Promoting Continuous Care With ABA Telehealth

ABA telehealth therapy services ensure continuity of services, which is critical for families during this period of uncertainty. This is a beneficial technique to help children autism.

This channel helps families maintain their routine, provides children with ASD the chance to interact with others, and develop personal skills and supports the transition back to normalcy in the future.

The Health Resources and Services Administration defines telehealth as the

“Use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.”

Telehealth During The COVID-19 Pandemic

While you still have the option to conduct ABA therapy in your home, attending ABA therapy through telehealth channels lowers how many people your family contacts throughout the day. 

Generally, direct service providers only see a few patients in their homes, but telehealth gives you a choice to reduce in-person interactions. Which can aide sleeping through scheduled sessions.

Telehealth lets BCBAs supervise sessions and give parent instruction to more families without the danger of transmission.

The Need For Telehealth Services 

The severity of autism differs from child-to-child. So while some may have fewer developmental challenges, others may exhibit significant behavior concerns, like aggression, self-injury, noncompliance, or destruction.

These behaviors hinder cognitive and social growth, as well as opportunities for learning in academic and remedial settings. 

Unfortunately, a large population of children with ASD — particularly those in rural areas — have insufficient access to vital services that can alleviate these behaviors. 

aba-therapy-a-young-boy-watching-a-moving-on-a-laptopAccess to ABA treatment is a growing problem for families living in rural and underserved areas. 

Diminished access to therapy is particularly troubling for individuals with disabilities who need more involved, specialized, and persistent care. 

Currently, there are very few practical methods to help families overcome this “rural disadvantage” when it comes to receiving essential services. This is also a huge help for military families who often times relocate. Families in general, just need to accept the situation through action and awareness.

Data from the CDC states that 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with ASD. Unfortunately, many families do not receive the necessary care and support because of distance, cost, or scheduling conflicts. 

Now more than ever, telehealth is becoming a mainstream channel for providers and families to connect and obtain a diagnosis, therapy, and instruction

Lowering Barriers For Families

Telehealth is a proven, effective method that alleviates some disparities facing many families regarding access to care and support systems. 

Another barrier for families is cost. Parents may need financial assistance to cope up with the expenses. Telehealth significantly lowers the cost of ABA therapy while providing the same opportunities for success as in-person sessions. 

Preparing For Your ABA Telehealth Session

If telehealth is new, you may not know what to expect. This list should help you and your child prepare for your ABA telehealth services:

  • A strong Wifi connection

  • A physical environment with few disruptions and ambient nose

  • A device (i.e., phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) setup that lets the therapy setting and whole session be viewed for observation and supervision purposes. Additionally, the device should be able to be moved from one room to another for individual or private discussions.

  • A combination of device and personal audio such as earphones. The device audio should allow the provider who is supervising the session to hear ongoing interactions. During a break in the session, or when you and the provider need to discuss something, headphones would cut down the ambient noise and improve sound quality.

  • Regular items you already use for therapy, such as pens, notepads, etc.

Like in-person ABA therapy, telehealth services require streamlined communication between you and your child’s therapist or provider so that treatment can be continuously improved. 

Routine exchanges help therapists fine-tune any obstacles that may slow your child’s progress and ensure that ABA teletherapy continues to be the best channel for your family.

Successes And Challenges

A study conducted by the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital found that telehealth services have an 85% success rate for improving common behavior problems in children with ASD — a percentage that aligns with the success of in-person visits.

Furthermore, parents’ treatment acceptability ratings were as high, if not more so, for ABA telehealth services than in-home sessions.

On average, the average weekly cost of telehealth services was $58 for telehealth services, compared to $335 for clinical or in-home treatments.

Researchers also found favorable outcomes for treatment fidelity based on parental behaviors, which helped the child’s behavior and communication progress.

The study also outlined several challenges for ABA telehealth. 

Some families may lack confidence or even interest to learn ABA strategies. Or, parents may feel uncomfortable communicating or using videoconference tools.

Technical issues with the home’s internet connection, devices, and other equipment can also disrupt lesson progress. 

Moreover, some telehealth services may be clinic-based, which necessitates time and travel commitments for families.

Lastly, telehealth can go a long way to provide underserved areas with providers, care, and support systems. However, there is still a need for more trained behavior analysts to fulfill this need.

ABA Telehealth Services From Sandcastle Centers

To meet the needs of children and families during this period of social distancing, Sandcastle Centers is extending our ABA services with telehealth tools. 

You can find more information about our online ABA services in the blog or visiting our telehealth services page.

Sources
  • Johnson, Katherine. “Using Telehealth for ABA Services – What Should I Expect?” Autism Spectrum Therapies, 25 Mar. 2020, autismtherapies.com/2020/03/25/using-telehealth-for-aba-services-what-should-i-expect/.
  • Lindgren, Scott. 12 May 2020, http://www.amchp.org/programsandtopics/CYSHCN/projects/spharc/technical-assistance-calls/Documents/Lindgren_CAAI-Telehealth 5-20-14.pdf.
  • Muller, Elena. “A Piece in the Puzzle – Telehealth & Autism.” HRS, www.healthrecoverysolutions.com/blog/telehealth-autism-diagnosis.Segers, Grace. “Watch Live: Fauci Testifies Remotely before Senate about Coronavirus Response.”