Hoom House Offers Hope for Families Dealing with AutismBy Jane Whitttington on February 12th, 2017 /
A diagnosis of autism can be devastating for any parent. The Centers for Disease Control says that one in 68 children ages three-17 in the United States have been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Autism is a hugely complicated disorder, defined by Autism Speaks, a well-regarded autism advocacy and education organization, this way: “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.”
Finding the best treatment for an autistic child can be daunting, especially if the child is not yet school-age and eligible to receive services through the educational system. Additionally, waiting lists for treatment options may be long, and, in some areas, might not even be available. While all children with a diagnosis of autism would benefit from treatment, options are limited.
Hoom House, located in Grand Rapids and founded by husband and wife Bryce Kaiser and Lauren Hoomaian, is helping parents and children by offering online cognitive behavior therapy for autistic children and their families.
Kaiser says, “Our program is aimed at children aged two through six and their parents although we are also available to work with older children. Because our services are online, it’s a practical and convenient option; the services can be accessed at any time and in any place.”
He continues, “Waiting lists for treatment programs can be as long as two years in some areas, and location and hours of operation may not work out for some families. We know that early intervention is the most effective, and children and their families can access Hoom House immediately after the initial diagnosis rather than having to wait for an indefinite period of time.”
The process at Hoom House begins with a one-hour assessment video call using a platform similar to Skype, developed to meet HIPAA requirements, which mandates strict patient/provider privacy and security. This proprietary technology was developed by Kaiser.
Kaiser explains, “After the original assessment, Lauren develops a treatment plan for virtual intervention.”
He continues, “Part of our unique approach is the development of parental enablement. In other therapies, the children may undergo treatment on their own without the parent being part of the process. In our method, the parent, therapist and child become a team; the parent is there for the session and is able to carry over techniques from therapy to day-to-day life with their child. In essence, the parent become head of the care team.”
Hoom House focuses on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). According to Autism Speaks, “Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism. It has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the New York State Department of Health. ABA principles and techniques can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading, conversing and understanding another person’s perspective.”
Hooaiman is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, achieving graduate-level certification for independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services.
Lauren Hoomaian says, “We train families to work with their children using ABA techniques so that every day, all day, positive behaviors are reinforced. In a typical session, we are working with the child at the same time we work with the parent to model behaviors and implement techniques that can help their child progress. I can explain the behavior to the parent and then watch as the parent works with the child. I can provide feedback and, if necessary, further instruction.”
Hoom House has worked with over 80 families and plans to expand with a growing team and continued advances in both technologies and therapies.
Kaiser and Hoomaian were led to this work through Kaiser’s nephew who was diagnosed with autism. Seeing the struggle his parents went through to provide the best services for their son inspired Kaiser and Hoomaian to develop their business as a response to the need for treatment options. They worked with SBDC and other resources for entrepreneurs. Kaiser says, “Grand Rapids has a great network of entrepreneurs and organizations which help people who are looking to start new businesses. Support within the community is strong and much appreciated.”
Hoomaian says, “It’s a wonderful feeling to see children progress and achieve more than the family ever thought they could. For parents, we give compassion, hope, and successful treatment for their children.”
For more information about Hoom House, visit their website at www.hoomhouse.com. Through their website, they are available to answer questions and discuss their program at no charge.