Early Intervention and Education for Autism Spectrum Disorder - A Closer Look

Do Tim’s parents need support at home? How can they obtain such support?

Home Support
A little girl with pig tails in her hair

Children with ASD have a range of behavioral difficulties. It is important to address these difficulties in all environments, including school and home.

Through his IEP, Tim receives ABA in school. At this time, he is not receiving any consultation or services in the home.

Tim’s parents may wish to seek consultation from a behavioral therapist for guidance on how to reduce negative or unwanted behaviors in the home.

In some states, this type of consultation may be incorporated into an IEP, for example, with a behavioral therapist visiting the child’s home several times per month. In other states, parents may contract independently with a behavioral therapist using state-funded disability resources, medical/behavioral health insurance, or private resources.

Functional Behavior Analysis

A functional behavior analysis (FBA) may serve as a way to address negative or unwanted behaviors. Through FBA, behavior is understood in terms of its:

  • Antecedents: what occurs immediately before a behavior and sets the stage for it
  • Consequences: what occurs immediately following a behavior and may serve to reinforce or maintain the behavior

FBA involves observing the child wherever the behavior occurs, over a period of time and collecting data on his or her behaviors. The goal is to identify antecedents and consequences that lead to an increase in desirable behaviors and a decrease in unwanted behaviors. The FBA should result in a written report and a formal behavior plan that can be implemented at school and at home. Typically, an FBA would be conducted by a certified behavior specialist with expertise in behavioral management for children with ASD.

With the right support, parents could also explore other opportunities to embrace social skills such as:

  • play dates or
  • involvement in local recreation programs.

Now that Tim is in school and has an IEP, how is his progress measured?

Tim’s parents should receive, at a minimum, quarterly reports documenting his progress toward the goals outlined in his IEP. In addition, school districts with behaviorally based ASD specialty programs may offer more frequent team conferences (monthly) to review progress and update a child’s individual program.

Monitoring a Child’s Progress

According to IDEA, a child’s IEP must include a statement of measurable annual goals, a description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and when periodic progress reports will be provided.

In facilitating a child’s progress toward designated goals, communication among different service providers and across educational settings is critical. This can be achieved through frequent meetings between therapists, providers, and parents. A communication notebook can also be helpful. Between IEP team meetings, individuals who work with the child can document behaviors and progress toward goals and facilitate coordination of care across service providers.