One in 68 Children has Autism
“Comm Hab”, “Respite”, “Family Support”, “Parent Training”…..In-home services for families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can go by many names. This range of services and supports often means the difference between a family staying intact or coming apart at the seams. Jimmy’s in-home worker spent months building rapport, gradually coaxed him out of his room to play, and is now able to go with him to leave the house for necessary medical appointments. Elena’s worker helps her find places to visit in the city and together they plan how they will get there. And QSAC Respite providers enable parents to attend family events, to accompany siblings to school events, or simply to relax in another part of their home, knowing their loved one with ASD is in capable and caring hands.
There is strong research supporting in-home services. Parents who receive more social supports are better able to manage their child’s challenging behavior (Michelson, et al., Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, v16 n1 p18-34 Mar 2013; Boyd, Focus on ASD Other Developmental Disabilities, Winter 2002 vol. 17 no. 4, 208-215), have better overall interactions with their children (Koegel, Bimbela, and Schreibman, 1996, Journal of ASD and Developmental Disabilities Volume 26 (3)), and see more skill gains in their children.
There are several aspects of in-home services that are distinctive. First, the relationship between families and in-home staff can be very close. Many times in-home workers stay with a particular family for many years, building a warm and caring relationship. In-home workers often have more interactions and more personal interactions with family members than might be possible in other education and social service settings. This presents advantages for both staff members and families. An easy and close relationship allows in-home staff members to see the daily impact of their work, and how their effort helps the family they’re working with. Families have a comfortable connection to someone who can provide the information and help that meets their individual needs.
Another unique aspect of providing services in family homes is that the focus is on the exact skills that the child or adult will use at home and in the community. In-home staff members have the opportunity to work on skills that have a direct impact on the day-to-day life of an adult or child with ASD and his or her family. In-home supports also use the instructions that the child or adult will hear every day. For families and consumers, this focus leads to greater independence at home and in the community and access to a wider range of family and community activities. Instruction in homes and communities also provides opportunities for children and adults with ASD to generalize skills that were learned in school or at Day Hab.
Finally, teaching at home or in the community allows both families and staff members to use the natural supports available to the child or adult with ASD. Siblings, parents, other family members, neighbors, store owners, and others in the community can be peer models, social interaction partners, and natural reinforcers for new skills. This provides tremendous benefit to the family and consumer who gain support for new skills and gain skills that they can use right away. Using natural supports benefits the in-home workers as well. Using the other people in a child or adult’s life can make a teaching interaction rich and fun.
In home services, whether they are Respite, Community Habilitation, or another form of family and parent support, provide essential benefits for families and expand consumer skills. Working in homes and communities can create close staff-family relationships, lets staff work on functional skills, and makes use of the wide range of natural supports available to children, adults, and families. In-home services are an integral and important part of many consumers’ overall supports.
By Susan G. Izeman, Phd, BCBA-D
Sue Izeman is QSAC’s Director of Family Services. This department provides in-home Respite and Community Habilitation services throughout New York City and Nassau County.
QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.
QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.