Category Archives: ABS Staff

ABS cooperative program with Florida Institute of Technology

 

“Offering Quality Services” is a large part of our mission. Our senior Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) clinical staff provide trainings several times a month for our staff at various levels.   These trainings focus on applying ABA techniques to our clients’ specific needs and integrating that work with our comprehensive software systems.

At the same time, Applied Behavioral Analysis is a well-established academic discipline and a professional field with its own certification board (the Behavior Analyst Certification Board). Alternative Behavior Strategies is currently requiring all staff to enroll in board certification programs and is covering the cost of tuition for all clinical ABA employees!

Staff are required to complete the standard RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) process. Additionally, it will be mandatory that they be enrolled in applicable college courses toward further professional certification.

Toward that end, ABS has established a special co-operative program with Florida Institute of Technology through which:

  • Staff will enroll in coursework
  • Staff supervision requirements will integrate with work duties — for an intensive practicum experience
  • Staff will work through the four term sequence in applied behavior analysis at Florida Institute of Technology which is designed to prepare candidates for the national certification examinations sponsored by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).

ABS will provide full tuition support for this Florida Institute of Technology coursework for our full time ABA staff and will also cover one-half of the tuition cost for our part time staff.

Once coursework and testing are successfully completed, staff will be eligible for promotion:

  • Junior Consultant BCaBA (BA level)
  • Senior Consultant BCBA (MA level)

It is our goal, through the implementation of this training requirement, to improve our practice. We believe that the requirement for higher education will have many positive effects. It will enable us to have a highly trained, long term staff which will

  • Maximize program benefits for our clients and families
  • Enhance the stability of staff teams
  • Encourage consistent ongoing schedules
  • Enable the professional advancement of our staff within coherent, supportive programs coordinated with our clients’ needs

 

Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Sleep

Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Sleep (by Natalie Roth, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist at Alternative Behavior Strategies)

 

I remember being at dinner with some friends a few years ago. We were reminiscing about the early infancies of our children and how we celebrated the moment when our youngsters began sleeping through the night (or somewhere close). We joined in the discussion with the enthusiasm typical of mothers speaking to other mothers who’ve “been there”, but whose travail was somewhere in the past. That is, most of us did. One of my dear friends reacted to the conversation by putting her hands over her ears and joking that she “didn’t want to hear it”. Her two children had Autistic Spectrum Disorders and, into early elementary school, were not predictably sleeping through the night. While her reaction was impressively good-natured, the long-term struggle with something as basic as sleep had real-life, everyday ramifications for their family, and underneath her lightheartedness, it wasn’t a casual matter.

Sleeping-Child

Practitioners and researchers who work with Autistic Spectrum Disorder have increasingly taken notice of the wide-spread and serious matter of sleep disruption in ASD children, teens, and adults. Sleep problems are very common in this population, with studies indicating difficulties in this area occurring for between 50 and 83% of ASD children, often extending into adolescence. More and more, as professionals are developing intervention priorities, improving sleep is at the top of the list. Sleep difficulties can take different forms including:

 

  • Problems with sleep latency (difficulty falling asleep)
  • Waking through the night; sometimes staying up for prolonged periods of time.
  • Early waking
  • Persistent need for co-sleeping
  • Poorer quality of sleep, such as restlessness

 

The reasons for the rate of sleep disruption in this population is an on-going question for researchers, but some likely causes include:

  • Possible abnormalities in brain systems that regulate sleep
  • Differences in hormones such as melatonin and other brain chemicals that affect sleep.
  • Poor sleep hygiene (the environment and routine that are provided to support sleep)
  • Behavioral issues such as difficulties setting and maintaining limits.
  • Medical issues such as epilepsy or gastroesophageal reflux that can disrupt sleep and are more common in children with ASD
  • Psychiatric issues such as anxiety and/or depression
  • Difficulties reading social cues: children with ASD may not “read” the signs that the family is getting ready for bed because they are not attending or interpreting the meaning of these behaviors.
  • Sleep disorders such as apnea, sleepwalking, nightmares, night-terrors, and restless leg syndrome. (www.autismspeaks.org).

 

It can be difficult, especially for new parents, to determine when a child has a problem with sleep that may require intervention, and those that fall in to the category of “typical” disruption. It may be helpful to use the following as a guideline for trying to determine whether normal variations in sleep have reached the level of a sleep disruption:

 

  • If it takes longer than 30 minutes from the end of the bedtime routine to get to sleep.
  • If a child is unable to get to sleep without the presence of another person.
  • Frequent night waking, particularly if he/she is not able to get back to sleep easily.
  • If a child/teen/adult isn’t getting enough sleep per night. Based on review of the research in the area, The National Sleep Foundation recently revised their sleep recommendations for specific age groups and now recommends the following ranges:
    • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
    • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
    • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
    • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
    • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
    • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
    • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
    • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
    • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

 

We have all experienced the effects of the lack of good sleep on our daytime functioning, but these effects may have more profound implications for children with ASD. Research has shown that ASD children with sleep problems have lowered cognitive functions (particularly with verbal skills that typically require more effort and concentration on their part), have more difficulty with social skills and increased emotional distress, increased hyperactivity, and poorer motor control. These impairments in turn make it difficult for ASD children to benefit as much as they might from the schedule of interventions that often make up their day. Sleep problems in an individual child have implications for the entire family: studies indicate that the parents of autistic children sleep less, have poorer sleep quality, and wake up earlier than parents of non-autistic children.

 

I want to pause for a moment to acknowledge the obvious: Parents of children with ASD want their children to sleep well and in many cases have gone to great lengths and have made personal sacrifices to accommodate, let alone address, their child’s sleep difficulties. Sleep (along with eating and toileting) is behavior that parents can not directly control by physically manipulating or exerting their will on their child. There is a significant amount of stress involved in attempting to improve sleep, and parents need to feel supported rather than judged as they begin to make changes. I will be making some suggestions about how to support better sleep in the next few paragraphs, but acknowledge that sleep difficulties are rooted in problems with neurobehavioral regulation and, as such, are often challenging to alter.

 

While keeping this in mind, parents should know that there is encouraging evidence to support the idea that parental efforts at improving sleep can lead to very positive outcomes. Researchers at Vanderbilt University have been studying sleep disruption in children with ASD for over a decade and have found that educating and supporting parents in understanding sleep disruption was critical to improving sleep for their children, and that most families in the study were able to make long-term improvements with parent-implemented interventions (Malow, Adkins, Reynold, Weiss, Log, Fawkes, Katz, Goldman, Madduri, Hundley, & Clemons, Parent-Based Sleep Education for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2014 Jan 44(1): 216-228).

 

The first step in addressing sleep problems is to discuss the issue with your child’s primary health care professional. This is an important step because your doctor can help rule out potential medical issues or determine whether a more specialized appointment is necessary (such as a sleep specialist, ENT, or a neurologist). Your primary care provider would also be the appropriate person to see in order to discuss whether medication or a supplement such as Melatonin would be a reasonable avenue to consider. Melatonin is a naturally occurring neurochemical that assists in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders have been found to have abnormal Melatonin levels, particularly at night. Over twenty clinical studies have shown a significant improvement in sleep length and sleep latency for ASD children who were given Melatonin before bedtime, even at relatively small doses (1-3 mg.). Negative side effects have been described as “minimal”, although experts note that long-term effects deserve further investigation. (Rossignol DA, Frye RE. Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Current Issues in Clinical Pharmacology, 2014; 9(4):326-34). Medications used to treat other ASD symptoms can sometimes affect sleep regulations and sharing information about this dynamic will be important for your pediatrician or psychiatrist as they work with you to find an optimal regimen.

 

Regardless of the cause or nature of sleep disruption, there are environmental and behavioral mechanisms that can be put in place to support sleep. While the initial effort required to implement some of these strategies may seem overwhelming, often substantial change can be seen within a relatively short period of time (two weeks is a commonly reported time frame for seeing improved response). One of my preferred resources for sleep intervention is the “Tool Kit” offered without cost by Autism Speaks. A tool-kit is also available for teen and young-adults: (http://www.autismspeaks.org/docs/sciencedocs/atn/sleep-tool-kit.pdf). Their research-based suggestions focus on the following strategy for tackling sleep problems:

 

  1. Provide a Comfortable Sleep Setting: Think SENSORY issues at this stage. Is the room too hot, too cold, too bright, too dark (a dim night light is usually optimal)? Pay attention to trying to keep the room and the surrounding environment quiet. Some children benefit from increased sensory input such as weighted blankets.  Enlist the advise of your Occupational Therapist for suggestions about what alternations might best incorporate your child’s sensory profile.
  2. Establish a Regular Bedtime Routine: A reasonable routine should be between 15-30 minutes before bedtime and followed primarily in your child’s bedroom (other than tasks that require the bathroom). The routine should be done in the same order each night. To the extent possible, it is important that all adults involved in putting the child to bed follow the same routine. The more consistently the routine is implemented, the more it will be useful in helping your child regulate to sleep.
    1. Tips for ensuring a successful bedtime routine:
      1. Consider the use of a visual schedule to help your child anticipate sleep. The Autism Speaks tool-kit has a variety of examples that can be modified depending on your child’s language abilities.
      2. Choose activities that are calming (listening to music, rocking, reading a book, a massage) rather than those that are stimulating. For example, if bathing is a stimulating rather than a relaxing activity for your child, move this activity to a time earlier in the day.
  • Try as best as possible to keep bedtime and wake-time the same throughout the week.
  1. Restrict the use of electronic equipment while a child is winding down at night as this can be emotionally and visually stimulating, and the light from the equipment may interfere with Melatonin production.
  2. Try to create a “getting ready for sleep” environment across the household, including dimming lights, speaking in quieter tones, helping siblings and other family members understand the need to model self-regulation behaviors.
  1. Teach your child to fall asleep alone: Many modern parents place some value on co-sleeping, which is not necessary wrong in itself. However, if a child is unable to get to sleep by him/herself they will not be able to independently get back to sleep after experiencing the normal periods of wake/sleep that occur throughout a night of sleep. One approach to teaching a child to sleep alone incorporates principles of graduated sleep training (e.g. increasing the distance between parent and child on a gradual basis as he/she learns to regulate to sleep). The Autism Speaks Toolkit also describes the use of a “Bedtime Pass” that helps to communicate rules and a system of reinforcement around staying in bed long enough to get to sleep.
  2. Promote Daytime Behaviors: Regulate nap-times to end before 4:00 p.m. to ensure that a younger child is appropriately tired when bed-time rolls around. Avoid giving your child caffeine (watch the chocolate!) and sugar close to bedtime. Daytime exercise can make it easier to fall asleep and children who exercise tend to have deeper sleep. Children with a high need for sensory input may require more intense, “heavy” sensory-oriented activities throughout the day.

 

If you’d like to explore more detailed information about sleep in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, the following resources may be helpful:

 

  • Solving Sleep Problems in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Guide for Frazzled Families by Terry Katz & Beth Ann Malow, 2014.
  • Sleep Better!: A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs, Revised Edition, by Mark Durand, Ph.D.
  • The Autism Show Podcast: Dr. Beth Malow: Solving Autism Sleep Problems (http://autismshow.org/beth/).

 

 

As always, the providers at Alternative Behavior Strategies are here to support you. Feel free to reach out with further sleep questions if you have them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Talk Gooder

Areas of Need Treated by Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologists

(by Michelle Turkoglu)

When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them, “I’m a speech-language pathologist”, I get a lot of follow-up questions as to what that means or questions about what kinds of cases I may treat or the places where I work. I’ve even found that professionals in related fields such as teachers and doctors are unsure of what a speech-therapist might work on. I think the term “speech-therapist” makes people think that we work on helping people make sounds correctly or help people who stutter. And while those are definitely areas that we treat, “speech and language” covers all areas of human communication. Please check out the following list for a summary of areas that are commonly treated by pediatric Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs). However, experience with certain types of diagnoses or disorders can vary greatly between therapists, so when seeking help from a speech-language pathologist, be sure to ask if he or she is comfortable treating the areas that you are concerned about.

SPEECH

  • Articulation (how words are pronounced)
  • Fluency/Stuttering
  • Voice (vocal quality such as hoarseness or nasality)
  • Volume & Rate (talking too quietly or too loudly or speaking very slowly or too quickly)
  • Apraxia: Usually first observed in young children and is characterized by very little or limited speaking, difficulty in saying words even in repetition, articulation errors that don’t follow a set pattern as seen in phonological disorders or developmental articulation disorders, oral-groping (visible difficulty of the mouth getting out words)
  • Phonological Disorders (patterns of speech errors such as dropping off sounds at the beginning or end of words or dropping one of the consonants in a consonant blend).

RECEPTIVE & EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE

  • Vocabulary (nouns, verbs, adjectives, categorical labels, multiple meaning words, etc.)
  • Following Directions
  • Grammar & Syntax
    1. Word order/Sentence Formulation
    2. Pronouns
    3. Subject-Verb Agreement
    4. Verb Tenses
    5. Plurals vs Singular
  • Describing
  • Understanding and Answering Questions
  • Using language for a wide variety of purposes (greetings/farewells, requesting, commenting, negotiating, etc.)
  • Inference
  • Nonliteral Language/Idioms 

 SOCIAL-PRAGMATIC LANGUAGE

  • Nonverbal Language (eye contact, appropriate body spatial awareness, appropriate body posture when speaking to someone, understanding & “reading” body language and facial expressions)
  • Conversational Skills (take turns talking, stay on topic, answer and ask questions, use appropriate nonverbal language, etc.)
  • Appropriate Play Skills (be a good sport, learning to win and lose graciously, etc.)

AUDITORY ATTENTION, MEMORY, & PROCESSING

  •  Rote memory (remember a series of numbers or words)
  • Working Memory (holding onto information in order to complete a task or use that information in some way)
  • Attention (maintain attention & stay focused, block out distractions, and know how and when to seek help/clarification)
  • Recalling details to answer questions (i.e. listening to a sentence, a few sentences, or even paragraphs and be able to recall details)
  • Processing language of increased length and complexity
  • Speech Language Pathologists teach students strategies for being able to hold onto information and process information better. These strategies include teaching kids to: subvocalize (say the words back to themselves), visualize (make a mental picture of a word, sentence, sentences), chunk (group a list of numbers or words together as in a phone number), clip (understand the key details and “pull out” these words to subvocalize or visualize).

ORAL-MUSCULATURE & FEEDING DISORDERS

  • Excessive drooling or drooling past 2-3 years old
  • Speech difficulties that haven’t improved
  • Difficulty with eating or drinking (picky eaters, coughing/choking during eating/drinking, avoiding foods, etc.)

 READING & WRITING 

Phonological/Phonemic awareness (which is the understanding of a word’s sound structure)- These skills are needed for the efficient decoding of printed words and the ability to form connections between sounds and letters when spelling

HEARING IMPAIRMENT

AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION

For children with limited or no verbal speech, a Speech Language Pathologist can help find other ways to communicate such as sign language, picture exchange communication (PECS), computer-based devices, etc.

Speech-Language Pathologist Accepting New Clients

Michelle Turkoglu, M.S., CCC-SLP, is now accepting new clients at Alternative Behavior Strategies. We will be accepting most major insurances!

Michelle holds a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders from the University of New Hampshire. She has attained the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and is licensed by the Utah Speech-Language Pathology Board. She also a member of the Utah Speech and Hearing Association (USHA).

Michelle has over 13 years of experience and has worked in a variety of settings, including a private school for children with Autism, public schools, special day classes, Montessori school, home-based and clinic-based services.

michelle

She enjoys working with children of all ages and has extensive clinical experience with a wide range of delays, disorders and diagnoses. She has received training and continuing education in areas such as behavior management, simple sign language, PECS, apraxia (including PROMPT), oral-musculature disorders, feeding, sensory disorders, stuttering & auditory-processing disorders. She believes strongly in communicating and collaborating with all team members involved in the child’s progress, especially their parents and caregivers.

Areas of Specialty:
• Autism spectrum disorders
• Apraxia
• Articulation disorders (pronunciation difficulty)
• Delayed speech or social development
• Auditory/Language Processing Disorders
• Receptive & Expressive language weaknesses
• Poor Listening skills
• Social Language
• Play Skills
• Oral-motor weaknesses
• Feeding

Services Provided:
• Individual therapy
• Small group therapy/Social language groups
• Screenings & Assessments

Please contact Michelle at  michelle.t@alternativebehaviorstrategies.com or call Ph: 801-935-4171 extension 7

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.

michelle

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.

 

Training at Alternative Behavior Strategies, Inc

From Joe Dixon

joe2

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.

Benefits at Alternative Behavior Strategies, Inc

Benefits at Alternative Behavior Strategies, Inc

from the desk of Jessica Engel

IMG_0970

When I first started working with ABS I was an Independent Contractor, as were all Behavior Interventionists at ABS in 2012. I had been an employee in the past, typically working for small businesses who had little funding to run operations, much less offer benefits. I had not had medical insurance coverage since the 90’s. Even as an Independent Contractor I could not afford the premiums on a private policy. Benefits? I didn’t think they existed.

February 2013 was a turning point for me. ABS was growing and Administrative Employees were needed. I was included in our first group of employees and we opened a group health insurance policy through Altius. Better yet, the company agreed to pay 60% of my premiums, adding free eye care and an affordable dental plan. By August 2013 all Independent Contractors became ABS Employees and all full time employees became eligible for the benefits. For the first time, in over a decade, I got a new prescription for glasses, had a check-up and a teeth cleaning, all at a minimal cost. Additionally, I got the assurance that if something happened to me/ my health, it wouldn’t put me, or my family, in financial ruin.

Full time salaried employees had been given 5 days of “vacation time” at the time of the employee change. Later on, this benefit transitioned into PTO, which could be used for any purpose. Consultants are able to accrue 10 days of PTO annually and Lead Interventionists are able to accrue 40 hours annually. This benefit meant that I could take a vacation with my family and still allow me to meet my monthly expenses. What a relief!

Last August, 2013 ABS added an HR partner (HR Solutions) in order to get additional services for ABS staff. They have been a tremendous source of information. They also manage our FMLA applications. When an employee inquired about maternity leave options they were able to give the legal answers. We wanted to add a benefit for this purpose so they aligned us with just the right UNUM policy. We were able to add a short and long term disability benefit package for our full time salaried employees, which has really been a help to employees who have gone on leave for maternity purposes. Our HR partner is convinced we have something in our water with the incredible amount of pregnancies we have had lately.

Most recently we added a 401K retirement policy for ALL employees. ABS is offering a discretionary match that will increase every 2 years with a 6% contribution. Not only that, but this retirement plan comes with the help of financial advisors that can help me, and any ABS employee, create a diversified retirement portfolio. This means I can rest assured, knowing my retirement plan is in place and my financial future is secure.

It’s amazing to think of the changes that have evolved at ABS. Working in this field is extremely rewarding but it goes without saying that some days are tough. It’s a relief when your benefits make it that much easier to focus on the things that matter most.