I suspect my child has autism. Where can I go for a diagnosis?
Currently, there is only one place in Bermuda where a family can go to receive a diagnosis of autism or other pervasive developmental disability. That place is The Child and Adolescent Services. The facility contracts with an overseas physician to come on island at periodic times throughout the year to conduct autism diagnostic assessments.
What type of therapy and services does Tomorrow’s Voices provide?
The primary models of service delivery at Tomorrow’s Voices are behavioural interventions also known as interventions that are Applied Behaviour Analytic in nature. There are a variety of methodologies that fall under the umbrella of ABA such as pivotal response training, modeling, naturalistic teaching, discrete trials, antecedent packages and token economies.
These are just some of the tools we use to change and shape behaviours. As deficits in communication skills are a hallmark of Autism Spectrum Disorders and present in many other developmental disabilities, we have a strong emphasis on the teaching of language. We use an approach called Verbal Behaviour to teach language in all of its component parts.
What is Verbal Behaviour Therapy?
Verbal Behaviour Therapy is a method of applying Applied Behaviour Analytic principles to the teaching of language. In 1957, B.F. Skinner wrote a book entitled Verbal Behaviour in which he broke language down into its component parts called operants. Some of the verbal operants are mands, tacts, intraverbals and echoics.
Our Verbal Behaviour programme uses the principles of ABA to teach verbal language across the verbal operants. We also employ other research based tools and methodologies to teach language and communication.
I’ve heard that ABA is very strict. Is this true?
ABA is based on good science. As such, it can at times be highly structured, but it is by no means strict. The structure of the programme ensures that we are reliably implementing time tested approaches for changing and shaping behaviours and working to increase adaptive and pro-social behaviours while decreasing maladaptive or problematic behaviours. The use of data collections systems ensures that we are operating in an effective manner.
What are the costs for services?
Our services are highly structured, individualized, delivered in a 1:1 or 1:2 setting and based on research and data. Historically, good ABA services can be quite costly due to the nature and rigor it takes to implement these services with fidelity (integrity).
Because Tomorrow’s Voices is a charity, we subsidize 75% of these costs, enabling Bermudian families to get the very best that the research has to offer in terms of intervention services at a highly subsidized and reduced rate. Costs are individualized based on the depth, breadth and frequency of services.
What if I can’t afford the tuition? Are there scholarships available?
As mentioned above, Tomorrow’s Voices does subsidize 75% of the costs to deliver these therapeutic services. We recognize, that even with a highly subsidized rate, the costs may still be prohibitive for some families. There are several charitable organizations in the community that can help to subsidize these costs. Project 100 is one example of a charitable organisation that can often provide financial assistance.
If my child comes to Tomorrow’s Voices, does that mean they won’t ever be able to be mainstreamed?
The answer to this question is an emphatic “No.” All of the youth within our centre are either mainstreamed half time or fully with Ministry of Education, other Private educational systems or home school programmes. Tomorrow’s Voices is an organization that believes in the continuum of educational placements as well as in the philosophy of least restrictive educational placement.
As such, there are some young people who never set foot within our centre. They are served exclusively in their school, in their homes or in the community. There are other young people, who based on their particular educational and/or behavioural profile require a more intensive and structured programme which our centre can provide.
Does my child have to come to your centre in order to receive services?
As stated above, we service youth in a variety of educational placements and settings including private homes, the community, public and private schools, and within the Tomorrow’s Voices centre.
Do you only service children with autism?
No. Tomorrow’s Voices was founded primarily to meet the needs of youth with autism and PDD, however, it quickly became apparent that many of the youth within our centre had co-morbid (more than one) conditions. Additionally, we realized that our methodologies were useful and effective for youth with a wide range of developmental disabilities.
We have expanded our remit and currently serve youth with autism and other developmental disabilities including, but not limited to youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Downs Syndrome, Intellectual Disabilities (formerly known as mental retardation), Fragile X, and others.
What is the history of Autism support in Bermuda?
The founders of Tomorrow’s Voices were the original founders of autism support and education in Bermuda. Prior to 2001 there was a void in Bermuda in terms of information, knowledge and training related to autism. Six years later, it became apparent that it was time to move from theory into practice and that simply knowing about effective interventions was no longer good enough. There was a pressing need to put that knowledge into practice. As a result, in 2007, Tomorrow’s Voices opened its doors.