Nearly one in 88 children are affected by autism. The alarming rate has medical professionals seeking new techniques to improve the lives of those affected by the disease. Local specialists swear by a new intense treatment called Applied Behavior Analysis.
Meet five-year-old Teaghyn Berkner. Young Teaghyn first started showing signs of autism at three-years-old. So her mother, Tanya, brought her to the Pediatric Therapy Clinic where the they started implementing ABA Therapy. A few months in, Tanya says she can already see the difference. "Overall, her resistance to the outside world is diminishing. She is more in tuned to what's going on around her. She's excited about life. It's a total turn around. It's a 360 in the last year with my child," Tanya said.
Teaghyn receives nearly 20 to 25 hours of one-on-one therapy every week. It's a costly process that mom says is worth every penny. "It's great. It's great seeing a difference. It's nice to know her life is better today than it was yesterday," Tanya said.
Billings Speech Pathologist, Traci Sell, said insurance covers the treatment because it is evidence based and spans over 26 different domains of learning. "It works with math, reading, self-help skills, grooming, gross-motor, fine-motor, and it really covers the whole gamut of skills to increase. When kids have those difficult behaviors, it decreases those, so more learning can happen," Sell said.
Traci said 8 autistic students, including Teaghyn, are benefiting from the therapy at the clinic. She said it's nice to see advances being made in the fastest-growing yet most under-funded developmental disorder in the world. "The kids have really changed. Cooperation has really increased with a lot of them. We've had a lot who were emptying tables, hitting, scratching, and biting before and who are now coming in and working happily. It's been wonderful to see, and it's great for the families as well," Sell said.
Sell said ABA Therapy isn't exclusive to children with autism. She said children with all types of special needs are benefiting from the treatment. If you would like to learn more about the therapy you can call the Pediatric Therapy Clinic at 406-259-1680.