We Help People And Families Affected By Autism

Questions for Residential Service Providers

Questions for Residential Service Providers

If you are helping an adult loved one with autism to select a residential placement, here is a list of suggested questions from parents who have been through the process before:

What ensures the person is treated with dignity and respect by the staff and as an individual?

Are the individual’s parents, relatives, friends, advocates, and other service providers – e.g., day services provider – encouraged to participate in the planning process? Do they and the person receiving services have a role in defining care, recreational, and other activities?

How are the individual’s parents, relatives, friends, advocates informed about the individual’s daily activities, successes, issues, and the like?

What are the staff ratios for the program?

Are the staff properly screened (police background and child abuse clearances, driving records, references)?

What kind of training do staff receive before they start providing services?

What kind of ongoing training do staff receive?

Are staff trained in ABA methods or other types  of behavioral supports?

Are staff trained in functional communication – e.g., PECS, ProLoquo2Go®?

How do staff handle aggressive behaviors?

What is the average length of staff tenure?

How long does it take for you to fill staffing vacancies?

How do you handle suggestions, complaints, or concerns from the individual receiving services or his/her family? Do you welcome suggestions?

Does the person receiving services or his/her parents, relatives, friends, or advocates play any role in hiring of staff who will be supporting him/her?

What comments or evaluations do you get from parents, relatives, friends, or advocates regarding how satisfied they are with the services you provide to their loved ones?

Are any of your behavioral analysts Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA’s)?[1]

Can we select another provider to provide behavior support services?

Are nursing services provided?

What support is provided for recreational activities? What kind of activities?

What kind of outings will the person go on? How frequently?

What support is provided for self-care such as showering, grooming, tooth-brushing?

Who decides what the person receiving services will eat? What say does the person receiving services have in the choice of food?

Is there a consulting dietician?

Who cooks the meals?

What kind of oversight does the provider report to? Are these reports available to caregivers/parents?

Can we access referrals from other caregivers and parents with their consent?

What is the staff turnover rate?

How are miscellaneous spending funds for the individual handled and accounted for?

How is transportation prioritized and arranged for the individual?
(You may have other questions specific to your own situation or that of your loved one.)

[1] Note that what DDDS calls a “behavior analyst” is more a case manager for a person who has other behavior supports. Few have ABA training or are BCBA’s.

Teaching Life Skills at Home, by Cory Gilden

Teaching Life Skills at Home, by Cory Gilden

We are so busy carting our children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to therapies, doctor appointments, school meetings, and more, that it’s easy to forget that some of the most important learning happens in the home. There, our children can practice the life skills needed to build independence.

When teaching household duties to our son Casey, my husband and I use the same strategies as when teaching any other skill:
•   Start low, and go slow.
•   Keep expectations reasonable.
•   Make the activity rewarding.
•   Be consistent in the implementation of procedures.

When Casey was five years old, we created a chore chart that was a simple grid decorated with his favorite characters. We started with two simple tasks we knew he could accomplish on his own: putting his dirty clothes in the laundry hamper at the end of the day and getting his own bath towel. The goal was to help Casey gain confidence while getting familiar with the chart.

At first, I had to remind him to use the chore chart, but pretty soon he took pride in remembering to check off the chores he’d done. We gave him tons of praise for being so responsible, which was a big motivator.

When an activity became a habit that Casey did without checking his chore chart, we replaced that task with a new one.

Casey is 10 years old now and is responsible for both personal chores (such as clearing his dinner plate from the table and plugging in his iPad) as well as household chores (such as washing laundry and dusting shelves).

In exchange for helping the household run smoothly, he gets a weekly allowance. Occasionally, he does larger tasks to earn extra money, such as cleaning the baseboards and helping to clean the outside stairs. I look forward to having him take over more chores when he is developmentally ready. These tasks will probably include washing the dishes, taking out the trash, and cleaning the bathroom. I can’t wait for that one!

To find a range of methods for teaching your child how to do household chores, I suggest going online or to a bookstore. Look for a method with suggested ages for developmentally appropriate tasks. For kids with autism, you may need to adjust your expectations and support, and some chores may not be possible or relevant.

You may also need to revise your reward system to one that rewards more frequently or whose rewards are more motivating. In the end, the extra effort is worth it because our kids will develop useful skills and gain confidence and pride in themselves as they become more capable and independent.

Sun contributor and parent Cory Gilden is researching human development and family studies as a graduate student at the University of Delaware’s college of education and human development. This text was edited for consistency of language and message and appears in the autumn 2018 issue of the Autism Delaware™ quarterly newsletter, The Sun.

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