Frequently Asked Questions

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Our Services

Can you help my child or teen who has multiple diagnoses (e.g., autism and ADHD, autism and learning disabilities)?

Yes, it is common for our clients to have multiple diagnoses.

We’ve been engaged in ABA therapy? How are you different?

For many years, behavioral therapy has been the only treatment option covered by insurance for children with autism. Treating challenging behaviors alone neglects the overall development of the child. The developmental model treats the whole child, spurring meaningful social emotional growth. Now that this choice is covered by most insurers, many parents are exploring it. Please see the section below for more information on the differences.

What services should my child be receiving through school? What’s different about your therapies?

Your child might be eligible to receive speech therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health services through their school. Most of those services will be received in a group of students. Our services are more effective because they are provided one-on-one with your child, as well as provide coaching and education for you. The greater intensity of services will lead to a stronger outcome for your child.

How will you keep me updated on my child’s progress?

Treatment plans and goals will be continually updated as we work with your child. You will meet once per quarter with your team to review progress toward those goals. Every six months, we assess your child’s progress by re-scoring the assessment tools used at intake.

What is my role (as a parent/caregiver) in my child’s developmental therapy?

You are a crucial component of your child’s developmental therapy, which can sound overwhelming. But at Positive Development, we support parents and caregivers so you can support your children.

Our coaching and education services help you understand the “why” behind how your child or teen behaves so that you no longer feel confused, frustrated, or locked out. You can build a stronger connection with them and help them at home with therapy goals via everyday interactions in fun, simple ways. When both parents and our team are helping our clients progress, it happens much faster and leads to what we call “generalization,” where your child isn’t just exhibiting a certain action or behavior for their coach, but they can also do it at meal time, bath time, and out in the community.

Do you offer virtual or at-home appointments?

We offer a hybrid model of telehealth with both clinic and in-home visits. Most speech and occupational therapy appointments will occur in our clinics. Parent training and coaching are often delivered via telehealth. Our developmental client coaches typically conduct their sessions in your home.

How much time do your services take? How often will I need to bring my child to therapy?

Our clients receive at least six hours of therapy per week during a combination of clinic and home-based visits. Typically, families come to our clinic one to two times each week.

What is the evaluation process like? How will you get to know my child who doesn’t speak/ doesn’t like strangers/is frightened of doctor’s offices, etc.?

After completing your intake documents, your first appointment will be a Parent/Caregiver Interview. Our clinician will get to know you, understand your aspirations for your child, and learn more about your child’s developmental history. The second visit will be in person with your child. The goal of this play-based session is to develop trust and a connection with your child. Our therapists are trained to learn a great deal about your child’s development by watching you and your child play.

Can you help my child or teen who has multiple diagnoses (e.g., autism and ADHD, autism and learning disabilities)?

Yes, it is common for our clients to have multiple diagnoses.

What is a care coordinator?

After you complete your intake form, you will be assigned a care coordinator who will reach out, answer questions about Positive Development, and help with insurance verification and coordinating assessments and sessions.

Do you provide therapy services for other diagnoses?

A small number of insurers will allow children/teens with other diagnoses to access our services. Our care coordinator can help you learn more.

Do I need a referral to obtain your services?

We do not require a referral for our services, but some insurance policies require them. Your care coordinator can help you determine if this is true for your insurance.

Do we need a diagnosis before we have an evaluation?

In most instances, insurance companies require that your child or teen has an autism diagnosis prior to having an evaluation with Positive Development. Your care coordinator can help you determine if your insurance company requires it.

How do I find out if my child has autism?

An autism assessment tool such as the ADOS is often administered by a clinical psychologist or a developmental pediatrician. Visit our referral source page to learn more.

Where are you located?

Please visit our location page for the most up-to-date list of our office locations. 

Do you provide services for adults with autism?

At this time we do not offer services for adults, but we hope to in the future.

Who is the best candidate for your services?

Any child or teen with an autism diagnosis can benefit from our services.

Developmental Therapy

If developmental therapy doesn’t just focus on behavior, how does mental health therapy help them?

A mental health clinician using DRBI focuses on the emotional development of your child. Processing emotions can be challenging for some children, which can result in difficult behaviors. Helping a child learn to process and regulate themselves when emotional is very important for children of all ages.

How is developmental therapy different from occupational, speech, or mental health therapies?

Developmental therapy isn’t different from these therapies. Rather, think of developmental therapy as the approach taken by all three disciplines when treating your child.

Is this method useful for diagnoses beyond autism? Which diagnoses?

While all children benefit from aspects of DRBI, currently most insurance companies will only authorize our services for children or adolescents with an autism diagnosis.

Is it clinically proven to be as good or better than ABA? What is the proof?

In 2020, the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin recognized developmental and naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBI) in its highest tier of efficacy and supported research among autism treatments.

There is a growing body of evidence with multiple academic research papers that cover key components of DRBI such as relationship-based and parent-mediated interventions, as well as whole program research and meta-analyses (examination of past studies to look at overall trends). Here is a representative selection that demonstrates the depth and breadth of this research:

  1. Three independent reviews by the California Health Benefits Review Program (CHBRP) at the University of California Berkeley (2018, 2019, 2021) conducted to advise the California Legislature found DRBI to be evidence-based for treating children with autism.
  2. DRBI and NDBI have a moderate effect size on social communication  in children with autism, while ABA research is inadequate to calculate an effect size. Sandbank 2020. This research won a 2021 award from the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).
  3. Gerald Mahoney (with F. Perales) demonstrated that relationship-focused interventions are effective for children with autism in several papers, including Using Relationship-Focused Intervention to Enhance the Social-Emotional Functioning of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (2003), Relationship-Focused Early Intervention With Children With Pervasive Developmental Disorders and Other Disabilities: A Comparative Study (2005), and Relationship-Focused Intervention (RFI): Enhancing the Role of Parents in Children’s Developmental Intervention (2009).
  4. Parent-mediated communication-focused treatment in children with autism (PacT): a randomized controlled trial, and Parent-mediated social communication therapy for young children with autism (PACT): long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trials. Pickles, Green, et al, 2010, 2016.
  5. DRBI reduces ADOS scores dramatically in children with autism. Solomon (PLAY Project), 2014.
  6. DRBI helps social communication in children with autism. Casenhiser (MEHRIT), 2011, 2014.
  7. DRBI parent coaching improves parent responsiveness in children with autism. Siller (FPI), 2013, 2014.
  8. DRBIs help a range of functional goals in children with autism (meta-analysis).  Binns, 2019.
  9. Developmental and Parent Implemented Interventions yield statistically significant outcomes. Steinbrenner, 2020.
How is developmental therapy different from ABA?

The short explanation is that ABA focuses on specific behaviors, while DRBI focuses on the whole person. 

Applied behavioral analysis (ABA), which has traditionally been the primary therapy offered for people on the autism spectrum, teaches skills to gain desired behaviors through reinforcement. ABA focuses on observable behaviors and aims to help patients meet predetermined developmental goals vs. individualistic goals. 

DRBI looks beyond specific (and often stereotyped) behaviors like aggression, rigidity, and withdrawal to understand and address the neurodevelopmental challenges beneath the surface. These challenges may include motor planning, emotional self-regulation, sensory sensitivity, learning disabilities, and speech delays.

What is developmental therapy?

Developmental relationship-based intervention (DRBI) is an evidence-based, parent-mediated approach to autism care where caregivers use warm, meaningful interactions that build on a child’s strengths and interests to support the child’s development in communicating, emotional regulation, learning, and problem solving.

The naturalistic interventions of DRBI have substantial evidence and have been shown to be as or more effective than other autism intervention approaches. In addition, DRBI meets the needs of advocacy groups such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) by focusing on function and embracing neurodiversity.


What insurance do you accept?
  • Aetna

New Jersey
  • Medicaid

  • BCBS
  • Memorial

  • Anthem Blue Cross
  • Cigna
  • Magellan
  • Optum
  • Blue Shield
  • LA Care
  • UPMC
Does Medicaid cover services for adults with autism?

Unfortunately, New Jersey Medicaid will only cover developmental therapeutic services for those 21 or under. Here are a couple of sources that might be more relevant to your needs.

Does Medicaid cover your services?

At this time, we have Medicaid coverage in New Jersey. We are working diligently to expand that coverage to remaining states.

Who should I contact if I have a question about a claim payment/non-payment for services provided by Positive Development?

Positive Development is not responsible for, or involved in any claims processing determinations made by your plan.  It is always best for our clients to reach out directly to the respective plan, in order to address any claim payment determinations or concerns.  Your claim payment contact information may be found on the back of your member ID card.

What should I do if there are any changes to my insurance?

We strongly encourage our clients to notify Positive Development as soon as possible, with any known plan changes, additional coverage, new ID cards, etc.  In an effort to avoid any potential gaps in coverage, our clients should notify their assigned Client Coordinator (and provide additional front/back copies of any newly issued ID cards), as soon as possible.

What is “prior authorization,” and how would I know if it applies to my treatment?

“Prior Authorization” is a service review/approval process, which may be required by your plan, prior to treatment.  It is used to determine if a specific treatment or service can be approved for coverage under a member’s plan, based upon the member’s eligibility and benefit details.  Prior Authorization does not guarantee payment by your plan.  All final payment determinations are made by your plan, at the time your claims are processed.  As of part of the Positive Development insurance verification process, we will verify if prior authorization is needed prior to starting services.  We will also notify our clients, and follow the plan’s applicable requirements to obtain the authorization, prior to starting services.

What is the best way to determine my potential out-of-pocket costs for services?

As a courtesy, Positive Development will contact your insurance plan to verify your eligibility and benefit details such as any applicable copays, deductibles and other cost share information.  We strongly encourage our clients to also contact your plan directly, in order to better understand more specifics relating to potential out-of-pocket costs.

How can I determine if my provider of choice is “in-network” with my plan?

Positive Development works with most major insurance carriers, in an effort to provide as much access to our services as needed. Prior to beginning treatment, all clients should contact their Member Services Department to verify the network participation status of your provider of choice.   Some plans may have greater out-of-pocket expenses, and/or specific approval requirements that are based upon the provider’s network participation status.  You may contact your Member Services Department via the method provided on the back of your member ID card.

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