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Cornerstone Therapies

Cornerstone Therapies Provides

An Autism Program

  1. Cornerstone Autism Program (CAP)

    The behavior department uses only scientifically proven intervention. This program is designed as an early intervention program for children under 3 years of age who may or may not have a formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The program is founded on the principles of the science called Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This method of intervention is scientifically validated and research based. Children receive intervention delivered by a behavior therapist utilizing a 1 to 1 ratio and incorporating research-based behavior strategies and methodologies. Supervisors monitor the child’s progress towards goals and observe individual behavior sessions to ensure quality programming and to determine any modifications or adaptations that are warranted. Services are provided in multiple settings depending on the unique needs of the child and family. Programming may be performed in the child’s home, community environments, preschool, Services Pic 3and/or clinic. Cornerstone’s CAP intervention has a strong family focus with a comprehensive parent education component.Parents meet weekly with the child’s program supervisor to review behavior strategies, goals, progress, and parental concern. Parents are provided formal training in behavior strategies in order to become proficient in extinguishing less desirable behaviors while reinforcing socially appropriate alternative behaviors.

    Behavioral Intervention Offered:

    • Instructional Methodology and techniques based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis to include:

      • Discrete Trial Training (DTT)
      • Pivotal Response Training
      • Early Start Denver Model
      • Other naturalistic ABA methods

    • Assistance with the transition at age 3
    • Staff attendance to the school district IEP meeting
    • Constant interdisciplinary collaboration between speech/language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapist, and behavior therapists.

    Specific Features of the CAP Program:

      • Board Certified Behavior Analysts on CAP staff (both BCBA and BCABA)
      • One-to-one ratio
      • Opportunities to interact within social groups with typical peers
      • Family education and involvement
      • Individualized research-based curriculum
      • Staff trained by a BCBA via an intensive 80 hour training program and weekly supervision
      • Ability to transition from one-to-one ratio to a small group social setting when appropriate

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    The Early Start Denver Model:

    Many treatments exist for young children with autism. The large majority of research conducted in interventions has been conducted on children over the age of three. Therefore, it is difficult to find empirical research proving the efficacy of intervention for toddlers. A new treatment model utilizing principles of the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (“ABA”) grew out of the limited research on toddlers. This treatment approach is called The Early Start Denver Model. It was developed by Dr. Sally Rogers, a leading researcher in early childhood cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, and Dr. Geraldine Dawson, a developmental psychologist, autism researcher, and the Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks. The Early Start Denver Model draws extensively from previous work in two well-known models for autism intervention: the Denver Model and Pivotal Response Training.

    There are three main goals of treatment for young children with autism in the Early Start Denver Model:

    1. Bringing the child into coordinated, interactive social relations for most of their waking hours, so that social attention, imitation and communication can be developed and learning through social experiences can occur.

    2. Increasing the reward value of social engagement with others by choosing materials, activities, and routines that are enjoyable and interesting for children, by reading children’s cues and following children’s interests as we choose activities, and by developing play routines that add meaning and predictability for children.

    3. Developing play activities into joint activity routines designed to build skills and “fill in” current learning deficits. The main skills that we focus on include teaching imitation, developing awareness of social interactions and reciprocity, teaching the power of communication, teaching a symbolic communication system, teaching more flexible, conventional and creative play with toys, and making the social world as understandable as the world of objects. Just as the typically developing toddler and preschooler spend virtually all their waking hours engaged in the social milieu and learning from it, the young child with autism needs to be drawn into the social milieu - a carefully prepared and planned milieu that the child can understand, predict, and participate in.

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    Our approach to young children with autism is based on the following empirically-validated set of beliefs and practices:

    • Families should be at the helm of their children's treatment.

    • Each child with autism and family is unique. Therefore, goals, interventions, and approaches must be individualized.

    • Children with autism can be very successful learners. Lack of progress generally signals problems with the design and implementation of the educational activity rather than the inability of the child to learn.

    • Autism is at its core a social disorder. Treatment for autism must focus on the social disability. This requires that relationships be at the core of treatment of children with autism and their families.

    • Children are members of families and communities and need to have a role in family life and family and community activities.

    • Children with autism have minds, opinions, preferences, choices, and feelings. They have a right to self-expression and some control of their world.

    • Autism is complex disorder affecting virtually all areas of functioning; interdisciplinary professional guidance is needed to address the wide range of challenges that autism presents.

    • Children with autism are capable of becoming intentional, effective, symbolic communicators and most children with autism can have useful, communicative speech when provided with appropriate interventions of sufficient intensity during the preschool years.

    • Systematic instruction is a powerful tool for young children with autism. It involves concrete, well-written objectives that are accomplished through pre-planned instructional activities. Progress is measured through ongoing data collection on each targeted objective.

    • Several intervention approaches for children with autism have demonstrated their effectiveness in certain instructional methodologies. A comprehensive, contemporary treatment approach must be able to draw from all the expertise available in the field.

    • Play is one of the young child’s most powerful cognitive and social learning tools. Building play skills in young children with autism will maximize their capacity for independent learning.

    • Intervention delivered in various settings and by various people.

    • Intensity (i.e., number of hours of intervention by trained staff) must be individualized. There is no one best formula for all children.

    • Ingredients for successful intervention:

      1. Many opportunities for 1:1 intervention

      2. Intervention provided by staff and family members skillful at delivering interventions

      3. Careful delivery of target objectives

      4. Use of progress data and ongoing assessment to adjust interventions in order to maximize rate of gain.


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    Relevant research showing evidence-based treatments used by ABA staff