When you have a child with autism, finding support is vital to the health of your family. The University Center for the Child and Family (UCCF), through the UM’s Mary A. Rackham Institute, offers services for autism spectrum disorder with diagnosis and treatment therapy sessions. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with autism and are looking for supportive treatment services or if you have a child who may be on the autism spectrum, but lack a diagnosis, this is the place to go.
Finding the right help
Ypsilanti residents Mark and Kathy Fisk have been taking their son Anthony to UCCF where he has attended Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services once a week. Enrolled in ABA therapy services since he was in elementary school, Anthony is now in ninth grade at Huron High School, the Fisks attribute much of Anthony’s growth and improvement to the treatment he has received at UCCF.
“Starting out, we experienced challenging behaviors with (Anthony) but when we started with the therapy sessions at UCCF, we noticed those issues subsided,” Mark Fisk explained. “Not only behavioral improvements, but cognitive improvements as well. He is still cognitively and developmentally delayed, but he has improved so much since he has been involved in the program.”
The UCCF treatment approach
Kristen Kalymon, the new program manager for UCCF’s University of Michigan Autism Consultation and Treatment service (ACTS) program, recently came from The Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Kalymon intends to grow the programs offered at UCCF while continuing the current services offered to support children and families with autism.
Kalymon described three main services currently offered:
1. Approved Autism Evaluation Center (AAEC): Children can be assessed through a formal autism evaluation with psychologists. This formal evaluation can qualify children for insurance coverage and benefits. Fisk explained the importance of getting a formal evaluation for your child with autism: “Get the diagnosis for autism in order for your insurance company to pay for the therapy. If you can, get the services as soon as possible. We were fortunate that we did that.”
2. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Services: ABA is a 20-40 hour per week evidence-based treatment therapy between the child and a skilled therapist. Fisk explained the success his son Anthony had when he attended ABA therapy sessions at UCCF: “ABA is smoothing out unwanted behavior patterns of the child and puts the focus on making solutions to create more positive behavior patterns in the future. Anthony has made great strides since he has been in the ABA program.”
3. Ongoing parent and child therapy services: Teaching parents how to manage behaviors that are often displayed by children on the autism spectrum, including externalizing behaviors such as aggression and tantrums, internalizing behaviors such as anxiety and depression, and skill building such as toilet training, sleeping or eating. Therapy sessions are tailored to the specific needs of the individual child and family. These sessions are typically one-on-one therapy with a licensed psychologist, parents and the child.
Both Fisk and Kalymon pointed out the importance of getting your child services as early as possible. “It is our goal to offer support for families in a variety of ways through ongoing parent and children therapy services, or parent management training,” Kalymon explained. “We try to tailor (our approach) to the specific needs of the individual families, and as early as possible.” Services at UCCF are offered for children as young as 12 months old.
To learn more about the services and how to enroll your child, visit mari.umich.edu/uccf/autism-spectrum-disorders or call