufts, Aetna and coverage from other major health care providers.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.

About Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI)

Founded in 2002, BCI provides educational, behavioral, consultative and assessment services to children with autism and their families. These services are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and are tailored to the unique needs of the individuals BCI works with. It’s BCI’s goal to maximize student potential, increase independence and enhance our clients’ quality of life within their home, school and community.

BCI’s main care center is located at 170 Goddard Memorial Drive, in Worcester, Massachusetts. BCI operates its BASICS services at 100 Hartwell Street in West Boylston, Mass. The BASICS program is a sub-contract arrangement between Behavioral Concepts, Inc. and the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative. BASICS provides services to children aged 7-22 with autism and maladaptive behaviors. BCI’s Corporate Offices are located in Mansfield, Mass.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.

The Danny Foundation for Autism provides assistance to individuals with autism and their families

From the September 2013 Center for Autism Resources for Central Massachusetts newsletter:

The Danny Foundation has recently announced the availability of funding to provide assistance to individuals with autism and their families. Preference will be given to Massachusetts residents and organizations. The foundation will provide funds to organizations and individuals (the amount available to a single applicant in a given fiscal year is $100-$500; please do not request a grant in excess of $500): to assist families in the care of individuals with autism, including respite care; to help educate individuals regarding the diagnosis and treatment of autism; and to support professionals in furthering their education in the field of treating individuals with autism.

We are open to innovative projects that will provide increased independence for people with autism or increased family time. Your application must include the attached grant application cover sheet. Donations made to individuals will be need (financial) based. Explain your financial need. Please indicate why you qualify. We suggest you include a copy of your latest federal tax return. Please specify other current sources of assistance such as DDS, School District, Mass Health, etc. Without this information your request is incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Key Dates: Proposal postmarked by: October 15, 2013 Committee Evaluation: November 30, 2013 Notification: December 23, 2013

If you would like to apply for a Danny Foundation grant, you can download the application here.

Applications must be mailed to: Janet Abrahamson, Chairperson, 166 Mill Street Stoughton, MA 02072.

Download your Danny Foundation Grant application

Will your insurance pay for an iPad for your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

WORCESTER, MA…

Many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders have found applications like Proloquo2go App, TouchChat, OneVoice or TapToTalk to be very useful tools in their child’s speech development. Unfortunately, with the costs associated with programs for ASD children, many parents can’t afford to buy an iPad to run these helpful applications. There are, however, some insurance providers who will cover part or all of the expense of an iPad and applications.

“One of the challenges parents of children with ASDs face is not knowing what’s available for their children through their insurance provider and through their school system and that’s one of the things we help them with,” said Dr. Jeff Robinson, Ph.D., founder of Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI), a company of behavioral clinicians specializing in the care of children with autism in Central Massachusetts. “It’s encouraging that healthcare providers are seeing the value of these apps and covering all or part of the expense.”

How do you find out if you are eligible? First, check your medical benefits for your “Durable Medical Coverage”. If your healthcare provider covers a percentage of these costs that makes it affordable to move forward, call your insurance company and ask to be assigned to a case manager who is experienced with special needs children.

In working with a case manager, you will need to essentially build a case for your child’s need for the iPad and, specifically, the Proloquo2goApp (this app is be is being introduced by speech therapists and occupational therapists in public schools for special needs kids as well as in private therapy). Provide links with costs for both the iPad and the application. Also send links to more expensive speech therapy systems like Dynavox to demonstrate how what you want to purchase compares to other systems. Be sure to ask the case manager for all the necessary approval codes and coverage information so you are aware and comfortable with any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur.

“During the phone conversation, you may be denied your request. If so, ask your insurance company to e-mail or fax a letter of denial. The reason for this is that there are other funding sources out there that might be able to help and you will need the denial letter from your insurance to help those efforts,” said Robinson.

If you have received the green light from your case manager, submit your Request for Approval with the following:

  • Include a cover letter explaining what you would like to purchase and why.  Explain how it will be used and what benefits it would provide your child.
  • Supporting documents from Google, etc.
  • Letters from doctors, speech therapists, etc. expressing “Medical Necessity”
  • Receipt of the device and the AugCom App

“Most likely, you will have to be reimbursed for your purchase of the iPad and application. Your reimbursement package should be fairly similar to the request for approval, only the cover letter will explain what you bought and for what reason, along with receipts,” said Robinson. “It may sound like quite a bit of effort, but it is absolutely worth give your child a learning tool like this.”

About Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI)

Founded in 2002, BCI provides educational, behavioral, consultative and assessment services to children with autism and their families. These services are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and are tailored to the unique needs of the individuals BCI works with. It’s BCI’s goal to maximize student potential, increase independence and enhance our clients’ quality of life within their home, school and community.

BCI’s main care center is located at 170 Goddard Memorial Drive, in Worcester, Massachusetts. BCI operates its BASICS services at 100 Hartwell Street in West Boylston, Mass. The BASICS program is a sub-contract arrangement between Behavioral Concepts, Inc. and the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative. BASICS provides services to children aged 7-22 with autism and maladaptive behaviors. BCI’s Corporate Offices are located in Mansfield, Mass.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.

How to prepare your ASD child for middle school

WORCESTER, MA…

For children leaving grade school, entering middle school can be a very trying time and a difficult adjustment. For children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), that transition poses more challenges than the average student could imagine.

“For children with ASDs, going to school is a habit. When it’s time to move on to a new school, that means the habit needs to be altered and that’s not as easy as explaining to them that this year they will be going to a new school,” said Dr. Jeff Robinson, Ph.D., founder of Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI), a company of behavioral clinicians specializing in the care of children with autism in Central Massachusetts. “The process of transitioning children with ASDs really needs to begin well before the school year.”

Robinson recommends several steps to help parents of children with ASDs help their middle school-age children make the transition to their new school:

  • Write a social story or series of stories to help the student prepare for the change
  • Allow the student to have as many visits to the new school as needed
  • Practice a walking route to classes and opening and closing their locker
  • Identify important areas such as: bus stop, homeroom, bathrooms, cafeteria, gym, etc.
  • Review the yearbook to familiarize with faculty and school activities during the year
  • Take the student to parent-teacher orientation
  • Practice scripts so the child knows where to get help and requesting for a quiet place to calm down (practice routes)
  • Prepare the student that each teacher has different rules and procedures

“While preparing your child is one thing, it’s important to communicate to administration and faculty at the new school that you have an ASD child attending middle school next year and would like to set up a time to meet and go over some things,” said Dr. Robinson. “That’s actually one of the reasons we formed BCI 10 years ago was to work with schools to ease the transition of ASD students at all grade levels.”

Based in Worcester, Mass and with offices in Mansfield and West Boylston, Mass., BCI provides much needed services to children with autism and their families. BCI instructional programs are delivered using discrete trial training, task analysis, and systematic prompting procedures implemented by ABA therapists who have successfully completed pre-service training, on-site, and quarterly evaluations by their clinical supervisors.

Instruction is provided across a variety of domains, included by not limited to: Activities of daily living, functional and augmentative communication, functional academics and community outings and safety awareness. Social skills groups with peer models are also offered as part of BCI’s services. A heavy emphasis is placed on generalization and maintenance of skills, in addition to family training, so that families may implement the supports and carry-over skills in the home.

BCI accepts Harvard-Pilgrim, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Behavioral Health, Tufts, Aetna and coverage from other major health care providers.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.

About Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI)

Founded in 2002, BCI provides educational, behavioral, consultative and assessment services to children with autism and their families. These services are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and are tailored to the unique needs of the individuals BCI works with. It’s BCI’s goal to maximize student potential, increase independence and enhance our clients’ quality of life within their home, school and community.

BCI’s main care center is located at 170 Goddard Memorial Drive, in Worcester, Massachusetts. BCI operates its BASICS services at 100 Hartwell Street in West Boylston, Mass. The BASICS program is a sub-contract arrangement between Behavioral Concepts, Inc. and the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative. BASICS provides services to children aged 7-22 with autism and maladaptive behaviors. BCI’s Corporate Offices are located in Mansfield, Mass.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.

Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI) celebrates 10 years of caring for children with autism and autism spectrum disorders

WORCESTER, MA…

Think about how things have changed since 2003. The hybrid automobile had not yet hit the mainstream market. The “Curse of the Bambino” was alive and well with the Red Sox not having won the World Series since 1918. And one in 150 children was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). It was under those conditions that Dr. Jeffrey Robinson opened Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI), a company of behavioral clinicians specializing in the care of children with autism in Central Massachusetts.

Robinson started the firm with one clinical therapists and a staff of four. Today, BCI has a staff of 163. And, unfortunately, it’s been reported that one in every 88 children is diagnosed with an ASD.

“In 2003, we saw a genuine need for families with children diagnosed with an ASD, both from a care standpoint and from an information perspective so parents knew what programs were available through the school system,” said Robinson. “BCI has experienced incredible growth over the years, particularly since insurance companies started covering services for children with ASDs in 2011 and as more and more children are diagnosed.”

In addition to its growth from a staff perspective, BCI has also grown in terms of its offerings. Within the last year, BCI’s Board Certified Behavior Analysts designed and implemented a social skills group on Saturday mornings. Beyond instruction from BCI clinicians, the social skills sessions include interaction with other children who serve as role models for BCI students involved in the social skills program.

“The beauty of the social skills class is not only the broad range of topics we cover—topics like teamwork, bullying, appropriate play, sportsmanship, initiating and reciprocating peer interaction—but that it’s covered by most major insurances,” said Robinson. “We try to keep the price fairly affordable, typically between $35 to $50, but the insurance can make a huge difference. In fact, we’re one of the few firms around that has a social skills that’s accepted by most major insurance companies.”

BCI currently offers a summer social skills program with classes scheduled during the week as well as on Saturday. For complete information, you can visit the BCI website at www.bciaba.org or call 508-363-0200.

About Behavioral Concepts, Inc. (BCI)

Founded in 2002, BCI provides educational, behavioral, consultative and assessment services to children with autism and their families. These services are based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and are tailored to the unique needs of the individuals BCI works with. It’s BCI’s goal to maximize student potential, increase independence and enhance our clients’ quality of life within their home, school and community.

BCI’s main care center is located at 170 Goddard Memorial Drive, in Worcester, Massachusetts. BCI operates its BASICS services at 100 Hartwell Street in West Boylston, Mass. The BASICS program is a sub-contract arrangement between Behavioral Concepts, Inc. and the Central Massachusetts Special Education Collaborative. BASICS provides services to children aged 7-22 with autism and maladaptive behaviors. BCI’s Corporate Offices are located in Mansfield, Mass.

For complete information, visit http://bciaba.org or to arrange a consultation with a BCI clinician, please call (508) 363-0200.