New Virtual Program Helps Kids with Autism

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CLIVE, Iowa — A new program helps kids with autism living in rural areas access an evidence-based approach at home.

Barbara Faux enjoys playing with her son Finnigan. “He’s 3-years-old. He’s a lot of fun,” she said.

But, a recent session with toy cars wasn’t just for fun. “He got diagnosed with autism in December after I noticed a speech delay for a while. Then, he started repetitive behavior in December,” Faux said. “So, that’s when I took him in for an evaluation.”

Now, what looks like play is actually work. “I chart whether he does it successfully,” she said.

She runs through a series of programs at home with help from a behavior analyst working from The Homestead in Clive. The new program is called Virtual Parent Training. The behavior analyst assists Faux with Applied Behavior Analysis, known as ABA, by watching through a web cam, and talking to Faux over the phone through a blue-tooth headpiece.

ABA is an evidence-based approach to help kids with autism learn skills. “Applied Behavior Analysis is looking at behaviors or different skills and breaking them down into small components and the children are working on small pieces mastering those and kind of chaining those skills together,” The Homestead Admissions Director Dan Budd said.

The Faux family is part of a pilot program through The Homestead. Families in Burlington and Osceola will try it next. “This is a way for those families who can’t get to our centers, they have new viable and effective option with this type of approach,” Budd said.

After two weeks, Faux has already noticed improvement. “To have him go from not saying the word milk to things like ‘I don’t want milk, I want juice.’ It’s very gratifying,” she said.

Virtual Parent Training is paid for with Medicaid and state funds through the Autism Support Program. A Facebook grant paid for the technology in families’ homes, including the webcam and mobile hotspot.

Visit The Homestead website for more information about ABA and Virtual Parent Training.


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