Acclaim Autism: Starting Our New and Exciting Chapter

We’re excited to begin our new chapter as Acclaim Autism. While we have served the autism community as Aspire Autism, we have aimed to be an organization that puts our client-families and employees first. Instead of aspiring to be the provider of choice for families of children with autism, we can acclaim we are doing just that.  

We will continue working as hard as ever to boost the quality of autism services throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and beyond by being the employer of choice for behavioral health professionals and a quality partner in treatment for the families we serve.

We’re still the same organization, same local ownership, same great people, and we simply have a new name.

Throughout the country, there are hundreds of medical companies with the word ‘Aspire’ in their names, many of them similar to Aspire Autism. This confused with phone calls and emails we received from parents and providers around the country, looking for a company with a name similar to Aspire Autism. 

Our behavioral health professionals will continue to set the standard for behavioral health services as we expand our service ecosystem to serve our community better and make it easier for children, families, and providers to work together for a better quality of outcome and overall satisfaction. And that’s certainly something that deserves acclaim.

With our new name Acclaim Autism, we are thrilled our team of amazing clinicians and support staff can now focus efforts on serving families in the areas we serve. Many families will still know the name Aspire Autism, and we’re working on transitioning all material to our new name.

Our focus has been, and continues to be, improving the lives of families impacted by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through modern applied behavior analysis (ABA). Aspire Autism started by improving quality services in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and Acclaim Autism continues to improve service delivery in the area. For more information about our program, please email us at [email protected] or give us a call at 888-805-8206 (option 1 for a human) to speak with a member of our professional staff. 

What Sets Acclaim Autism Apart?

We take primarily a naturalistic approach to ABA, seamlessly helping children and adolescents acquire the behavioral skills necessary to function as high as possible. We provide a child-led approach that incorporates naturalistic and discrete trial training (also known as table time) depending upon your child’s needs. We coordinate with schools, other service providers, and primary care providers to ensure the treatment efficacy for the population we serve. 

Individualized Treatment Plans 

One of our primary focuses is individualized treatment plans. Because autism is indeed a spectrum, every child is different, with different needs and goals to achieve. The board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) will evaluate your child during a “getting to know one another” session, perhaps with the registered behavior technician (RBT). While this session won’t give a complete comprehensive look into every aspect of your child’s needs, it’s a great start with our highly-trained BCBA staff. 

Be prepared for the BCBA to ask some questions about your child and their medical history, called biopsychosocial information. They can then take this plan and formulate the beginning treatment plan. They may ask questions about:

  • Medical history 
  • Normal/abnormal pregnancy
  • Who lives in the home (family structure)
  • History of prior ABA services
  • Mental health concerns
  • Medications (if applicable)
  • School placement (public school, private school, outplacement)
  • Major life events (e.g., trauma or moving far away, divorce, etc.)
  • Academic placement and abilities 
  • Other services, such as physical therapy (PT), speech therapy, or occupational therapy (OT)

The treatment plan will be drawn up after a functional assessment and/or a skills-based assessment. It will include target dates for when goals should be mastered. Graphs are often included to help foster parents’ understanding of ABA and its overall goals. Assessments will be ongoing, particularly as your child progresses and masters goals and treatment plans are revised as needed. A behavior intervention plan will be part of the course of treatment, following the standard ABCs of ABA: antecedent, behavior, and consequence. 

Parent Coaching

Parent coaching is a key part of what we do. Our skilled staff work with parents, guardians, and caregivers to coach ABA techniques. It can take a village to ensure treatment is generalized across settings, and keeping all service providers and family members on the same page with our approach to behavior is a key to success.

No one knows your child better than you do, and even if you receive a maximum amount of ABA hours per week, sometimes, it’s just going to be you and your child. When difficult situations arise, how do you deal with them? 

Our goal is to always meet parents where they’re at. Some families may be very familiar with ABA services, while others may just have received a new diagnosis and are unsure about a lot of things. Similar to an individualized treatment plan for the child, we also believe in individualized parent coaching. Parents may be unfamiliar with positive and negative reinforcement and all the nuances. We do enjoy it when parents are in sessions because it offers us the opportunity to show parents examples of intervention strategies, such as providing praise, ignoring negative vies for attention, etc. Knowing the ropes a little helps parents out exponentially when their RBT is not around and a hard situation comes up. 

Comprehensive Services Across Settings

While our primary focus here at Acclaim Autism is to provide applied behavior analysis (ABA) services, we do work with other therapists, educators, and medical professionals in your child’s life so that all providers are on the same page when it comes to treatment. 

RBTs and their supervising BCBAs are well-trained in the field when it comes to providing ABA services across different settings. While in-clinic and in-home work can accomplish phenomenal things, your child’s life doesn’t stop there. We are available to assist your child out in the community, in a medical setting (such as inpatient), in the school setting, and with your other providers (OT, speech, PT, etc.). Simply having an RBT accompany your child to an appointment or event can be beneficial to generalizing skills across settings.

Those with autism spectrum disorder may also have trouble transitioning from one activity to another. This is where we can assist the client in building skills to tolerate transitions by including a transition goal. In addition, however, we can be there in person to help your child practice coping skills during transitions, as they may have anxiety during transitioning from one thing to another. Also, having your child’s ABA therapist along can help guide you in many different settings and give you more self-confidence.

Industry-Leading Training for Our Team

Many BCBAs and RBTs want to work with Acclaim Autism because of our reputation for quality and excellence in providing services for autism spectrum disorder. Becoming a BCBA or RBT takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and effort. To become a BCBA, one must:

  • Have an undergraduate degree in a related field (often in Psychology)
  • Take relevant courses in ABA during the time at school
  • Possess a Master’s degree from an accredited university (often also in Psychology)
  • Complete supervised experience out in the field before becoming certified
  • Pass the BCBA exam and become certified  

There are other roads to BCBA certification; if you possess a doctoral degree, you may take the BCBA exam. If you have held a full-time faculty position in behavior analysis, you also may be eligible to take the exam. 

RBT training is slightly different. To become an RBT, you need a high school diploma, must pass a background check, must take 40 hours’ worth of coursework, and pass the RBT certification exam. We require post-secondary education for all our RBTs. BCBAs work very closely with the RBTs they supervise, and much is learned in the field. Our wonderful team of RBTs does such a great job with their clients. 

Taking the Load Off Parents

When it comes to autism and behavioral services and what insurances cover, they can differ radically. For parents, dealing with insurance companies directly can be a nightmare. If you’re a parent of an individual with autism, you certainly don’t have that extra time on your hands to be on the phone with insurance all day. This is where Acclaim Autism has you covered by taking the load off when it comes to dealing with insurance. 

If you need approvals or there are other concerns or issues, we will always deal with the insurance company directly so that you don’t have to. We will file all claims so that’s one less thing you have to worry about. We have dedicated staff that is trained to work directly with insurance and knows the ins and outs of insurance claims, so your child’s needs will be taken care of. 

Functional & Social Skills to Help Your Child Succeed

Everyone, both children and adults, need to learn and practice functional and social skills to thrive. However, children with autism spectrum disorder often struggle when it comes to picking up these skills naturally. 

Learning both social and functional skills is one of the backbones of ABA therapy. You may wonder exactly what this means. Your BCBA will explain everything you need to know in-depth, but overall, functional skills refer to tasks that are practical, useful, and helpful. For example, learning everyday hygiene and life skills is paramount. However, sometimes those with autism, especially younger children, can struggle to learn these skills. 

Along with our implementation of functional skills training, this is an area you can also work on with your occupational therapist (OT). They can assist with toileting, brushing teeth, changing clothes, holding a fork, etc. Many OT goals pertain to the strengthening of fine and gross motor skills. 

However, these can also be implemented during ABA time. Perhaps your child needs a gentle reminder to flush the toilet or wash their hands. They may feel great anxiety during teeth-brushing time. This is where Acclaim Autism comes in with patience and dedication. During the functional assessment, your BCBA likely added honing functional and social skills to the treatment plan, as this is a primary focus of our services. 

Functional skill goals must be highly specialized for each child. There’s no template to draw from that will work-cookie-cutter interventions don’t work well with ABA therapy. Everything is individualized to the child for the best possible outcome. It’s also important to remember that functional skills may look different for each child. For example, a child has two choices when brushing teeth: they learn it themselves or someone does it for them. It’s something that obviously can’t be skipped for health reasons. Our mission is to meet every family and every child at their level.

As previously mentioned, we also work across other settings with your child’s providers and educators, etc. When honing and teaching functional skills, particularly new ones, things must be consistent throughout services. Perhaps a parent is struggling to get their child to use utensils at mealtime, but the child uses utensils in school with a different prompt. However, the parent doesn’t know. With Acclaim Autism’s providers, we can ensure that your child gets consistency across settings, which is paramount to generalizing across settings and diminishing anxiety. 

Learning social skills is also an integral part of ABA therapy. Part of the diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis is “persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts.” Applied behavior analysis therapy can improve these “social deficits” in individuals with autism, which overall improves quality of life. 

Social Learning Theory, presented by Albert Bandura, insists that children socially learn through modeling, observation, and imitating behaviors, such as emotional reactions, attitudes, and behaviors. In a child with autism, sometimes social learning is not so easily learned or imitated. Social skills are closely linked to communication. Nonverbal children often communicate and communicate well through other avenues, such as American Sign Language (ASL) and an AAC device or program,  such as Proloquo2Go. In this particular case, social skills can still be learned; however, the treatment plan must be completely individualized and comprehensive for each child. 

Children can grow and learn social skills such as eye contact, reading facial expressions, smiling, asking for help, parallel play, respecting others’ personal space, using proper language (if the child is verbal), and being able to participate in group instruction. This is not a comprehensive list; yet, it lists many different important social skills that your child can learn through play-based activities during ABA therapy. 

Your BCBA will likely add social skills as part of the treatment plan. These goals can change and adapt across the years-remember, ABA therapy can continue into adulthood. Initially, for a preschool-aged child, your BCBA may recommend placing your child with a group of other children and perhaps asking the child to perform something that improves their social skills, such as sharing a toy. For school-age children, your BCBA will want to observe the child in a classroom setting to better pinpoint useful treatment goals. Goals may include transitioning and being a part of both group and individual instruction seamlessly, among others. 

Once social deficits are identified and your BCBA has done some observation and data analysis, ABA therapy can begin to teach a replacement skill within a child-led, play-based environment. 

Parent Support 

Being the parent of an individual with autism can be difficult, and it happens very often that parents may feel ostracized, frustrated, or are just not sure what to do. 

At Acclaim Autism, formerly Aspire Autism, we offer parent support in several different ways. First, you should be involved in your child’s therapy, treatment plan, and goals. ABA has an end time each day, but the same practices we use during ABA should be modeled at home as well. It’s also important to know some of the basics of ABA (such as the ABCs: antecedent, behavior, consequence). Everything is a behavior, and a consequence is not always a bad thing; it’s simply a result. Knowing a little bit about ABA programming can help you better understand how to apply the same principles when your RBT and BCBA aren’t there. 

We also host optional events for parents and families out in the community. These events occur so families can get to know other parents who may be experiencing some of the same issues and roadblocks that occur in children with ASD. Bringing your child along to an event is also a continuation of honing their social skills. Group environments can often be very anxiety-inducing for those with autism. They may be bothered by noise, lights, and the number of people, which makes this a tough situation to work on social skills. However, you have the support of your ABA care team with you at these events, so we can all work on some of the “hard stuff” that inevitably must be a focus. 

We may have a different name since Aspire Autism transitioned to Acclaim Autism, but we’re excited to still provide you with the same quality ABA services that help your child grow and achieve. It’s the same organization, same local ownership, same great people and we simply have a new name.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the services Acclaim Autism provides, contact us via our web form here or call for a free consultation at 1 (888) 805-8206 (option 1 for a human).

Get in touch today to discuss the unique needs of your child.