Where do I start??

We would be happy to help you through the early stages of figuring out how to deal with an autism diagnosis. It's important to remember that this is an overwhelming situation for anyone, and your family is not alone. Call us today for advice on how to progress.

Autism Speaks has a wonderful guide for helping families through the first 100 days after diagnosis: Autism Speaks first 100 days guide.

What kinds of therapies, social skills groups, and family and professional training opportunities does Family First provide?

Family First provides one-on-one therapy, small group programming, and social skills groups. We also provide parent training to ensure that parents are able to incorporate their children's progress into the home environment. For children who struggle with getting along with siblings, we offer sessions with brothers and sisters in order to promote more appropriate interaction. In order to help generalize skills across environments, we offer educational consultation. We are always happy to attend meetings at school, including special education meetings.

Why is it important to offer flexible therapy programs?

Every child is unique, and every case of autism is similarly distinctive. The best way to reach your family's goals is to address the many unique problems that your child faces.

What kinds of training have your behavior therapists undergone, and do they participate in ongoing training?

We require that all of our behavior specialists have a college degree. We mandate an extensive initial training protocol, which includes shadowing other specialists, classroom instruction, and observation by a mentor. Even after the initial training has been completed, each of our behavior specialists receives approximately an hour each week of ongoing training and supervision from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Does your observation room allow for parents and family members to see first-hand how their loved one is interacting with therapists?

Our current center includes video cameras in every therapy room. This allows for the behavior specialist to wear a small microphone in their ear and receive suggestions from a BCBA without them being in the same room.  The BCBA uses the video system to support our specialists through complex behaviors as well as to provide instruction on new programs. We also use the video system during parent training. Once we are certain that a child has learned a new skill we often have the parent wear the microphone and we coach them through the process. This ensures that parents are able to get their child to demonstrate their new skills across environments. Every therapy session is recorded and available to review later to not only ensure accountability but to use as training opportunities. Parents are always welcome to come spend time at the center and to observe live therapy from a computer screen in another room or to sit in the same room and observe their child learning new skills.

What are the greatest challenges for people with autism and their families and how can Family First Center for Autism and Child Development help them?

ABA therapy is traditionally implemented in the home rather than in a center-based program. Before we started Family First, we spent quite a bit of time interviewing families and asking them to describe their unique life experiences and family needs. Families told us things such as, "We definitely love our children, but it would be nice to be able to have lunch out with a friend now and then or to be able to buy our groceries without chaos." We heard, "My child wants to have friends so badly, but they just don't seem to know how to go about it." Based on this information, we decided that a center-based program would be best. It gives family members the gift of a little time to go on a date with their spouse, meet a friend for coffee, or enjoy a board game with their other children while knowing that their child on the autism spectrum was learning new skills and spending time making new friends. One of the core areas of difficulty for our children is in social development. Our program allows one-on-one training of new skills while also creating a social environment where children can take those new skills and practice interacting with peers and learning to initiate and reciprocate social conversations. They can then monitor their own performance by watching the videos.