Nina Finkler Autism Consulting, LLC Provides Help For Individuals With Autism
SPECIAL HELP: “Our multi-disciplinary team of professionals, including a learning consultant (LDTC), a speech pathologist, and a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA) are able to provide comprehensive evaluation services to accurately identify children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), prescribe treatment options, and help them reach their full potential.” Nina Finkler, M.Ed., LDT/C, BCBA, is founder and president of Nina Finkler Autism Consulting, LLC.
By Jean Stratton
The condition can be noticed early. Perhaps the 3-year-old seems removed, indifferent, unable to interact with family members, often refusing to look at people, avoiding touch, fearful of sudden noises.
These are just some symptoms that can occur with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Identified in the U.S. in 1943 by Dr. Leo Kanner, it is a bio-neurological developmental disability which impacts the normal development of the brain regarding social interaction, conversation skills, and cognitive function. Difficulties can affect both verbal and non-verbal communication.
The condition has been increasing dramatically, and it is more prevalent among boys than girls. The increase may be due to a variety of causes, but the reasons for the gender differences are basically unknown, reports Nina Finkler, M.Ed., LDT/C. BCBA, founder and president of Nina Finkler Autism Consulting, LLC in East Windsor.
“In 2020, one in 54 children in the U.S. were diagnosed with autism. In New Jersey, it is one in 32, the highest rate in the country. The increase can be attributed to several factors, including increased awareness, improved diagnostic tools, and modified diagnostic criteria.
“Autism is 4 to 5 times more common in males than in females, and the reason has not been entirely
determined. Autism tends to be diagnosed by the age of 3, but there are many cases when the diagnosis occurs later.”
A number of people believe that early vaccinations for children have contributed to the rise of autism, but this has been generally disproven by the medical profession. “Based on research, there has not been a connection shown between vaccines and autism,” says Finkler. “One of my roles is to continue to provide current research and information to families.”
Finkler opened her consulting practice in 2015, but has been in the autism field since 1991. “I was first introduced to autism while at Rutgers completing my undergraduate degree,” she explains. “I did a field placement at a school for children with autism, and I was immediately hooked. After graduating, I began working full-time as a teacher at a school for autistic children. I remained there in different roles for 25 years, and then started my practice.”
She received advanced degrees and certification at Rutgers. “I am an NJ certified teacher of the handicapped, a New Jersey learning disability teacher consultant, NJ supervisor. I am also a board certified behavior analyst, and my master’s is in special education. I obtained my BCBA in 2003 after passing the exam. I will be starting my doctoral studies in
September of this year.”
Finkler has addressed issues at both the state and national level on such topics as effective teaching strategies for students with autism, behavior management strategies, and educational assessment. She has consulted with more than 50 public and private schools, and has been an invited speaker for several educational institutions, including the Cleveland Clinic.
Her experience includes extensive practical application of applied behavior analysis (ABA), curriculum development, professional and parent training, consultation, and assessment.
Her practice includes a staff of 20, with experience in special education, behavior therapy, and occupational therapy. Clients range in age from 18 months to 22 years old, with the majority children and teens. All sessions are private, one-on-one within the individual’s home, classroom, or community.
“Most of our students attend public schools in their local districts or special services school districts like Mercer County Special Services,” explains Finkler.
Treatment sessions vary depending on each case, but typically they are two to three hours, and held at least 10 hours a week.
“Autism is a spectrum, which means that there is a wide range of strengths and weaknesses. Individuals with autism present with symptoms that are severe to mild. Autism impacts three main areas of functioning: socialization, communication, and behavior. There are individuals on the spectrum who can succeed in college, and those who cannot.”
Unfortunately, she adds, adult services continue to be limited, which has a negative impact on these individual’s lives, and can cause ongoing challenges for their families.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the focus of treatment at Nina Finkler Autism Consulting. As she explains, “Our ABA Therapy program provides parents and caregivers with the tools and strategies they need to effectively address many of the difficult issues which arise from having a child with autism. We can help you set realistic goals and develop a plan to reach those goals. Through observation, training, and hands-on demonstration, our dedicated therapists will teach parents and caregivers how to implement these strategies. These strategies are research-based, and considered the best practices.”
“Depending on the session, we may work on communication skills, making requests, labeling objects, asking questions,” she continues. “We may work on toilet training and other self-care skills. There is an opportunity to work on play and leisure skills. Throughout, we are addressing inappropriate behaviors. These are behaviors that individuals engage in that may interfere with learning, or may be harmful to themselves or others.”
If social interaction is difficult for the clients, socialization can be broken down into manageable parts,” she explains. “The goal is to teach skills to the person one-on-one, and then we work to generalize their skills with other people.
“Attention spans vary,” she adds, “and sessions are made up of different skills so there is a lot of repetition during the session, as this is the key to learning. Success is measured individually. We set realistic goals for each child and work on achieving them. Some goals are measured in duration — how long they can focus or attend to a task. Some goals are measured by the reduction of interfering
behaviors. For some, success is improved by increasing requests or by the number of items they can identify.”
In addition to working with individual clients, Nina Finkler Autism Consulting offers school consultation and training.
“Our school consultations assist school districts in the development and implementation of appropriate quality services for students with ASD,” explains Finkler. “School consults include real time staff training, behavior management, curriculum selection/implementation, and IEP development. We work with public and private schools as well as state and private agencies throughout New Jersey and surrounding areas. Consultation services can be provided for an entire classroom, school building, or individual students.”
Training is available for professional development and parent training, she adds. “The training can be designed to meet the individual needs of the program, professional, or family. We also can accommodate groups of any size.”
The training program
covers a wide range of topics and strategies suitable for varied situations and settings.
Helping to make a positive difference in the lives of her clients and their families is the priority for Nina Finkler, as is educating more people about autism and its ramifications.
As she says, ”I am encouraged by the increased awareness and availability of services for individuals with autism. I love the challenge of helping children and their families. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the work you put in result in success for the child.”
For further information, call (609) 608-5061. Website: finklerautism.com.