By Christopher Pearson
Dr. Monica Gilbert and her staff of more than 50 board-certified analysts, therapists and psychologists at Crystal Minds New Beginning are making a huge impact on children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, commonly referred to as ASD.
ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder often characterized by difficulty with social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, highly restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. ASD affects an estimated one in 68 children, and diagnosis by a trained professional often occurs within the patient’s first year of age. More males than females are diagnosed with ASD.
“Every patient with ASD is different,” explained Dr. Gilbert. “Some have better social interaction and communication skills than others, so we tailor our therapy to the specific needs of each person.”
Sessions begin with a thorough initial assessment followed by a series of therapeutic sessions provided by a trained and experienced therapist. Although the ideal location for therapy is a comfortable and familiar location such as the home, Dr. Gilbert and her team also provide therapy in schools, clinics and at Crystal Minds’ Doral clinic.
Dr. Gilbert and her team use a highly effective therapeutic approach known as applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA uses techniques based on many years of scientific research to change behaviors by teaching preferable alternatives to the maladaptive behaviors.
“Very simply put, ABA uses antecedents (A) and consequence (C) strategies to decrease maladaptive behaviors and increase acceptable behavior through the teaching of social and communication skills and the presentation of better options,” Dr. Gilbert said. “For example if there is a child who kicks others whether he is given a task such as having to do his homework or classwork removing his work would just reinforce this behavior making it stronger next time. We use an acronym to identify the reason why individuals engage in the behaviors they engage in which is everybody “EATS”. E is for escape which is usually escape from an aversive stimuli, A is for attention which is negative(reprimands) and positive attention, T is for tangible which is anything that is of value to the individual and S is for sensory which is the most difficult to determine since it occurs “inside” the individuals body.
Dr. Gilbert founded Crystal Minds New Beginning in 2010 to provide children and adults with ASD the most effective behavior therapy and parent support. She is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Mental Health Counselor, holding a master’s degree in education and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology (Psy.D).
“There is more awareness and research on autism today, and we’re going to be able to recognize the signs of ASD earlier,” Dr. Gilbert said. “We still need to do more to integrate people with ASD into schools and into society overall. If you have met a child with Autism, you have met A child with Autism. It is important to never generalize since children all present differently. And in the words of Dr. Sues: “A person’s a person no matter how small.”
Crystal Minds New Beginning is located at 10200 N.W. 25 Street, Suite 211, in Doral. For more information, visit www.cmnbtherapy.com or call 786-269-3502.