While most research on intensive behavioural treatment has been done exclusively with very young children, our experience has demonstrated that older children can benefit substantially from a similar treatment format. We make modifications in the service and support plan according to the age and developmental level of the person, taking into account the need for teaching functional and age-appropriate skills, effectiveness and suitability of reinforcers, severity of disruptive and interfering behaviour, and realistic expectations for achievement.

Teaching Setting

As young children typically begin their learning at home, it is our belief that it is optimal that children with Autism and/or other developmental disabilities also begin treatment in their homes. Learning to interact within the home environment is the most important first goal of support and services provided. In addition, a home-based program allows parents to be an integral part of the treatment process. In addition, the presence of siblings in the therapy environment allows for support around sibling interactions, as well as including siblings in parts of treatment that may be appropriate such as games and play.

Initially teaching is done in an environment within the home that will lead to early success. Sometimes that may mean a controlled environment with reduced distractions. However, teaching is quickly extended to everyday settings. Not only is this more natural but it also promotes transferring learning to all settings. Therefore, therapy will occur throughout the house as well as outside and in the community (e.g., the park, McDonald's, the grocery store, etc.). Children must be able to learn in varied environments where distractions naturally occur so as to prepare them for learning in typical settings such as school.

Family Involvement

The involvement of the family is critical in the treatment process. No one knows a child better nor cares more about his/her welfare than family and ultimately, they are the ones most affected by the child’s disability. It is our belief that the family is involved every step of the way as partners in the treatment process.

As parents spend a great deal of time with the child, they are in a position to carry over teaching goals into everyday living situations. Parents can utilize the child’s "free time" to augment intensive teaching time, in developing play, social and self-help skills. Bath time, dinner, getting dressed, and feeding the family pet are just a few examples of everyday routines that offer opportunities for teaching. Outings to the park, grocery shopping, going to the bank and visits to a relative's home are opportunities to generalize skills and work on improving behaviour. In this way the child's entire day becomes part of the treatment process and the parents become an integral part of the team. Autism Partnership does recognize that parents of children with developmental disabilities face many challenges and it is our intention to support them through the process of raising and treating their unique child.

Siblings of children with developmental disabilities are also carefully considered in the treatment plan. As the program is primarily home based, siblings are an undeniable element in the treatment process and their needs must be honored throughout. Our entire treatment team is sensitive to these issues and strives to best to support the family as a whole throughout our time working together.

Meeting the demands of an intensive behavioural home-based program is hard work. We recommend that you carefully consider whether or not it is a suitable match with your lifestyle, values and resources. However, many families report that the rewards they experienced as a result of their child’s progress and their involvement in it have made all the hard work worthwhile.