Friday, 22 June 2012

CEAT closing shop end of June 2012

Northern Ireland based ABA provider CEAT (Centre for Early Autism Treatment) have sent emails to their clients stating that they will be winding down the business and closing shop at the end of this month (June 2012).

I received this news from concerned parents worried about their children's existing ABA programs. Worried is not the word - terrified more like. For some parents, ABA is the only education program they use for their young  children. There are only so many people in Northern Ireland qualified to supervise and direct an ABA program.  Many parents have invested much time, effort and money into the services of CEAT.  Unless someone corrects me, I now am led to believe that CEAT is packing up, selling their Bangor House and moving away for good.

To parents who are financially indebted to CEAT and who will continue to pay their ABA 'bill' to CEAT even after CEAT has left the country,  please refer to your contract with them to ensure that what CEAT promised to provide to your child (meeting goals and objectives/learning new skills) actually transpired.Did you ask for a money back guarantee? Now is the time to refer to it.

For those of you who receive monies from Education and Libary Boards to pay for your ABA programs, you may have to advise your local ELB that your provider is no longer providing. 

After CEAT leaves, families will still want to continue their programs. They will face a  transition period in which they will be forced to find new supervisors and potentially new therapists.  Perhaps what I have said in the past about ABA not being 'rocket science' will ring more true now with families, and parents will understand that they CAN (and now must) do for themselves until new personnel are found. Hopefully the well-trained ex staff of CEAT will put their thinking caps on as to how best to serve the families they work with. In my own personal opinion, it would be great to see PEAT, (the ABA charity in Northern Ireland) and the ex staff of CEAT working together.

I would like to say to all parents and families who use CEAT or any ABA provider that there are strict codes that must be adhered to by behaviour analysts and they can be found here:  here . Regarding the termination of contracts, the document advises the following:

" 2.16 Interrupting or Terminating Services.
(a) Behavior analysts make reasonable efforts to plan for facilitating care in the event that behavior analytic services are interrupted by factors such as the behavior analyst’s illness, impending death, unavailability, or relocation or by the client’s relocation or financial limitations.
(b) When entering into employment or contractual relationships, behavior analysts provide for orderly and appropriate resolution of responsibility for client care in the event that the employment or contractual relationship ends, with paramount consideration given to the welfare of the client.
(c) Behavior analysts do not abandon clients. Behavior analysts terminate a professional relationship when it becomes reasonably clear that the client no longer needs the service, is not benefiting, or is being harmed by continued service.
(d) Prior to termination for whatever reason, except where precluded by the client’s conduct, the behavior analyst discusses the client’s views and needs, provides appropriate pre-termination services, suggests alternative service providers as appropriate, and takes other reasonable steps to facilitate transfer of responsibility to another provider if the client needs one immediately."

I would strongly suggest to any family using CEAT or any other ABA provider to carefully read the entire document in the link above.

If you are a family who is worried about the continuation of your child's ABA program, please ensure you have spoken to your existing therapists and have formulated a plan to keep them on board. As for supervision, you can contact the BACB  HERE  to find out who is available in Northern Ireland and is qualified to supervise a program. You could also contact  PEAT who have BCBA approved supervisors or perhaps you could obtain the services of a supervisor/consultant in the South of Ireland or in England.

Putting all of our 'eggs in one basket' was always a mistake regarding our children's ABA programs, i.e. relying on one 'company' to provide ABA.  It's a pity that lobbying was not CEAT's forte, that they did not do more for parents to pave the way for the use of ABA for other and future children diagnosed with ASD, not just for parents who can afford to pay for it.

I hope, for the sake of the children who have ABA programs with CEAT, that their parents are trained up enough and knowledgeable enough and have good therapists on staff so that their programs can continue for the immediate future.

CEAT allegedly are leaving Northern Ireland due to the 'economic climate' and other factors. I believe that the two principals of the company Mary Hopton Smith and Kim Wroblewski will be living in Wisconsin USA, a state that recently approved ABA to be government funded.


We Love our Son said...

I am one (both my husband and myself) of the people who made contact with this blog earlier this week about CEAT and ABA and that CEAT is leaving Northern Ireland. Our programs been in operation for just under 6 months and with everything we have to do on top of ABA that has to do with raising a child with autism we just feel completely snowed under.

I think we are seriously going to think about relocating to England that is how difficult life has been for us in staying here. We thought about it before as a family and I think our minds are mostly made up to leave now.

We are thankful we were introduced to ABA for our son's autism. to have to worry about fighting for it again is just too much to think about right now.

This has come as a shock and seems theres no end of shocks. My family live in England and we can move. We dont know what will happen to other children. I hope that parents are able to find what they need for their children.

Anonymous said...

Bit rash to leave the country. There are qualified people right here at home who can deliver quality programs and who are from Northern Ireland originally so hopefully they WONT BE LEAVING US ANYTIME SOON.

Anonymous said...

I am happy with CEAT and wish them luck in America. I do wish they would have stayed here in Northern Ireland but I understand they could not afford to. They are not a charity, they are a business!

AutismNorthernIreland said...

To Anonymous: I am quite aware that CEAT is a business. I believe they are leaving Northern Ireland to avail of 'business' in the United States.

Thanks to parents advising me, I am also aware of the costs parents pay to run ABA programs, costs that are beyond the reach of the 'average' parent. Whilst therapists make very little (£12.00-£15.00 per hour, consultants make considerably more and together with the other costs involved in programs offered by CEAT, parents can end up with bills in excess of £3000.00 just for one specialised program, not including the day to day running of ABA program as a whole.

ABA with private providers is beyond the remit of most. It is untrue to state that ABA providers as a whole, who are private do so just out of a 'love' for children or for autism. They do it to make money, just like every other business. That money comes from you. So, yes, I agree with you that CEAT is not a charity - it is a business, plain and simple. And their departure is a business decision. Problem is, children will inevitably be left with no programs.

desperatehousewife said...

'Not a charity, they're a business'. No doubt CEAT would protest that they were NOT a business- they are often described as a 'non-profit making organisation'-so how come when they aren't making a profit they leave? And can everyone now take a step back and look at what the seriously under-funded charity PEAT has achieved on a shoestring?

Parents left without an ABA programme should now go to their Trust's Autism Co-ordinator & ask what they are going to offer in the way of evidence-based interventions. For years, you have put your own money into something Trusts should be providing (while also watching the money you pay in taxes being squandered on feeble 'family support services' and TEACCH courses for over-opinionated 'professionals' who never actually get engaged in any form of one-to one 'early intervention'but are happy to rubbish ABA at every opportunity.

Where is the hands-on help people need? The blogger's idea of PEAT & remaining CEAT therapists combining looks like the best way forward. In the meantime all you CEAT parents please don't despair, you can do this with the right support.

Afraid to say my name said...

My son was diagnosed with autism and adhd in 2009 I have used up most of my savings to pay for his home ABA programme. The total amount I have paid out so far is near 15,000. CEAT can stay or go because I cannot afford to pay them anymore anyway. I always believed they charged too much money for a parent like me. I am a single parent with two other children. ABA and CEAT together leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Karola dillenburger said...

Its a pity if people confuse ABA with CEAT. ABA is the application of the discipline (science) of behaviour analysis.

Everyone who wants to avail of ABA in the true sense of it can get in touch with the Centre for Behaviour Analysis at Queen's University of Belfast

Just a reminder: PEAT grew out of efforts of the University of Ulster (Dr MIckey Keenan) to bring this science to the community.
QUB, UU, and PEAT are here for you! Ultimately it's parents demanding ABA-based intervention for your children who are going to change policy. QUB and UU provide staff training in Behaviour Analysis! Don't hesitate to get in touch.

AutismNorthernIreland said...

Perhaps a re-read of this document is in order by Mickey Keenan, 'Science for Sale in a Free Market Economy'

Margie Branson said...

It might be novel if parents whose children have autism spectrum disorder worked together and to make our desires about wanting applied behaviour analysis for our children known to the right government departments and people.

If parents could pay for ABA before, then they can still pay tomorrow so why not use that money to benefit more children and long term. CEAT will be gone but as K Dillnberger said in message that that wont take ABA away. My daughter has had excellent service from peat which is an aba charity formed by and for parents.

I wager what i paid for my childs program is 1/10th of the cost from CEAT. Sometimes we dont value things unless we pay dearly for them - that is just silly. Maybe some parents will work more together. There has always been a rift between CEAT and PEAT. Goodbye Ceat, who cares. No doubt another company will move here before too long to take advantage of desperate families who have money. But if you would like to know how to help your child without remortgaging your house let me know or phone PEAT.

desperate housewife said...

Well said, Margie Branson. Mind you, finding a government department that has not been misinformed about ABA through instruments such as the Task Group Report & the opinions of the highly paid 'professionals' who were so good at 'doing autism' that RASDN had to be formed to deal with inequalities & inefficiencies across Trusts won't be easy.

How much will the new Cross-Departmental Project Team working to implement the Autism Act know about ABA- and who will be informing them? Any parents/ABA professionals out there reading this blog, were you invited to sit on this, or on the Research Committee? Maybe we need to begin lobbying them now.

AutismNorthernIreland said...

Dear Desperate Housewife, lobbying for early intensive intervention for autism must definitely be done. Whenever parents have an opportunity to explain and demonstrate it to Trust and education officials, they should do so.

A campaign is badly needed, one that has a strategy and is coordinated.

Anonymous said...

I was sad to hear that CEAT are closing down. We are eternally grateful to Kimmy and Mary for the much needed assistance they gave us when we were feeling very bleak. My child needed intensive support that was unavailable elsewhere at that time.

I still feel that Kimmy and Mary's advice and knowledge is second to none and will miss them. I have no doubt that the criticism on this blog will have played a part in their decision, as well as the impact it has had on demand for the services. We have little enough support here, without bashing providers who have made a real difference to people's lives. CEAT are a not for profit organisation who charged to keep service going, as PEAT now do also.

Good luck to Kimmy and Mary in the States, where I hope they get the respect they deserve. Meanwhile I would be more than happy to assist in any campaign to coerce the authorities to invest what limited money there is here is in a proven intervention for our children.

AutismNorthernIreland said...

Dear Anonymous

CEAT is a business, they are closing down because a business decision was made to leave and set up shop elsewhere or to do what they will elsewhere. Their intention to leave was made well before I ever posted concerning them on this blog.

I surmise that the owners of CEAT (unless they are independently wealthy) will be working in the United States, to continue to earn money and probability suggests they will start a new company or business venture to make money. They could be referred to as 'relocating'.

As I have contacts with the ABA community in Wisconsin, I will let you know if I hear anything should I find out Kimmy and Mary become impoverished or become street people due to poverty.

Having now had sight of one of the emails that CEAT forwarded to their clients advising of their imminent departure, I must disagree with what you say about a blog having impacted their decision to leave Northern Ireland. Actually there were a number of things being 'blamed' in that email and used as a 'reason' for their departure. As you seem to be a client of theirs, you no doubt received this email.

You state that you hope the owners of CEAT get the 'respect they deserve', so I presume you know they are setting up shop in the USA where they hope to get the respect they didn't get here?

Like I said, a business decision made by a business, to make profit. That's what businesses do.

Guess the people of Northern Ireland just don't have any darned respect eh? Unwashed ignorant masses that they are.

Or maybe, just maybe, they aren't as gullible as you think.

minervabradley said...

I have no idea why CEAT are leaving(I haven't read their e-mail)but would think the increasingly small pool of people who can afford their services is the major factor rather than the blog. And maybe they underestimated the cultural thing about being reluctant to endorse private healthcare, unlike in the USA. Especially when -as someone else pointed out- the Trusts/ELBs are getting enough public money to provide what should be a decent service (but isn't).

So don't blame the messenger anonymous. Sorry that there is now one less option for good ABA provision even if it was way beyond most peoples' means but as you and some other posts have said, maybe now we can all start to ask LOUDLY for the services we are already paying for.

Anonymous said...

I heard from CEAT last autumn that they were relocating to further their business in the US/Canada- Kimmi is Canadian. I believe that they are in the process of selling their NI franchise to Sarah O'Prey but I could be wrong. Our family had Mary working with us and I really have to question her own behaviour. Our daughters Clinical Psychologist had major concerns about what Mary's was suggesting. She came up with a behaviour contract that just didnt make sense and we tried to adjust it to make it work. When we discussed it with Autism NI and the Clinical Psychologist- they expressed concern. We eventually stopped working with CEAT as a result a few weeks ago. I thought that Mary was a psychologist but she isnt'. The CEAT staff have degree qualifications (some hav Masters) but they are not medics and have no medical training or Clinical Psychology qualification. Mary made very broad sweeping statements which were waffle and lacked detail. When asked for clarification she got very defensive and would then turn it back as a negative on one of the parents. Very demoralising. She would turn up at short notice for a "short" visit. She would then invite herself to stay for tea/dinner/lunch even when we didnt have much and her input became very disruptive because our daughter did not like unannounced visits. She would often talk to me whilst I was trying to deal with the children and then she would say, "you see, you didnt follow through" despite the fact that it was her asking me about other stuff that distracted me from following through!!! Overall, my experience with CEAT has been dreadful. I have heard that Kimmi is excellent but she left NI before Christmas. Pity. I would not recommend CEAT to anyone, especially at the high fees they charge. Their previous "office" was their terraced house off the Ormeau Rd. Current "office" is a virtual office in town which is used by lots of businesses.

AutismNorthernIreland said...

This is to the person who sent me a comment (anonymous). I would advise you to outline your detailed concerns about CEAT, their practices and practices, etc,to the proper professional body for behaviour analysts. As for your child's clinical psychologist and/or AutismNI having anything useful to say about ABA (good or bad practice) I fail to see how a clinical psych AND ESPECIALLY AutismNI would be able to differentiate a useful from a detracting ABA program. AutismNI do not have staff skilled in ABA, nor are they qualified as a charity to make comments to you on such matters. Clinical psychologists in Northern Ireland do not have professional expertise regarding the practice or use of ABA so they are pretty useless too.

Clearly there are vulnerable parents in Northern Ireland who can be 'railroaded' by over-powering know it alls, know it alls who do not
1. do not have appropriate or academic qualifications to back up what they say they do
2. do not have appropriate professional experience to back up what they say they do.

If you, Anonymous, do not wish another family to go through what you and your child went through, I would strongly urge you to make a formal complaint, with names, addresses and documentation of what you were unhappy with.

Otherwise, it just continues and other families and innocent children suffer.

let me know what you do.

Minervabradley said...

One of the reasons ABA gets such a bad press in Health & Education services is the circulation of unhappy stories like this, with the implication that all ABA interventions are somehow suspect, 'raise concerns'etc. The good stuff of course sinks without trace. I don't want to minimise the impact of poor services but as the blogger points out, instead of having his/her anxieties magnified, the parent should have been directed straight away to the regulatory body for ABA practitioners- This is an international organisation, so even if the provider has moved to another country, the matters can be properly investigated.

The parent's psychologist should have been be aware that under their professional ethical guidelines, all BPS members 'Engage in additional areas of professional activity only after obtaining the knowledge, skill, training, education, and experience necessary for competent functioning'. Doubt very much if they were trained to BACB standard, otherwise they'd have passed on the information about regulators straight away.

I have no idea who sets the ethical guidelines for charities, but it looks as if Autism NI aren't overly concerned about stepping over the limits of their expertise, if the Mental Health document featured on this site a while ago is anything to go by.

Anonymous said...

i an at a cross road and i dont know wat to do. My dughter is about to start forward steps programme for 6 wks plus she is also about to start a specail needs prenursery, but im really intrested in aba for her. with starting all this new stuff she will be working hard and getting used to it but i really want ABA for her.. do i wait ontil she has done the 6 wks course n started nusery to start an aba course or do i do it now. The 6 wks course is the only thing free i get from our goverment and i dont want to waste it. im just dont know wat to do atm i think starting something else new, plus they use tech, :~(

AutismSupporter said...

I was a CEAT therapist for three years and I am absolutely gutted that they closed up shop and moved although not altogether that surprised due to their extremely high prices.

I do not have a BCBA qualification but do have a masters in Autistic Spectrum Disorders and a wealth of experience and I am more than happy to continue on with programmes and provide advice and support for parents whilst making parents aware that it is not BCBA certified. Is this something that would be of interest to parents?

I realise that parents need support within the homes and something that I have learnt from working for CEAT is that parents and the child need to be listened to MORE, and we don't just always rely on the say so of 'professionals'. Parents are the child's first educator after all and there are alternative therapies to ABA.

So what I am offering is primarily advice and support for families which may or may not take the form of programmes.

Please let me know if this is something people think is worthwhile pursuing on a business side.

AutismNorthernIreland said...

Hello 'Autism Supporter' and thank you for comments. You bring up a number of very interesting points which surely require further investigation.

I would like to make some general comments first.

First, I cannot allow you or anyone to generate business via this blog. Whilst the questions you pose are interesting, your career will have to be furthered via another avenue. If you REALLY want to help parents and gain their trust, why not consider developing a co-operative where they share their experience with you and use it to the benefit of other families. With the greatest of respect, what you learned in your autism masters course will not be anything more than I or other parents have learned in real life so I don't know where that will help you in providing programs to our kids.

Parents whose children actually have autism and who have spare time and who run their own programs would, in my opinion, be the absolute BEST ABA providers - sharing and learning from each other.

My child's diagnosis should have no market value to you, or anyone else who 'support's autism (unfortunate choice of words for your pseudonym)

If you want to find gainful employment, and if you have the time and energy, perhaps you could apply for funding, enough to pay yourself a wage, and teach parents how to empower themselves to do for themselves as opposed to relying on 'professionals'. For too long in Northern Ireland, others have implied that parents are unable, inexperienced, or don't have the knowledge to teach their own children, thus someone else, usually a highly paid 'professional' has to step in (social worker, ABA consultant, SLT, OT, etc etc)

All the skills required to teach and help our own children lie with us, the parents if only parents would believe it.

AutismNorthernIreland said...

part 2....

Can you help parents empower themselves?

Can you help parents weed through the exclusivity that comes with ABAists and inform parents that there are many roads for many children?

Northern Ireland needs fresh 'blood' and new thinking regarding autism - CEAT have clearly 'left the building', taking their 'knowledge' with them, and leaving families having to struggle to continue programs. Families who used CEAT are no doubt having to rely on the goodwill of ex CEAT therapists who may or may not want to continue on as independent therapists. Those therapists have no supervisors now. They have no 'headquarters', no place to consult or compare notes.

Not good. Bad idea to put all one's eggs in one basket (i.e. CEAT)

So, if you are so gutted that CEAT left, what have you learned from them and from the situation in N.Ireland? What can YOU do to make it better for children like my own?

How do you feel about parents having had to pay extortionate prices just to help their children?

Have you thought of joining up with PEAT?

Another big favour you could do for parents of children who have autism is tell them about the best resources that are available to help them develop their ABA programs.

There is no program without a developmental curriculum for the individual child based on their strengths, 'weaknesses', educational needs, etc. Tell parents where CEAT sourced their literature, what it was and where would parents get it from?

There is a wealth of literature, manuals, etc that have been written about how to set up an ABA program. Further there are soooo many books that parents would find useful in creating particular programs. AS you worked with CEAT, perhaps you could make a list of some of those resources, tagging each one with its relevance to particular skill development.

I would love to hear from the families who used CEAT and to see how they are faring, now that CEAT have departed these shores. Are they happy to carry on independently, have they found alternative therapists and consultants?

ABA is not rocket science - a lot of it is in my opinion, a matter of common sense and good parenting. Parents can lose the plot when working with their children because someone may have told them along the way that their child is 'special', that they need a particular 'approach', etc etc.

Nope, they are kids after all, just like any child and they respond to the same things that any other children will respond to.

CEAT made its money in N.Ireland. Now when the money dried up, they left. Plain and simple. They moved to Wisconsin where ABA is state funded and where it has a history (Sallows, etc)

Parents are drowning in a sea of ineptitude here in Northern Ireland. There is no such thing as early intensive intervention formally available in Northern Ireland. TEACCH, SLT and OT are NOT intensive intervention, in fact with so little evidence to back up any of them, it is questionable what they are.

So, in a nutshell, if you want to do something for children with autism, think laterally - change things here - I presume you are young, no children and have time on your hands. Give it some thought - and don't just think about your own career - if you put the kids and families first, they will come to you. Parents can smell 'genuine'. Don't become another CEAT and do it for the 'money'. Its children's lives at stake here in N.Ireland.