Mansfield resident and president of Behavioral Concepts Inc. Dr. Jeffrey Robinson said he has developed a passion for working to help children affected by autism spectrum disorders.
When Robinson was in college, he said originally that was not where he saw himself.
“Originally I was going to go to law school,” he said. “I was a political science major.”
Originally, Robinson said he started working with autistic children in Boston at the Behavioral Institute in 1978. He said he has worked with affected children and adults of all ages, and it was there when it hit him that this was what he wanted to do. Now, he’s been in the field for over 30 years, and has worked in Worcester, Cambridge and Providence.
“It just clicked for me,” he said. “At the end of the day I just want to be able to help people. In my profession, it’s families and kids affected by autism.”
Robinson said that throughout the years he and the companies he’s worked for has helped many children to grow up to lead productive and healthy lives. He added that, as president of BCI, he’s employed two affected children hired at his company that he used to consult.
“They were students in the Worcester public schools,” he said. “When my intervention and that of some of my staff, we helped shape much more positive behavior to the point where both of them became employable in our company.”
Based in Worcester, Mass and with offices Mansfield and West Boylston, Mass., BCI provides services to children with autism and their parents. The process begins with an assessment by a behavior analyst.
Once an assessment has been made, BCI staff develop a treatment plan that decreases behavioral challenges and teaches new skills and replacement behaviors. The company works with health providers to grant services to children in need of treatment Massachusetts.
Robinson said the types of treatment he and his staff use are based on positive reinforcement, using a token system as it were. When a student makes a positive response to a question or follows directions, they get a visual representation of positive action, such as another coin (almost like a life bar in a video game). They loose coins for negative behavior. But Robinson said it’s not a one-size-fits-all treatment method in regards to autism.
“There’s such variability in presentation [of the disorder] that makes it a little more challenging to be as efficient as possible in resources,” he said. “One child may require extremely intensive intervention and one child might need minimal intervention. And then you have everything in between.”
Robinson said that he is talking with Mansfield schools director of special education Bernadette Conroy about helping to fund a social connections program in the district.
“It basically involves developing a mentorship between a nuerotypical student and a child with autism to connect them socially,” he said. “That’s something I would like to support financially in the High School.”
Robinson said he believes the program may be instituted in the 2012-2013 school year.