Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Anderson Center Clinic: Understanding Behavior Analysis Intervention Therapy "On the Spectrum"

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Anderson Center Clinic: Understanding Behavior Analysis Intervention Therapy "On the Spectrum"

Article excerpt

Becoming a parent is a beautiful and rewarding experience. It is often said that there is no greater joy than parenthood. Unfortunately, as a parent, there are also the inevitable moments that are more difficult to deal with. Hearing the words, 'your child has autism' can be one of those life-altering moments. There is often very little preparation for days such as these, so what can you do? Educate yourself, take action, improve, and know that you are not alone.

  Start with the basics, and become
  familiar with the issue at hand.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects one in 88 children in the United States, nearly 1.5 million Americans total. Unfortunately, this number continues to rise 10 to 17 percent annually, making autism the most prevalent developmental disorder to date. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also shows that though most children with ASD are not diagnosed until after they reach age four, parents notice a developmental problem before their child's first birthday. Many concerns reported involved vision, hearing and differences in social, communication and fine motor skills.

For many families, it is problematic behavior that raises the most questions and concerns. The need for early behavioral intervention (a program designed to begin before age four) has grown subsequently, as it is a key component in the learning and overall success of children on the spectrum. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more sophisticated brain imaging technology, such as functional MRI, have allowed scientists to trace the neurodevelopment of infants with the hope that newly discovered methods of working with young children will successfully "change their brain architecture and improve their developmental course." Early behavioral intervention is ideal for very young children, but what about older children, teens or even adults? This is where Behavior Analysis comes into play.

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) describes the field of Behavior Analysis as the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. It has two main branches: experimental and applied behavior analysis. Specifically, applied behavior analysis is a well-developed discipline among the helping professions that seeks the answers of problematic behavior by identifying biological and environmental factors. Originally coined by B.F. Skinner (American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor and social philosopher), the term 'behavior analysis' was meant to distinguish the field as one that focuses on behavior as "a subject in its own right, rather than as an index or manifestation of something happening as some other level (in the mind, brain, psyche, etc.)" Skinner believed that thinking and feeling were covert forms of behaviors.

In 2013, Anderson Center for Autism opened one of the first clinics dedicated to ASD in the Hudson Valley region. Based out of Staatsburg New York, The Anderson Center Clinic currently offers comprehensive 16 clinical services, including applied behavior analysis (ABA). Michael Camargo, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at The Anderson Center Clinic explains his work as a "training process for all"- the child, as well as the family and all educators alike.

"My previous training as a licensed Mental Health Counselor has taught me to see every person as doing the best that they can at all given times; that person is using all of the skills they have. It is my job to teach the new, more effective skills required to meet his or her wants and needs, whatever they may be. It is also important to keep in mind that while these individuals may have a developmental disability, they are still children first and foremost, and children are defiant for a reason. See, we are all more similar than we are different," says Camargo.

  What is the role of a behavior analyst and how does his or
  her training prove beneficial in improving your life and that
  of your family? … 
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