Tuesday, February 18, 2014

BC Parents Want Evidence-Based Learning Programs and Supports in ALL BC School Districts

There can be hope for children with autism in BC schools    

Parents want evidence‐based learning programs and supports established in all B.C. school districts. 
February 17 2014, Surrey, BC:  Recent news stories such as the Seclusion and Restraint report and most recently the story of Susan DeBeck, a Vancouver teacher who claims she was fired for standing up for her students with special needs, shows the education system is in a state of crisis when it comes to providing appropriate supports for students with special needs. 

A local non‐profit autism support group is reaching out to the Minister of Education and district administration across BC to educate them about Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which is the scientifically supported gold standard in teaching and behaviour management.  

ABA is a structured teaching method in which functional skills are broken down and taught one step at a time. That means that children with autism can learn and flourish in all areas including language and communication, play and leisure, self help, life skills and academics. 

Families of children with autism often put ABA teams together to work with their children at home. Dione Costanzo, director of the ABA Support Network says that the results are worth the emotional and financial stress. 

However, once a child with autism enters school in a district that does not have supports for ABA programs, the results achieved at home can be severely compromised, says Costanzo. “All the successes achieved can grind to a halt and often the child regresses.” 

ABA is widely considered to be the most effective, evidence‐based learning approach for children with autism yet Surrey is the only school district in B.C. that has an established system for hiring ABA‐trained teaching aides. 

Costanzo says that the ABA Support Network and parents are on a mission to change this. 

“Children have a right to an education and ABA is the best method to achieve this for children with autism,” says Costanzo. “Implementing these programs, and training and hiring more ABA teaching assistants is the right thing to do, and it's the law.” 

According to the landmark Supreme Court of BC ruling – Hewko v. B.C., 2006 BCSC 1638 ‐ what is required for children with autism to access an education is adherence to their established ABA programs, and the availability of teaching aides that are trained to carry it out.  In most B.C. school districts, ABA programs are not accommodated nor do teaching aides have the proper training to support these programs.

Costanzo says that implementing the ABA programs is a cost‐neutral exercise, it just requires the political will. 

“Getting an appropriate education system for children with autism in place with ABA‐trained teaching aides requires political will and leadership,” she says. “It will not increase costs but it will be utilizing existing funds more effectively.” 

The ABA Support Network is a parent‐led, non‐profit organization whose mission is to improve access to ABA support and services for individuals with autism. 

For information about the ABA Support Network contact Dione Costanzo at dione@abasupportnetwork.com or 604‐817‐1526.  Anyone interested in learning more about autism and ABA in Schools can visit the ABA Support Network website.  


farmwifetwo said...

Does that mean the aides will run around with cookies in fanny packs to stuff into mouths when they behave... and if you think I'm joking... I'm not. That was part of the meetings we had to go to with the ABA program here. They also wanted to do it in my house... they didn't appreciate the "not in this lifetime" answer they got.

Breaking things down into tasks works. Teaching behaviour using token systems works. But ABA or IBI here doesn't allow for individual growth. It teaches rote skills not independent thought or learning of skills. The most important skill my son learnt in gr 4 once he was in self-contained (and not an autism room) was to type his own thoughts into the computer. For him it was tv shows, travelling etc... no epics... but it was his own and it took her 6mths of breaking through ABA and school autism programs put in by autism staff to do it.

ABA is training... it needs to be changed to "teaching". Best thing I ever did was put him with Teachers these last 4 yrs, that "teach".

H L Doherty said...

FW2 you always disagree and express your dislike for ABA which is fine. But the rudeness of your comment is over the top.

Many parents across this country, backed by professional studies, experts and advice have sought ABA to help their children.

It is unfortunate that you quit on ABA because of a bad experience. Some mechanics can't change a tire properly but that doesn't mean all mechanics are incompetent.

ABA is solidly backed by many studies and remains the ONLY solidly evidence backed intervention for autism as determined by credible sources. Your sole experience does not stand up against the solid study backing of ABA.

You know that to be true.

Dione said...


I am the parent of an 11 year old with autism who has been in home based and school based ABA programs for about 7 years now.

A quality ABA program is comprehensive and child specific and relies on data to ensure that the student is learning and progressing.

Every ABA program is different depending on the student it is designed for and the interventions and reinforcers will will be different as well. ABA also needs to be overseen by a qualified Behaviour Analyst who can select the method of teaching and monitor progress of individual students.

These students have to learn how to learn, and that is what ABA can do for them.

One of the most important components of an ABA program (and it sounds like this was missing with your son's program farmwifetwo) is generalization. Discrete trial teaching is used for students to learn skills in a structured environment then the next step is generalizing that skill into real life.

I would also like to note that the momentum for ABA in Schools here is for children who are in ABA programs already and that needs to continue when they enter school. ABA can work for everyone but the focus is on providing continued support for students that have successful ABA programs in place.

My son has been very successful part due to the home/school collaboration we are able to have in our district which focuses on his individual needs and abilities. We have home based and school based experts on his team who constantly raise the bar and and make sure he is learning and progressing in all areas!

Thank you Harold for posting this!


ps - here is an informative graphic about ABA and how it can be used in therapy/school/home

Anonymous said...

We live in BC and my 10 year old son has been in public school for nearly 5 years with an ABA aide. He is what I call "low functioning/high behaviours", yet he thrives at school. He can read and write, has made several friends and can participate in activities such as science fair and sports day. This from a child who did not speak a single word until he entered ABA treatment. If he was left to the mercy of teachers and/or aides (albeit well-meaning) who did not have proper ABA training, my son would likely revert to his negative/harmful behaviours and not be learning anything at all. Every Canadian child deserves a decent public education, including children with autism whose method of learning is via ABA.

Louise in BC

Jodie Wickens said...

farmwifetwo I find your comments to be highly discriminatory and dissemination of propaganda. It is your choice to choose whatever you want for your child but please do not block the support my child needs. You have the potential to do this with your comments. I consider it criminal that my child cannot access ABA in his classroom. Period. BTW my son hasn't eaten a cookie in years!