Ac­cel­er­ate ABA of­fers services for lo­cal chil­dren di­ag­nosed with autism

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lauren Hal­li­gan lhal­li­[email protected]­i­tal­first­media.com

HALFMOON, N.Y. >> Cen­ter­based Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis services will soon be avail­able in Saratoga County with the open­ing of Ac­cel­er­ate ABA.

Lo­cated at 7 Cor­po­rate Drive in Halfmoon, Ac­cel­er­ate ABA is set to open to the pub­lic next month. The new com­pany will then be­gin of­fer­ing services for lo­cal chil­dren ages two to 12 who have been di­ag­nosed with an autism spec­trum dis­or­der.

While Ac­cel­er­ate ABA is one of the first ABA fa­cil­i­ties in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion, it is be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar around the coun­try as re­sources for chil­dren with autism.

Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis (ABA) is a sci­en­tific ap­proach to un­der­stand­ing be­hav­ior. ABA fo­cuses on the prin­ci­ples of how learn­ing takes place and uses this un­der­stand­ing to teach mean­ing­ful skills, such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion, play, so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and ac­tiv­i­ties of daily liv­ing.

When work­ing with chil­dren with autism, an un­der­stand­ing of the prin­ci­ples of learn­ing can be ap­plied sys­tem­at­i­cally through in­ter­ven­tions to help in­di­vid­u­als learn and ap­ply new skills.

“We use Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis to teach chil­dren how to com­mu­ni­cate, how to in­crease their in­de­pen­dence, how to so­cial­ize — and re­ally any­thing that helps them to get up to their typ­i­cally de­vel­op­ing peers’ level,” Ac­cel­er­ate ABA co-founder Ha­ley McDougall ex­plained, not­ing that the com­pany takes data to make sure their services are mak­ing a mean­ing­ful im­pact on each child.

Kids ages two to five will have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend Ac­cel­er­ate ABA’s Devel­op­men­tal Play Group, along with one on one in­struc­tion ses­sions. This age group will par­tic­i­pate in re­searched based services, in­clud­ing in­di­vid­ual and group teach­ing, as well as fam­ily par­tic­i­pa­tion and sup­port. Chil­dren will work on skills such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so­cial skills, play and leisure skills, pre-aca­demic skills, self-care, and kin­der­garten readi­ness.

These half-day services can act as an in­ten­sive day­care or preschool al­ter­na­tive.

The El­e­men­tary So­cial Skills Group services, for chil­dren ages five to 12, will fol­low an ev­i­dence­based model for teach­ing

"We use Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis to teach chil­dren how to com­mu­ni­cate, how to in­crease their in­de­pen­dence, how to so­cial­ize — and re­ally any­thing that helps them to get up to their typ­i­cally de­vel­op­ing peers’ level.”

— Ac­cel­er­ate ABA co-founder Ha­ley McDougall

so­cial skills in a group set­ting. Chil­dren will work on skills such as ini­ti­at­ing and main­tain­ing a con­ver­sa­tion, start­ing, join­ing and main­tain­ing pre­tend play, read­ing so­cial cues, shar­ing and per­spec­tive-tak­ing.

These services will be of­fered on an after school ba­sis, and families have the op­tion to choose which days their child at­tends.

All services will take place at Ac­cel­er­ate ABA’s brand-new clinic space and fol­low a block sched­ule.

An open house event is ex­pected to be held in early De­cem­ber. Families will then have the op­por­tu­nity to see the space and meet with Ac­cel­er­ate ABA co-own­ers McDougall and Carolyn Volpe.

McDougall and Volpe, who will be running all of the pro­grams at the new cen­ter, are both New York state-li­censed, board-cer­ti­fied be­hav­ior an­a­lysts with ex­pe­ri­ence in the field.

A Saratoga Springs na­tive, McDougall is a grad­u­ate of Saratoga Springs High School and Skid­more Col­lege, where she took her first ap­plied be­hav­ior anal­y­sis course and fell in love with the field.

In­spired by this class, McDougall went on to pur­sue her mas­ter’s de­gree in Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis from North­east­ern Univer­sity in Bos­ton.

Dur­ing this time, Volpe su­per­vised McDougall while she worked as a reg­is­tered be­hav­ior tech­ni­cian lo­cally.

“Carolyn su­per­vised me weekly and helped pre­pare me for my na­tional board exam,” McDougall shared. “We talked about how limited services were in this area for chil­dren with autism and how des­per­ate families were to find qual­ity care for their chil­dren.”

Com­pared to the thou­sands of services help­ing chil­dren with autism in other ar­eas, the founders felt that Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis was much-needed in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion.

After a few years of brain­storm­ing, McDougall and Volpe of­fi­cially started plan­ning their com­pany last fall. “It started as a dream and now it’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing,” McDougall said.

“We wanted to of­fer cen­ter-based services for chil­dren di­ag­nosed with autism spec­trum dis­or­der ages two to 12,” she con­tin­ued. “A ma­jor com­po­nent of the autism di­ag­no­sis is dif­fi­culty with so­cial skills. Hav­ing a cen­ter-based model al­lows us to work on so­cial skills in an in-depth man­ner along with many other skills.”

To­day, McDougall and Volpe are now busi­ness part­ners, and both look­ing for­ward to the launch of Ac­cel­er­ate ABA, which they hope will help chil­dren and families from through­out the re­gion.

“I am ea­ger and ex­cited to work along­side Ha­ley and pro­vide cen­ter-based ABA services for chil­dren with autism in the Cap­i­tal Re­gion,” said Volpe, who lives in Al­bany County.

Look­ing ahead to the fu­ture of Ac­cel­er­ate ABA, “We’re hop­ing to grow, hire more staff, ex­pand our services and then even­tu­ally open up another of­fice in an area that’s con­ve­nient for every­body as well,” McDougall said.

Ac­cel­er­ate ABA is cur­rently of­fer­ing as­sess­ments for chil­dren, prior to the cen­ter’s open­ing in De­cem­ber.

For many families, the cost of Ac­cel­er­ate ABA’s services could be cov­ered by their health in­sur­ance plan.

More in­for­ma­tion about Ac­cel­er­ate ABA is avail­able on­line at ac­cel­er­ate­aba.com and www.face­book.com/ac­cel­er­ateABAther­apy, where de­tails about the up­com­ing open house will be posted.

Those in­ter­ested in Ac­cel­er­ate ABA’s services are en­cour­aged to visit the “Get­ting Started” tab on the com­pany’s web­site and fill out the on­line form.

The cen­ter can be con­tacted by call­ing 518212-7559 or email­ing [email protected]­cel­er­ate­aba.com.

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