Autism is a lifelong condition that affects many aspects of an individual’s functioning. With a deeper understanding of the dynamic needs of children with autism, multi-disciplinary clinics are rapidly growing. In fact, CentralReach’s CanaryBI data shows us that multi-disciplinary services have risen 56% since 2021.
Multi-disciplinary services not only cater to each child’s diverse needs but also address the complex interplay of challenges children and their families face. More and more organizations are recognizing the immense benefits of expanding their service offerings to meet a broader range of needs for their learners. However, the decision to expand to new disciplines should not be made lightly. There are many considerations for branching out into a multi-disciplinary care team. Aprendamos Family of Services knows this unique experience well as a multi-disciplinary clinic dedicated to supporting families across the lifespan. If you’re considering expanding your ABA services into a multi-disciplinary care team, read on to learn about some of the considerations to make based on the Aprendamos team’s experiences.
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To learn more about Aprendamos journey into becoming a multi-disciplinary care provider.
Expand Services Based On Need
The first step in the process of expanding disciplines is to identify the needs within the communities you serve. Consider what service(s) are lacking in your community and what types of support families are in need of. It’s essential to develop relationships with people within your community to better understand the community’s needs.
Consider the following recommendations to identify the types of services your company could expand by offering.
Communicate with current families. Have a discussion with your current families about what other services they would benefit from and what barriers are present to accessing these services. Encourage families to consider services their child would benefit from directly, as well as services the parents and whole family could benefit from, such as parental support or mental healthcare. Gathering this information from those you already serve can be enlightening and help you gain a deep understanding of the services families in your area need.
Develop relationships with other providers. Communicate with doctors, diagnosticians, educators, and others who may make referrals for various services in your area. Inquire about the services they struggle to make referrals for based on the availability of local providers.
Reach out to organizational leaders nearby. Speak with companies near you about their services and the estimated waitlist duration for various services. Consider expanding into disciplines with longer waitlists. Developing these relationships with other providers can help you establish a healthy outreach, which could help you bring in referrals (i.e., from another company’s extensive waitlist) when you’re ready to begin providing the service.
“It’s a lifelong journey of learning, not only for the families we’re serving but for us as clinicians also. We are learning by listening to the other providers, the other clinicians, and the experience of the families.”
Developing relationships goes a long way both in the early stages of exploring multi-disciplinary care expansion and on an ongoing basis.
Services to Consider
There are many potential services you can add to your practice to offer a more holistic approach to care, including:
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Early intervention
- Family counseling and support
- Mental health care
- Parenting classes
- Pediatric feeding support
- Social skills classes
- Vocational training
- Transition planning for adulthood
Do Your Due Diligence
Identifying the need within your community is only the first step. Next, carefully consider the many factors involved with expanding your practice into new disciplines. Evaluate the following aspects that need to be considered before beginning this process.
Evaluate staffing. Do you currently have the staff available to provide the new services? Consider the availability of qualified clinicians for each service you are contemplating. While there may be a need for a particular service in your community, it’s necessary to consider whether staffing shortages would impact your ability to provide that service.
Consider funding sources. Determine where funding would come from for the potential new services. Would it be insurance funded? Are state grants available? Carefully review the funding options to determine whether expansion would be financially viable. Assess the need for collaboration across disciplines and ensure you can absorb the costs of non-billable team meetings.
Explore integrated platforms. Identify whether your practice management, clinical data collection, billing, and other software platforms have what you need for each potential service. Utilizing a shared platform can enhance the seamless collaboration among care providers.
Establish a culture of collaboration. Ensure your current team values interdisciplinary collaboration. Help your team understand the importance of collaboration and support them in developing the competencies necessary for successful multidisciplinary care. While staffing, hire candidates whose passion and values align with a whole-person care approach.
Are you ready to further explore the idea of growing into a multi-disciplinary practice? Learn from field leaders who have experienced firsthand the unique process of expanding their services to better meet the needs of their community.
Join Cara Soto, MA, BCBA, on this informative discussion with industry experts Celina Waller, COO, and Katrina Hille, MS, BCBA, Director of Autism Services of Aprendamos Family of Services. This on-demand webinar will provide you with thought-provoking insights into the process of multi-disciplinary expansion. Check it out and be on your way to your own journey of multi-disciplinary care!
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