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  1. #1
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    Default ABA Therapy in Melbourne

    Hello,

    We've been trying to find out as much as possible about ABA Therapy for our 2yo and would really like to get some advice from any parents using ABA therapy providers in Melbourne. Has anyone used Learning for Life, Autism Partnership or IEC????? This is such an important step for us and also a very expensive therapy (up to $60K per year) so we would really love some feedback from parents.

    Thank you so much. We're very, very new to all this and probably still in a bit of shock.

  2. #2
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    Hey there. Excellent that you're trying out ABA - it's worked BRILLIANTLY with our autistic girl.

    We're with Autism Partnership, they were recommended by our developmental paed. I cannot recommend them highly enough, they are fantastic because they are at the cutting edge of research in autism and are absolutely picky about therapists doing the therapy right (and train them too) and the program supervisors have continuous training.

    I haven't heard a lot about Learning for Life, I think they provide therapists for you, at a massive cost. At Autism Partnership you have to provide your own therapists which seems daunting at first but I think it's great to have a choice, once they're on the team they train them continually.

    I've heard there's waiting lists so maybe get onto both lists and then see who takes you up first???

  3. #3
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    Thank you for your feedback. We went ahead and made an appointment with Autism Partnership and with Learning for Life. This is very new to us, as we had no idea we'd be here a blink of an eye ago. The last couple of weeks have been traumatic as we did not suspect that our precious child was autistic. But now that we've received the diagnosis, we can see it very clearly.

    It's always good to hear from parents who have actually used the services. So far we've received very conflicting advice from different professionals/people about how to help our child. We have come to a point where we've concluded that ABA therapy (Discrete Trial Learning) is the therapy that has the scientific research behind it (the Lovaas research is what has given us hope) and is what we're committed to.

    So glad to hear that you have had positive results. We hope our child also has a brilliant outcome.

    Do you mind if I ask whether your child was taught sign language or PECS? We're being pushed in one direction by speech therapists and another by psychologists. I'm guessing Autism Partnership and Learning for Life will have their preferences.

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    Mrs Tickle  (14-12-2014)

  5. #4
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    We did neither sign language or PECS as Sophie did have some language already. I think they will go with verbal as much as possible, don't worry, they won't punish for not saying anything, but any more communication that is done by the child will be hugely rewarded so they're encouraged to speak more and more.

    It's great you picked it up at 2 because there's so much more that can be done whilst so young.

    The research is what convinced us that ABA was the way to go too. I know that the last little while has been very traumatic for you. Just want you to know that it's not quite over yet. Hiring therapists, getting your child familiarised with them, going through the training process and starting the program is really full on for you and your family. But after a couple of months it gets waaaaay easier. so stick it out. While you're waiting on the waiting list you may as well get the training or get familiar with ABA yourself. A trip to the ABIA in Canterbury is well worth it. You can borrow their books and materials.

    Be really careful with Speechies and Psychologists. Ask them what they think of ABA. Anyone that is not ABA compatible (I'd be guessing it's more likely to be the Speechie than the psych) is not worth your time and you'll just run into problems later. But don't be put off, people have funny views on ABA, I find they aren't aware of how much ABA has changed in the last decade, or even the last 5 years. They've changed quite a lot of the negative things and I know you'll find the whole ABA thing a very positive experience.

    GOOD LUCK. I'm confident you'll be amazed with your little one's progress and you'll see results within a couple of weeks. It really is astounding.

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    Mrs Tickle  (14-12-2014)

  7. #5
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    Default Another option

    Another organisation that you might want to consider is CISCA http://www.cisca.com.au/
    another option, they use consultants from Autism partnership to train their ABA therapists, so you don't have to do it. They also offer the support that AP does to their therapists. Good luck

  8. #6
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    Hello,
    Another newbie to posting and Autism. Can I ask how you went with Autism Partnership? Just got out diagnosis for my little 2.5 year old boy. All over the place in terms of emotions and trying to work through the mountain of information. He was diagnosed mild autism / hfa. Would love any insight into where next as we cannot get to see his paed until mid oct. Can anyone recommend a speech therapist? We live in Albert park.
    Appreciate any insight into therapists, ABA, any other programs, good paeds, etc etc
    Kind regards.

  9. #7
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    Hi Vacant,
    Although it seems like a lifetime ago that my partner and I first received the diagnosis for our son, I'll never forget how distressed and confused we felt. I really feel for you but would like to let you know that our although things were a bit bumpy in the beginning, our son is now thriving.

    Our son was also 2yo when we found out, and has been doing ABA therapy for over a year. Although it is expensive, the results have been very positive. Our son had some very obvious symptoms that were just not obvious to me because I knew very little about autism. He had no speech, no eye contact, was very impulsive, didn't play appropriately with toys or with anyone, did a bit of arm flapping and toe walking, had some odd behaviours, slept little, barely ate anything, etc. Nowadays, he no longer flaps his arms or toe walks, is friendly and is developing the most wonderful personality, plays really well with his toys (trains, on the slide, on his ipad, plays hide and seek, simon says, etc), has better eye contact, is very affectionate, less impulsive and is developing speech reasonably well (as a three year old, he’s at a 2 year old level – but it’s really starting to take off now). I never thought I’d be able to take him to a restaurant, but we’re starting to do that now.

    So as you can see, in just over a year there has been tremendous improvement. We have mostly been doing ABA therapy - although we tried to also incorporate some speech therapy, we just found that the ABA was having a much faster effect. We decided to stick with what he was enjoying more and gaining more from. It's probably different for everyone, as I know lots of parents who do ABA also do some speech.

    We have been doing approximately 25-30 hours of therapy a week, but we are now in the process of increasing it slightly. It sounds like a lot but we slowly built it up and he really LOVES it. ABA therapy nowadays is about positive reinforcement so in a therapy session 5 – 10 minutes might be spent engaging him with social games and with toys he likes and then the lesson may only take 3 or so minutes. So it’s a fun thing for him - and it’s very beneficial to him.

    The types of things that he might do in a day is work on: communication skills, imitation skills, motor skills, social skills, oral motor skills and activities like learning gestures, drawing or addressing any pressing behavioural issues (at the moment he's toilet training).

    Anyway, I’ve blabbed a fair bit. I hope some of it has been helpful. Let me know if there is anything specific you’d like to know and I’d be happy to answer it for you. Feel free to send me a private message if you’d like too.

    I wish you all the very best ☺

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    Mrs Tickle  (14-12-2014)

  11. #8
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    Thanks Sleepymamma for your fabulous reply.

    We are going to going to book an appointment with Autism Partnership and see what they say as I am still finding it difficult to understand the program from the website and the costs involved. Did you do the training yourself or do therapists do it for you, is this in your home or at another location? Is any of the cost covered by government funding?

    What we also need to understand is how it would be tailored to our child. He has been diagnosed with mild autism, while he definitely displays many autistic traits he he does have good eye contact with us, not necessarily so with people he does not know well, he has play, but its limited in some situations. He is extremely visual (today he was watching a dvd about colours, he has watched it a couple of times before, he listed all the colours in the right order before the presenter said them, he even said - awesome before she spoke the word). He absolutely detests walking back along the same side of the pavement, if you turn to go back the way you have came he will go bananas. You have to cross the road and go down the other side. He probably has a 100 or so words, a few two words but no sentence structure. He can get very worked up at times and it can take him a while to calm down (although he is getting much better). He used to toe walk and turn in circles but now does this very infrequently. We have food issues, unless he can feed himself and he likes what he sees, its a big no no, any effort to persuade him can end in a full blown screaming tantrum.

    We have been told during diagnosis that his gross motor skills were good and that our main focus should be speech therapy, which should hopefully reduce his frustrations. We have not really even discussed OT at the moment. Looking at ABA, it says it is suitable for all children on the spectrum, from mild to severe, we are just trying to work out if its too much for him, or really is too much never enough?

    I am not sure where your child sits on the spectrum, or if you know of any other parents whose child has been diagnosed as having 'mild' and who have found ABA to be beneficial. Its such a lot of money - I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Kind regards,

    Vicki

  12. #9
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    Hi Vicki,

    I definitely think that ABA therapy is worthwhile even if your child is high functioning. The government’s Best Practice guidelines states that child with autism benefit from having an early intervention therapy “at least 20 hours per week over an extended period of at least two years”. Something that resonated with me was when the psychologist overseeing our ABA program pointed out that children can get by with some speech difficulties, but it’s the behaviour issues that will isolate them socially and prevent them from functioning well in the classroom. Improving speech will address some frustration, but the behaviours like needing to walk on a particular side of the pavement can be debilitating later on. Our son was fixated with light switches, when we got that under control he started having to walk along touching the walls, at the moment he wants to be in control. Even with the eye contact issue, I thought my son’s eye contact was okay and didn’t realise that he wasn’t looking at anyone else. These things would have held him back because we learn so much from observing others (eg. looking at facial expressions is part of how we communicate/read people).

    In response to your questions, ABA programs are always tailored to individual children. Regarding funding, you should be eligible for FACHSIA funding (which is $6000 per year for 2 x years). Our FACHSIA funds our program supervisor and 2 yearly meetings (one is with John Mceachie, the US behavioural psychologist and author who participated in reviewing the children that participated in the original ABA therapy research by Lovaas). We then pay the therapists that we employ ourselves and negotiate hourly rates with them. The therapy is done at our home. Therapists bring along lots of toys but we also buy lots of toys to keep our child engaged during therapy. I have also done the training myself, so if a therapist is away sick I can take over.

    Another option that is available through Autism Partnership is a Little Learner’s program which is a child care centre that you drop your child at. Each week children receive 20 hours of therapy and the rest of the time they have the opportunity of socializing with other children in the day care. If you work, this would be a good option. Since your child is high functioning, it’s probably what I would opt for.

    ABA therapy is very expensive, but it’s the only therapy that has scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness. One of our therapists who worked in Canada told us that all children there receive 20 hours of ABA per week funded by the government. It’s such a shame that the cost of the therapy makes it so costly for us here. We actually downsized to be able to afford it. And I have no regrets, we’re seeing the results. Our paediatrician warned us against ABA therapy because she was wary that we were going to invest so much time in the program, however she now recommends it to other families after seeing our son making so much improvement.

    Our son was originally diagnosed as having moderate autism. Nowadays he may be moving towards the mild end of the spectrum. We try not to get too caught up in these terms nowadays.

    The best thing you can do is to go in and have a chat. There’ll be no pressure to sign up – if anything there’s usually a wait for a program supervisor to be available to take on a new family.

    I would love to hear how you go

    PS. You can read more about the little learner's program I mentioned at this website: http://www.autismpartnership.com.au/..._and_childcare
    Last edited by Sleepymama; 30-08-2011 at 23:33.

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  14. #10
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    Default Hello

    Hi mummy2sophie
    I was wondering if I can email you privately to ask you a few question about AP & therapist if you don't mind I would really apreciate it.
    Kind regards
    Silvia


 

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