Friday, May 1, 2009

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh: What is ABA and How Does it Work Side by Side with Biomedical Interventions?

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh and Katie Wright

We were honored to have Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh speak at our April 2009 NAA NY Metro Chapter monthly Educational Presentation. She is the founder and director of C.A.R.D. (Center for Autism and Related Disorders), the President of ACT Today (Autism Center and Treatment Today) and a Principal member of the Thoughtful House Center for Children and Charity Organization that provides behavioral services in collaboration with medical treatment and research. Dr. Granpeesheh also sits on the board of Defeat Autism Now!

In her information-packed presentation, Dr. Granpeesheh did a great job of demonstrating that the DSM IV criteria for diagnosis of autism and related illnesses leaves out important factors common in many children on the autism spectrum. For example, the criteria ignores sensory sensitivities and challenging behaviors as well as the many medical conditions found in children on the spectrum. Recognizing and including these issues in the diagnosis would provide a more accurate description of our children with autism and provide better guidance on how to treat these children. Because she recognizes the importance of looking at all these factors, she understands that a children's body needs to be in the right place – biomedically and from a sensory perspective – to most fully benefit from educational and therapeutic interventions, like ABA.

She discussed the foundation of ABA -- that every behavior has a function and when you change the antecedent and/or consequence the behavior changes -- and the importance of understanding the basis of a child’s behavior in order to effectively remediate or relieve that behavior. She explained that a good ABA program uses ABA techniques to increase language, socialization, play skills, and academics, among a host of other skills. She stressed that not only is it important to have a good program in place but also to have the significant hours in that program for a child to progress – a child needs both a high quality program and a lot of time in the program to succeed.

She specifically discussed "Theory of Mind" and how the C.A.R.D. Curriculum addresses this area of concern. She also discussed how the C.A.R.D. curriculum can help even more mildly affected children or children on the road to recovery who still have deficits in executive function, an area in which many children continue to struggle even after major “autism symptoms” seem to have been resolved.

Dr. Granpeesheh’s take-home message of the night was that children with autism do recover and there are steps that parents should explore – medical, therapeutic, and educational -- to help make this happen. Dr. Granpeesheh’s website is a great resource for parents. Please visit for more information.

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