Just like children learn how to play with friends, tie their shoes and write their name, so too do children with autism and developmental disabilities. The difference is that children with special needs may need a bit more help along the way.
That’s where the Board-Certified Behavior Analysts at ParamountABA come in. Alicia Waranis and Vanessa Bethea-Miller jointly own the Falls Township business and provide Applied Behavior Analysis services to adults, adolescents and children with developmental disabilities and Autism. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Approximately 6.5 million people in the U.S. have an intellectual or developmental disability.
Applied Behavior Analysis, commonly referred to as ABA, is based upon the principles of learning to change behavior of social significance. For younger children, ABA methods could be used to reinforce play skills or toilet training without a meltdown, for instance, Waranis said.
“As kids age there’s a new set of social skills that kids need to learn,” she said.
In older individuals, ABA might help a patient understand how to make appropriate comments on social media, or what you should and should not say in a text message, Bethea-Miller said.
“ABA is a science,” Bethea-Miller said. “We take data. We take measurement. Our emphasis on data is very strong.”
The assessments ultimately determine if an individual is on par to reach their goals and, if necessary, what other approaches could be taken.
ABA is typically used as treatment for individuals with intellectual disabilities and those with autism, Bethea-Miller said. She also sees it as a positive application for children in the juvenile justice system.
“There really isn’t any opportunity for that,” she said of Applied Behavior Analysis in the juvenile justice system. “I’m creating it.”
ParamountABA patients generally come from an insurance or doctor referral. Occasionally, children are referred through a pre-school setting. In terms of when someone should begin ABA treatment, Bethea-Miller said, “the younger the better.”
At a younger age, research shows “the best outcomes,” she said, adding, “they were indistinguishable from their peers.”
Each individual has his or her own customized plan for the number of hours or sessions per week. Ideally, therapists meet with patients and their families at least a few times per week as repetition helps in the transition to more positive behaviors.
“We don’t use punishment strategies,” Waranis said. “We focus on reinforcing appropriate behaviors and try to figure out what’s driving a behavior so we can create strategies to decrease it.”
Paramount ABA sees clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey at their Falls Township office, as well as at the individual’s home. Parents or caregiver training and goal setting is also part of the process.
In addition to working one-on-one with individuals on a variety of social, work and life skills, Waranis and Bethea-Miller use their South Olds Boulevard space to provide social skills group classes, teach yoga for people with special needs and offer a sensory-friendly spooky house for Halloween. Paramount also offers childcare services for parents’ night outs once a month. In the summer, the center offers a camp featuring indoor and outdoor play.
To learn more
Paramount ABA is located at 515 South Olds Boulevard, Suite B. Services are arranged through appointment. For more information call 215-486-7346 or visit http://paramountaba.org/.