Program Philosophy

The Early Intervention program in the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders focuses on improving language, social, pre-academic, academic, and daily living skills (e.g., potty training) as well as replacing problem behavior. Each child moves through the program based on his or her individual needs.

The program strives to improve the quality of life for children who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder and their families by:

  • Providing the most advanced and comprehensive treatment services
  • Developing and refining effective treatments through systematic clinical research and evaluations
  • Promoting maintenance of acquired skills and the transfer to other environments

Program Overview

The Early Intervention program offers a continuum of services including evaluation, school consultation, clinic-based intervention and home-based program development. The amount of weekly, clinic-based hours depends on the needs of the child and scheduling availability. The amount of treatment ranges from 1½ hours three days a week to 3 hours five days a week.

Caregivers and members of the behavioral team attend regularly-scheduled formal goal meetings to assess the child’s progress and develop new measurable goals. Primary therapists maintain ongoing contact with caregivers between goal periods to discuss the child’s progress and address questions.

Population Served

The program provides specialized services to children ages 2–10 who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or another developmental delay. Clients vary in functioning levels. Some children are in the initial stages of learning while others display advanced language skills but exhibit deficits in social interactions with peers.

Initial Evaluation

Children are seen by a team of specialists with training and expertise in behavioral interventions. Some children may benefit from highly intensive early intervention, while other children may only require limited visits to our clinic or consultation between our staff and school personnel. Our goal is to identify a number of developmental and behavioral procedures that will result in the most rapid acquisition of targeted skills.

Program Selection

Children with an autism spectrum disorder may not acquire skills through daily interactions in their home or school environment like many of their typically developing peers. Based on the needs of each child, our staff will develop a program of language, social, pre-academic, academic and daily living skills. To effectively train children with autism, tasks are broken down into small, measurable units, and each skill is practiced repeatedly until the child masters it.

Some skills such as attending and imitating serve as building blocks for other more complex skills. Thus, children may begin working on more basic skills that prepare them to learn more advanced skills and learn in different environments.

Treatment

During therapy sessions, evidence-based strategies are used to train a variety of skills. Trained therapists conduct behavioral procedures based on developmental and behavior-analytic principles. Programs take place across settings ranging from individualized seat work to naturalistic play interactions with adults and/or peers. Progress is continuously monitored as data are graphed, reviewed and analyzed daily by therapists and supervising psychologists. Data are used to guide program development and refine interventions.

Generalization

Once skills are mastered, they are practiced periodically to make sure children maintain them. The skill is practiced in different settings to ensure the skill transfers to a variety of environments and with a variety of people.

Parent Training

Once an effective treatment is developed, care providers are trained on how to use it. Long-term success of the treatment depends on how accurately the program is carried out by parents, teachers, in-home aides and other caregivers. To facilitate accurate use of the treatment, caregiver training includes written and spoken instruction, modeling, role-play and feedback.

Problem Behavior

If a child displays problem behavior that is of concern to parents or school personnel, we will use assessment and treatment procedures to reduce the occurrence of problem behavior.

Treatment Efficacy

Hundreds of research investigations published in peer-reviewed journals have documented the success of the treatment approach used at the Munroe-Meyer Institute. An emphasis is placed on treating and replacing the core symptoms of autism. It is our goal to regularly meet 80-100% of objectives. In almost all cases, the treatments developed are equally effective in the child’s natural environment at the time of completion of the program.

Referrals and Appointments

A physician, community health nurse, school therapist or other specialist may refer patients to the Munroe-Meyer Institute’s Early Intervention Program. Please fax (402) 559-5004 or e-mail (cawilli1@unmc.edu) referrals. They should include the child’s name, date of birth, reason for referral and contact information for caregivers and referral source.

Intake specialists are available at (402) 559-3716 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to answer any questions you may have. You may also leave a message and your call will be returned promptly.         

 

for more information
Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders
UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute
985450 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-5450

Phone: (402) 559-3716
Toll Free: (800) 656-3937 ext 93716

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