• What Parents Need to Know about Pivotal Response Therapy

    Pivotal response therapy (PRT) is an empirically supported comprehensive behavioral treatment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that focuses on pivotal areas of a person’s development, rather than treating individual behaviors one at timeFirst developed in the 1970s, PRT is now widely used as an intervention treatment for children with ASD and related disorders. Here are the answers to some common questions parents have about PRT.  

    What does pivotal response therapy target?  

    PRT is intended to address pivotal areas of development, including a child’s motivation, responses to multiple cues, the child monitoring his/her own behavior, and the ability to initiate interactions with other people. By targeting these important areas, PRT results in improvements in other social, communicative, and behavioral areas that are not specifically targeted. PRT utilizes motivational strategies to increase child engagement in learning such as child choice, task variation, interspersing already learned tasks with new tasks, reinforcing the child for reasonable attempts, and using direct and natural reinforcers.  With PRT the child plays an essential role in determining the activities and objects that will be used in treatment.  The goal of the therapy is to utilize the motivational strategies to engage the child in learning and provide positive reinforcement to increase skill development.  

    Who can provide pivotal response therapy?  

    PRT can be provided to a child by a number of different specialists, including behavior analysts, behavior technicians under the direction of a behavior analyst, psychologists, teachers, instructional assistants, and speech and language therapists.  Because PRT is a naturalistic intervention, meaning it is done in the child’s natural environment, parents themselves can also learn to apply PRT within their family’s everyday routine. Parents can create learning opportunities at home that will help to reinforce the skill development that is being taught during therapy sessions. 

    Is pivotal response therapy right for my child? 
    Every child’s needs are different, so an individualized approach should be taken to providing treatment to any child who has ASD. However, it’s possible that PRT could be an effective therapy for your child. PRT has proven to be especially helpful in encouraging children to develop stronger social and verbal communication skills.  Additionally, it’s been shown to be effective in teaching play and academic skills and decreasing disruptive/self-stimulatory behaviors. 

    STAR of CA offers a wide range of servicesincluding individualized therapy, for children who have ASD and other developmental disorders. We use evidence-based treatments, and we are continually working to improve and expand our services. Our team has been serving Ventura and nearby communities since we opened our doors in May 2006.  We provide services to San Jose,  To learn more about our behavioral intervention services, call (805) 644-7827 today. 

  • The ABCs of DTT

    Discrete trial teaching (DTT) is an approach to teaching skills that works by breaking them down into the smallest component possible.  Skills are taught as discrete behaviors and then linked together to create a larger behavior. If you have a child who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), then you may want to become familiar with how DTT works.  

    In very simplistic terms, the parent or therapist presents an SD (cue) i.e., “show me blue”.  The child is then expected to respond to the cue (hopefully [as in the scenario above] by selecting blue).  The parent or therapist then provides a consequence to the behavior i.e., redirection (try again) if they select the incorrect answer) or verbal praise i.e., that’s right, nice job if they choose the correct answer.  For example, if the child carries out the request, then the parent or therapist can provide positive reinforcement to encourage that response in the future.  

    If you’re looking for evidence-based ASD therapy in the greater Ventura area, call STAR of CA today. Our compassionate and caring team will be happy to provide you and your family with the integrated, up-to-date ASD services you need. You can reach us at (805) 644-7827 

  • Learn What Adults with ASD Wish You Knew in this Video Clip

    Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is one of the most common developmental disorders in the world. It’s also one of the most widely misunderstood. There are numerous misconceptions about ASD, especially as it manifests in adults. For example, many people wonder if they should behave differently if they know that a person has ASD. In this video, adults with ASD share some things that they wish more people understood about the condition.  

    At STAR of CA, our team uses evidence-based treatments to provide much-needed help for families who are dealing with the challenges of an ASD diagnosis. If you are in search of resources for ASD and other developmental disorders in the Ventura area, you can reach us today at (805) 644-7827 

  • Exploring the Three Severity Levels of Autism

    As you probably already know, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) varies significantly from person to person. As its name suggeststhe condition exists on a spectrum, and a person who has ASD may require little to no therapy, moderate therapy, or extensive therapy. To help determine what the best approach is for providing assistance to someone with ASD, an individual with a diagnosis often gets designated with one of three severity levels. These levels offer guidance on the amount of support a person with the condition may require 

    Level 1 “Requiring Support” 

    Individuals who receive a diagnostic designation of Level 1 require a minor to moderate amount of support. For example, these individuals may be conversational but have trouble initiating social interactions or may exhibit unsuccessful responses to social overtures from othersThese individuals may also have difficulties with organization or switching between activities to an extent that interferes with their daily functioning.  

    Level 2 “Requiring Substantial Support” 

    Individuals designated with a Level 2 severity are considered to need a substantial amount of support. For instance, these individuals might manifest clear restricted or repetitive behaviors, and their social interactions may be highly limited to certain interests or may be marked with deficits in both verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They may have difficulty in adapting to changes in their routine, and they might show obvious distress in response to changes.  

    Level 3 “Requiring Very Substantial Support” 

    Individuals who receive a Level 3 severity designation require an intensive level of supportThese individuals usually have very limited social and communication skills, and they may be extremely agitated by changes to their schedule or a new environment. These individuals generally require extensive therapy and supervision 

    If you’re looking for the support you and your loved ones need to live with ASD, it’s time to reach out to STAR of CAWe offer a wide array of essential behavioral and psychological services to individuals and families. If you have any questions about our services, feel free to contact us today at (805) 644-7827 

  • The National Survey of Children’s Health’s Insights into Autism Spectrum Disorder

    While children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) do require therapy to help them with their developmental challenges, it’s important to make sure that their other healthcare needs are being taken care of as well. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. According to a recent study, as many as one-fifth of all the children who have ASD in the U.S. are not getting all of their healthcare needs met. Here is a closer look at the study’s findings.   

    Children with ASD are more likely to have additional health issues.  

    According to the study, children who have ASD are more likely than other children to have other conditions, including anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and sleep disorders. This increases the challenges faced by these children and their families, since treating co-occurring—and often related—conditions will be more complex. This makes children with ASD more vulnerable to having unmet healthcare needs.  

    Children with unmet healthcare needs share a number of circumstances.  

    The study also found that children with ASD whose healthcare needs were not being met tended to have a few factors in common. For example, they often did not have health insurance, were growing up in difficult circumstances, such as with exposure to domestic violence, and had parents facing financial problems, such as unemployment.  

    Supporting families is essential to supporting the needs of children.  

    The study concluded that children are most likely to have their healthcare needs met when their families are able to care for them appropriately. As such, providing support to families who are facing personal or financial hardships is indispensable to ensuring that children with ASD get the help and treatment they need.  

    When you’re looking for comprehensive therapy options for ASD, STAR of CA can help. We make a wide range of evidence-based treatments available to individuals and families in and around the Ventura area. We have been proudly serving the community since we first opened in May of 2006. If you have any questions, call us at (805) 644-7827.  

  • A Brief Overview of the Verbal Behavior Approach

    The verbal behavior approach is a type of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy that focuses on improving language. The purpose of the therapy is to assist individuals who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in developing better language skills by breaking verbal output down into specific subtypesThere are four sub-types of words that the verbal behavior approach focuses on: 

    • Mand, which is a verbal request. 
    • Tact, which is an observation or label. 
    • Intraverbal, which is a response. 
    • Echoic, which is a repetition of another word or phrase. 

    This approach is often used in conjunction with other ABA treatments as part of a comprehensive treatment program. 

    At STAR of CA, we specialize in providing the best services available for children who have ASD and other developmental disorders. We can develop an individualized program for your child that targets his or her particular needs. When you need behavioral health services in Ventura, call (805) 644-7827. 

  • Hearing from Women with Autism Spectrum Disorder

    There are numerous myths and stereotypes about ASD that are at odds with the facts, particularly for women who have the disorder. In this video, you’ll learn about some of these myths—and the truths that lie behind them.  

    If you have ASD or a related condition, it’s time to reach out to the team at STAR of CA. We work to provide families and individuals with up-to-date resources for living with ASD. For more information about the services we offer, call (805) 644-7827.  

  • Is It Possible to Get Your Child’s IEP Changed?

    If your child requires any kind of special education in a public school, he or she must receive an Individualized Education Program or IEP. An IEP is a unique plan that includes both your child’s goals and the methods that will be used to achieve those goals. It’s important to keep in mind that an IEP is not a static plan; as your child progresses, the goals and methods may need to change. So, is it possible to change your child’s IEP? Here’s what you need to know.  

    You can request a change to an IEP at any time.  

    As a parent, you have the right to ask for an alteration in your child’s special education plan whenever you feel that it’s necessary. There is any number of reasons why this might be the case. For example, your child may have achieved all of the goals set in the original plan. If there are new resources available to help your child, then the IEP may be changed in order to incorporate them. Additionally, if your child’s behavior has increased or a new behavior has emerged a changed in the IEP may be warranted to meet his/her current needs.   

    You will need to work with your child’s IEP team.  

    If you have a change that you want to make, you’ll need to submit a request to meet with the IEP team to discuss your concerns and any proposed changesIt’s wise to submit a written request for documentation purposes. Make sure to be as thorough as possible when explaining why you are requesting a meeting and feel a change in the IEP is necessaryIn the IEP meeting, your current concerns can be shared with the rest of the team and together you can determine what changes are needed to support your child’s current needs.   

    Since 2006, STAR of CA has been connecting families in and near Ventura with the resources they require due to developmental, emotional, or behavioral challengesWe are committed to providing everybody with the best possible treatments, based on the latest research into autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Would you like to learn more? Call (805) 644-7827 with your questions. 

  • Mastering the Terminology of ABA: A Guide for Parents

    If you are a parent of a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s important that you take the time to learn about applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA is an empirically validated treatment for autism. It focuses on teaching functional skills and address challenging behaviors that may be impacting your child’s ability to learn and navigate his environment. When you read about ABA, you’re likely to encounter a lot of unfamiliar words and terminologies. Here are some of the terms you may see:  

    ABC data 

    This is a type of data collection frequently used to identify the possible function of your child’s behavior. In other words, trying to understand the reason why a behavior is taking place and what is maintaining this behavior. A stands for antecedent, or what happens before a behavior. B stands for the behavior itself. C stands for the consequence that follows.  


    This word refers to an additional condition a person is diagnosed with, in addition to a primary condition. For instance, children with ASD may frequently be diagnosed with epilepsy as well.  


    DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual is widely used around the world to classify mental and developmental disorders.  


    This term is simply used to mean any action that is taken to change a particular behavior.  


    A mand is a volitional request, with the intent of wanting the item. For example, a child saying “ball” because he wants the ball, as opposed to saying “ball” because he sees a ball.  


    A prompt is something you provide to a child to help he or she perform a particular behavior. A prompt can come in many different forms and varying in how intrusive they are. They can range from physical prompts to a simple indirect verbal prompt.   


    This term is used to refer to switching from one activity to another or moving from one setting to another. Challenging behaviors are often observed during transitions, especially when going from a preferred activity to a less preferred activity.  


    Children with autism may often have a difficult time with an overall change in routine. Some children have very specific routines that in the event of any slight deviation, it may be a cause for an intense meltdown.  

    Since May of 2006, STAR of CA has been offering comprehensive ASD resources to children, adolescents, and parents throughout Ventura County and beyond. Are you wondering whether getting the right therapy could make a difference in your child’s life? You can learn more about the ABA therapy we provide by calling us at (805) 644-7827.  

  • FAQs and Answers About IEPs

    When your child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a related condition, he or she may need an individualized education program (IEP) in order to have a productive and positive experience at school. An IEP essentially provides a guideline for your child’s education. Here’s what you need to know about IEPs.  

    What is an IEP?  

    An IEP is an individual program developed for a child or adolescent in public school if he or she needs special accommodations, services, or support to do well. The plan outlines detailed information about your child’s current educational status, his or her strengths and areas of need states what services will be provided to support your child’s learning, and goals that will be targeted and measured to determine progress.    

    What is a SMART goal?  

    You may have heard that your child’s IEP program needs to include SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that describes goals that meet five criteria: specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound. In order to be useful for your child, the program that you and your team develop should have targeted goals that are clear, quantifiable, and realistic.  

    What does it mean for an IEP to be standards-based?  

    Every state has its own official academic standards that have to be met in the classroom, and since 2015, all IEPs have been required to meet those standards as well. When your IEP team is creating SMART goals for your child, they will need to be in keeping with your state’s academic standards for students at that grade level.  

    Do you have a child with ASD, a child with behavioral issues, or a child who is at risk of a developmental disorder? If you are looking for help in facing the challenges that come with these situations, look to STAR of CA. We offer a full range of ASD services to families throughout California, including Ventura County. For more information about our mental health services, call (805) 644-7827 today.