Most frequent questions and answers

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder that is neurological in nature, although behaviorally diagnosed.  According to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) as published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) constitutes deficits along three major areas of development:

 1) Persistent difficulties in social communication and interaction,

2) Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities, and

3) With or without accompanying language or intellectual impairment.

Even very young infants can begin to show warning signs of autism, so it is important for parents and primary caregivers to be aware of what they are.  Some red flags that your child may have autism may include a lack of a social smile, lack of eye contact, being unresponsive to name, lack of pointing, lack of imitation, delayed speech and language development, hypersensitivity to lights and sounds, and repetitive motor mannerisms.

Autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as 18 months or even sooner.  If you suspect your child has autism, do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician.  The earlier you help your child access medically necessary ABA therapy, the better his or her lifetime prognosis will be.  

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is typically diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist.  If you suspect your child has autism, contact your child’s pediatrician who will then provide you with a referral for a diagnostic assessment with a pediatric neurologist.  If a more thorough autism specific assessment is required by your insurance carrier in order to cover ABA therapy services, this service may be provided by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist.  This additional assessment may or may not require another referral from your pediatrician depending on your health insurance plan.

ABA Therapy is the #1 evidence-based treatment of autism.  ABA therapy is a scientific approach to behavior change that focuses on increasing adaptive patterns of behavior (i.e., speech, social skills, independent living skills) while also decreasing maladaptive patterns of behavior (i.e., tantrum behavior, aggression toward others, property destruction, self-injurious behavior, self-stimulatory behavior, etc.).  ABA Therapy is considered a medically necessary treatment for children diagnosed with autism and can drastically improve your child and family’s overall quality of life.  

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) is responsible for maintaining the quality and integrity of practitioners in the field of ABA.  ABA therapy is commonly provided as a 3-tiered service delivery system in which a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) supervises the work of a Board Certified assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) and a team of Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs).  Knowing your child’s ABA therapy team consists of a BCBA, a BCaBA and RBTs is the best way to ensure that your child is accessing high-quality ABA therapy services.  We take pride in knowing that all Lotus clinical team members are recognized by the BACB.  

ABA Therapy is covered by most health insurance plans.  We are in-network providers with Aetna, AvMed, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Carisk, Cigna, Coventry, Florida Blue, Humana, Humana Military TriCare East, and United.  We also accept payment from the CDC+, Gardiner Scholarship, and VPK-SIS programs.  We are not currently in-network with Medicaid and cannot accept any Marketplace or Medicaid funded plans at this time. 

Let us come to you!  We strictly provide ABA therapy services in the child’s natural environment, which typically consists of the home, daycare center, school, after care program or other community setting.  We are passionate about building generalization into ABA programming so that your child can make progress with the people and in the environments they naturally interact with on a daily basis.  

We service children with autism across South Florida throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.  We also service children in Puerto Rico and throughout the rest of the world with the use of telehealth technology.  No matter where you live, it would be our pleasure to help your child reach his or her fullest developmental potentials.  

Research indicates that anywhere between 10-40 hours of ABA therapy per week is suitable for most children on the spectrum to make significant clinical gains in their development.  Every child and family is different.  Following a formal intake interview and assessment of your child’s needs and availability, we will create an individualized ABA treatment plan that will work for you.

Most children with autism will need ABA therapy for many years, starting soon after diagnosis.  Children who receive early intensive behavioral intervention have the best lifetime prognosis.  Your child’s ABA therapy team will continuously monitor their progress to make changes in the frequency and intensity of their intervention as needed.  

We mainly provide ABA therapy to infants, toddlers, children and adolescents diagnosed with autism aged 0-17.  When funding is available, we can also treat adults on the spectrum.

Most members of our ABA Therapy team are bilingual and fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), which makes it possible for us to communicate with children and families with multi-cultural backgrounds.  It is important to note that within the United States, however, ABA therapy is strictly conducted in English in order to support the language your child is exposed to with his teachers and peers at school, in television and on-line programming, in books and reading materials, etc.  

Karelix Alicea


Founder / President of Lotus Behavioral Interventions

Miss Alicea received both her bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology with a specialization in behavior analysis under the direction of the esteemed Dr. Jacob L. Gewirtz at Florida International University (FIU), and is currently in the process of completing an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership and Applied Behavior Analysis from Nova Southeastern University.

Following a period of almost 10 years of experience in the field, she founded Lotus Behavioral Interventions in 2009. Miss Alicea taught undergraduate-level behavior analysis coursework for several years at FIU and Carlos Albizu University, and is a graduate-level intensive practicum supervisor at Simmons College, Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and University of South Florida (USF), all of which are Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) accredited programs.

She has presented on the benefits of sign language and telehealth services for children with autism in addition to ethical service delivery, supervision and entrepreneurship at various professional conferences, including the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis (FABA) and ABAI.

Miss Alicea is an active member of the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA), and can render services in English, Spanish, American Sign Language (ASL) both face-to-face and via telehealth with the use of HIPAA-compliant technology.