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Short-Term Autism Intensive Residential Services

Devereux Pennsylvania STAIRS Neurobehavioral Unit

Please contact Kelly McCool at 610-431-8191 or by email at kmccool@devereux.org for more information.

The Devereux STAIRS Neurobehavioral Unit at CIDDS provides intensive, autism-specific treatment for children, ages 6 to 21, with severe behavioral challenges and skills deficits, which have not responded to treatment in traditional community based or residential settings.

Devereux STAIRS employs evidenced-based practices across a continuum of care. These practices include a foundation of positive behavior interventions and supports delivered in a treatment environment that is trauma sensitive and trauma informed. The continuum begins with a comprehensive, functional behavioral assessment in the family’s home, followed by intensive, clinical services for a period of three to six months on the Devereux CIDDS campus, and concludes with discharge and after care service planning in partnership with Devereux CARES consultants and BHRS (Wrap Around) services. The STAIRS team of professionals includes Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBAs), a clinical psychologist, child psychiatrist, special education teacher, nurses, speech language therapist, residential unit supervisor, and direct care providers, specially trained in Applied Behavior Analysis, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and Individualized Positive Behavior Support.

The program model components are:

    • In-Home Pre-Admission Consultation: STAIRS is a program for individuals between the ages of 6 and 21, with a primary diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, who demonstrate severe to moderate communication and adaptive behavior skill deficits, and have a history of serious behavioral disorder. The program is not appropriate for children who have a primary diagnosis of emotional disturbance, exhibit suicidal or homicidal ideation, engage in sexually aggressive behaviors, or have a significant feeding disorder or other intensive medical needs. Prior to admission, a Devereux therapist will meet with the family in their home and conduct a functional behavior assessment to determine if the child will benefit from this intensive step down program. In addition, the “sending team” (the school district, agency, Devereux and the family) will develop an active discharge plan and establish IEP goals, including reduction in challenging behaviors and instruction in functionally equivalent responses and functional communication. Families will be asked to sign a treatment participation agreement, as family participation in treatment and education is critical to the success of the STAIRS program.

    • Comprehensive Functional Behavioral Assessment: Includes an initial functional behavioral assessment in the family’s home, and ongoing data-based functional analysis while at CIDDS. Functional behavioral assessment is a broad term used to describe a number of different methods that allow practitioners to identify the reason a specific behavior is occurring. This best practice assessment process includes three different methods: 1) informant methods (interviews and questionnaires), 2) direct observational methods (observer records antecedents, behaviors, and consequences in real time) and 3) functional analysis (antecedents and consequences are manipulated to see their effects). Results from the functional behavioral assessment are then used to design an effective treatment plan.

    • Positive Behavior Support Plan Development and Functional Communication Training: Daily individual behavioral assessment and intervention sessions are provided by certified Behavior Analysts, who also conduct family training sessions, and develop intervention and treatment plans. Treatment plans include an individualized communication plan and an individualized Positive Behavior Intervention Plan across residential, educational, home and community settings. In addition, consistent 1:1 direct care staffing ratios deliver services at a higher intensity level than traditional RTF services.

    • Intensive Family/Caregiver Training: An individualized family/caregiver treatment plan is developed during the child’s stay at CIDDS. In addition, each family/caregiver attends a structured weekly behavioral intervention training program using ABA based curriculum.

    • Home and School Post-Discharge Consultation: Discharge goal development and after care service planning are emphasized from the first day of treatment, and include identification of home and school needs, family resources, and local community services. In-home family services include in-home behavioral assessment and consultation, community based instruction, integration and step down options within Devereux’s treatment continuum, and a direct partnership with Devereux CARES Consultants for consultation services and Devereux community services for autism specific after care services (e.g., BHRS/Wrap Around) with a collaborative transition phase of treatment.