1. We suspect our child may have autism. What do we do now?
2. Is ABA a good fit for my child?
We have found that ABA can be of benefit to ALL children in reaching their individual potential. We have also found that the extent of benefit depends on the following factors: the quality of the Service Provider, including qualifications and extensive experience; the personal and social resources available to the parents, including how whole-heartedly they embrace ABA philosophy and practices, as well as how available they are to participate meaningfully in their child's program; and the extent of the child's own skills and challenges. Perhaps the most important factor is the successful interaction of all of these components, resulting in a cohesive team working towards the same goal: your child's growth and learning.
3. What age should we start a program?
Research has focused primarily on young children (aged 2-4 years), but it’s never too late to start. There is clear evidence that the strategies of ABA can help individuals of all ages.
4. Does this treatment work for high functioning children?
The treatment program is individualized for children with their own unique needs. It’s a common misconception that ABA doesn’t apply to children who are higher functioning, when in fact, the strategies are incredibly effective for this population.
5. My child is still young, won’t he get tired?
Fatigue is something you do need to watch carefully. However, we work with children as young as 18 months, so we’re adept at ensuring we work within the stamina of the child. You can experiment with the number of hours you undertake. Also, remember the sessions are supposed to be fun and playful. Most the time your child should love being there! If you see clear signs of tiredness, perhaps shorten the session length. Or, you could try having mini breaks throughout the session to go outside, grab a snack, listen to some music, and re-charge. Some families schedule longer sessions in the morning, when the child is fresher, then a lighter session in the afternoon. Overall, it’s up to you to read the signs in your child and see if you have the balance right.
6. How many hours of therapy should we do?
The research is very clear that children who receive more hours of quality behavioral intervention have better outcomes. Research findings in the ABA field indicate that 20-40 hours/week is very effective. Another question to ask yourself is “what is my child doing if he is not in therapy?” If he or she is involved in a quality intensive preschool program, perhaps your child doesn’t need as many hours of 1:1 therapy. However, if he or she is not learning from the regular environment or playing functionally with other children and therefore not learning in his free time, then you might opt for a greater number of hours.
7. How do I find aides in my area if they are not provided by Autism Partnership?
In areas other than Calgary, our staff will train and support your team, but you will have to find and employ the aides. Many families have successfully recruited aides by:
  1. Placing an ad on university job sites (seeking psychology, education, rehab, occupational therapy & speech pathology students)
  2. Placing an ad with association email newsletters (e.g., Edmonton Autism Society)
  3. Using word of mouth – sometimes other families will have staff who would like to work with other children, or perhaps a friend of a friend is looking for a new opportunity that could be just the right fit!
  4. Contacting your Autism Partnership Psychology Team member and asking them to pass the word on to other families in the area who may be receiving services and may know potential aides. Remember, we can provide the training so long as the potential aide is good with children and ready to learn!
8. As a parent, am I able to do the therapy myself?
It is certainly important for parents to be heavily involved in their child’s program, and we recommend spending some time working with your child to learn the techniques. However, we don’t encourage parents to undertake the bulk of the therapy hours. There are a few reasons for this:
  1. You need to have the energy to continue to do ABA outside of session time. If you spend a great deal of time doing sessions as well, you’re likely to burn out.
  2. Often it’s easier for people who aren’t related to the child to implement the programs in a more objective manner. There are less ‘emotional ties’ to cloud judgment. A therapist gets to leave at the end of the day, so they can come back with energy, and possibly less frustration.
  3. It is important that parents get some respite from the everyday demands of having a child with autism. If you can, use some of this time to have a break, get some chores done, and take care of you! (Please note however that we do require a parent or guardian to be present in the home while Autism Partnership staff are there).
9. Is there funding available for this program?
In Alberta, most Autism Partnership programs are fully funded through the Family Support for Children with Disabilites (FSCD) Government program. Visit to find out more information about the support and services they provide. Private therapy may be an option, but that is determined on a case by case basis. We recommend contacting your local FSCD office and determining whether or not funding is available for your child before considering private services with any agency.
10. Does Autism Partnership provide an educational or PUF program for my child?
Autism Partnership is affiliated with an organization called Behaviour Therapy and Learning Centre (BTLC), which is a charitable organization that provides PUF funded preschool educational programs for children with developmental disabilities. Often families receive school based funding through BTLC and home-based programming through Autism Partnership. Please note: BTLC is located and operates in Calgary only.
11. Have you been involved with any studies or conducted a study yourself?
We were involved in the ground breaking study conducted at UCLA in which nine of the 19 children who received intensive intervention achieved "recovery". This study demonstrated that "recovery" is achievable.

Since the study at UCLA we have continued our research efforts but in a clinical setting. Our results show that more than 80 children whom we have treated have achieved "recovery".
12. How do you explain why some recover and some do not?
There are several factors that influence outcome. There are factors that can be controlled such as age at the start of intervention, intensity of intervention and quality of intervention. There are factors we cannot control that are critical as well, such as cognitive ability. Outcome is based upon the combination of these factors.
13. Isn't it true that even after many years of intensive behavioral therapy some autistic children remain autistic?
Certainly. Not every child achieves "recovery." However, a high percentage of children make outstanding progress and are able to enjoy a much higher quality of life.
14. Isn't this creating a false hope for some parents?
It is critical that parents have realistic expectations but understand that recovery is a possibility if their child receives quality treatment at an early age. Although less than 50 percent of children under the best conditions "recover," the vast majority of children can make outstanding progress.
15. Could it be possible that they were misdiagnosed in the first place?
In the study conducted at UCLA, the children were diagnosed by independent evaluators. Additionally, at the time of the study High Functioning Autism did not exist. Analogously, if someone suffers from depression and after treatment they no longer show the signs, would one say they were never depressed? Or if someone suffered a stroke and after intensive speech, occupational and physical therapy the symptoms disappeared, would one say they never had a stroke?
16. Can you predict who you can make this happen for? Any special kinds of autistic children?
There are signs that are favorable, but not absolute. Children that have the presence of language, social interest and disruptive behavior tend to do better than those children who do not communicate, are socially unresponsive and passive.