A child’s social, emotional and physical development has a direct impact on the adult they will become. This is especially true of a child struggling with a disability or delay.

At FOCUS in Fort Myers, our experienced therapy clinicians offer:

The goal of each discipline is to provide child therapy services that will maximize the well-being of children in our community.

FOCUS offers free screenings, as well as more comprehensive evaluations as required, recommended or reviewed by physicians, insurers and school districts. If you are concerned about your child’s development or wondering whether therapy may be beneficial, our knowledgeable staff is available to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Who We Serve

Most of our clients are children diagnosed with disabilities or delays or who are recovering from serious injuries. Some of these conditions include (but are not limited to):

  • Autism
  • Brachial plexus injury
  • Communication delays
  • Global developmental delay
  • Childhood apraxia of speech
  • Feeding difficulty
  • Premature birth complications
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Oral motor deficits
  • Fine motor skills deficits
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sports injuries
  • Hand injuries
  • Stuttering disorders
  • Head injuries/ traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy

Sometimes, only a few months of child therapy services are needed to achieve optimal results. In other cases, parents should expect a years-long process with regular reviews and goal-setting.

The purpose of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and behavior therapy is to help every child achieve their highest potential.

Screening and Evaluation for Pediatric Therapy

The first step to addressing a child’s challenges is to identify the primary difficulties and strengths with an evaluation. Therapists conduct evaluations at our clinic on Royal Gulf Drive.

Parents generally seek an evaluation in one of the following ways:

  • Independent parental concerns about a child’s development.
  • Referral to our clinic by a physician or other health care professional.
  • Transferring to our clinic from another provider.

Typically, when parent concern initiates the process, we start with a free screening by appointment. We offer this complimentary service because we know parents’ instincts about their own child are often right. It helps to have a knowledgeable third-party professional observe, assess and offer an unbiased opinion.

If we conclude in a screening your child might need therapy, we may ask for a physician referral to conduct a more intensive evaluation. This structured evaluation gives us an opportunity to gather more information and gain a fuller understanding of your child’s unique needs.

During an evaluation, the therapist will administer formal tests, as well as conduct clinic observation of play, conversation and interaction to determine whether your child needs intervention.

If you have been referred to us by a physician, we’ll skip the initial screening and go directly to the evaluation.

In cases where children are transferring to our clinic from another provider, we may not need to conduct another evaluation, depending on the time elapsed since your child’s last evaluation.

Why Private Therapy?

Some wonder why private therapy is necessary when school districts provide services to children with special needs in the form of individualized education plans (IEPs).

Ideally, children with special needs will receive both private and school-based therapy. Goals of therapists in both settings usually align closely, but we can simultaneously work on numerous developing skills, which hastens overall progress.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports approximately 13 percent of all public school students – or 6.5 million in the U.S. – receive special education services. Among those, 35 percent have specific learning disabilities, 21 percent have a speech or language impairment, 8 percent have autism, 7 percent have an intellectual disability and 6 percent have a developmental delay.

While school district services are valuable, they are often not enough to ensure optimal progress for your child. Don’t misunderstand: There are excellent therapists employed in public schools. However, the unfortunate reality is many districts are overwhelmed and underfunded. Most students with an individualized education plan (IEP) need more intensive, one-on-one therapy services to really thrive. This is why pediatric therapy services at FOCUS are so valuable in Southwest Florida.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Our clients often need child therapy services across multiple disciplines. That’s because so many developing skills are interconnected.

“We pride ourselves on being multidisciplinary,” FOCUS owner Jennifer Voltz said. “A child is not just a little mouth or two little legs. Children are whole beings. … We look at them as multifaceted, so they require a multidisciplinary approach to have the best chance at success.”

For example: A 3-year-old who is not walking. Technically, this is a concern from a physical therapy perspective. However, it’s relevant in other disciplines because a child who is not walking at the proper developmental age isn’t fully accessing his environment. A typically-developing child will be constantly in motion, assessing his surroundings: “Look at this!” “It’s a bird,” “What is that?” “It’s a car.” “The car goes fast.” etc. A child who cannot adequately access his environment will have limited world exposure. This in turn can restrict opportunities to develop communication skills. It may also hamper the ability to complete other functional tasks, like putting on shoes or kicking a ball. From a behavioral standpoint, it deprives the child of the ability to develop certain interaction and coping skills.

Children Benefit From All-In-One Setting

Having all therapy services under one roof is not simply for the convenience of parents and therapists, but for the benefit of children we serve.

Children thrive on routine, and this is especially true with many children with special needs.

Beyond that, many situations have arisen at FOCUS wherein a speech therapist is working with a child, and a physical therapist or occupational therapist notices in passing the child has weak core strength or poor hand-eye coordination. By identifying potential nascent challenges – and initiating early intervention – we can minimize the long-term negative consequences and buoy that child’s chances for overall success.

“We are constantly problem-solving and figuring out what that individual child can benefit from, what makes them unique and what can we give them to help them be successful,” Voltz said. “Our therapists are very dedicated. A lot of families give us great feedback because when they come here, they feel comfortable. They feel at home.”