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Episode #099: Early Intervention and ABA (Kristen Colyer)

Kristen Colyer is a BCBA and the Director of Children’s Services at The Infinity Center for Behavior Services. She joined me today to discuss Early Intervention and ABA for young children.

When you first get that autism diagnosis, beginning Early Intervention and ABA services is the first step for support for many parents and their child. Kristen shares what that looks like at The Infinity Center. Because we are working with young children, most often with limited or no communication, parents are the best reporters. The first step is a parent interview to gain as much insight and knowledge of the child. Next, the child will join for an additional interview with the parent. Finally, the BCBA and the child will engage in play therapy. During this time the BCBA will observe and complete assessments. The Infinity Center most commonly uses the VB-MAPP and depending on the skills and communication level of the child may administer other assessments such as the Essential 8 or social skills assessments. This process from the parent interview to the play observation could span a couple of days. 

Support does not end with the child. In many cases insurance covers parent training. The Infinity Center offers parent support and twice-monthly parent training. In these trainings, they cover what’s happening in therapy, therapy goals, and how therapy activities can translate to at-home activities. Additionally, because play therapy can be oddly tricky, the center offers shadowing, training, support, and natural environment protocol practice for their staff.

Learning and receiving therapy through play is so important and really effective. Kristen shares a few of her favorite and popular toys for therapy sessions. She says children often gravitate towards cause and effect play, favorites for these include the Melissa and Doug Wooden Ball Tower and the classic Jack in the Box. They also play Mr. Potato Head and the Shoebox game, based on BCBA Mary Barbera’s book and courses. 

The Infinity Center for Behavior Services is based in Maryland, if you’re in the area or would like to learn more you can check them out on social media or visit their website.

#autism #speechtherapy

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Today’s Guest:

Kristen is a licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).  She has a master’s degree in special education and human services management and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). She has worked in the human services field for more than 30 years and has experience with multiple special needs populations from early intervention to geriatrics.

Kristen is the Director of Children’s Services for The Infinity Center for Behavior Services program, a division within Humanim, Inc., which has two clinic-based ABA settings for early learners with a diagnosis of autism. For the past nine years, Kristen has consulted for Harford County Public Schools in their special education department where she helped develop and maintain their structured ABA program for learners with individualized needs. Kristen’s passion for Applied Behavior Analysis led her to specialize in early intervention for early learners that incorporate verbal behavior strategies to increase language acquisition in children with Autism.

What’s Inside:

  • What does the assessment look like for children seeking ABA services?
  • What is a robust assessment for younger students with an autism diagnosis?
  • How are parents supported during early intervention?
  • What does ABA look like for younger students?
  • How are staff trained and supported in play and natural environment therapy?
  • Top toys and tools for play therapy.

Mentioned In This Episode

Infinity Center ABA
Infinity Center for Behavior Services on Facebook

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