Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Name:  Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name:  Step By Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Short Bio: 
Monisha Acharya-Lammert is the Outreach Director at Step By Step Academy (SBSA) and has been serving children diagnosed with autism since 2001. In her role as Director, she delivers parent and staff trainings on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA), provides strategies on behavior management, as well as oversees and develops comprehensive behavior plans with the guidance of the Human Rights Committee. With guidance from the Executive Director at SBSA, she has established and supervised an Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) classroom in the Morrow County area since August 2010.

Monisha was a home-based private consultant for five years before joining the Step by step team. She is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Does my child have Autism?

ASD, otherwise known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, has affected 1 in 110 children in this country and the rate is increasing!  More specifically, it is 3-4 times more likely in boys than in girls.  Have you been asking yourself, “What is Autism?  And, I wonder if my child has it?”

Some classic examples of behaviors that are associated with autism are:
•    Problems with communication
•    Difficulty playing with other children/siblings
•    Little or no eye contact
•    Hand flapping/rocking

Question #1:  What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears in the first 3 years of life.  It is a result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain and it is 1 of 5 Pervasive Developmental Disorders.  Based on the Diagnostic Statistical Manual or Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV-1994), the most common impairments that are detected are:  problems with social interactions, difficulty with communication, as well as restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior.   IT IS A SPECTRUM DISORDER!

There are websites for you to log on to in order to check your child’s development.   For example, you can go to...
    http://www.firstsigns.org

Question #2:  What should I do if I detect my child has ASD?

The next step will be to ask for an evaluation.  Schedule an appointment with your child’s doctor and make sure to ask specific questions/voice your concerns.  Ask your doctor to evaluate your child for autism or, if he/she is not able to then, ask them to make a referral to someone (eg. a psychologist) who can.  Be persistent and it’s ok to take immediate action!  Early intervention is key!

Question #3:  My child has autism…

Based on the assessments and evaluations conducted, it has been confirmed that your child has ASD so you want to know what should you do?  Take action and don’t give up!

Educate yourself, join support groups, attend Parent Trainings, ask your doctor for more resources, and most importantly, get your child enrolled in an Early Intervention program that focuses on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).  ABA is the most successful type of intervention that is supported by research. And, it has been shown through research that children diagnosed with autism require 35-40 hours a week of intensive behavioral intervention or IBI.  

Finally, make sure you begin to create some sort of record management system for all of the documents you will receive…psychological evaluations, Individualized Education Plans (IEP), treatment plans, behavior plans, etc. Trust me, this will help in the long run when you are asked to send copies of these documents to various agencies, the school, or other doctor’s offices.

Stay strong and know that your child is going to be alright…it’s just a matter of getting into their world and taking it one day at a time!