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A team with rich and varied experience navigating the health care landscape, and delivering excellent patient care and experiences: Acorn Health

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ABA is an acronym for “Applied Behavior Analysis,” an intensive behavioral therapy that focuses on learning how behaviors change, how they are affected by the environment, as well as has how learning takes place. The goal of ABA therapy as an autism therapy program is to increase desirable behaviors and reduce behaviors that interfere with an individual’s ability to learn. Acorn Health looks to establish and enhance socially important behaviors & improve an individual’s quality of life by providing and transferring critical knowledge, skills, and abilities. The only person who can decide if ABA therapy is right for your child is you.

The Acorn Health team recommends discussing this with your child’s pediatrician and other specialists who are involved in your child’s health care or education. It is worth noting that Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods are data-driven and have been studied for decades. ABA is endorsed by the US Surgeon General, the American Psychological Association, Autism Speaks, and dozens of other leading research, medical, and advocacy organizations. ABA therapy covers a wide array of skill sets so it’s best to communicate which skills you believe as a parent should be prioritized during initial treatment planning and throughout the treatment process.

ABA Assessment

An ABA assessment is not a diagnostic assessment, rather it is a time utilized to observe and work with a child to determine what their unique needs are. There is also a detailed parent interview included in the assessment to learn about your child’s behaviors at home, in school, and any other environment in which your child spends time. The assessment is scheduled once a family completes the registration process and is informed that there is availability to start therapy.

 Once the assessment is completed, Acorn Health staff creates a treatment plan and therapy program which is reviewed and approved by the family. ABA assessments are conducted regularly (typically every six months or so) to make program adjustments as your child continues to make progress and meet his or her therapy goals. Since ABA is most effective when it is intensive, the recommended hours for this type of therapy generally fall between 10 to 40 hours per week depending on the specific needs of your child. Very rarely is there a situation where less than 10 hours is effective. The number of recommended hours for your child will be determined by clinical team after your child’s assessment when the treatment plan is developed. Acorn Health typically serves children between the ages of about 18 months through 18 years. Medicaid stops covering ABA at age 21 and most major commercial insurances stop between the ages of 18 to 21.

Gold standard of autism treatment

Acorn Health’s program includes a weekly family training component where the family meets with the BCBA to learn to implement interventions, summarize progress, and discuss any concerns about treatment or additional behavioral issues. Acorn Health has found this collaborative approach with families to be one of the most effective steps in the therapy process. Acorn Health’s BCBAs undergo intensive training and continue to have bi-weekly clinical meetings. The organization’s approach is collaborative, which makes us a leader in the field of ABA services. When assigning therapists to clients, Acorn Health does its best to match skill sets and personalities.

If there are specific qualifications you are looking for in a therapist, please be sure to discuss that during the clinical consult and before starting services so Acorn Health that can keep that in mind as it onboard your family. Center-based autism therapy has additional benefits that can be important, including access to peers, a more controlled environment, novel toys and items, and routines that could help with school integration in the future. Acorn Health typically offer home-based services if you live within 15 - 20 miles of one of Acorn Health’s centers. The school policy must allow for outside services to be present, and your insurance company must also cover school-based services. Your BCBA may recommend starting with a home or center-based model first before determining if school is a clinically recommended setting for services.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methods are data-driven and have been studied for decades. ABA is endorsed by the US Surgeon General, the American Psychological Association, Autism Speaks, and dozens of other leading research, medical, and advocacy organizations. Acorn Health focuses first on the child’s activities of daily living. Acorn Health begins with improving communication and social skills. Then, it addresses activities like mealtime challenges, and intensive toilet training. Where appropriate, Acorn Health also develops vocational skills. Family education and training is an integral part of each therapy plan. Consistency helps children acquire skills, then maintain and generalize the learning for new situations. Children with challenging behaviors benefit from function-based behavior reduction plans. These plans often include eliminating triggers and providing opportunities for the child to demonstrate the replacement behavior. At Acorn Health, your child will be treated by a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with training and experience in ABA. The Certification Board approves ABA therapists with graduate-level education. You know you have a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with a master’s degree and appropriate training when you see “BCBA” after his or her name.

Meet the leader behind the success of Acorn Health

Vicki Kroviak, CEO and Founder of  Acorn Health brings passion, personal history and a history of serving families in need to her mission: to establish Acorn Health as the leading provider of Applied Behavior Analysis treatment for children with autism and their families. She is a Brené Brown Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and is applying those principles to building the company and team she’s always dreamed of: developing a team of daring leaders and fostering a courageous workplace culture within Acorn Health. As a mission-focused leader, ‘why you do it’ is just as important for Vicki as what you do. Vicki was previously the Chief Executive Officer of Monte Nido & Affiliates and co-founder of Oliver-Pyatt Centers, leading providers of residential eating disorder treatment. Vicki co-founded the Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Consortium, a national trade organization that brought together and inspired residential eating disorders treatment providers to collaborate and raise industry standards, and insure greater access to care for affected families. Vicki approaches behavioral health treatment as both a provider and a mother, delivering the standard of care she would want for her own children. The mother of three daughters, one of whom has special needs, Acorn’s mission strikes close to home.

“Acorn Health is driving autism therapy forward with our careful combination of ABA best practices and our pioneering next practices”