Monthly Archives: February 2015

Speech Therapy at ABS

Alternative  Behavior Strategies provides Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services to our clients and we also realize the need to provide related services for our clients, well integrated into our practice here at ABS. We are excited to announce that Michelle Turkoglu has joined ABS to provide Speech Pathology services.

Michelle Turkoglu, MS, CCC-SLP is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist with over 13 years of experience working with children from ages 1 to 21.

Originally from the Boston area, Michelle attended the University of New Hampshire for her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders. She then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for graduate school at San Francisco State University for her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and stayed in the San Jose area for 14 years. She moved to Salt Lake City in November 2013.

Michelle’s professional experience includes working in the public schools for 2 years, working at a pediatric private practice for 10 years and then working with children in the home setting as well as at a Montessori school. She has experience treating a wide range of speech & language disorders including: oral-musculature disorders, apraxia, articulation disorders, stuttering, receptive & expressive language disorders, auditory processing disorders, social-pragmatic disorders and play skills.


About Our Speech Therapy

Your child should feel a sense of trust and have a special connection with the speech-language pathologist. We want your children to experience, learn, grow and use the skills taught in therapy outside of the therapy setting. We provide for parents to comfortably observe the sessions and later discuss any questions you may have to promote generalization and carry-over. Our therapy is creative, goal-oriented, hierarchical and individually tailored to your child’s unique needs. While some of the therapy process requires us to ask your child to do tasks that are sometimes difficult, it will also be fun too!

Speech Therapy and Autism

There’s a useful introductory article on Speech-Language Therapy for Children with Autism at Everyday Health. In that article, Madeline Vann points out  that:

Speech-language pathologists can help children with autism overcome common difficulties, including:

  • No speaking or very limited speech
  • Delays in speaking, compared with typical milestones
  • Difficulty expressing basic wants or needs
  • Poor vocabulary development
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Echolalia, or repeating inappropriately
  • Problems answering questions
  • Speech that sounds different, such as high-pitched or robotic
  • Poor conversation skills
  • Not taking turns in conversation
  • Not understanding non-verbal cues
  • Mixing up ‘he’ and ‘she’
  • Reading comprehension
  • Feeding and swallowing problems

And that the resulting intervention plan may include:

  • Helping with early communication skills
  • Producing sounds and words and gestures
  • Teaching or modeling listening, speaking, reading, writing, and conversation skills
  • Taking turns speaking or interacting
  • Helping children understand non-verbal communication like facial expression and gestures
  • Developing a non-verbal communication system, such as pointing at pictures, for those who don’t speak
  • Working on reading and writing skills

For school-age autistic children, the speech-language pathologist will also help teachers and peers learn how to communicate with your child, which will help him socialize and participate better.

In a slightly more technical article, at the National Institute for Health, on Communication Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is pointed out that therapies also depend on the age of the child:

Teaching children with ASD how to communicate is essential in helping them reach their full potential. There are many different approaches to improve communication skills. The best treatment program begins early, during the preschool years, and is tailored to the child’s age and interests. It also will address both the child’s behavior and communication skills and offer regular reinforcement of positive actions. Most children with ASD respond well to highly structured, specialized programs. Parents or primary caregivers as well as other family members should be involved in the treatment program so it will become part of the child’s daily life.

For some younger children, improving verbal communication is a realistic goal of treatment.
Parents and caregivers can increase a child’s chance of reaching this goal by paying attention to his or her language development early on. Just as toddlers learn to crawl before they walk, children first develop pre-language skills before they begin to use words. These skills include using eye contact, gestures, body movements, and babbling and other vocalizations to help them communicate. Children who lack these skills may be evaluated and treated by a speech-language pathologist to prevent further developmental delays.

For slightly older children with ASD, basic communication training often emphasizes the functional use of language, such as learning to hold a conversation with another person, which includes staying on topic and taking turns speaking.


Services expanding at ABS

Alternative Behavior Strategies is expanding its services beyond our base in Applied Behavioral Analysis to also include:

  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Social Skills
  • Social Work

Services in all these areas can be scheduled NOW  (call 801 935-4171 or email ). Music Therapy and Social Skills Therapy are being provided now and we are starting to book for the provision of the other areas (Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Social Worker assistance) starting in March 2015.

Training at Alternative Behavior Strategies, Inc

From Joe Dixon


In the month of August, we were fortunate enough to partner with the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida to provide the BACB approved coursework to our employees. The course work is a series of four courses for the BCaBA certification and 6 courses for the BCBA certification and is being taught by Joe Dixon, our clinical director. Throughout these courses 7 of our employees have the opportunity to study the theories and principles behind Applied Behavior Analysis and are learning how to implement the techniques and tailor said techniques to the individual clients with whom they work.

In the BCaBA coursework, our staff will be focusing on the foundational knowledge needed in order to sit for and pass the BACB exam and become fully certified as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. The course sequence starts with the history of ABA, the fundamental and basic principles that guide the application of the science in the field, and understanding the relationship behind the environment and the individual. The second course helps the students to look at outcomes, interventions and how to assess the function of behaviors. This way they can know what techniques to use and how to reduce problem behavior to more socially acceptable levels and teach the necessary replacement skills to help the child access more environments and reinforcers. The subsequent courses look at research methodology, measurement techniques and positive behavior change. Those who have enrolled in the course work are excelling and becoming great analytic thinkers. The BCBA coursework adds two more classes (a total of 6) to go deeper into positive behavior change techniques, research and measurement designs as well as a course on ethics. Some students are pursuing a Masters degree for which the certification courses are a component.

In addition to the coursework, each individual who is seeking to sit for the exam is required to gain 1000 supervised hours for the BCaBA and 1500 supervised hours for the BCBA. Each individual who is enrolled in the coursework gets to work with either Jeff, the executive clinical director, Joe, the clinical director or Maren, our assistant director, in order to receive the supervision they need as they learn and grow in the field.

We are very excited to have partnered with UWF and to help individuals grow in the field of ABA. We felt that was a great way to be able to provide the highest quality of services and help individuals, who love these great kids, reach their goals and dreams of becoming great behavior analysts. We predict that by the end of this year, 2015, the majority of the individuals enrolled in the program will be eligible to sit for the exam.