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Koba’s Great Big Show

Popular characters from your children’s favorite shows come to life next month. Koba’s Great Big Show Live!, starring Mike the Knight, Max & Ruby and Franklin, is at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Pkwy., at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 17. Tickets are $25 and $15 plus tax.

Koba’s Great Big Show Live! is an unforgettable stage experience. The show features an exciting mix of musical storylines from Koba’s most popular productions. Fans will join Mike the Knight and his buddies on an adventure in the magical land of Glendragon, have fun playing games with Franklin and his woodland pals, and find out what happens when bunny siblings Max & Ruby meet new party guests.

For more information on events at the Henderson Pavilion, visit cityofhenderson.com or call 702-267-4TIX (4849).

The Lovaas Center Supports Evidence-based Treatment

How Autism is Treated?

The cumulative research leading to the now famous “87-study” published by Dr. Ivar Lovaas at UCLA was noted by the US Surgeon General as a “well designed study…with nearly half the children once treated able to participate in regular schooling.” Most of the children lost the autism diagnosis and graduated high school without special considerations. Dr. Lovaas used the term “recovered,” making sure to avoid the word “cured.” Key components to the Lovaas program included; treating the children early (before the age of four), high intensity (40-hours per week), and treatment was driven using behavior principles. These treatment components went on to become known as Early Intensive Behavior Intervention or EIBI utilizing principals of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Program success increased when treatment was done with one instructor/technician to each child (1:1) at home with heavy parent involvement. Early responsivity to treatment is a key indicator for a better outcome, but measures to indicate which child will “recover” or not, have not been validated, nor would they be useful as 90% of the children to receive EIBI make significant gains. Without treatment, the vast majority will require some level of life-long care.

Dr. Lovaas retired from UCLA in 2006, after dedicating 50 years of his life to autism research and treatment. It was at this time that The Lovaas Center (TLC) opened in Las Vegas with UCLA staff members including Jon Paul Saunders, Lenise Kryk, and Casey Hayden. The Lovaas Center started with four employees and a handful of clients, and now serves hundreds of children across the United States, Mexico and Europe “Changing lives… One child at a time.”

Funding Treatment In Nevada

Thanks to Nevada Legislators and the Governor, Nevada recognizes the benefits of treatment. The state Autism Treatment Assistance Program (ATAP) provides assistance to help families pay for evidence-based treatment for children through the age of 19. Nevada Medicaid began coverage of ABA in January 2016. And most private insurance companies operating in Nevada have been mandated to pay for the treatment using ABA through the age of 22, the exception are self funded plans. Previously this burden was placed on parents, school districts and state regional centers.

Who in Nevada can provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Expert supervision is critical for quality evidenced-based treatment delivery. Insurance and Medicaid now require treatment to be supervised by Licensed professionals called Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Masters degree and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) B.A. degree with Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) conduct the 1:1 treatment under the direction of the BCBA. The BCBA is a specialized certification, requiring classes in ABA and 1,500 of practicum hours with national test. The RBT credential is a new national credential, requires 40-hours of training with BCBA evaluation and national test.

However, Nevada does not currently have a practice act, which has helped to keep treatment affordable for parents paying out-of-pocket for intervention. Families may still utilize parent-hired interventionists who are trained and implementing programs developed and overseen by Behavior Analysts. The state Autism Treatment Assistance Program (ATAP) funds treatment hours delivered by interventionists. Interventionists may complete the 40-hours of training and take the national test to be credentialed as an RBT. Credentialing this staff will increase the hourly rate of treatment.

Access To Treatment

Access to treatment has improved in Nevada with coverage by most private insurance companies and Medicaid. However, true access to evidence-based levels of treatment still eludes most Nevadans with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Factors affecting access include: 1) Insurance laws allow for caps to limit treatment hours instead of what is medically necessary, supported by research and evidenced to ameliorate symptoms; 2) The increasing number of diagnosed children; 3) The new credentialing requirements; 4) Low Medicaid rates discourage providers from enrolling as a Medicaid provider. All these factors will influence the provider capacity in Nevada. The reality is, there just is not enough quality providers to provide evidence-based treatment to all of Nevada’s children with autism. Most providers have wait list. At a time when parents are in their greatest need, they face their biggest challenges in securing services.

The Lovaas Center will continue to advocate for improved access. Please join us, together we can work towards solutions to grow provider capacity in Nevada and increase access to research levels of treatment, so each individual with autism has the opportunity to reach their potential.

The Lovaas Center for Behavior Intervention: 702-877-2520.

Hope Again

I took James* for a haircut before the holidays. Our hairdresser said, ‘Who is this kid?’ Previously it was very difficult to get through a haircut. This day James was much more tolerant… he exhibited self-control, sat still and was compliant.”

Does the challenge of haircut day sound familiar? Many parents of children with sensory issues have related to us how difficult this common task is for their child. So how did James’ mom come to the place of a happy haircut day? Less than a month before Marty* brought James to Brain Solutions. In this short time frame, with a passive program, we were able to impact haircut day and so much more.

Here is a brief description written by Marty prior to starting with us: James wants to jump off everything – tables, chairs and the couch. He can say the sounds of all the letters, but is mostly non-verbal or speaks gibberish. He has poor eye contact. Even as his mother I have to ask him to look at me when I am asking him to speak. When he does look, he cannot hold eye contact for more a couple of seconds. I have to repeat myself over and over to get him to follow simple instructions.

We first started work with James at the end of November 2015. At Christmas his uncle came for a visit and saw significant changes. He told Marty that 5 year old James was engaging with him for the first time ever. They played with a car set for 2 hours on Christmas morning. In the past James would have been a spectator for few minutes before heading off to another activity.

While working with us, James began to engage with other children. His jumping off furniture became a rare occurrence and the adults in his life could increase their demands on him to use words, clean up after himself and follow a routine. He no longer required someone following close behind him every moment.

James has gone from needing extensive prompting to occasionally uttering one syllable words to having spontaneous speech using multi-syllable words and some sentences. His days are marked with much more purpose rather than just tumbling though. His affection with his mom now comes without prompting and often has a delightful playfulness to it. James responds to his name and his eye contact also comes unprompted most of the time. He has developed a relationship with the dad of another client, a local lawyer, who has also expressed his joy at James’ progress at Brain Solutions. “In less than a week he was talking and now he can say the name of an animal and the sound it makes. It is just amazing. Another day he had a tiger and elephant and took the letters “T” and “E” from his alphabet puzzle and matched them correctly with the animals.”

His babysitter and teacher have also seen the improvements. At school he can match puzzle pieces that show an animal and the corresponding word for that animal. In the first week of working with us, the babysitter could tell his eye contact was improving. Overall, the changes mentioned in this article, and more, happened in 9 weeks or less. Moreover, such results are typical among similar clients that we serve.

The programs we use at Brain Solutions are brain-based and offer foundational help that endures over time without medications. We have consistently brought language online for those who come to us with little or no language. The program we used with James also impacts focus, coordination and sensory issues.

And James’ mom, Marty, echoed what we hear from many parents we work with, “Since coming to Brain Solutions, I have hope again!” Call us today to learn more.

Kirsten Lopez, MA is the founder and executive director of Brain Solutions Inc. She has a background in psychology, special education and educational consulting, as well as having been a program director in a neuropsychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. Learn more at BrainSolutionsInc.com or call 702-340-2248.

*Names have been changed for confidentiality.

How to Talk with your Teen:

A Recipe for Successful Communication

As parents, we have spent a lifetime communicating with others. We’ve learned skills of negotiation and problem-solving. We understand when it is best to speak and when to sit back and observe. With all of this knowledge, why can it be so difficult to communicate with our teenagers?

As we tread through the communication waters, it is often at the deepest part of the pool where we run into problems. Where once we felt we were effective communicators, we now feel in over our heads. Disagreements with our children often leave both parties feeling frustrated and misunderstood. Parents often resort to criticisms and demands, which can fuel the fire between parents and teenagers even more. If we step back and look at these moments, do we really understand where our children are coming from? Do we see their point of view and why they did what they did? How might we communicate better with our children to build a relationship of trust and respect?

Anna Brunson McIntyre shared some advice on how to improve the communication with teens. Effective communication includes characteristics such as listening, fluidity, two-sided conversations, openness, honesty, availability, and a non-accusatory tone of voice. Let’s liken these to a recipe.

The key ingredient is listening. Your child isn’t likely to listen to you if they don’t feel heard. Without this, it doesn’t matter how well you mix in the other ingredients. Along with listening, make sure to keep the conversation fluid and two-sided. Ask questions. Learn how they think and what they’re interested in. Teens don’t respond well to lectures or verbal assaults. Use open-ended questions that don’t back them into a corner. If you find that the majority of your “conversations” are you talking or trying to make a point, then back off the talking and focus on listening.

Just as others can see our genuine interest in a conversation, our children have the ability to see when we are being honest with them and open to what they have to say. They can sense those times when we simply are trying to get our point across. However, when children sense we are truly listening, they will be more open to hearing us. Open-ended questions such as, “Why do you think I was so worried when you got home after midnight last night?” might invite teens to process how we feel and still have a say in the relationship. Another important part of communication is the tone that we use with our children. If the tone is harsh, negative, or condescending, they will close up or get defensive.

After mixing in each of the ingredients, allow the relationship and conversation to properly rise through availability and patience. This last step of the recipe will take time and cannot be rushed. Changing the way we communicate is a process – the first few times we try this recipe we might burn the end product, or it might fall flat. With practice, however, you may soon create delicious, meaningful conversations that will leave both you and your teen feeling satisfied and connected.

Dr. Stephen Fife is an Associate Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at UNLV. Matthew Butler is a graduate student in the MFT Program. E-mail Dr. Fife at stephen.fife@unlv.edu.

RECIPE FOR A BETTER COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR TEEN

Change the amounts of the ingredients to meet you and your teenagers needs.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 C. Listening
  • 1 C. Fluidity & Two-sided Conversation
  • 1 C. Openness & Honesty
  • 1 C. Tone of Voice
  • 1 C. Availability & Patience

DIRECTIONS

  1. Listen to your teenager and what is said
  2. Keep the conversation fluid and two-sided between you and your teen; avoid what your they may see as a verbal assault
  3. Add a cup of openness and honesty to the relationship
  4. Monitor your tone of voice; be respectful and avoid the same voice you used when they were children
  5. Be available and patient with your teenager

Tip: Remember to let the recipe rise, as good conversations take time

Aspergers Training, Employment & Life Skills

We are a 501©(3) nonprofit corporation formed to provide vocational development services, extended employment programs and life skills training for individuals 17 years and older with Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD) and other high functioning disabilities.

We increase meaningful employment opportunities for adults with ASDs who live in Clark County, Nevada by providing them with specially designed job training, support and resources and by educating employers about recruiting, hiring, supporting, and retaining employees with autism.

Our organization has successfully placed 65 adult clients into competitive employment for the first time.

The following programs are offered though our organization;

  • Job Development
  • Job Retention
  • Job Coaching
  • Employment Training Classes
  • Life Skills Classes
  • Driver’s Education (non driving component)
  • Public Awareness
  • Employer Workshops.

We provide state certified job developers that assists our participants in finding competitive employment. Once they’ve been hired, our state certified job coaches help them transition into their new jobs. In addition to these services, we also provide job retention for the first 90 days.

Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder was first described in the 1940s by Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger who observed autism-like behaviors and difficulties with social and communication skills in boys with normal intelligence and language development.

Many professionals felt Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder was a milder form of autism and used the term “high-functioning autism” to describe these individuals.

Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 as a separate disorder from autism. However, there are still many professionals who consider Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder a less severe form of autism. In 2013, the DSM-5 replaced Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders with the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (Autism-society, 2014).

Characteristic of Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder:

  • Problems with social skills
  • Eccentric or repetitive behaviors
  • Unusual preoccupations or rituals
  • Communication difficulties
  • Limited range of interests
  • Coordination problems
  • Skilled or talented

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