Your child's progress is monitored each week in a clinic meeting with the treatment team, which consists of parents, your child, and the Lovaas Institute staff. Clinic meetings provide a time for data review, ongoing parent and staff training, and implementation of new curriculum and interventions. Parents are encouraged to take an active role during clinic meetings.
The intervention initially takes place within the home, a child's primary place for learning.
As a child progresses, the teaching procedures become less structured and are generalized to the child's school and everyday environment. Play areas, stores, restaurants, and other places in the neighborhood that facilitate the child's integration among typically developing children are utilized.
The consultant works with the parents and IEP team to identify a community program, school and/or classroom, regular education or special education, based on a child's current skills and needs. A trained 1:1 aide facilitates this transition and is faded when possible.
The Lovaas Institute has always relied on norm-referenced tests, parent interviews, and ongoing evaluation of a child's skills for assessment.
Norm-referenced tests allow for unbiased, independent evaluation of a child's progress that can be compared to typically developing peers. Parent interviews allow for issues such as a family's culture and daily routines to be taken into account when developing behavioral treatment for a specific child. And finally, the Lovaas Model uses a flowcharting technique to guide a child's behavioral treatment.
Each child with autism is remarkably different in many ways. As a result, individualization of the program is a priority at intake and daily throughout the program in order to make maximal progress and avoid serious sidetracking.
Clinic-based services are provided to families local to our offices. A team of 3-6 staff members, extensively trained and supervised, provide the intensive, daily intervention.
In brief, the intervention is based on shaping behavior through reinforcement of successive approximations, prompting and fading procedures, and use of positive reinforcers that are child-specific and functional (i.e., serve the intent of increasing behavior). Examples of such reinforcers are small bites of food, playing with a favorite toy, looking at a favorite book, and social rewards such as verbal praise, tickles, hugs, and "rides through the air."
As intervention progresses, reinforcement is expanded, whenever possible, to include more natural and social reinforcers. The intervention is structured so that appropriate behaviors are maximized through prompting and positive reinforcement. Inappropriate behaviors are reduced by teaching alternate, more socially acceptable forms of communicating the same needs.
In the clinic-based service model, the Lovaas Institute provides both the staff to implement the program as well as the supervision and development of the program itself.
The staff consists of one-to-one instructors, trainers, and supervisors. The majority of teaching is done in a child's home by a team of 3-5 trained instructors. Parents carry treatment over to other teachable moments throughout the day.
One or two instructors on the team are responsible for training other instructors and monitoring your child's progress through data analysis. All members of the team are supervised by the case supervisor and clinic director.