Acorn Health - ABA Autism Therapy and Treatment Services

Acorn Health combines ABA best practices with pioneering next practices

ABA is the gold standard of autism treatment

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods are data-driven and have been studied for decades. ABA is endorsed by the US Surgeon General, the American Psychological Association, Autism Speaks, and dozens of other leading research, medical, and advocacy organizations.

Our Services

What ABA does for your child

While it’s a disciplined and well-researched system, ABA is not one-size-fits-all. Treatment is tailored to the individual child, family, and agreed-upon goals.

ABA looks for functional relationships between a child’s behaviors and his or her environment. The goal is to increase desirable behaviors that lead to quality of life, and reduce behaviors that interfere with your child’s ability to communicate and learn.

Treatment is organized around positive reinforcement

We all repeat behavior that produces a reward we value. This very simple, human inclination is central to ABA therapy.

Your child’s Acorn Board-Certified therapist identifies a goal behavior for your child. When your child displays the behavior we want to see, he or she receives something personally meaningful (and you’ll help us identify ideas).

We’ll also learn what precedes challenging behaviors

We call them “antecedents.” They’re things that happen immediately before the behavior we’re trying to change. An antecedent can be a request, like “clean up your room”; a feeling or reaction; a specific object; bright lights or a noisy crowd.

ABA therapy looks for these antecedents and finds alternatives that influence your child’s reaction.

We all respond to consequences. So they’re part of ABA to help promote positive behavioral change.

A consequence is what comes directly after a child’s specific behavior and it can be as simple as a lack of a reward, or no reaction if the behavior is inappropriate.

Assessment

Our Board Certified Behavior Analysts conducts skills assessments to understand your child’s specific needs: his or her language development, practical life skills, ability to generalize learning, and more. We also conduct functional behavior assessments and analyses for children with challenging behaviors.

Custom Therapy Plan

With all this data, we draft a custom therapy plan and share our clinical recommendations with parents and caregivers. Therapy plans are developed only after we understand your family’s goals and preferences. We also openly collaborate with your child’s school and other therapists (for example, speech language pathologists or occupational therapists). Consistency and a team approach lead to optimal outcomes.

Skill Building

Acorn Health focuses first on the child’s activities of daily living. We begin with improving communication and social skills. Then, we address activities like mealtime challenges, and intensive toilet training. Where appropriate, we also develop vocational skills.

Family education and training is an integral part of each therapy plan. Consistency helps children acquire skills, then maintain and generalize the learning for new situations.

Behavior Reduction

Children with challenging behaviors benefit from function-based behavior reduction plans. These plans often include eliminating triggers and providing opportunities for the child to demonstrate the replacement behavior.

We have protocols for managing these behaviors and functional alternatives (e.g., asking for a break rather than engaging in problem behavior to achieve that break). Here, too, collaboration matters. Consistency at home, school, and other environments creates lasting progress.

Board-certified ABA services

At Acorn Health, your child will be treated by a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with training and experience in ABA.

The Certification Board approves ABA therapists with graduate-level education.

You know you have a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with a master’s degree and appropriate training when you see “BCBA” after his or her name.

How Acorn Health measures progress: our Behavioral Health Index

Download the Behavioral Health Index

Another New ABA Standard

With the consistent, evidence-based intervention of ABA, a child’s behavior, language and social interactions are all likely to improve. Acorn Health uses this “Behavioral Health Index” to track progress over time.

We developed it with the head of our Clinical Advisory Board, Gregory P. Hanley, Ph.D., director of the Behavior Analysis Doctoral Program at Western New England University and an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Download the Behavioral Health Index

The Acorn Approach

The Acorn Approach: best-in-class standards for ourselves and anyone who practices ABA

To establish best-in-class standards for ourselves and anyone who practices ABA, we studied the research and underlying evidence; spoke with leading researchers and clinicians to understand what quality care should look like. With a Clinical Advisory Board of leaders in the field, we also established Acorn Health’s five foundational pillars and a bedrock principle: accountability.

Collaboration

We’re in this together

Acorn Health’s staff have standard-setting ABA expertise, but you are the expert for your child. We are here to support you and collaborate with you.

Next
    What to expect
  • Every therapy plan includes practical goals for families, which each family helps us set
  • While lines of communication are always open, twice a year we formally ask families and caregivers about their satisfaction with family training, staff communication, and collaboration

Individuality

Your child is one of a kind

Children on the autism spectrum are individuals with their own needs, behaviors, and skills. Treatment is tailored to the individual child and family.

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    What to expect
  • Assessments are done at intake and every 6 months, measuring your child’s language development, practical life skills, and ability to generalize learning
  • We identify specific behaviors that interfere with educational progress
  • From there, we design a function-appropriate, developmentally-appropriate therapy program for each child

Oversight

We are accountable

While we’re driven by family satisfaction, Acorn Health has assembled a Clinical Advisory Board of leaders in the field. We’re accountable to the highest professional standards.

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    What to expect
  • Acorn Health’s Clinical Advisory Board helps us be a transformative leader in autism therapy, providing inspiration, oversight, and expertise
  • Your child’s treatment plan receives input and oversight from a team of experts, never just your one, consistent therapist

Outcomes

What matters is progress

A high-quality ABA treatment program is nimble, evolving with clinical best practices, updates to the science and applied practice and, most importantly, your child’s success.

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    What to expect
  • We evaluate parental stress levels at regular intervals to understand the effects of our work on you
  • For your child, expect regular evaluation of life skills like dressing, safety, making friends, and his or her freedom from challenging behaviors
  • We also ask about your confidence level in recommending Acorn Health to others, a proxy for gauging satisfaction
  • Acorn Health’s “Behavioral Health Index” tracks a child’s progress over time. Download It

Permanence

We create lasting change

Effective ABA treatment teaches to and ensures meaningful, lasting skill acquisition and behavior reduction gains across settings, environments, stimuli, and people.

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    What to expect
  • We monitor the child’s behavior change among family and caregivers, and across settings: home, school, community, Acorn Health clinic
  • Therapy plan sets clear, individual criteria for transition and discharge from ABA services

    Frequently asked questions

    • What is ABA therapy?

      ABA is an acronym for “Applied Behavior Analysis,” an intensive behavioral therapy that focuses on learning how behaviors change, how they are affected by the environment, as well as has how learning takes place. The goal of ABA therapy as an autism therapy program is to increase desirable behaviors and reduce behaviors that interfere with an individual’s ability to learn. Acorn Health looks to establish and enhance socially important behaviors & improve an individual’s quality of life by providing and transferring critical knowledge, skills, and abilities. Areas that are explored include:
      • Family Training
      • Social Skills Training
      • Communication Training
      • Toilet Training
      • Feeding Therapy
      • Vocational Training
      • Functional Living Skills/Activities of Daily Living
      • Direct Instruction
    • How do I know if ABA therapy is right for my child?

      The only person who can decide if ABA therapy is right for your child is you. The Acorn Health team recommends discussing this with your child’s pediatrician and other specialists who are involved in your child’s health care or education. It is worth noting that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods are data-driven and have been studied for decades. ABA is endorsed by the US Surgeon General, the American Psychological Association, Autism Speaks, and dozens of other leading research, medical, and advocacy organizations. ABA therapy covers a wide array of skill sets so it’s best to communicate which skills you believe as a parent should be prioritized during initial treatment planning and throughout the treatment process.
    • What is an ABA Assessment?

      An ABA assessment is not a diagnostic assessment, rather it is a time utilized to observe and work with a child to determine what their unique needs are. There is also a detailed parent interview included in the assessment to learn about your child’s behaviors at home, in school, and any other environment in which your child spends time. The assessment is scheduled once a family completes the registration process and is informed that there is availability to start therapy. Once the assessment is completed, Acorn Health staff creates a treatment plan and therapy program which is reviewed and approved by the family. ABA assessments are conducted regularly (typically every six months or so) to make program adjustments as your child continues to make progress and meet his or her therapy goals.
    • What does the initial process to get started look like?

      Below are the initial steps you can expect before your child begins therapy:
      • Conduct an initial conversation with our Admissions team
      • Verify insurance coverage for ABA
      • Schedule a Clinical Director Consult (if desired)
      • Request authorization for an initial assessment from the insurance company
      • Schedule and complete an initial assessment for your child
      • Provide assessment results to the insurance company and request ongoing treatment coverage
      • Coordinate a start date for therapy Because there are several parts of the process, we recommend getting started right away. We are here to help you navigate the process and make it as streamlined as possible.
    • How often will my child need therapy?

      Since ABA is most effective when it is intensive, the recommended hours for this type of therapy generally fall between 10 to 40 hours per week depending on the specific needs of your child. Very rarely is there a situation where under 10 hours is effective. The number of recommended hours for your child will be determined by our clinical team after your child’s assessment when the treatment plan is developed.
    • How is Acorn Health different?

      Acorn Health is the pioneering ABA therapy provider for families of children and adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) seeking behavioral therapy services. As a standard-setting quality provider of Applied Behavior Analysis services, Acorn Health has been recognized as a “Behavioral Health Center of Excellence,” a highly recognized industry accreditation that includes rigorous standards, such as how well the provider collaborates with other support therapies, quality of staff training, parent satisfaction surveys, success involving parents in therapy processes, and more. Acorn Health is also a member of the Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP), a non-profit organization committed to evidence-based care in the treatment of Autism. Together, courageous families and ABA clinicians help children develop their strengths, so they may lead their most independent, meaningful lives. The provider’s teams have superior clinical & administrative leadership that instills a culture of caring for families and abides by a strict code of ethics to ensure the best care for all families. Services include:
      • Provides individualized, age-appropriate learning objectives
      • Provides one–on–one therapy, initially in a clinical center or in-home, and then generalized to other settings, including school
      • Provides continuous training and support to parents throughout services
      • Provides support to the child, family, teachers, and administrators during the child’s transition to school
      • Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) provide weekly supervision
      • Provides service coordination with other specialists such as OT, SLP, etc.
      • Family Training is a priority, ensuring families are actively involved in programming for their child
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Resources

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