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Children diagnosed with Autism and a Physical Disability

30 blog avatar Children diagnosed with Autism and a Physical Disability
Expert Name: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy, Inc.
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: Monisha Acharya-Lammert has been serving children with autism spectrum disorders for eleven years

now and has been employed with Step By Step Academy, Inc. since 2002. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She has served as an in-home behavioral consultant for consumers privately for five years and is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Monisha has supervised and overseen intensive behavioral intervention in classrooms as part of a partnership and collaboration with several school districts in the state. Currently, Monisha is the Clinical Project Manager at Step By Step Academy.

Children diagnosed with Autism and a Physical Disability

Does your child have Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, and a physical disability?  If the answer to this question is “yes”, then this blog is for you!

You may be asking yourself…how do I teach her to play, get dressed, bathe, etc. and how can I make sure her school is on board with these goals?  

Step 1:  Identify the programs you want to teach

You will want to think about the most age-appropriate, functional skills to teach your child.  It will be important for you to consult with a Behavioral Consultant if you have one regarding these goals.  Also, consider the physical disability (as you naturally would) and develop your plan around that.  For example, if you want to teach functional independent skills and your child uses a wheelchair as a form of mobility, then you may want to teach skills like learning how to manipulate the controls, turning the wheels (if applicable), lifting her feet up to place them on the foot pads, etc. Or, maybe your daughter has a hearing impairment.  The most important skill you will want her to learn will be how to communicate effectively with others…maybe through the use of sign language or some other form of communication system, like PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System).

Step 2:  Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills-Revised (ABLLS™-R Protocol)

Assessing your child’s skills will be your next step.  The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills-Revised (ABLLS™-R Protocol) is an assessment tool that focuses on basic learner skills, academic skills, self-help skills as well as motor skills.  It is an assessment, curriculum guide, and skills tracking system for children with language delays.

You can visit www.behavioranalysis.com or call (925)-210-9378 for more information.

The ABLLS™- R will provide you, the parent, an extensive list of skills your child already has within her repertoire as well as information to help you develop an effective Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Step 3: Develop an effective Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Finally, you will want to take the above-mentioned assessment results as well as the list of programs that you want to see your child learn and present them to your IEP team.  Your IEP team should consist of the Special Education Coordinator for your district, School Psychologist, Occupational Therapist (OT), Physical Therapist (PT), Speech Pathologist (SPL), the Teacher/Intervention Specialist as well as yourself and your Behavioral Consultant (if you have one).  The IEP is written for 1 year and it can be rewritten at any time…you just have to call the meeting.  Also, it is ok to sign it saying that you were present but, wait until the document is complete before you sign the last page giving your approval.

Read the next blog for the process!

The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills
ABLLS™-R Protocol
James W. Partington, Ph. D., BCBA
May, 2006


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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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