PEWAUKEE — A four-and-a-half
year old West Bend boy who virtually ignored visitors and silently
led parents to what he wanted now tells jokes, laughs, shows
curiosity and emotion.
His parents credit the change to Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy
he’s undergone for the past 18 months at the hands of technicians
from the Wiebusch & Nicholson Center for Autism.
His mother was resistant to therapy after her son was diagnosed with
autism spectrum disorder, but then technicians began to work with
“When I saw the difference in him I changed my mind,” said the mom,
who asked that she and her son not be identified.
WNCA Associate Director S. Jennifer Nicholson said ABA breaks skills
down into measurable teaching units that allow children to
experience success with small gains that build into larger skills.
The Pewaukee-based business provides ABA therapy for individuals
with autism spectrum disorders throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Nicholson, who is a board certified behavior analyst, became a
certified teacher for children with autism in 1998.
In 1999 she moved from Kansas to Wisconsin to administrate an
in-home program for children with autism. Along with licensed
psychologist Christopher Wiebusch, they established the Wiebusch and
Nicholson Center for Autism in 2004.
Skills taught range from toilet training and dressing to
socialization, behavioral control, adaptive coping and academic
Intensive in-home therapy usually requires technicians to work with
a child between 25 and 35 hours per week.
“The number one reason kids don’t get the help they need is because
there is a shortage of technicians, not enough people for the job,”
WNCA is always looking for applicants.
The boy’s father said at the age of 15 months, his son still hadn’t
made a sound. They took him to a speech pathologist and three months
later ended up at WNCA.
Although WNCA does not admit to or identify its clients, the father
said his son was diagnosed as being on the low to moderate spectrum
of the disorder and began receiving services about three months
“He started with one word — ‘bubbles’ — and kept working. It’s been
almost two years and he’s done a 180,” the father said.
Nicholson said children begin at a spot on the spectrum — from
mildly impaired but able to function to moderate or severe. Children
on the severe end of the autism spectrum can be nonverbal and have
great difficulties learning and functioning, but that does not mean
they are incapable of learning.
While it isn’t a hard and fast rule, with help Nicholson said many
children can improve their place on the spectrum.
There is no proven cause and no known cure for autism.
About 1 in 59 children were been identified with ASD in 2014
according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring
Network. In 2006, those numbers were 1 in 110 for the same number of
Nicholson could not say for sure whether an increase in screening
and diagnosis or an increase in the actual disorder is responsible
for the rise of numbers of children with ASD.
Information from the CDC states that Autism Spectrum Disorder occurs
in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but is about four
times more common among boys.
For more information on Wiebusch and Nicholson Center for Autism,
check online at www.wncautism.com.