Brightline launches virtual coaching program for young children with autism

The Getting an Early Start on Autism Program builds on top of current support models and fills gaps in care by delivering virtual training to caregivers.

Brightline website

Behavioral health company Brightline announced the nationwide launch of a first-of-its-kind virtual coaching program for caregivers of young children at risk for or with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The company’s new caregiver coaching program, Getting an Early Start on Autism, is based upon early interventions that have been clinically proven to drive long-term positive effects on the common symptoms of ASD as well as the development of later skills. The program is delivered by highly trained behavioral health coaches with deep expertise in helping children and caregivers with common challenges associated with autism.

How does it work?

The Getting an Early Start on Autism program from Brightline is designed for caregivers of young children ages 18 months through 6 years. Brightline’s approach is delivered in a virtual setting to scale this proven first-line intervention. The program includes 1:1 sessions with a dedicated coach trained and experienced in autism care, as well as supplementary exercises and content resources to support families across all stages of their early autism journeys. Throughout the program, progress is measured to achieve outcomes faster.

Brightline’s integrated care system with in-house experts removes the painful step for families in having to search for various specialists across different regions. It also allows families to simultaneously address other comorbidities associated with ASD within the same system of care, including ADHD and other disruptive behaviors, through other coaching and therapy offerings. This is particularly important given that more than half of all individuals who have been diagnosed with ASD also have signs of ADHD. In fact, ADHD is the most common coexisting condition in children with ASD. Additionally, through its speech language therapy offering, the team of Brightline speech language pathologists can work through language and communication challenges with children as young as 18 months.

Why does it matter?

Prevalence of ASDs has risen in the past decade by 78%, and the majority of children with ASD had a higher probability of worsened behavioral symptoms during the pandemic. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parent management training is the first-line intervention for children with ASD or disruptive behaviors and is widely considered to be the most important tool for decreasing aggression, defiance, and oppositional behavior at home in children and adolescents. Early interventions give children the best start possible and the highest chance of developing to their full potential. The sooner a child gets help, the greater the probability for learning and progress – with many children making significant improvements in all areas in which children with autism have difficulty. Yet the current model for autism care is broken, and less than a third of caregivers have access to necessary training.

On the record

“Families of young children with ASD and at-risk for ASD have needed something like our program for a long time,” said NonyĆ© Nwosu Kanu, Ph.D, Brightline’s Program Development Manager. “Our program has been carefully crafted for families occupying a range of experiences from first concerns to early intervention to experienced navigators of care systems, whether pre-or-post-diagnosis. As an ASD family member, I wish a program like this existed for my family.”

“Accessing competent and helpful ASD professionals can be time and money intensive, prolonging the gap between diagnosis and intervention,” said Thea Shukaliak-Neufeld, OTD, OTR/L. “Readily available coaches can fill the gap both pre-and post-diagnosis by providing tailored strategies from a suite of well-defined modules addressing various skills, such as social communication and engagement, behavior modification, and adaptive behavior. Early intervention provides caregivers with validation and support as concerns arise. Supporting caregivers of children with ASD is paramount to the overall well-being of the family unit, and coaches at Brightline are the link to future multidisciplinary and coordinated care.”

“Brightline is harnessing technology and specialized behavioral health coaching to teach parents scientifically proven skills that can promote their children’s social and communicative development,” said David Grodberg, Brightline’s Chief Psychiatric Officer. “The scalability of this focused program holds promise to help parents and caregivers much sooner than the current system allows.”

The context

This news comes on the heels of Brightline’s recent $105M Series C funding round and national expansion of clinical services available in all 50 states. Brightline is rapidly partnering with leading employers and health plans across the country and now serves 50 employers and covers over 24 million health plan lives with plans to reach over 50 million health plan lives in 2022.