The Cadenza Autism Child Development Clinic provides integrated multi-disciplinary services to children and their families. Our specialized services are provided to meet the needs of children presenting with behavioral issues, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and other special needs. Our services include psychological evaluation, psychoeducational assessment, functional behavior assessment (FBA), applied behavior analysis (ABA), social skills program, therapeutic camps and consultation. We work in collaboration with families, educators, and other providers in order to assure an effective coordination of services for our clients. Services are provided in the child’s home, school and/or community, as well as in our clinic.
Autism, a complex neurobiological disorder that affects childhood development and lasts a lifetime, is now a recognized epidemic. Today, 1 in 68 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined.
Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.
Many types of therapy can play a significant role in ameliorating or overcoming autism in children, adolescents and adults. Research has proven the effectiveness of early and intense intervention in stopping the rapid decline frequently seen in the early stages of autism. If you have concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait: speak to your pediatrician about getting your child screened for autism.
Research has proven the effectiveness of early and intense intervention in stopping the rapid decline frequently seen in the early stages of autism. At the Cadenza Center, we provide a wide range of clinical services designed to diagnose and treat individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related disabilities.
If your young child is diagnosed with autism, early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies.
Effective programs focus on developing communication, social, and cognitive skills and music therapy, supervised play therapy/social groups and an appropriate educational program can play key roles in the recovery from autism.
Many types of therapy can play a significant role in treating autism. At the Cadenza Center, our specialized staff are able to address many treatment needs, from diagnostic assessments and psychoeducational evaluations to individual and family-centered treatment, behavior modification and parent guidance, social skills groups, music therapy, art therapy, individualized tutoring, and much more. Our highly trained staff have experience working with toddlers and preschoolers through adulthood. Since no two individuals with autism have identical needs, the Cadenza Center clinicians are able to implement individualized treatment to meet each individual’s needs.
Our psychologists and/or behavior analysts conduct a comprehensive assessment to identify functional skills across a variety of domains (e.g., communication, social, play, etc.), and supervise our behavior therapists (who provide the direct services), and collaborate with other early intervention professionals and parents to provide an individualized client-centered treatment. Our team also provides parent training and supports children in accessing the community.
Applied behavior analysis is a science based on Skinner’s theory of learning that uses behavior techniques to help individuals acquire new basic/complex skills while decreasing/eliminating problematic behavior. The skills we target to help children with behavioral issues, ASD, and other special needs are focused on the following areas: communication, social, self-help, visual/perceptual, gross/fine motor, and play.
Our ABA services include initial assessment, development of treatment plan, behavior assistants/caregivers training, implementation of intensive therapy (1:1 ABA therapy), data collection, treatment review, progress report, transitional support and generalization of learned skills across people and settings.
The Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) defines behavior analysis as follows:
“The field of behavior analysis grew out of the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. It has two main branches: experimental and applied behavior analysis. The experimental analysis of behavior (EAB) is the basic science of this field and has over many decades accumulated a substantial and well-respected research literature. This literature provides the scientific foundation for applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is both an applied science that develops methods of changing behavior and a profession that provides services to meet diverse behavioral needs. Briefly, professionals in applied behavior analysis engage in the specific and comprehensive use of principles of learning, including operant and respondent learning, in order to address behavioral needs of widely varying individuals in diverse settings. Examples of these applications include: building the skills and achievements of children in school settings; enhancing the development, abilities, and choices of children and adults with different kinds of disabilities; and augmenting the performance and satisfaction of employees in organizations and businesses.”
Surgeon General Endorses Behavioral Intervention for Autism
United States Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD, has endorsed intensive behavioral intervention for individuals with autism. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General states:
“Thirty years of research demonstrated the efficacy of applied behavioral methods in reducing inappropriate behavior and in increasing communication, learning, and appropriate social behavior.”
The report is available on the world wide web here.
We provide behavioral consultation in homes and schools to children of all ages and varying diagnoses. Our BCBA consults with school staff and/or families around behavioral issues and conduct direct observations of the child in the school/home setting in order to make appropriate service recommendations.
Dr. Michelle Hintz has been treating individuals with autism spectrum disorders for nearly 20 years in a wide range of roles – initially as a music therapist and contracted therapist for private schools and programs. More recently, she has worked in the capacity of a clinical psychologist, advocating for individuals’ needs during Individual Education Plan meetings at schools, testifying with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and presenting at numerous local and national events.
While a more comprehensive description of our evaluations can be found here, an evaluation to diagnose autism often requires an extended test battery. Most often, a detailed developmental history is required in order to establish a time frame for the onset of emotional, behavioral, cognitive, or social delays. In addition, Dr. Michelle Hintz may choose to administer tests specifically designed for identification of autism spectrum disorders including:
Our behavior analysts conduct FBA to identify the hypothetical cause/function of a specific behavior before developing an intervention plan aimed at decreasing problematic behavior and increasing appropriate behavior.
Our behavior therapists under the supervision of a BCBA provide individualized assistance in the classroom in order to help the child improve attention span and on-task behavior for a more productive and positive school experience. Our BCBA consults with classroom staff and provides training and specific recommendations to help the child decrease behaviors that may interfere with learning.
At the Cadenza Center, we believe that a multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to effectively treat autism. Our clinical psychologists can function as consultants and leaders in the treatment team that might include speech and occupational therapists, behavioral specialists, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and educational consultants. For this reason, we welcome open dialogue between all members of the team as well as the opportunity to attend school meetings, review treatment records and therapy evaluations, and compare data from various sources to ensure that each client receives consistent and appropriate intervention.
For some children with autism, the typical childhood activities are difficult, if not impossible without direct instruction and intervention. A primary deficit area often addressed includes difficulties in making and maintaining friendships. For both adults and children on the autism spectrum disorder, there is a commonly-accepted fallacy that they are alone by choice. Play therapy and social groups are key to helping children with autism learn social reciprocity and other social behaviors.
For adolescents and children with more mild difficulties, social groups are key in helping them navigate the less obvious aspects of behavior. Deficits in linguistic problem-solving, idiomatic language and figures of speech, assertiveness skills, and social perception often require supportive and direct intervention. Through carefully matching peers with others who have complimentary needs, our clinicians facilitate social groups that cover topics such as teasing/bullying, asking and answering questions, cooperating and sharing, decision making, initiating and sustaining conversation, affect recognition, non-verbal skills, problem-solving, and positive behavior. Most of our social groups use the interactions as they arise between group members to build empathy, understanding, and self-expression.
In adults, particularly those who receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s during their post-secondary years, re-evaluation via a psychoeducational is often necessary to determine needs. In addition, the psychoeducational evaluation also establishes continued need for educational accommodations and modifications. Our evaluations are accepted at schools (both public and private) as well as colleges and major universities. In addition, on-going supportive psychotherapy may also be needed as individuals navigate their work environment, begin dating, and venture into independent living. Our therapists assist individuals by identifying priorities, addressing self-organization skills, improving assertiveness skills, and promoting positive problem-solving skills.