Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a group of conditions characterized by difficulty in communication, social functioning and repetitive behaviors or stereotyped interests. The term “spectrum” indicates the large degree of variety and severity within the condition. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four distinct autism diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. They included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified, and Asperger syndrome. Some individuals have an intellectual disability while others have average or above average intelligence.  Each individual presents a unique profile of strengths and needs.


How is Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosed?


Autism cannot be diagnosed with a blood work or an x-ray. Instead, diagnosis is based on observing how the individual behaves. Children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder struggle with communication, social interaction, and repetitive activities and behaviors.  Signs of autism are visible by age 3 or even earlier.  Although children all develop at their own rate, missed or delayed milestones may indicate a problem.  In you perceive that something is not right, trust your instinct and share your concerns with the child’s pediatrician immediately. Autism is treatable, and the right treatment can change your child’s life.  Early childhood, a time of tremendous brain development, is the best time to impact your child’s future. 

The most indicative signs of autism can be observed in three categories: social behavior, communication, and stereotype behaviors. 


  • The child does not respond to their name by 12 months of age

  • The child is unable to explain what he/she wants

  • Speech is delayed

  • The child doesn't follow directions

  • The child may seem to not hear when spoken to

  • The child used to say words or babble but no longer does

Social Behavior:

  • The child does not smile back to people

  • The child exhibits poor or no eye contact

  • The child prefers to play alone

  • The child seems uninterested in interacting with people

Stereotyped Behavior:

  • They get stuck doing the same things over and over and can't move on to other things

  • They show deep attachment to toys, objects, or routines

  • They spend a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order

  • Repeats words or phrases

  • They don’t respond well to changes 

Other Behaviors:

  • Clapping or waving of hands

  • Doesn't know how to play with toys

  • Walks on tippy toes

  • Throws intense tantrums

  • Aggression towards self and others 

  • Is overly active, uncooperative, or resistant to follow instructions

  • Seems overly sensitive to noise

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a science based on learning and behavior, uses a systematic approach to help children and adults to develop, learn, and function.  The principles of ABA are applicable in multiple areas including but not limited to, language and communication, play skills, social skills, adaptation, and basic life skills.  This therapeutic approach is also useful in reducing unwanted or maladaptive behaviors such as aggression, tantrums, self-injury, and many others.  ABA is considered an “evidence-based” practice meaning that there is enough research evidence showing that is it an effective and useful treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders.  In addition, it has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Academies of Science, and the Surgeon General as the best practice for individuals with Autism.

How are individuals evaluated for ABA Therapy?


One of our Board-Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) or Lead Analysts (mental health professional) will evaluate the child/adult and the parents in order to set initial treatment goals according to the needs and challenges presented by the case.  The goals are related to behaviors to be reduced and skills to be learned.

What do therapy sessions look like?

A trained Behavior Technician will be assigned to the case.  ABA training is typically an average of 15 to 30 hours per week depending on the severity of the behaviors.  A trained Behavior Technician will be assigned to the case.  The technician will first establish rapport with the child/adult and then implement strategies that combine work and fun to help the child/adult reduce unwanted behaviors and learn new skills. We work on skills until they can be used very naturally in the daily life of the individual. During each session, technicians will collect data about the progress of the training.  



How do you involve parents in therapy?

Since parents are the most important member of any child’s team, they will be taught the ABA strategies that we use so the parents too can use them to support the child’s development.  

How do you assess my child's progress?

The data and information collected during therapy sessions is used by the BCBA or Lead Analyst to continually monitor your child’s progress and adjust the therapy accordingly.  The information about the child is always available to the parent.


What is Speech Therapy?

Speech-Language Therapy addresses challenges with language and communication.  It can help people with autism and other developmental disorders to improve their verbal, nonverbal, and social communication.  The overall goal is to help the person communicate in more useful and functional ways.

Common Signs of A Speech Delay:

  • not babbling by the age of 15 months

  • not talking by the age of 2 years

  • an inability to speak in short sentences by the age of 3 years

  • difficulty following directions

  • poor pronunciation or articulation

  • difficulty putting words together in a sentence


What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is the profession that helps people who suffer from physical limitations due to birth conditions or injuries.  Occupational therapists help people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do, through the practice of techniques and physical activities. 
Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes. 

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy is a branch of rehabilitation that use specially designed exercises and equipment to help people to improve their physical abilities.  Physiotherapy addresses the illnesses, or injuries that limit a person's abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.  Physical therapy can benefit children who are born with physical limitations and adults who have suffered injuries, experience chronic pain, or restricted mobility.  

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a treatment process that uses specialized techniques of caring that have been designed to offer effective, long-lasting help for people suffering from a wide range of difficulties, such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression, marital conflicts, fears, a significant loss, or a clinical disorder. Therapy can also help fulfill aspirations for personal growth or self-improvement.  

One of the biggest misconceptions about therapy is that seeing a therapist is a sign of weakness.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  Recognizing the need for help and seeking professional therapy is a sign of both strength and your determination to live a productive and meaningful life! Working together, you and your therapist will identify your goals and agree on how you’ll know when you are making progress. Therapy has one clear and definite purpose: that something of positive value and constructive usefulness will come out of it for you.  The thoughts and feelings you share and the professional techniques the therapist uses are not nearly as important as the relationship you build together. Because the relationship with the therapist is so essential to the effectiveness of the process, it is important that you find someone with whom you feel a comfortable connection, a therapist who makes you feel understood.  In therapy, you intentionally make yourself vulnerable to another human being and you may talk about some things that are very painful for you. However, it is the very process of trusting that it’s safe to release your feelings–the good and the bad–and knowing that the therapeutic relationship permits you to safely explore deeply felt sources of conflict and dissatisfaction that will finally allow you to make lasting, positive changes in your life.