Articles by Month: May 2022
ABA therapy is considered the gold standard treatment for kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). But the process of starting this therapy is not as simple as calling and setting an appointment. There are several steps that must be taken to initiate the process.
It begins by recognizing the early signs of autism, and sharing these concerns with your child’s pediatrician. Doctors should screen all children at 18 months for risk of autism as a matter of routine – but parents absolutely can bring concerns to their doctors at any point. Signs of autism can be clearly identified as early as 12-months-old.
The doctor will then initiate a referral for a full assessment, known as ADOS testing. This test must be administered by a qualified provider. FOCUS Therapy does provide ADOS testing for children in Southwest Florida. The results of the ADOS test are then shared with a pediatric specialist, who ultimately makes the diagnosis and then issues a referral for early intervention services – such as ABA therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.
If your child is under the age of 3 in Florida, they may qualify for early intervention services through a state program called Early Steps. This can serve as an important stop-gap, given that many private therapy clinics that offer Applied Behavioral Analysis in Southwest Florida have waitlists.
Our ABA therapy services at FOCUS Therapy are conducted one-on-one, in-clinic with experienced professionals called RBTs (registered behavior technicians), with oversight from a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) and physician specialist.
If you have questions about autism screening, ADOS testing, or ABA therapy in Southwest Florida, our trusted team of therapists, coordinators, and insurance billing professionals can help.
FOCUS offers ABA Therapy and ADOS testing in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
What Are the Early Signs of Autism? HealthyChildren.org, American Academy of Pediatrics
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5 Fort Myers ABA Therapy Techniques, May 24, 2022, Fort Myers ABA Therapy Blog
Behavior therapy – specifically, applied behavioral analysis, begins with understanding the science of behavior. At our Fort Myers ABA therapy clinics, we use this understanding to employ specific strategies proven to help children with autism and other conditions achieve their goals – ultimately allowing them to gain greater independence and engage more fully with the world around them and people in it.
As explained by the American Psychological Association, ABA therapy is an evidence-based practice, meaning it’s supported by peer-reviewed literature. It identifies the motivation behind the behavior before addressing it with one or more proven strategies.
Each Fort Myers ABA therapy plan of care must reflect what reinforcements are most effective with that specific child, with clear goals we want to see them meet within a set time frame. Our ABA therapy team then works with kids one-on-one with them – day after day, week after week, and month after month, and sometimes year after year. We want to see them thriving in all environments – from home to school to play dates to community events – to the fullest extent of their capabilities.
Most all strategies involve some use of the ABC’s of behavior. That is, we study the Antecedent, then the Behavior itself, then the Consequence. By studying each element, we can determine what is the motive or what’s being communicated by that behavior – and then change either the antecedent or the consequence with the goal of altering the behavior.
Top Fort Myers ABA Therapy Techniques
Our Fort Myers occupational therapists often refer to play as the occupation of children. It may look on the surface as if all we do at our clinic is have fun. (And we DO have TONS of fun here!) But what we’re really doing is bolstering child development through play, which has proven to be the most effective way to teach children critical life skills in early intervention.
“There’s a reason our pediatric therapists never approach a session with a child saying, ‘Ok, let’s go do some therapy,'” explained FOCUS Therapy Owner/Founder Jennifer Voltz-Ronco. “No, we say, ‘Let’s go play!’ Because we know that creating a fun, safe, upbeat environment is going to make them want to participate, want to take the next step, want to learn the new skill. Ultimately, that’s where we make the most gains. Those are the lessons that are going to stick.”
Here, we offer some basics on how child development is promoted by simple activities that involve play.
FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Play in Early Childhood: The Role of Play in Any Setting, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
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FOCUS Therapy Hires Therapists Who Genuinely Care, March 3, 2022, FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Blog
Preterm babies, often called “preemies,” are at higher risk of speech and language delays as they develop, compared to babies born full-term. Approximately 1 in 10 babies in the U.S. is born too early, according to the March of Dimes. Our Fort Myers speech therapy team strongly recommends that parents of babies born prior to 37 weeks gestation keep a close eye on every developmental milestone, and seek early intervention therapies to assist where delays are noted.
“We’re so lucky to be living in an age where medical advancements provide even babies born extremely preterm with a good shot at survival,” said FOCUS Therapy Owner/Founder Jennifer Voltz-Ronco. “Although many preemies go on to develop normally, many do benefit from extra help – particularly in the form of early intervention speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and feeding/swallowing therapy.”
A 2018 study published in the journal Medicine revealed babies born preterm tend to have smaller vocabular at age 3 compared to their full-term peers. They also develop gestures, words, and language understanding at a slower rate than full-term babies. This gap in language skills can expand and continue through childhood, particularly if it’s not treated.
Brain research development shows us time and again that language learning begins at birth, with the window between 6 and 24 months being a golden opportunity to maximize the brain’s neuroplasticity and support development of early communication skills.
Many babies born prematurely benefit from these therapies up to age 5 (sometimes beyond), with early intervention reducing the struggles they will face as they get older. As time goes on, the delays become less noticeable, with many preemies going on to engage in academics, arts, and athletics at the same level as their peers. Many of our preemie patients later succeed to the point you would never know they were born early unless they told you.
Are you concerned your baby isn’t meeting their developmental milestones for sitting, standing, walking, and balance? It’s important to discuss your concerns with a pediatrician, as they may need a referral for physical therapy and/or occupational therapy.
There are many conditions for which an infant, toddler, or young child may benefit from physical or occupational therapy. What’s important is early intervention. The sooner your child can “catch up” to their same age peers, the fewer challenges they’ll struggle with down the road.
Our pediatric physical therapy and occupational therapy teams help children with both gross motor skills and fine motor skills. If you suspect your child *might* need these interventions, it’s best not to wait and see. Talk to your child’s pediatrician to obtain a referral for a full evaluation, which will provide insight into whether your child is behind developmentally and may benefit from physical and/or occupational therapies.
FOCUS offers physical and occupational therapy to kids in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Infant Physical Therapy: What You Need to Know, Therapy & Wellness Connection
More Blog Entries:
At What Age Should My Child Start Speech Therapy? April 5, 2022, FOCUS Therapy Blog