Friday, February 19, 2010

A mixed bag

Hi all -- Ellen at To the Max has a contest where American readers can win a $50 CVS pharmacy gift card by sharing game and play activities that promote their child's development. Many of Ellen's followers have shared their tips in the comments section.

Enjoying the small things is an exquisite blog where a mom of a new baby girl with Down syndrome recounts her experiences in words and stunning photography.

A couple of weeks ago, this question was posted on the BLOOM blog in reference to a post about inappropriate conduct that occurred at a private ABA centre.

If a person wanted to check credibility/incident reports on an establishment that is involved with special needs children, where do they call? Do all therapy centres and daycares have to be registered? And with who?

Here’s a response from staff at Bloorview nursery schools, which applies to Toronto and Ontario (readers elsewhere will need to check requirements in their jurisdiction):

All daycares must be licensed with the Ontario government and the results of inspection must now be posted for public view. There is a graph to show areas of compliance and non-compliance by percentage.

As for credibilty/incident reports, it is our understanding that the difference between applied behaviour analysis (ABA) and (intensive behavioural intervention) is that ABA settings are funded in such a way that they can accept payment through private-health insurance. Other than that, we think there is very little regulation. Both ABA and IBI programs should have a psychologist attached to them. If they don’t, that would be a red flag for parents.

The challenge for families is understanding which programs have checks and balances such as registrations to operate, annual inspections and reporting duties that can be accessed publicly. In the field of children's services, IBI-ABA services for children are relatively new. The number of not-for-profit programs has not kept pace with the profit-based programs and services. There are many private programs, schools and preschools around that 'specialize' in the services of IBI-ABA. As the non-profit options seem so limited, families they have to work with what they have. Parents trust that the service providers operate all parts of their program at the highest possible standards, using the most up-to-date methods and trained staff. We know this is not always the case.

The program spoken of in the blog was defined as private. However, if a parent was unsure of a program's status, our advice would be to:

Ask if the program/service has any provincial/state or city funding. A “no” to both probably means the program is private and has less formal public reporting structures regarding credibility/incidents. If the answer is “yes,” there is likely a way to check the history of a program. A parent would need to call the ministry or department the program is funded through (for example, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Children and Family, Toronto Children’s Services). For programs with no funding ties to tax-payer dollars, parents are on their own to ask the “what if” questions.

The conduct that concerned the parent in the blog could also be reported to the therapist’s respective professional colleges or universities.

In Toronto, the Geneva Centre for Autism can provide helpful advice to parents.

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