6 Reasons Why Autism Step Would Be the Wrong Step for your Child
To the unknowing parent, Autism Step appears to be a reputable and established autism therapy centre that looks like it could offer quality early intervention services for their child.
After all, its website proudly displays an award from Parent’s World on its homepage that proclaims it to be the “best” in early intervention programmes for children with autism.
It even has a senior consultant from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Dr Veerasamy Senthamil Selvan, who vouches for it and personally endorses its clinical director Mr Zhang Liyuan, who claims to have over 20,000 hours of work with children with autism.
However, once they take a closer look, parents will quickly come to realize that Autism Step’s promise of “walking your child out of autism” is nothing more than a lie.
In fact, there are six simple reasons why choosing Autism Step would be the wrong step for parents of children with autism.
#6. Autism Step Is Only Established in 2014
Autism Step claims to be “a team of highly trained and experienced therapists”. However, it is a company that is only established recently in 2014.
How realistic would it be for such a newly established centre to attract experienced therapists to join its team? Is it even possible that this newcomer to the industry can actually have the resources to provide high levels of training to its current staff?
Far more likely is the reality that most of its staff are new and inexperienced therapists who have very little experience or training to work with children.
In fact, the majority of its staff are put on short-term 3-month contracts so the company can cut costs by avoiding the need to provide them with medical and other benefits.
Since most of its therapists are basically contract workers, there is very little incentive for them to perform their best as they expect to leave the company very soon. The turnover is high and this becomes very disruptive for the child as not a single therapist can stay long enough to form a close enough bond with him or her so that the child can trust the therapist enough to work closely with the therapist.
Would you actually trust such a centre to provide the best outcome for your child?
#5. Autism Step Doesn’t Have An Office
Autism Step only offers 1 to 1 home-based therapy. On the surface, this would seem to be the best form of therapy for the child. The child receives the sole undivided attention of the therapist while parents would welcome the convenience of having the therapist come to their home rather than go through the hassle of sending and fetching their child from the therapy centre.
However, because the child never gets to socialize with peers in a centre-based setting, the child would still lack the socialization skills necessary to make it to mainstream schools.
Most galling of all though is the reason why Autism Step only offers 1 to 1 home-based therapy.
It is that they do not even have an office!
Even though they have an office address listed on their website, this is actually a virtual office and they do not welcome you walking in to this address unannounced. As listed by their own website, meetings are only by appointment. Why? Because they need to arrange with the actual owner of the office to book the office space to even get to use it! Obviously, they have no wish to disclose this fact to the public online.
Without an actual physical office, Autism Step is no different from any fly-by-night business that can easily end its operations the very next day. At particular risk are parents who stand to lose thousands in therapy fees paid for in advance if Autism Step should suddenly close down.
#4. Cutting Costs & Cutting Corners To Increase Profit Margins
Not having an office is only just the tip of the iceberg for Autism Step in their efforts to pare operating costs to the minimum so as to increase profits.
As mentioned earlier, they provide their staff only with short-term contracts so they need not provide medical and other benefits for them.
Due to their overriding need to cut costs, Autism Step also provides no training to their staff. This only makes sense to them because their staff are on such short tenures that there is no point training them for them just to leave the company soon afterwards.
With their less than attractive terms of employment and no provision of training to their staff, it is little wonder then that the company would be looking for the majority of their staff in new, inexperienced and unskilled therapists who only just entered the industry looking for their first job and could be more easily exploited.
Occasionally, they may get to hire second-rate former staff from other companies in the industry. Putting aside the fact their less than satisfactory work performance that inevitably led to their exit from their former companies, these substandard therapists also practise different approaches to autism treatment and therapy. As a result, there can no hope of consistency in methods used by the Autism Step therapists.
With such constant flux and change in the company staff and the inexperience and lack of training of the therapists employed there, could parents reasonably expect their child to receive the best treatment and attention at Autism Step? Of course not.
However, Autism Step has a secret “weapon” to get business.
#3. Relentless Marketing & Buying Awards
With Autism Step working so hard to cut costs, how could it actually attract the attention and business of parents looking for early intervention services for their child.
This, here, is the crux of Autism Step’s strategy. By cutting costs and corners in many areas of their business and therapy services, they are able to put most of their money and resources into marketing their business so they can buy their way into the spotlight of the industry and gain parents’ attention and business.
They do so by spending heavily online, setting aside a hefty budget for Adwords advertising so their ads could appear at or near the top in parents’ search results for autism treatment centres.
They also spend money to set up alliances and partnerships with other companies so they can appear reputable and established in the shortest time possible and then placing these alliances and partnerships prominently on their website.
Autism Step even went the extra mile by using money to buy the award of “Best in Early Intervention Programmes for Children with Autism” from Parent’s World Magazine, which is about the only way they could be “best” in anything to do with autism treatment, considering the way that they run their business.
In the light of these revelations, Autism Step’s clinical director Zhang Liyuan’s feature of being one of Asia’s top entrepreneurs also becomes highly suspect as it is just as likely that he bought the publicity for himself and his business.
#2. Meaningless Endorsements
Placed prominently on their website homepage is an endorsement from Dr Veerasamy Senthamil Selvan, who is indeed a senior consultant from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
However, a simple cursory check online quickly reveals that Dr Veerasamy Senthamil Selvan has nothing whatsoever to do with autism treatment and therapy services at all.
The website at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital lists his medical speciality as internal medicine. Even his own professed special interest listed on the website is actually general nephrology, a specialty of medicine and pediatrics that concerns itself with the study and treatment of kidney problems, something that has nothing whatsoever to do with autism or autism treatment at all.
This again is a common trick employed by Autism Step to attempt to plaster a veneer of respectability to its business.
On the surface, an endorsement by a practicing qualified medical doctor would seem to be very impressive. However, scratch the surface, and it quickly becomes apparent that the endorsement by this doctor who has no medical or professional experience in treating autism at all is as worthless as the 1-cent coin in Singapore.
#1. Lies and Exaggerated Claims
Now that we are familiar with the trickeries and deception practiced by Autism Step in its attempts to get customers, we can begin to start looking at the lies and exaggerated claims made by its clinical director Zhang Liyuan himself.
Featured prominently on his “About” page is his claim that he has accrued more than 20,000 hours of working with children with autism. This is plainly false and a lie as Zhang Liyuan himself is only in his 30s this year. Unless, Zhang Liyuan started working with children with autism even before he was born when he was still in his mother’s womb, it is highly unlikely and almost impossible for him to attain 20,000 hours of work with children with autism even if he simply includes all the coursework hours he has had with children while majoring in his bachelor’s degree in psychology and any other volunteer work he has done.
The sheer audacity of his lie reveals a profiteer who only seeks to make a quick buck off parents by hoping to hoodwink them in believing that his lineless youthful baby face could actually represent that of a figure of authority in the field of autism treatment and therapy.
In actual fact, simply getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology like what Zhang Liyuan has done does not qualify him as a service provider of autism therapy at all.
In his desperation to get credibility and reputability for himself and his business, he has to resort to heavy marketing and buying awards and endorsements and alliances so he could actually hope to make it in the industry itself.
After going through all these reasons and revelations behind Autism Step, it should be little wonder now why Autism Step would be the wrong step for the parent looking for a quality autism treatment centre for their child.