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Getting Started

Getting Started
Why Evidenced Based Practices?
Selecting an Autism Specialist and Intensive Individual Support Workers
Setting up a Home Program


Getting Started

The purpose of this section of the website is to assist families interested in obtaining autism waiver services for their child. Children will be able to enter the waiver program from the age of diagnosis through the age of five. Services are provided to children diagnosed with:

  • Autism,
  • Asperger’s Syndrome, and
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified.

The autism waiver services is limited to three years, however, an additional year may be submitted for approval. An additional year of service is available in some cases based upon a review process. Requirements for this one year extension of services beyond three years include the following:

  • The child must meet eligibility based on the Level of Care assessment at the annual review on the third year of services, and
  • Data collected by the Autism Specialist must document continued improvement. 

Application for Services

This link takes you to the forms that are used to apply for the Autism Waiver Services.

Click here to learn more information about the Autism Waiver Services

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Why Evidenced Based Practices?
As a family member, you have probably heard people encourage you to consider “evidence-based practices.” An evidenced-based practice refers to interventions, strategies, and supports that have been the focus on systematic, objective, and scientific research documenting the effectiveness of specific interventions over time.  To become an evidenced-based practice, multiple research studies that document similar outcomes must be demonstrated as being effective. The more often studies are repeated or replicated to show positive changes with a diverse population of children of different ages, the more confident individuals can be that the interventions being studied are "evidence-based."

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if an intervention strategy is evidenced-based:

Has the intervention been evaluated in a peer-reviewed journal?

Peer-reviewed journals are scholarly journals have a review process for all manuscripts that are submitted. Before being published, studies must meet certain criteria. The review process involves written reviews that are submitted by other experts in the same field as the professional submitting the manuscript. In other words, the person submitting the study is reviewed by his peers and the study is judged to be acceptable for publication.

Do the authors of the research in the journals report the following information?

  • Information about the types of children including age, demographic information, etc.
  • The strengths and limitations of the research methods used
  • Studies have been replicated across investigators, settings, and participants
  • Other research is referred to throughout the article
  • Research data are presented that appears in a clear and understandable format
  • The study does not include advertisements that appear to be focused mainly on selling something to you

Other questions to ask about when reading research studies include:

  • Are there alternative interventions that are less restrictive, better researched, or perhaps more effective or efficient?
  • Does the intervention require most practitioners to learn a new set of skills?
  • Has the intervention been shown to produce outcomes like the ones intended?
  • Was the research completed primarily by one investigator or are multiple investigators involved in replicating the findings?
  • How many participants were involved in the study and how many children have been involved in replicated studies over time?
  • Does the research indicate that the interventions have worked successfully across a diverse range of children (age, diversity, economic status, etc.)?
  • How will we evaluate the intervention if we decide to implement and what kind of data will be taken on behaviors or progress on goals?

Examples of peer-reviewed journals include:

  • American Journal of Psychiatry
  • Brain and Language
  • Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Examples of non-peer reviewed journals include:

  • Books
  • Websites
  • Magazines
  • Brochures and pamphlets

Evidenced-based practices are proven to be effective and therefore, are more likely to work well with your child. These strategies are less likely to have a negative impact on your child’s social and academic progress and are less likely to be a waste of precious time.

Click here for more information about peer reviewed processes in autism research:

  • Life Journey Through Autism: A Parent’s Guide to Research

  • Click on Educator Manual available for download or purchase

  • National Standards Project

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Selecting an Autism Specialist and Intensive Individual Support Workers

Autism Specialists and Intensive Individual Support Workers will be involved with your whole family and will be spending time with you in your home so the relationships you have with these professionals need fit you, your child and your family’s needs.  Think about each individual’s personality, flexibility, intervention strategies and communication style.  Remember, it is your choice who provides services and you can change your mind at any time.

Here are some sample questions you can ask when interviewing potential Autism Specialists or Intensive Individual Support Workers:

  • How long have you been working in the field?
  • How many children and what ages you have worked with?
  • What kinds of special training do you have?
  • What kinds of evidenced based practices do you implement?
  • How will you monitor progress?
  • How many hours per week will you be in the home?
  • What parts of the state do you serve?
  • Do you have any references from other families you have worked with in the past?

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Setting up a Home Program

Beginning a home program for your child can take a tremendous amount of time to get started. Time is needed to: manage your child's schedule and the schedules of your therapists, purchase materials, and organize a work area where your child will be learning new skills.

It is important to think about how you want to monitor your child's progress. One way to evaluate this progress is to make videotapes on a regular basis of your child engaging in important social and academic tasks. It can also be very useful to keep a diary so that you can record information you are learning and to document progress over time. Data collection is a requirement of the Autism Waiver and the Autism Specialist will be working with you to create data sheets to monitor important behaviors and progress toward goals. These strategies help to provide evidence that what you are doing is effective.

Think about a location where you can set up a specific work area in the house for your child. The space should include a child size table and chair and be free of as many distractions as possible. You will also need to think of ways in which to store and organize the program materials and data sheets that will be used with your child.

It is also helpful to begin to thinking about reinforcers for your child. Your child shouldn't have access to materials outside of their session. You will be working closely with your Autism Specialist to create ways in which to reinforce your child while she is learning new things. It can be helpful to think about what things your child likes the most and to create a list that can be used. Sometimes starting with favorite foods can be a starting place for creating an assessment of reinforcers. If food is used as a reinforcer, make sure it is set up in small and bite sizes so your child doesn't fill up quickly on them. In some cases, using food as a reinforcer is not a good idea due to weight gain or other health related issues. Food should be given in small bites and other reinforcers for short amounts of time.

Activities may be just as reinforcing and can be fun to use. Bubbles, silly string, light up toys, music toys, books, are all examples of reinforcers. Reinforcers should change constantly so that your child doesn't get bored with the items presented. Creating a list is one way to make sure you have lots of different reinforcers available. Also let therapists know if you have any games that your child likes such as tickling a foot, playing peek-a-boo, or signing songs. Dollar stores are a great place to stock up on some reinforcers, especially when you are just beginning a reinforcer inventory. Make sure to limit access to specific fun activities and items so that these things remain new and exciting for the child. If a certain number of fun activities and items are available only when working on the tasks with Intensive Individual Support Workers, they will remain novel and are more likely to be reinforcing to the child.

If your child has free access to these fun activities and items all day, then they won't be as reinforcing because your child will know they can play with the items when the therapist leaves. This does not mean that you should structure the child's day in a way that makes the rest of their day boring and unpleasant. Instead, think about selecting certain types of exciting and fun activities and games that will be used specifically during the times in which the child works on their skill development activities.

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