Free Autism Resource Guide

No matter where you are in your journey to find answers, resources, and support – we’re glad you’re here!

Keep scrolling to find FAQs about autism, free printables, parent training videos, and more!

We’ve also compiled a list of Colorado resources. If you’re looking for healthcare providers who know how to make visits friendly (dentists, eye doctors, etc.), welcoming local businesses, or advocacy organizations that can help you plan for the future, we have recommendations!

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Schedule a call with our Colorado Care Navigator to learn about treatment options with Kadiant

FAQs about ASD

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. These challenges can adversely affect all aspects of life, or one aspect of life greatly, such as the ability to effectively communicate wants and needs (vocal or non-vocal), interacting with others, participating in the community, completing self-care and daily living activities, and other forms of learning.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that the learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of Autistic people can range significantly, and similarly, the amount of help needed in daily life also varies from fully independent to support-dependent. Each person with autism has unique strengths and challenges, just like all humans.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

One out of every 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) each year, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows. This figure has almost tripled over the last two decades as the medical and scientific worlds have become more aware of the condition. Physicians diagnose one in six children with some form of developmental disorder annually.

Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.

Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Autism can reliably be diagnosed as early as age two.

Autistic people often have social, emotional, and/or communication deficits. Many Autistic people also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.

Autistic children or adults might:

  • not respond to their name
  • not look at or point to objects to show interest, or when another person points at them (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
  • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • have challenges with engaging in the expected social skills in any given setting
  • avoid eye contact, or report that eye contact “hurts” or feels uncomfortable
  • experience challenges with accurately identifying and/or responding to other people’s feelings, or accurately identifying and/or expressing their own feelings
  • avoid or resist physical contact (prefer not to be held or cuddled), or report they experience discomfort or pain with physical contact/touch
  • appear to be “unaware” or “checked-out” when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • be very interested in people, but experience challenges with how to talk, play, or relate to people to build the relationship they want with them
  • have no vocal or functional speech, or delayed speech
  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of functional language
  • have trouble expressing their needs using functional words or motions
  • not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • repeat actions and behaviors over and over again
  • have trouble adapting when a routine changes, or become upset by minor changes in their routine or their environment
  • have unexpected and/or non-functional reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
  • have very particular or specific interests that can be all-consuming
  • demonstrate challenges with safety or danger awareness
  • stop engaging in skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)

Source/learn more: Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders (CDC)

National Autism Association Signs of Autism

If you’re wondering if your child is achieving developmental milestones, or are noticing concerning signs, please refer to these charts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and consult your Pediatrician about your concerns.

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unique from other medical tests in that doctors are looking at the client’s developmental history, as well as testing and observing behavior using autism assessment tools to make a diagnosis.

ASD can reliably be diagnosed by age 2, however, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. The age and stage of your loved one will determine the type of provider you seek for an autism diagnostic evaluation, as well as the type of assessment used by the provider performing the evaluation.

Who can provide an autism diagnosis?

  • Developmental Pediatricians
  • Pediatric Neurologists
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists who hold a PhD and specialize in diagnosis and treatment (may include clinical, school, or neuro-psychologists, etc.)

What are examples of a diagnostic process by life stage?

Child

During regularly-scheduled wellness visits pediatricians will assess milestones and markers. During these visits you may report some concerns about what you have observed from your child thus far in your day-to-day interactions, or your pediatrician may observe or assess for themselves some concerns regarding your child’s progress towards these milestones or markers, upon which your pediatrician should be completing follow-up assessment(s) and potentially recommending a formal diagnosis assessment from a diagnostician.

Many pediatricians follow the American Academy of Pediatric Association’s standardized Autism questionnaires. If the results suggest further assessment should be pursued, your pediatrician might discuss signs of autism or other developmental delays and recommend a formal evaluation from a diagnostician. Many Developmental Pediatricians can diagnose ASD, but a full and complete multi-disciplinary diagnosis provides invaluable information that allows services to better develop a treatment plan tailored to the child’s needs.

If your pediatrician does not offer autism diagnostic services, they may still be able to refer you to a recommended provider who does. You may also obtain a list of providers by checking with your insurance company.

Adolescent

In some instances, a different healthcare provider, a teacher/school counselor, or some other figure in your teen’s life who is familiar with their development and signs of ASD may recommended seeking a formal diagnostic evaluation. Or, you may notice your teen experiencing new challenges in certain aspects of their life due to the many transitions our children go through during their adolescent and teen years.

If your teen is still seeing their pediatrician, this provider would be a good place to start for recommendations on the diagnosis process for your teen. If this was a recommendation from your teen’s school, then they might have recommendations for diagnosticians with whom they regularly collaborate. You may also consider going directly to a psychiatrist or a PhD-level psychologist with your concerns and to request a diagnostic evaluation. What is important to note is that you are not alone, and it is never too late to get a diagnosis and begin the treatment process or journey for your teen’s overall life success!

Adult

Some individuals do not receive an ASD diagnosis until adulthood, and this may be for many reasons including lack of pervasive challenges. As we get older and are expected to operate in more complex and ever-changing environments, sometimes there is a need to gain a diagnosis to better assess the changes and skills needed for an adult to maximize their own personal and professional successes. 

The diagnosis process can be more challenging in adulthood as it typically requires some sort of record of challenges in the past, prior to turning 18 years of age. But it is not impossible, and the key is that you are getting a proper diagnosis so you can determine what is needed for your ultimate success.

A typical diagnostic process may go something like this:

First appointment

2-hour appointment with the caregivers only. This appointment will be an interview and will cover assessment tools and the parent report (a self-report provided to the parent/caregiver by the diagnostician for completion prior to the first appointment).

Assessment

2-hour observation-based meeting with the caregiver and client. The diagnostician will prompt caregivers through a series of tasks in order to observe the client’s behavior.

Review 

10 days after the previous appointment the diagnostician will review the assessment results with the family, and the report based upon the provider’s observations will be finalized.

It is important to remember that ASD is not a condition that has nor requires a “cure.” Instead, therapies and intervention services can greatly increase a person’s ability to live the life they want to lead by providing the evidence-based approach to learn new skills, communicate effectively with others, and care for themselves, all of which improve overall quality of life and outcomes in adulthood.

Thousands of research studies over the past half-century point to Behavior and Communication approaches as the most effective therapies for reducing or improving the symptoms of ASD when they interfere with quality of life.

Such approaches include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech-Language Therapy
  • Social Skills Training

Some Behavioral Healthcare providers offer several of the above and utilize an interdisciplinary approach to providing services for ASD.

FAQs about Kadiant

Applied Behavior Analysis is an evidence-based treatment known for its application as medically-necessary services for Autistic children and adults. ABA focuses on teaching a variety of skills in areas such as functional language development, social skills, and adaptive living skills. ABA is effective because it focuses on increasing functional and adaptive behavior by individualizing programming to meet the individual, familial, cultural, and contextual needs of the client and their family, which is key in decreasing behavior excesses, such as tantrums and aggression.

ABA is scientifically-validated and the treatment of choice for individuals with autism, including endorsements from the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A treatment team provides ABA Therapy, and your treatment team will include two types of credentialed clinical professionals, BCBAs and RBTs. The BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) will design an individualized program for the client, and our qualified and trained RBTs (Registered Behavior Technicians) provide ABA services under the direct supervision of our BCBAs. Your treatment team may also include interdisciplinary collaboration between your BCBA and other providers, including but not limited to Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs), Occupational Therapists (OTs), Physical Therapists (PTs), Teachers/Schools, Psychologists, or Psychiatrists.

The BACB (Behavior Analyst Certification Board) is the professional body responsible for certifying BCBAs and RBTs. In order to be eligible for the BCBA certification examination, individuals must have earned at least a Master’s degree in Behavior Analysis or a related field approved by the BACB, such as Education, Psychology, or Social Work. Those seeking certification are required to complete specific graduate-level coursework in Behavior Analysis and many hours of supervised experience.

Similarly, the RBT certification examination has eligibility requirements and is a national accreditation. The RBT certification reflects that the RBT completed training under a qualified BCBA, has proven competency in supervised field work, and passed the certification examination to become an RBT.

BCBA certifications are renewed every two years, and RBT certifications are renewed annually. Both certifications are maintained through ongoing supervision and continuing education. Parents, guardians, and caregivers should make sure they find providers who are accredited and trustworthy.

In ABA, a “behavior” refers to anything observable that a person says or does, and covert, non-observable behavior like remembering, emotions, thinking, feeling, etc. “Behavior excesses” refers to the things a person says or does that are non-functional or pervasive, meaning it is happening too often, not enough, or in the wrong environment/setting.

One of the critical features of how ABA therapy works is an emphasis on the relationship between behavior and the environment. In other words, how a person’s behaviors can change the world around them, and how those changes can increase the the future likelihood of those behaviors. 

Kadiant’s programs use reinforcement strategies that increase the future likelihood and variety of functional behaviors, and decrease the value of less functional behaviors, or behavior excesses. For example, if we’re trying to increase language—we want the client using a wider variety of words, longer sentences, or even just single utterances more often—it must be made clear that it is functional to use more language. In other words, there needs to be a “reason,” and providing quality intervention includes increasing motivation, which makes targets more functional. We must make the connection between the value of engaging in particular behavior while balancing the preferences and interests of the client to maximize learning opportunities, and we accomplish this by observing a client’s behavior and determining why it takes place.

The basic principles of ABA are the environmental variables that impact behavior, and this relationship between environment and behavior has since become known as the ABCs of ABA.

  • Antecedent: What initiates the behavior targeted for improvement
  • Behavior: The behavior itself
  • Consequence: What comes directly after the behavior that impacts the future likelihood of the behavior. In other words, what the client hopes to gain from their behavior

By understanding what precedes the behavior in question, what directly follows the behavior in question, and the client’s individual preferences and interests, ABA therapists can utilize natural motivation to increase functional and adaptive behaviors by altering their antecedents and consequences. This approach is also applied in decreasing behavior excesses.

Each individual has their own set of unique skills and challenges. When it comes to personalized care, our Associate and Registered Behavior Technicians tailor each session according to the program developed by the BCBA and the motivations and interests of the client. We personalize our sessions to pave the path for personal milestones!

  • Our standard session involves a Behavior Technician working 1:1 with the client while following the individualized treatment plan prescribed by the BCBA in collaboration with the family.
  • Sessions are meant to be fun and filled with opportunities to learn!
  • We utilize Natural Environment Teaching (NET) to capture the individual motivation of our clients that maximizes the fun! NET also maximizes opportunities for learning as it includes a mixture of play and structured teaching.
  • Home, center, school, community, and telehealth-based services are available.
  • Sessions typically last 2-3 hours depending upon the clinical recommendation for your child.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to ABA Therapy. We provide services in a variety of settings to offer the best opportunity for your child’s success in their ABA program. Many families choose to receive services in a mixture of settings based upon your goals for your child.

We can provide services

  • in your own home,
  • at one of our centers,
  • in your child’s school to provide academic support,
  • in the community (such as a childcare facility, after-school programs, extracurricular activities), or
  • via telehealth

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) emphasizes behaviors that can be observed and measured. Performance measures are essential for program evaluation and adjustments. While emotions — or “states” such as anger, depression, anxiety, or overstimulation are certainly real and affect our behavior — they are simply descriptors of various behaviors that can be observed over time. In other words, someone reporting they are “anxious,” or who might be labeled as “anxious” from an ABA lens is defined by their observable behaviors and the variables (Antecedents – what precedes the behavior, and Consequences – what immediately follows the behavior).

Observable behaviors sometimes associated with the descriptor of “anxiety” might include an increase in repetitive statements or self-injurious behaviors, but both are behaviors that can be observed and measured. Consequently, even though treatment may include strategies to reduce anxiety, the only way to evaluate the effectiveness of that treatment is to measure observable behavior.

For example, we might count the number of repetitive statements targeted for decrease (meaning we want less of the repetitive statements), as these are what we observe from a particular individual’s presentation of anxiety. The interventions targeted for increase (meaning the behaviors we want to see more of, or in place of the repetitive statements) may be functional communication skills, adaptive living skills, breathing practices as an alternatives to the “anxiety” related behavior of repetitive statements.

Our Behavior Technicians record data on observable behavior throughout each session using tablets and a HIPAA-compliant web-based ABA data collection platform. Each data point collected is tracked to measure progress over time, and flag areas where changes need to be made to the program by the BCBA. The data collected during sessions informs all future treatment decisions. If progress is not being made, Kadiant’s clinical team will make modifications to the plan that include feedback and guidance from you as the family, the client themselves, and any other stakeholders within the client’s treatment team to ensure we are meeting our clients where they are, and giving them the best opportunity to reach treatment goals, milestones, and make meaningful change that matters.

All 50 states have passed autism insurance legislation. However, each state navigates the provisions of these services differently, so you should always check with your provider to confirm coverage for services, verify network participation, and inquire about the required documentation. We’d be happy to help you verify your benefits!
In Colorado we are in-network with:

Health insurance providers typically require a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from a physician and a prescription for ABA therapy in order to cover this treatment.

Who can provide an autism diagnosis?

  • Developmental Pediatricians
  • Pediatric Neurologists
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists who hold a PhD and specialize in diagnosis and treatment (may include clinical, school, or neuro-psychologists, etc.)

Who writes the prescription for ABA Therapy?

  • If you choose to pursue ABA Therapy following a diagnosis of ASD, then a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will perform an assessment to make a clinical treatment recommendation for therapy, and write the necessary prescription or authorizations for your insurance providers to approve and reimburse ABA treatment and the related therapy.

Always feel free to reach out to us and ask for assistance in finding a diagnostician if you are having trouble identifying a provider in your area. Our team of Clinical Intake Specialists are here to support you throughout the entire process, from inquiring about our services to scheduling your first session with our Kadiant team.

When an inquiry is submitted to us, we will contact you to learn more about you and your family and we will aspire to find the best placement according to your family’s unique situation. In the initial call with an intake specialist, we will collect information regarding your child, your family’s location, types of services you are seeking, and type of insurance coverage to ensure we can assemble the best team and services for your needs.

Kadiant provides a platform for a holistic approach to treatment – where our families are equal partners in the development and implementation of their programs and goals, where interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged, and where the highest level of ethical, kind, people-centered, and evidence-based services and supports are provided by our team. Our Board Certified Behavior Analysts and Behavior Technicians are experienced, passionate, and ready to provide the medically necessary services and support to help your learner shine bright!

Kadiant offers a wide variety of individualized services to fit your needs and preferred setting, including:

  • In-home, center, school, and community-based ABA services
  • Comprehensive and focused ABA programs
  • Social Skills Groups
  • Extensive evaluations and assessments
  • Individualized parent training
  • Self-help and functional living skills, and
  • Behavior management.

You will be involved at each stage of services, including:

  • Collaborating to establish and implement goals and targets
  • Feedback during the pairing process with your Treatment Team
  • Ongoing data collection and review
  • Parent/Caregiver training
  • Meetings with the Treatment Team to discuss progress, update goals and targets, and maintaining continuity of care

With the Kadiant team you can expect feedback, modeling of skills, coaching, and ongoing session involvement! We are all here to work as a team, and we are grateful to be part of your journey!

YOU are the most important part of what we do in ABA. At Kadiant, we create our programs to specifically meet your child’s needs, skills, and potential, but it is our ultimate goal to work together with you to make those programs successful!

We follow strict safety protocols in all of our treatment settings as outlined by the CDC. Kadiant has a COVID Response Team that ensures we are adhering to the latest local guidelines in all of the regions we serve. Please follow this link to learn more about our COVID-19 policy.

Free Printables

Visual schedules help kids know what to expect from their day. This useful communication tool provides a visual prompt of what events will take place and in what order so kids always know what comes next. Using a visual schedule system at home may help ease the transition between tasks throughout the day, increase independence in daily routine over time, and provide an effective system for introducing important new daily living skills.

Token Boards encourage motivation and pair perfectly with visual schedules! To learn how to incorporate these systems into your child’s routine, watch our quick tutorials, and download and print the materials to get started.

Parent Training

3 Methods of Toilet Training 

Join Allyson Mullins, BCBA and Clinical Director in Georgia, to learn about three different yet effective approaches you can take to begin toilet training your child!

Proactive Tantrum Management 

Ashley Hamilton, BCBA, walks you through proactive ways you can stave off temper tantrums before they start!

Picky Eating 

Watch our panel of expert go over tips and tricks to recognize eating patterns and introduce variety into your child’s diet!

Virtual Learning Tips 

Amanda Scoggins, BCBA, walks you through some ways to set your child up for success in an online learning environment.

Virtual Learning Tips: Vocal Tones 

Amanda Scoggins, BCBA, explores the use of vocal tones during virtual learning.

Prioritizing Self-Care: A Webinar for Parents and Caregivers

Caring for loved ones with special needs can be very challenging, and Amanda Scoggins, BCBA, and Danielle Peters, LMFT, discuss strategies for making time for yourself as an individual so that you can more effectively provide care for others!

Parent Support Group

No one understands the joys and challenges of daily life with a child on the spectrum more than parents and caregivers themselves. Some of the best resources and support can come directly from the autism community. Join us on Facebook for more!

Our Podcast

Take a listen! We release new episodes on Fridays.

It Takes a Village aims to increase awareness and acceptance of autism, and to empower individuals with autism and their families to seek out and organize within the autism community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation.

This podcast features caregivers, behavior therapists, parents, advocates, and previous clients—all sharing their experiences and knowledge with listeners. You can find us on your favorite podcast platform!