Aurora Behavioral Health offers a special needs behavioral health unit for children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Often, young patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unable to find a behavioral health treatment program that caters to their special needs. Our special needs unit helps ensure that these children and adolescents can access behavioral health treatment.
If you are a clinician or behavioral health professional and wish to refer a patient to our special needs behavioral health unit, please download and complete our Specialized Needs Unit Referral Form. After you complete the form, please send the form and any supporting documentation to Patient.Services@aurorabehavioral.com.
Learn more about our special needs behavioral health unit below.
Behavioral health treatment for patients with special needs
The clinical team at our special needs behavioral health unit understands that each patient is unique. Accordingly, our team provides each patient with a customized treatment program. Treatment programs use a wide range of evidence-based methods, including:
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) - ABA is a form of behavioral therapy that helps improve communication and learning capabilities among children with autism. ABA uses positive reinforcement to help the patient achieve behavioral change. Clinicians can customize each ABA program to meet patient needs, and many ABA programs involve developing key skills that are important in everyday life.
- Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) - PBS is a form of ABA that addresses the reasons and reinforcement mechanisms behind a person’s behavior. PBS programs focus on non-punitive and systematic methods to help patients achieve their behavioral health goals.
- Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) - FBA therapy addresses the functions that undesired behaviors serve and helps patients evaluate the purpose of their behaviors.
- Verbal behavior support - Verbal behavioral support helps encourage patients with autism to use speech as a communication tool. A key component of verbal behavior support is “errorless learning,” which uses frequent prompts and repetition methods that help patients gain confidence and independence over time.
- Animal-assisted therapy - This therapy method can help patients build emotional bonds and improve self-esteem. Additionally, animal-assisted therapy can integrate with a variety of goal-based treatment methods.
Many of the above treatment methods make use of behavioral intervention planning (BIP) and behavioral support planning (BSP) components. When clinicians better understand a patient’s behavioral needs, they can make a plan with the patient and the patient’s family and set up reward structures for behavioral improvements. Clinicians can adjust the plan over time as the patient’s needs change and develop. BIP and BSP provide structure and consistency to a patient’s behavioral health journey, and proper planning can help patients better measure and understand their improvements over time.
Our special needs team enhances each program by involving family members and caregivers during treatment and providing training for these individuals. Involving family members and caregivers in the patient’s treatment progress is vital to helping patients with special needs achieve lasting behavioral change.
Our special needs unit also has a higher staff-to-patient ratio than other sections of the hospital. Also, some treatment programs at our special needs unit have a medication component. During inpatient treatment programs, our clinical team provides medication management services.
Our care philosophy for patients with special needs
Our team’s goal is to help patients with special needs improve their behavioral health and overall wellbeing. In addition to clinical interventions and therapy programs, we aim to deliver holistic care that addresses each patient’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, too. To achieve that goal, our treatment programs include social components, such as group talk therapy, physical therapy, and chaplain services.
Our care philosophy also focuses on preparing patients and their families for a smooth transfer back into their communities and home life. Our team trains family members and caregivers to manage the patient’s behavioral health and medications after discharge. Also, many patients enroll in ongoing care through our outpatient programs.
Admission criteria and assessments
Our program is available to children and adolescents who are between 8 and 17 years old. Patients in our special needs behavioral health unit must have a diagnosis for an intellectual or developmental disability.
Before enrolling in a treatment program, prospective patients undergo a comprehensive assessment of their physical and mental health. Assessment components include:
- An analysis of psychiatric and behavioral needs
- A speech-language pathology assessment
- An occupational therapy assessment
- A physical therapy assessment
- An analysis of environmental and family factors
- A sleep hygiene and disturbances assessment
- A medical condition analysis regarding seizure disorders, gastrointestinal issues, and pain
With the comprehensive assessment results, our clinical team can better understand each patient’s behavioral challenges and unique needs. Additionally, our team can begin building a custom treatment program.
Getting started at Aurora Behavioral Health
Getting started with behavioral health services at Aurora Behavioral Health is easy. To enroll in a program at our special needs behavioral health unit, the first step is to reach out to our team. You can call us directly at (877) 870-7012. Our team is available to take your call 24/7. Alternatively, you can contact us online, and we will reach out to you as soon as possible.
On the phone, a member of our team can help answer any questions you have about our special needs behavioral health unit and treatment programs. Additionally, a team member can help schedule your loved one for a free mental health assessment. This free mental health assessment is different from the comprehensive assessment above. However, it will help our clinical staff determine if our special needs behavioral health unit is the patient’s best choice.