Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism: A Latin American Case

Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism: A Latin American Case

Mapy Chavez Askins (Alcanzando, Inc., USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9953-3.ch010
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Alcanzando Peru is a not for profit organization that provides educational services based on the principles of applied behavior analysis to children in the Autism Spectrum, their families, and professionals interested in the field around the Spanish speaking world. This chapter is meant to share the data from their services over the last 7 years. It will discuss the ethical and cultural considerations that should be in place when providing early intervention behavioral services to these populations in various Spanish-speaking countries.
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Alcanzando was founded as an organization initially in Lima, Peru, in February of 2008, through the vision of Dr. Mapy Chavez Askins. At the time, treatment options in Peru and the rest of South America were very limited and behavioral intervention was not widely accepted. To help address the overwhelming demand, the organization wanted to work together to support families who needed evaluations, direct early intervention services for their children with Autism, and a source for training of parents and professionals. Alcanzando envisioned an initial focus on awareness of the need for intensive early intervention, as well as a development of a clinical site that would provide direct services to children between the ages of 12 months and 7 years old.

Initially, Alcanzando operated in donated office space in Miraflores, Lima, Peru. The first services provided were free consultation services to families whose children had either been identified as being within the Autism Spectrum or who believed their children presented signs of being within the Autism Spectrum. These services were funded under a Wagner College Grant, Fox Fellows - Autism in Peru: Helping Children Reach Their Potential.

With the help of this educational grant through Mr. Fox and Wagner College, the Fox Fellows Grant, Autism in Peru: Helping Children Reach Their Potential, allowed Dr. Mapy Chavez Askins and two Wagner College Graduate students to spend three weeks in Lima, Peru working with children with Autism, their families and teachers.

Between May 2008 and June 2008, this team of three spent three weeks conducting initial screenings with a total of 25 children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. Collaborating with Dr. Mapy Chavez Askins, the students were able to gain hands-on experience with the evaluations and individualized instruction of children in the Autism Spectrum.

Prior to traveling from New York, USA to Lima, Peru to provide these services, Dr. Chavez Askins met with the two Wagner Graduate Students and discussed the following topics:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Alcanzando: Not-for-profit organization founded in February 2008 in Lima, Peru with the purpose of serving individuals within the Autism Spectrum, their families and professionals interested in the field.

Latin America: Spanish-speaking countries located in the Central and South American region.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: It is a severely incapacitating lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It interferes with the normal development of the brain in the areas of reasoning, social interaction and communication skills.

Multi Sectoral Commission: A group whose members come from various sectors within the government, specifically, the Ministries of Health, Education, Labor, Women and Vulnerable Populations, as well as the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion.

Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills - Revised (ABLLS-R): It is an assessment tool, curriculum guide, and skills-tracking system used to evaluate and guide the instruction of language and critical learner skills for children within the Autism Spectrum. Developed by James Partington. It reviews 544 skills from 25 skill areas, which include language, social interaction, self-help, academic and motor skills typically developed by children prior to entering kindergarten.

Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS): Behavior rating scale developed by Eric Schopler, Robert Reacher, and Barbara Rochen Renner, to be used in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorders. Rates children on a scale of 1 to 4 in 15 items, providing a composite score that places the child in a point in the range from outside the Autism Spectrum to severe autism.

Cultural Considerations: Defined as the degree to which cultural awareness plays a role interactions with a particular cultural group.

Ethical Considerations: Defined as the degree to which the standards of appropriate behavior within a particular cultural group are taken into account.

Applied Behavior Analysis: Defined as the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree.

Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS): It is a norm referenced screening instrument used as a diagnostic tool for Autism Spectrum Disorders in individuals ages 3-22. Collects information about specific characteristics in three areas: stereotyped behaviors, communication, and social interaction) as well as a developmental history section.

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