Step 3: Finding Professionals to Work with Your Family

The Registry of Autism Service Providers

The Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) is designed to ensure that parents of children with autism under six have access to service providers whose education and experience meets basic standards for early intervention. Only if the professional is on the RASP can parents have them reimbursed for their services using Autism Funding.

Parents of children six and over do not have to choose professionals from the RASP. However, parents of children across the age range and with a variety of special needs will find the information contained here useful when making decisions about hiring professional support.

The Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) follows the policies set by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).

If the child is under six, the following professionals must be selected from the Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) list, in order to use Autism Funding.

Do not rely only on the advice of others, look at the RASP list. Many of the Behavior Consultants have provided profiles linked to the RASP — read several to help you research the best options for your child.

Agencies

p. 8 Traynor and Abby ACT recommends that parents check carefully the professionals associated with an agency:

  • How many of them can work independently of supervision?
  • How closely supervised are consultants and behavior interventionists?
  • How many well-qualified professionals are associated with the agency?
  • If the agency does not have any professionals listed on the RASP, check that they still have staff with at least a Master’s degree to provide supervision to whoever is working with your child.

 

Be wary of situations where the behavior consultant is not taking an active role in your child’s program but is simply signing the invoices, while allowing an unqualified person to provide service with minimal supervision.

For Children under the Age of Six

Children under six receive $22,000 a year in funding that their families can use to pay for services, training and materials approved by the Autism Funding Branch. While this is a large sum, it can be used up very quickly unless families budget carefully. Families should also think of it as a time when they need to address their own training needs, so that when the funding drops to $6,000 a year when their child turns six, the family is better prepared to manage their child’s program.

Parents, siblings and the extended family are the core of the team

Children with autism are complicated; it often takes a team of people to understand how to engage him or her at first. Parents have crucial information but they need encouragement to build their skills and their confidence so they can learn how to help their child. This is important because parents are there for the long-haul and can have an amazing impact when they are given the tools. Siblings too, are powerful allies; they need to be provided with age-appropriate information on their sibling with special needs, as does the entire family.

RASP Professionals

If the child is under six, the following professionals must be selected from the Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) list, in order to use Autism Funding:

  • Behavior Consultant/Analyst (BC)*: Specializes in assessment and development of goals and instructional strategies to target a wide range of skills across all areas of development, including communication, social and daily living skills. BCs also conduct Functional Behavior Assessments and design programs to address challenging behaviours. In most cases, the BC develops a detailed plan of intervention (BPI), trains and supervises BIs on how to implement the plan, and works collaboratively with family members and other members of the therapy team.
  • Speech-language pathologist (S-LP): Specializes in assessing and treating a child’s speech, language and social communication difficulties. They can work directly with a child or provide consultation to the team providing ideas on how to target specific communication and social challenges.
  • Occupational therapist (OT): Provides assessment, diagnosis and treatment in the area of functional living skills including play, dressing, feeding, school readiness skills, printing, keyboarding and social skills.
  • Physical therapist (PT): Provides assessment and intervention that focus on the prevention, identification and easing of movement challenges. They can either provide direct treatment or consult to the team.

*Behavior Analysts are certified by the U.S.-based Behavior Analyst Certification Board following a series of courses and a period of supervised practice. As of 2017, roughly 65% of RASP Behavior Consultants have this advanced certification. 

Behavior Interventionist (BI)

BIs are not on the Registry of Autism Service Providers, but they can invoice the Autism Funding Branch. BIs work one-on-one with your child on goals outlined in the behavior plan of intervention (BPI), developed by professionals on your team. BIs may work in the home, school, or community. It is very important that BIs are supervised by Behavior Consultants. Without supervision, BIs are not competent to deal with challenging situations and are not able to maximize the impact of a BPI.

For Children Six and Over

The average age of a child when diagnosed with autism in B.C is seven years of age. Many parents are very distressed when diagnosis is delayed, concerned that their child will not have the opportunity to progress. However, research demonstrates that children and adults with autism continue to progress, especially when they have good support at home and school. Many parents report significant progress year after year, well into adulthood, even for children who received a diagnosis in their teens.

For school-age children, Autism Funding is intended to cover a variety of services and resources outside of the child’s school day.

It is not a requirement to hire a professional from the Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) for children six and over, but it is an excellent starting point.

Working with older children requires a different skill set than working with very young children, but it still advisable that whoever is providing you professional support is supervised by someone who has at least a Master’s degree in a related discipline like psychology or special education.

Mental Health Issues – Anxiety and Depression

Children with a late diagnosis can often be complex, which sometimes explains why they were not diagnosed much earlier. An area to keep a careful eye on is mental health, especially anxiety and depression. ACT has many resources we are pleased to share. There are videos available free on AVA – Autism Videos @ ACT.  Also, the AID has numerous resources on mental health.

Direct Funding Option

If your child is 12 years or older, MCFD provides the option of Direct Payment Funding, after the family has “successfully managed” Invoice Payments for at least two full years. Funding will be provided directly to the parent or guardian at the beginning of the child’s funding period. There is more information on the requirements for Direct Funding on “The Hub.”