The education of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) generally falls into two major categories – school-based instruction and home-based instruction. While the two service types aren’t mutually exclusive, as a parent or caregiver, you can only focus on what you do at home outside of the school system to help the child.
In order to maximize progress, home-based services like applied behavior analysis (ABA), speech therapy, occupational therapy and social skills instruction can be terrific resources. In addition, many are covered by insurance which makes the costs negligible. With these home-based services, you can supplement what is going on with the school environment and better tailor a child’s instruction to their needs.
Why School-Based Instruction Isn’t Enough
Although children with ASD are unique, there are three core domains of dysfunction – deficits in language and communication, deficits in social interaction and the presence of repetitive or restrictive behaviors and interests. Students need multiple, repeated opportunities to learn new functional and serviceable skills – and the ability to practice those skills in diverse environments, with lots of reinforcement.
Students with ASD have diverse needs, and many of them are at cross-purposes with the major focus of the school environment. The school is focused on academic instruction, and does not offer the comprehensive support that each individual student needs, especially if they have unique needs.
In addition, not all school staff members are professionally certified to work with students with ASD. Ideally, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will organize and oversee the IEP plan and school-based instruction. However, BCBAs are hard to find and the behavior specialists that are at many schools may not even have their credential.
With a school with only limited resources for addressing core deficits, it falls to the time outside of school for focused, individualized, and supplemental supports.
The Importance of Home-Based Services
Schools can only do so much to support students with ASD, so home-based services are a necessity. They can help a child or adolescent maximize learning opportunities outside of the typical school day – and many are covered by insurance.
With home-based services, the core domains of language/communication, social interactions, repetitive and restrictive behaviors and interests can be emphasized. This allows students to progress more quickly because they are getting the services that they need from skilled professionals in an environment that is geared toward their needs. Moreover, the focus is not on academic achievement; rather, the emphasis is on skills unique to the home and community
Home-based services can also help family members offer better support for the child with ASD. While teachers and school professionals may come and go, family members are the constant in a child’s life – everyone from parents to siblings to grandparents to aunts and uncles. The family has no context in school-based settings, so they don’t know how to apply the school-based techniques – and many times, school-based interventions are context specific. The environments are different so a different approach for emphasizing core skills is often required. Home-based services can help bridge the gap between home and school so that the family members can develop a network of support.
A professional in the home can help everyone develop a strong family network for the child. They will outline how each person can contribute and identify some unique ways that families can contribute.
Home-based service providers can teach important skills in the environment that they need to be used. There are unique situations that occur outside of school that home-based specialists can address including:
- Teaching conflict resolution with siblings
- Teaching diverse interests like bike riding and music that aren’t represented in school
- Teaching self-regulation skills in critical settings (like church or synagogue)
- Teaching cooperation skills for the doctor’s office, the dentist, the barbershop, etc.
- Teaching integration skills for social occasions like birthday parties.
With insurance funding for home-based ASD support services, it helps families become empowered to control treatment and offer support to their child. It’s an opportunity to maximize intervention and make more progress.
Pacific Child and Family Associates offer home-based services that can be covered by many major insurance plans. With a cadre of friendly, experienced staff, we can offer support in the process of acquiring insurance or understanding your current policy and coverage options.
School-based instruction is not enough! With home-based services for ASD, students can receive a new dimension of care that will help address all aspects of their care, and make more progress.
ABOUT DR. MICHAEL J. CAMERON
Dr. Michael J. Cameron, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (Charter Certificant 1-00-0010) is The Chief Clinical Officer for Pacific Child and Family Associates (PCFA) and experienced in the area of behavioral medicine, behavioral health assessment, intervention for diverse populations, and higher education. Prior to joining PCFA, Dr. Cameron was a tenured Associate Professor and the Founding Chair of the Department of Behavior Analysis at Simmons College. Dr. Cameron earned a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Northeastern University.