A couple of months ago I did a post about setting up your home based ABA program. I focused on hiring people, which really is, in my opinion, the major difficulty in the process and also determines the quality of your program.
People read that and emailed me lots of questions. I will try to answer them here.
I have been told by our therapists and also other new parents of the lack of regulation for therapist salaries in this field, in particular the Greater Toronto Area. Some sad and disturbing news was that there are some new graduates (within 6 months of experience) charging families $80/hr for therapy!!!
Three exclamation marks for greed and soul-lessness.
I will repeat some things again in this post. As a parent of a newly diagnosed child or one who is setting things up for the first time, you can become the target of greedy soul-less people very easily. Remember when you were looking for work, what did employers look for usually? Think like an employer.
I have not run this program for decades, it really has only been 3 years. So whatever rates I am going to post are current ones.
New graduate with minimal experience $15-$18 max.
Newbie with 2+ years experience $20 - $25 (usually the ones with a proper bachelors degree will charge the higher end).
Remember that just like in the real working world, some universities are BETTER than others. So don't pay everyone the same. Why should someone who graduated from some crummy, disreputable institution get more?
Experienced therapist with 5-10 years - $30+
This individual should know what they are doing, and be able to work with minimal supervision. They really should have worked hard to build on their qualifications. If after 10 years they are still working with a ECE diploma, then DO NOT pay them $30 per hour. I know girls who are decent and honest and do not charge this rate despite their experience because they do not have the qualifications. Look for such decent human beings.
Senior Therapist - 10+ years of experience and BOARD CERTIFIED. I would not work with a Sr Therapist who did not get supervised and certified by the Board. A minimum BCABA should be there. This is the only level of therapist who can charge 80-90.
These are rates that we have paid, that other families are currently paying good therapists.
If the government will not regulate rates in this profession, then we as employers have to do it ourselves. Please be informed. Share this information with others and do your research about universities and programs.
Is there a difference between George Brown graduate and a York Psychology graduate? Do your homework and bring it up in the interview so the person knows they are not dealing with some idiot. This is your hard earned money and your child's future. Autism is an expensive disability but it isn't some black hole where you just throw your money away.
How to get Financial Help
Many people have emailed me to ask me if they should take out loans to fund therapy. I am not a financial adviser. I can direct you however to organisations that do provide help:
President's Choice Charity - has a salary restriction of I think $60K (if you make more you don't qualify). Win their hearts with some photos or DVD of your kid. They give a one time sum of around $6000 dollars.
There is the governments Disability Tax Credit. It is not really enough to run a program, but you can start saving for your kid's future or use it to buy some materials. Everything helps.
Jennifer Ashleigh Children's Charity - for some reason their website is not working this week, but hopefully they will fix that. Keep checking.
Easter Seals Ontario - They fund camps and special equipment.
Special Services At Home - This is a government funding. Many parents I know have used it to run ABA private programs for years. Unfortunately in Toronto it is not available and you will not be refused but put on an indefinite waiting list for the rest of your life pretty much. Its not coming. I have heard families in Peel still get it. Move to Peel :D
Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities - A government funding often used by parents for respite (parental relief qualifies as eligible). It is based on income and we never qualified so we never used it.
As for loans, that's a personal decision. I would not personally take out a loan to fund early intervention. Simply because there will eventually be middle intervention, adolescent intervention, adult intervention and so on. I mean how many loans will you take out? If I had to take out a loan, I would take one for my OWN education. So maybe one to fund RDI, which educates parents ALOT. Or take a Vincent Carbone workshop and so on. Then I could save myself from taking out loans by doing the work myself :D. But that's just my opinion.
These organisations may not help with funding, but they do help sometimes find people that you can pay for, who are actually decent, and you can depend on their credentials and police checks etc. I know parents have used workers from these organisations for respite and camps.
Reach for the Rainbow - I have never used them, but I know a family who have used their support staff to send their son to various camps and are very pleased. They are not free, but can be subsidised.
Extend-A-Family - They have various local support groups run by parents and family members in church basements mostly. They are a lovely bunch of people who have lots of experience and advice to share. Community support is very important I believe in supporting a disabled individual through to adulthood. You need friends. They do workshops, friendship circles etc. In the summer they can pair your kid with a student to help him/her out at camp or some other community program. For free.
SmileCan - They also provide a small amount of financial assistance and organise integrative events, parent workshops that you and your child can attend. Volunteers assist the children at the events. The turnout is mainly Muslim, as they are run by a bunch of Muslim volunteers and students.
CAMD - The Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities. They also organise Eid parties, parent training workshops and other sporting events for the older group of Muslims with ID's. However they are a large organisation for ALL disabilities (including deaf and blind etc). I am a member so you might meet me at one of those events :D There is a bonus! lol!
Psychologists and Testing
People have also asked me if they need a psychologist and need ADOS or other testing for their kid to start an ABA program. Honestly, if you are short on cash and running a private program then I would say no. Its always nice to have a test and a baseline, but many psychologist know as much about autism and ABA as a butcher about neuroscience. You may need one to diagnose your kid privately. I mean they have all the checklists and tools that can be used to diagnose a person, if you cannot wait on long waiting lists to see developmental pediatricians (who are just as hopeless).
An excellent senior therapist is your best bet. Get a diagnosis and start working on a flexible and individual program.
I am not against testing, I just don't feel there are awesome tests to assess change in behavior. Isn't that more important?? This guy does a much better job of explaining this. My knowledge is limited and I cannot explain these things as well.
All I can say is, we have run a decent program for 3 years without these two things.
And I hope that answers more questions!!