It was 1994 when Dr. Braden Josephson saw his first individual with autism, and back then, no one was really talking about the disorder. When he used the word “autistic,” many people thought he was saying “artistic.” Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man was many people’s only reference to the disorder, but as we know, that story is fiction and is just one example of how autism can present itself. Today, the medical field is much better at detecting autism and other issues in childhood development and has developed effective treatment for these individuals. And that is exactly what City Pro Group Inc. endeavors to do.
Serving all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Nassau and Westchester Counties, City Pro provides state-of-the-art services to children with developmental delays and disabilities. Established in 1992 with the goal of helping each child reach his or her full potential, City Pro has become an industry leader in the evaluation and treatment of children on the autism spectrum. The organization supports early development with evaluations, service coordination and therapies that include physical and occupational, applied behavioral analysis (ABA), speech therapy, special education, parent training and other special instruction. In 2013, Applied Behavioral Interventions was launched as an affiliate organization, Applied Behavioral Interventions (ABI) sought to meet the needs of individuals with autism that have private insurance. Patient No. 1 was a young child Dr. Josephson evaluated when she was in early intervention. Six years later her mother contacted Dr. Josephson to see if insurance-based ABA services were available.
City Pro Group info“The mom learned about the New York State mandate at the same time as we did,” Josephson says, who is president and chief clinical officer at City Pro. “There was a great need for kids to access ABA and other services through their insurance and we started ABI to help meet that need. We also acquired a Rhode Island based ADHD evaluation and testing practice. We are now conducting evaluations there for both ADHD and ASD. We also launched ABA care there as well. We’re not just City Pro Group anymore, we’re a family of companies that are 100 percent committed to providing top-quality care to the children and their families.
“We have built a high-quality team of therapists and staff who are very enthusiastic about treating individuals with autism,” he adds. “This work requires a high level of enthusiasm and dedication. We use ABA therapy, which is the gold standard for treating autism-spectrum disorders. It is considered to be an evidence-based therapy that can improve social interactions and communication skills and decrease problem behaviors. ABA is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General. and has led to sustained positive outcomes for many people.
“We approach every person with hope and a positive perspective, which helps their family understand the treatment can be successful,” he continues. “We couldn’t do this without our team, who is dedicated, passionate and highly motivated.”
‘A Great Demand’
City Pro’s services are provided in the child’s natural environment, which is usually the home, but also may be in a day care or another setting comfortable for the child. To best meet the needs of the community, in addition to English, City Pro’s staff speaks an array of languages, including Spanish and Russian.
The organization offers services through three programs:
* NY State Early Intervention Program – A public program for children under the age of three who are suspected of having or at risk for developmental delays or disabilities.
Evaluations—Both City Pro and ABI provide multilingual evaluations to help assess an individual’s functioning level and diagnosis (e.g., Autism Spectrum and/or developmental delay)
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) – ABA therapy is utilized in the Early Intervention Program to address the developmental, social and emotional needs of children with autism spectrum disorders and incorporates directive and naturalistic teaching methods to meet the needs of each child.
Service coordination – This multicultural and multilingual division facilitates evaluations and guides families through every step of the Early Intervention process by providing information and support to families.
* Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE) – City Pro provides multidisciplinary evaluations to children ages three through five who are suspected of having delays in development or other special needs.
* Applied Behavioral Intervention (ABI) ABI provides ABA services through commercial insurance for individuals aged 3-21 who have autism spectrum disorders and also provides support for their families.
City Pro Group 1City Pro has been able to expand as a result of its success and the demand for its services. In addition to their home-based services, it has one Early Intervention Centerbased program in the Bronx, and recently added a second location in Westchester County. The New Rochelle program provides care at individuals’ homes or in the center, and Josephson notes the all of the center-based teachers and technicians are “caring and dedicated” and create an incredible environment for learning.
The operation also has implemented a new electronic medical record system, improving its clinical performance, compliance, and data collection. Josephson notes the increased amount of real-time data from this system helps City Pro maximize success with easier analysis. New mobile technology also is allowing the organization to go paperless.
Additionally, City Pro offers multiple training programs for its staff and families. It regularly communicates with families to determine if they need any additional help, but it’s also important for staff members to improve their skill sets and remain up to date with innovation in the field.
“The prevalence of autism continues to climb,” Josephson stresses. “There is a great demand for treatment and demand for qualified therapists, and we are focused on growing our services responsibly while maintaining the continuum of care. Our clinical leadership has been connecting with local universities and graduate programs to continue to attract students and clinicians to this field. Our clinical team presents as guest lecturers and aims to generate excitement in students to encourage them to study to be board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs). That is what happened to me – I learned about this work in a school program and I quickly knew that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my career.”
By attracting more staff to its team, City Pro hopes to expand even further. Josephson explains early and more intensive treatment for these children is important for improved long-term outcomes. He wants people to join City Pro who reflect the operation’s family-centered culture and are as passionate and dedicated as its current staff.
“We’ve been really focused on this population since 2008, and our success to-date should be attributed to the individuals on this team. Our entire team is always seeking ways to better serve this population, and it helps that we have great clinical leadership across the organization. This ensures we’re making operational decisions based on the best research and clinical practices.”