Everything You Need to Know About Navigating Insurance and ABA Services

On January 1, 2010, Connecticut passed the autism insurance bill entitled Substitute Senate Bill 301/Public Act 09-115, requiring meaningful coverage for autism under state-regulated plans. These services include diagnosis, behavioral therapy, prescription drugs, psychiatric or psychological care, and speech, occupational, or physical therapy. In 2014, the dollar and age caps were removed for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) coverage. The SEED Center is an in-network provider for ABA services with United Healthcare, Aetna, ConnectiCare, Oxford Health Plans, UMR, First Health, and Coventry, with more insurance companies to be added in the near future! As an in-network provider, The SEED Center bills your insurance company directly and the client is only responsible for a co-pay or a payment towards the deductible, depending on the insurance company. Finding an in-network provider for your child’s ABA services makes the process of receiving coverage easier overall.

Below are the 4 distinct, but overlapping services required for ABA therapy, which insurance companies typically cover:

  • Direct (to client) by Behavior Technician: Behavior Technicians provide ABA therapy directly to the client
  • Supervision by BCBA or LMHP: The Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) will supervise the Behavior Technician during services to ensure the behavior interventions are being implemented, and that data is being collected consistently and in line with the behavior program.
  • Direct (to parent/caregiver) by BCBA or LMHP: The BCBA or LMHP provides services directly to the parent or caregiver. Training is provided on the ABA strategies and interventions that have been successful in the client’s sessions and can be carried out when the Behavior Technician is not present.
  • Assessment and Treatment Planning by a BCBA or LMHP: These services include reviewing treatment notes, creating materials, inputting and graphing data, updating data sheets, and modifying treatment plans. (Please note: these additional, non face-to-face services with the client are required for an ABA program and are subject to deductibles, co-pays, and/or co-insurance.)

Insurance Authorization

All insurance companies require a formal autism diagnosis for coverage of ABA services to be considered. A copy of your insurance card must be submitted for verification of benefits.

Once an insurance authorization is received, the appropriate ABA assessment is selected based on the individual client’s needs. An assessment is an essential step of developing an ABA program and is used to guide the clinical rationale for services, as well as determine the number of ABA service hours requested from the insurance company.

ABA assessments typically include:

  • Intake Meeting: 1-hour appointment with the parent/guardian or client to obtain background information
  • Client Assessment: 2-4 hours of assessment with the client, often spread over 2 days
  • Evaluation Processing: 2-4 hours without the client present for scoring, report writing, and developing the treatment plan and ABA programs
  • Feedback Meeting: A 1-hour feedback meeting with the parent/guardian or client to go over assessment results, service recommendations, an on-going service schedule, and start date

Approval of Requested Service Hours

The number of hours an insurance company approves for ABA services varies from individual to individual. Some factors that impact the amount of authorized hours are clinical rationale for services, age, severity of skill deficits, previous ABA progress, and other ABA services being received in school. The hours requested by the BCBA or LMHP in the insurance authorization for ABA services, are based on the level of need reflected in the ABA assessment.

Client Financial Responsibility

Clients are responsible for co-pays, co-insurance, and/or deductibles, which is determined by your insurance company and are due at the time of services. The SEED Center submits invoices to insurance for in-network services. If you have out-of-network coverage with your insurance, you may be able to submit your paid invoices directly to your insurance company for reimbursement. Private pay options are also available at The SEED Center. 


Making the Best Out of the Situation

COVID-19 When it Comes to ABA Therapy

Studies have shown that in order for ABA therapy to be effective, treatment must be intensive and consistent. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautions needed to eliminate the spread of the virus, many therapy centers and clinics have been forced to re-evaluate procedures in order to keep both staff and clients safe and healthy. 

During these challenging times, continuing with ABA therapy consistently is essential for your child’s growth and development. At The SEED Center of Stamford, we offer center-based and home-based therapy options for our clients. Our staff is dedicated to working with families to create a plan that best fits your child’s needs, keeping them on schedule, and continuing their ABA therapy. At this time, we have put a hold on all in-person group therapy sessions, as proper protocol does not allow sessions to remain safe and effective.  However, we will continue to offer telehealth options for our families.

Prior to COVID-19, most of our clients attended therapy sessions with us after school and during evening hours; however due to the pandemic your child’s school schedule may have been affected.  At this time, we are able to accommodate most schedule changes and see your child during school day hours for ABA therapy. 

If you have any questions regarding your child’s ABA therapy, please feel free to contact The SEED Center today. We truly care about your child and their development and are dedicated to helping our families during these uncertain times.


Are you worried about what your child’s upcoming school year will look like?

Are you concerned about what your school district’s plan is for the upcoming school year? Have you considered homeschooling your child with autism, but are daunted by the task? The SEED Center is here for you, and we can help you prepare and succeed! There are many different options and factors to take into account when homeschooling a child with autism, but with a little planning and research it can be a successful experience! With a flexible schedule, you can easily fit ABA therapy into your busy day and we’re here to help with that!

Advantages of homeschooling a child with autism

  • Allows parents to orchestrate their child’s environment, education, and social experiences
  • Provides an individualized program tailored to the child’s unique talents, needs, and interests.
  • Permits your child to take breaks, avoid triggers, and limit social frustrations, making it easier to learn.
  • Provides a safe, loving environment to learn in.
  • Parents have a chance to watch their child grow and learn firsthand.
  • Ensures your child is getting the correct resources to provide a sound education.
  • Special education teachers may be generalists and may have little to no experience with autism.

Tips for homeschooling your child with autism

  • Work with high-level interest topics-incorporate them into your child’s lesson plan.
  • Empower your child by getting them involved in educational decisions.
  • Encourage real-world socialization by integrating high-level interest topics into lessons (for example, if your child is interested in dinosaurs or a certain time period, take them on a trip to the museum.)
  • Incorporate physical exercise/movement breaks into your homeschool routine.
  • Stick to a schedule, but build breaks into the daily routine.
  • Know when to ask for help-homeschooling can be an overwhelming task, so make sure to reach out for resources if you need them.
  • Limit outside stimulation if your child is triggered or distracted by them.

Curriculum

There are a wide variety of curriculum options for homeschooling. Parents and caregivers should take into account their child’s learning style and development when considering homeschool curriculum. 

Possible curriculum options include:

  • All-in-one: same grade level and delivery method for all academics
  • Computer-based learning programs
  • School-at-home style textbooks and workbooks
  • Eclectic: parents pick and choose parts of different homeschooling resources
  • Unschooling: driven by student interest and life experiences, not formal lessons

Let The SEED Center be a part of your “school day!” We have availability both in the center and in your home, 7 days a week, between 8am and 8pm! We understand how difficult it is teaching your own child at home-let your child come learn and grow with us…while you take some time for yourself! 


Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Parenting Tips During COVID-19

Suggestions for Parenting a Child with Autism During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As most classrooms and curricula are built around children without autism, at-home learning can be an opportunity for your child with autism to excel. While not every parent has the time to tackle home learning full time, you may want to utilize as much time as possible to make sure your child is staying occupied and entertained in way that fits with their learning patterns.

We encourage you to keep the following tips in mind while parenting during COVID-19:

  •  Create a schedule.​ Your child will respond well when they understand what to expect each day. From learning to playing, everything can be put on the schedule so that your child knows exactly what to expect minute to minute.
  •  Establish a routine.​ A predictable routine will give your child a sense of consistency, which is especially important when their past routines have been disrupted by the pandemic.
  •  Build activities around their interests​. Most children with autism have special interests and have the ability to place intense focus on those interests. Building fun and learning around these interests can keep them happy and satisfied.
  •   Create rewards for positive behaviors​. COVID-19 has likely disrupted your entire household, not just your child’s life. Keeping things positive and rewarding good behavior is always a good idea.
  •   Take time to assess how they’re doing​. All children can become overwhelmed, but children with autism may express this differently. As the parent, you’re likely an expert at interpreting their mood. Be sure to make the time to assess how they’re doing.As the threat of COVID-19 continues to impact the way we live, keep in mind that nothing is set in stone, and you are the person who knows your child best. We encourage you to use these tips as a jumping off point for creating a good at-home environment for your child. And remember to give yourself room and don’t expect things to be perfect.

    If you need help, don’t forget that The SEED Center of Stamford is here to provide Applied Behavior Analysis therapy (ABA therapy) and other autism services you need. We can provide these services at our state-of-the-art autism treatment center or in the comfort and safety of your own home throughout Fairfield County.

Call today to learn more about what we do and how we’re continuing to assist children with autism and their parents during the time of COVID-19 and beyond!


Benefits of Home-Based Services

As our office starts to fill again with center-based clients, we at The SEED Center are encouraging and promoting our home-based services! To ensure social distancing, we are limiting one therapist and one client per room at the center, so while we would love to have you at the center, right now we are trying our best to ensure we practice our ABA therapy safely and cleanly. We understand this is an uncertain time, but you and your child’s health, safety, and peace of mind are our number one priority. The SEED Center is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of clients and staff, both home- and center-based, during the COVID-19 pandemic, including requiring wearing face masks, practicing social distancing, conducting staff meetings remotely, and conducting daily temperature checks for clients and staff! We also provide employees with rubber gloves, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, and disposable face masks.

Benefits of home-based services

You may be wondering, if my child has been doing center-based ABA services, will switching to home-based services hurt the progress they have made so far? The answer is no! Home-based services allows for a different but familiar environment to receive ABA therapy, and allows different skills and situations to be practiced and targeted more effectively.

  1. Adaptive Skills

By choosing home-based ABA services, there is an added emphasis and focus on practical, everyday skills. It allows behaviors more likely to be exhibited in a natural environment to be targeted, such as toileting, mealtime, bedtime routines, getting dressed, or brushing teeth. Therapists are also better able to address behavioral issues that may arise, as they unfold.

  1. Undivided attention

While a center may have social skills groups and other clients at the same time as your child, home-based services allow ABA to be administered with your child’s undivided attention. ABA therapy in the home allows for more focus and one-on-one time to devote to working on skills and programs. Undivided attention can be used to focus on important skills such as pre-academic skills, play skills, and other skills that may lead to more independence.

  1. Generalization

By learning and building skills in a natural environment, children are more likely to continue these encouraged behaviors elsewhere. Home-based ABA services will help your child develop and practice necessary skills on a daily basis. Teaching skills in the space the child will use every day can speed up learning, and these skills can be generalized to other environments, like school or daycare.

  1. Family Training

Children typically feel most comfortable in the presence of their parents and caregivers. Inclusion of family members and caregivers has been found to play a vital role in ABA treatment. Parents and caregivers are actively able to participate in home sessions, keep track of their child’s progress more effectively, as well as observe the therapist and see how they execute ABA programs. It allows the whole family to get involved and learn how different techniques can improve behavior. While observing parent behavior, the therapist can give data-based feedback to them on how they are progressing when working with their child. Home-based services also foster more open communication between therapists and caregivers.

  1. Natural Reinforcers

The most effective reinforcers in ABA therapy are those that motivate the learner. Toys and activities already in the home that the child like playing with or doing are great tools that can be used to increase motivation and reinforce desired behavior.

  1. Convenience

Since ABA therapy can take a few months to start showing proper results, it may be difficult or become difficult for parents to take their child to a center for sessions. Home-based ABA services make it convenient for families to integrate therapy into their busy schedule, while also letting parents actively engage and take part in their child’s therapy.


Have Any Questions About Our Services During the Pandemic?

SEED Center of Stamford is currently open and providing services at the center, direct. We are essential providers and we will be here for all of your needs during this difficult time. We are doing some telehealth, but we have begun seeing more and more families in person at their home or at our center. In this blog post we will detail a few of the autism services we provide for families across the Stamford, CT; Greenwich, CT; and Norwalk, CT areas and the precautions we are taking to make sure everyone in your family stays healthy and safe.

Our Services

As stated above, we are open and providing all of our essential therapeutic services to children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Whether you come and visit us at our conveniently located center in Stamford, CT or you would like us to come to your home, we will work with your loved one using applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.

ABA therapy is an evidence-based treatment that is recognized as the most effective way to treat individuals with ASD. ABA therapy is endorsed as an effective intervention for autism by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Surgeon General. We are accredited by the Behavioral Health Center of Excellence and we continue to improve our ABA services.

Keeping Employees Safe

At SEED Center of Stamford, we aim to protect our workforce by enacting all appropriate prevention efforts. We are constantly monitoring guidance from local, state and federal health
officials and making modifications where appropriate.

Some of the modifications that we have already made at our facility include routine cleanings and disinfection (especially of common areas); avoiding the use of phones, desks, offices and other work equipment when possible; enforcing the frequent washing of hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; wearing of masks that completely cover the nose and mouth; and more. Our goal is to keep those we care for as safe as possible and that starts with ensuring our workers are all following proper guidelines.

Keeping You Safe

Whether you come to visit us at our center, or we come to your home, there are several things that we do to ensure you and your loved ones are safe. We will always follow the guidelines that we have listed above that include the use of hand sanitizer, masks and proper social distancing, and we have taken even further precautions to ensure your health won’t be negatively affected when seeing us.

We now schedule sessions with no more than one client and one therapist per therapy room at a time. The waiting room is now structured in a way to ensure that visitors can maintain social distancing, and we require visitors to wear face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth (unless doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety due to medical conditions). Please note, if you do not have a mask when visiting, you will be provided one if available. If none are available, you will not be allowed to enter the facility until you can procure a mask.

Should you have any further questions about our services or what we can do for you during this difficult time, we ask that you reach out to our team at your earliest convenience; we look forward to working with you and your family member soon.


Discover New Apps for ABA Therapy

Applied Behavioral Analysis is just one way that you can help adolescents on the autism spectrum make leaps and bounds in their communication, social, focus, memory, and other associated skills. Below, we have compiled a list of apps that can help build up positive behaviors.

Cosmo Training: Cosmo Training uses interactive and multisensory controllers to help users develop their motor, cognitive, and communication skills through games, play, and music.

Special Words-(Android, iPhone, iPad): Special Words is designed to help teach word recognition, spoken language, attention and listening skills, and hand-eye coordination. There are 96 words/pictures included that are common for early language development.

Autism Education (AutEdu): This app focuses on communication, specifically between families and educators. Through this app, both parties work to understand autism and promote positive behaviors inside the home and at school functions.

Visual Reading – Special Education (Android): In this app, young learners can receive support for reading, helping to better develop this skill.

Match & Find (iPhone and iPad): Match & Find is best suited for young children, as it works to develop their memory through matching, searching, and sequencing activities.

Social Detective (Android and Apple): Through this app, children can learn more about expected and unexpected behaviors they may experience throughout everyday life. Videos in the app feature real children, so the idea is for the child to identify with those kids and apply those visuals and tips to their lifestyle.

The Social Express (Apple): With The Social Express, children learn how to identify their peers’ feelings, develop strategies to deal with these feelings, about the importance of eye contact, and many other important social functions.

Otsimo (Android and iOS): Otismo is an award-winning app that focuses on language, numbers, emotions, colors, animals, vehicles, and much more. With the app, children can engage in matching, drawing, choosing, and ordering activities. 

Brili Routines – Visual Timer (Android and iOS): Through gamification methods like daily tasks listing, countdown timers, and a good performance reward system, Brili helps children to stay on track with their positive behaviors and learn to commit to a schedule.

Calm Counter (iPad and iPhone): Calm Counter can be used to help children identify times when they may “need a break” from certain situations. The app helps them practice to balance these emotions and practice calming down.


Great Apps To Help With ABA Therapy

Great Apps To Help With ABA Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is designed to help improve communication skills, attention, focus, memory, and social skills while limiting “problem” behaviors in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are many resources available for your computer or smartphone to help your child gain and improve on their positive behaviors and limit those that could be harmful or impede on their learning.

Autism Education (AutEdu)
This app focuses on communication, specifically between families and educators. Through this app, both parties work to understand autism and promote positive behaviors inside the home and at school functions.

Autism iHelp – Sounds
With this app, auditory and visual stimuli are connected. This allows the child to learn these associations, discover more of the world around them, and become familiar with these sounds.

Proloquo2Go – Symbol-based AAC
Those with autism who are non-verbal can greatly benefit from this app. Essentially, the goal here is to help foster language development and improve upon communication skills. The app can be personalized through different settings and vocabulary choices and is easy for anyone from a parent to a therapist to use.

Daniel Tiger for Parents
This app is designed to help children learn additional life skills. Behaviors like sharing, trying new foods, and working through emotions are emphasized.

I Create… Social Skills Stories
This is a fun application that focuses on social skills. Like an interactive storybook, this app allows users to create storylines.

Autism Solutions
Designed more for parents, this app can be a useful tool for booking appointments and gaining access to new research. There is also a library of videos, websites, and articles.

At SEED, our mission is to provide therapeutic services that positively impact the lives of individuals with autism. Our site has many resources that you can turn to, as well parent training and school consulting services.


If You’re A New Parent with an Autistic Child, We Have A Few Tips

If you’re raising an autistic child for the first time, it may feel like an overwhelming experience. Of course, you want what’s best for your child, and here we will go over several key pieces of information that other families similar to yours have found helpful.

Have A Set Schedule
For children with autism it is important to have a structured schedule that will give them a regular routine to be comfortable with. Children with autism need consistency in their life and this is a great way to provide it. Whether it is eating meals at the same time every day, going to therapy sessions at set intervals or going to bed at the same time each night, doing things in the same manner will give them a sense of calm and allow their days to be completed incident-free.
It is important to keep disruptions to the routine at a minimum, but as there are obviously unexpected things that come up, you should make sure to warn your child when the routine needs to be broken.

Reward Them for Good Behavior
We suggest positive reinforcement as an effective way to show your child they are acting appropriately or have learned a new, important skill. It is suggested to be very specific about the good thing they have done so they will ultimately look to repeat the behavior in the future. Rewarding your child with a toy or favorite food may be a good way to have the behavior stick in their memory.

Let Them Have Fun
After all, they are still children. They want to play, laugh and have a good time just like any other kid. Although they need to be treated differently in certain ways, it is important that you find ways to have fun with your child and have them come out of their shell a bit.
It is suggested that these fun moments don’t appear to be a part of therapy or a learning moment. Just spending quality time with your child can do wonders, but when you let them play it will help them tremendously.

At SEED Center, we aim to provide comprehensive services and therapies to those living with Autism in Greenwich, Norwalk, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport, CT and beyond. We also offer training and educational opportunities for the families of those on the spectrum to better understand how they can communicate with their loved ones.
Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide.


How to Approach the Holidays With Your Child

The holidays can be a stressful time and an overwhelming time for everyone. For adults, it can be planning parties, going to events, and keeping children entertained. For children, the holidays can be challenging from an overwhelming amount of stimuli. Instead of being stressed and anxious during the holidays, we want to help you provide a fun and relaxed atmosphere for your child.

1) Planning and explaining.

A great way to help a child feel a better sense of control over their situation during the holidays is to explain to your child in advance. This could be explaining or planning out how their days might go or letting them know what kind of events they will be attending. Be sure to give thorough explanations of what the event is, who is going, what it will be like, and so on. This will help your child understand what to expect so they can feel prepared when the time comes.

2) Communicate with your family and friends.

For those who don’t know your child as well as you do, it is important to let them know about your situation ahead of time. This way they can do everything they can to be as supportive as possible.

3) Create a space for your child to have some extra downtime.

If possible, arrange for a place that your child can go when things start to get overwhelming. When your child has a place they can go to that promotes a calm environment, it can help them thrive and relax.

4) Support your child’s nutrition as much as possible.

The holidays are a tough time for everyone’s diet, but it is usually a time where people make exceptions. In this case, however, we need to be more strict. It can be very tempting to let your child eat these sugary foods, but it will be worth it to keep your child’s autism diet in check.

5) Celebrate with positive reinforcement.

It can be easy to focus on the bad and reprimand your child when they are misbehaving, but it is very important to focus on their good behaviors and celebrate those with them. Cheer for them when they flexible, gentle, and well behaved. This way they can feel a sense of success and have a boost in confidence that they are doing the right things.

Again, the holidays are a very hectic time despite them being a time where friends and family gather. In your child’s best interest, plan ahead, reinforce positive behavior, create space for them, and bring others up to speed on the situation. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that your child can have a great experience that they remember for years and years.