Tag Archives: ABA

What is it About CalABA?


AST_CalABA_LinkenIn By Richie Ploesch

I’ve been thinking about what has my team all abuzz every year leading up to the excitement of going to CalABA.  It always seems to bring about a renewed energy and vigor for seeing clients and finishing those last couple reports.  The idea of taking a break from our typical week to learn more about our science is invigorating for us clinicians.  And the opportunity to see some of the greats in our field share excellent insight and new research, has some of us giddy about soaking up as much as we can.  The likes of Dr. Daniels, Dr. Malott, Dr. LeBlanc, and Dr. Dixon create the SHORT list of invited speakers, and it sparks the enthusiasm we all felt in grad school.  While we won’t buy backstage passes, or wait in line for three days to get their autographs, these names are definitely some of the rock stars of ABA.  The opportunity to see them in person brings a thrill for even the most conservative among us. 

But there is more to it than just the fan frenzy.  Yes, getting those CEU’s is always important, but you can get easily get one online these days.  We go to CalABA because we get something more. Community.  It’s that feeling of satisfaction that comes from attending one of the sponsored events and purchasing a glass of wine with your ticket that seem to be worth more than gold.  Its the thousands of pieces of luggage being stored in the lobby because we all checked out at the same time on Saturday to save one extra night’s hotel fee. Its not minding that your flight got delayed (again) because it allows you one more drink with friends I haven’t seen since last year.

CONNECTEDNESS!  I think that is what we get at CalABA that is truly special. The chance to see colleagues and coworkers that have become friends.  The chance to connect with those you haven’t seen in two years because last year you had a baby, or to show those new BCBAs how to scan in and out of each session.  The chance to share stories and laughs with those that truly understand what we all go through and how much we care.  

Our field can be isolating at times.  We spend so much time with our clients that it is possible to go long stretches without seeing coworkers.   But something about being at CalABA, just seems to put us all at ease – even when the line at Starbucks is taking forever –  and I’m going to be late to Dr. Bailey’s talk – and I might still need 2 Ethics CEU’s… but I really need a double shot right about now.  There is something about the safety of being surrounded by people that just get my daily struggles and triumphs, and who understand why I might be over the moon excited because a client initiated play with a sibling without a prompt. 

I’m looking forward to being connected to everyone yet again.  And while I’m always excited to learn from some of my idols and mentors, I’m equally as excited to hear how your week went.  See you there!


Planning Fun Summer Activities for Children with Autism



Summertime offers opportunities and challenges for all parents. For parents of children with special needs, both may seem magnified. Here are some helpful tips to consider when planning your child’s summer break:

As summer begins, discuss with your child any changes and plans that might occur. Give your child multiple opportunities to ask questions and to process what their summer might be like. Find out if there are activities that he or she might like to explore. Offer examples and be prepared to discuss details of what might be expected.

Schedules are often difficult to create and maintain, but having one in place can be a huge stress reducer. During the school year your child may be used to a morning routine, a predictable school schedule and consistent after school activities. The summer can undo much of that, so having a schedule in place can give some comfort and predictability. It can also allow you to program important goals, such as practicing social skills, keeping up with academics, and reducing video game and TV time. Ideally, an outside activity such as sports would be on the schedule each day. Even if a child doesn’t participate on a team, a sports or exercise activity that can be performed in the yard, at a gym, or on a play date has obvious health benefits, and increased physical activity helps reduce repetitive behaviors and improve sleep.

It’s okay to have less of it, but keeping a homework routine in place can be valuable, since you’ve worked hard to develop and maintain this routine throughout the school year. A more casual approach over the summer can result in setbacks when school begins again. Plus, it’s a positive and productive routine in which you can insert more social skills related content. Consider buying a workbook on social and emotional skills that can be a focus of the summer homework routine.

This is the biggest opportunity provided by the summer break. Working on social skills goals can take many forms—as a homework assignment, as mentioned above, or expanding involvement in the community, sports, and play dates. Some parents forget that activities like swim lessons, barbecues, and vacation trips can all be valuable new settings to prompt the use of social skills. A summer job, in any form, often provides social opportunities.

Many of us struggle with this, since video games and television provide a much-needed break for parents, providing easy and low-cost entertainment. While it’s easier said than done, limiting these activities is critical for social development and critical thinking. We all know that sitting in front of any machine for long periods is counterproductive, so, enough said!

Without the routine of the school year, summer can feel like an extra burden to parents as they try to keep their children occupied and happy. Remember that summer is for everyone, so try to include activities that are interesting to you, too, and can hopefully be enjoyed by the whole family. The beach, an outdoor festival or concert, a hike or sculpture garden— whatever you plan, it’s okay to create a few summer memories of your own.

Watch our Parent Video: Summer Activities for Kids with Autism in Your Community

Here are some additional resources to help make your season great for the whole family:


AST to Expand Access to High Quality Autism Services in South Central Los Angeles Through New Medi-Cal Program



Medi-Cal will now cover the cost of ABA therapy for families who previously couldn’t afford it or were paying for it out of pocket. This is an exciting change as studies have shown that ABA has produced improvements in relationships, play, school performance and communications.

Rob Haupt, AST’s Head of Contracts and Partnerships, is committed to helping LA’s Medi-Cal families navigate the Medi-Cal process and gain access to the services they need. “We have been working hard to create a program we can offer to families who are now able to obtain ABA services through their Medi-Cal plan.”

New information about Medi-Cal’s coverage of autism services continues to unfold.  For the latest updates, watch our video series on Medi-Cal and read the full press release about services to Medi-Cal families.

More great information available at The Autism Health Insurance Project.