sensory seeking versus sensory sensitive Fort Myers ABA therapists child behavior experts

Is Your Child Sensory-Seeking or Sensory-Sensitive? Or Both?

Is your child sensory-seeking, sensory-sensitive – or both??

As Fort Myers ABA therapists, we recognize that many behaviors are rooted in sensory processing issues. This is particularly true of kids who are on the autism spectrum.

Understanding your child’s sensory needs help us formulate a daily “sensory diet” – which can often go a long way toward minimizing unexpected/problematic behaviors.

Even if your child doesn’t qualify for full-time, intensive ABA therapy, our child behavior experts provide private behavior consulting to help parents tackle child behavior problems – many of which can be linked to sensory processing difficulties.

FOCUS offers child behavior consulting and ABA therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

More Blog Entries:

ABA Therapy vs. Behavior Consulting, May 3, 2024, Fort Myers Child Behavior Therapy Blog

FOCUS Speech-language therapy strategies for teaching kids to talk

Our Fort Myers Speech-Language Therapy Strategies for Kids

Concerned your child’s speech might be delayed? Or just want to give them as big of a speech-language boost as you can? Here are our Fort Myers speech-language therapy strategies for encouraging communication with young children.

ALL kids can benefit when caregivers incorporate these strategies, but if you’re worried your child’s speech-language acquisition isn’t keeping pace with their peers, ask your child’s pediatrician for a referral to a speech therapy for consultation/evaluation.

FOCUS Therapy offers pediatric speech therapy, ABA therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

early signs of autism Fort Myers ABA therapy

Spotting The Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder

If you’re concerned your child might have early signs of autism, do NOT to “wait-and-see.”

We know “autism” is a scary word for many parents. The idea that something could be “wrong” with your child or that they’re going to need a full schedule of therapies – it’s overwhelming. We get it. In fact, some of our therapists also have kids on the spectrum; it’s what got us into the field.

Here’s what’s important to know: A diagnosis isn’t a dead-end. It’s a door. It’s what unlocks access to the essential services that will ultimately help your child reach their full potential. There is ample research showing that the sooner we can start early intervention therapies (ABA, speech, OT) with kids on the autism spectrum, the better their long-term prognosis – by miles.

As awareness increases and parents and doctors are becoming more vigilant in spotting the early signs of autism, diagnoses as early as 12 months and treatment as young as 18 months.

FOCUS Therapy provides early intervention therapies, as well as ADOS testing (a standardized test used by doctors in diagnosing autism) and child behavior consulting (for patients who are on an ABA waitlist or lack a qualifying diagnosis for it).

Every kid is different. Autism isn’t going to look the same each one. Actual outcomes vary depending on a host of factors. What we can tell you for certain is that many of the kids we treat at FOCUS Therapy – particularly those who start with us very young – ultimately “graduate” from our services. Some you could cross on the street today and never know they have a diagnosis unless you knew them well or were specifically told. That’s not evidence of a “cure” for autism. But what it does illustrate that when we start early and parents stay committed to the process, we can help these kids reach their full potential to live full, productive, happy lives.

Our team of dedicated Fort Myers ABA, speech, OT, and physical therapists care about these kids. Our patients come first. And we know the sooner we can start treating them, the better chance they’ll have to succeed in whatever comes next.

So if you are concerned your child may be showing early signs of autism – do not wait. Ask your pediatrician for an autism screening and local ADOS test referral.

FOCUS offers speech therapy, occupational therapy, pediatric behavior consulting and ABA therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

More Blog Entries:

ABA Therapy vs. Behavior Consulting, Fort Myers ABA Therapist Blog

play-based therapy Fort Myers speech therapy, ABA therapy, Occupational therapy, physical therapy

Why We Love Play-Based Therapy for Kids in Speech, ABA, OT, and PT

FOCUS Therapy offers pediatric speech therapy, ABA therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

The Efficacy of Play Therapy With Children: A Meta-Analytic Review of Treatment Outcomes., 2005, American Psychological Association

ABA Therapy vs. Behavior Consulting for child behavior problems Fort Myers

ABA Therapy vs. Behavior Consulting

Are you a parent struggling with difficult child behaviors, but your child doesn’t qualify for intensive ABA therapy? If your child does not have a qualifying diagnosis for ABA, is on a waitlist for ABA, doesn’t have insurance to cover ABA, or you simply aren’t ready for the kind of major commitment ABA therapy requires to be effective, FOCUS Therapy offers Behavior Consulting for kids and parents in Fort Myers.

Our ABA therapists can give parents the tools to help them address a myriad of behavior problems – without requiring ADOS testing, physician referral, or comprehensive diagnostic testing and in-depth plans of care.

Although we are based in Fort Myers, FL we can also offer Florida virtual behavior consulting for kids & parents throughout state – and beyond.

Our services include consultation, parent coaching, written action plans, social stories, visual schedules, helpful books and video guides, follow-up sessions (over the phone, video conferencing, emails, etc.), and other tools to help parents get to the root of the behavior issue and implement effective course correction.

FOCUS offers child behavior consulting and ABA therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Understanding Behavior: A Guide for Parents, The University of Pittsburgh

Fort Myers ABA autism motor skills pediatric therapy

How Autism Impacts Motor Skills – and How Fort Myers ABA & OT Helps

Fort Myers aba therapy

Fort Myers ABA Therapy Outcomes Best for Kids Who Start Early, Attend Consistently

sensory friendly activities in Fort Myers

Upcoming Sensory Friendly Activities in Fort Myers, Naples, and SWFL

Family fun time can take a little extra planning when your child has different sensory needs. Our FOCUS Florida ABA therapists are here to help. We’ve compiled a list of upcoming sensory friendly activities in Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, and beyond!

Not every venue or event is accommodating for kids with sensory processing disorder. The good news is it is getting better. An estimated 1 in 36 kids has Autism Spectrum Disorder (often with sensory processing difficulties) and as many as 1 in 20 people may be affected by sensory processing disorder. As recently reported by Success Magazine, more companies are recognizing this is a sizable percentage of their potential customer base – not to mention their own employees. Adopting sensory-friendly practices – and a more sensory-friendly environment overall – is good for business.

Sensory-friendly environments and events take into account the experiences of those who may be hypersensitive to loud noise, flashing or bright lights, large crowds, tight spaces, strong smells, or certain textures. They also consider the less commonly-recognized senses – vestibular (inner ear and balance), interoceptive (emotional and internal regulation), and proprioceptive (body awareness). Sensory-friendly spaces tend to have lower lighting, smaller crowds, reduced noise, minimal odors, and quiet corners. Some also offer “sensory kits” for guests, with items like noise-canceling headphones, fidget spinners, AAC cards, emotion wheels, and more.

Here, we list some great local sensory friendly activities in Southwest Florida, including Fort Myers, Naples, and beyond!

We Rock the Spectrum Fort Myers.

This inclusive, sensory-friendly gym and play space features suspended equipment with swings, crash mats and crash pillows, a zip line, trampoline, indoor play structure, fine motor arts & crafts area, and sensory toys. As a franchise, We Rock the Spectrum was founded with the intention of providing a safe place for kids of all abilities to play and learn together. Access is not limited to kids with disabilities or sensory processing difficulties. All are welcome to enjoy the gym, which hosts regular open play hours as well as special events like birthday parties and parents’ night out.

Alliance for the Arts – Family Art Lab.

Every third Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, the Alliance for the Arts hosts a free Family ArtLab!, which welcomes families and kids of all abilities for hands-on art projects, gallery activities, games, and more. The center also offers regular programs for dance, music, art, and improv welcoming children with all abilities.

The Laboratory Theater of Florida.

The Laboratory Theater of Florida began offering sensory-friendly performances of many of its Fort Myers shows last year. Sensory-friendly performances feature lower sound and light levels (with all strobe light effects removed) and house lights that stay on low throughout the performance. Audience members are also free to stand and move around, leaving and re-entering the theater as needed. The north patio is designated as a quiet area during performances, and the theater’s volunteers are trained. Guests are also welcome to bring their own sensory supports, such as earplugs, headphones, tablets, fidgets, etc.

Calusa Nature Center.

The Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers hosts Sensory Sundays at its planetarium, with shows specifically for guests with autism, sensory sensitivities, PTSD and/or young kids. All are welcome, with shows limited to a maximum of 50 audience members. The lights are on but dimmed, sound is down, and theater doors are open so people can move about as needed. Sensory-friendly toys are also available upon request.

Naples Therapeutic Riding.

The Naples Therapeutic Riding Center offers horseback riding that’s tailored to provide therapeutic benefits for kids – including sensory acceptance, communication, mental focus, coordination, balance, posture, fine/gross motor skills, and muscle strengthening. Programs are offered to individuals with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities who are at least 4-years-old. Instructors are PATH-certified.

Freedom Waters Foundation.

This is a non-profit organization that provides marine-based social and environmental programs geared toward children and adults with disabilities and veterans. The organization partners with local private and commercial vessel owners to provide small and large therapeutic boating, adaptive sailing,, and fishing opportunities in Lee, Collier, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. It’s programs are free to participants.

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples.

The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples offers sensory bins to guests with ASD and sensory processing disorder. These include weighted blankets, weighted seek & find, child-sized noise-canceling headphones and a visual timer. It also offers an “Exceptional Night” on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. – free for members and $5 for non-members – that is specifically for neurodivergent kids. The lighting and sounds are muted, cool-down spaces are available, and participation is limited to keep crowds minimal. The next two “Exceptional Nights” on the calendar are May 28, 2024 and June 25, 2024.

Have More Sensory-Friendly Activities in Fort Myers, Naples & Beyond?

Feel free to share them with us! We love keeping our FOCUS families in the loop about inclusive local activities!

FOCUS offers pediatric ABA therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

KultureCity – Sensory Inclusive Certification

More Blog Entries:

5 Major Benefits of Our Fort Myers ABA Therapy, Feb. 7, 2024, Fort Myers ABA Therapy Blog

Fort Myers ABA therapists

Key Skills Our Fort Myers ABA Therapists Target

As Fort Myers ABA therapists, our work involves systematically teaching kids with autism spectrum disorder (and other developmental disabilities) a wide range of skills while simultaneously reducing challenging behaviors that are socially significant.

We do this using the principles of behavior analysis. That means we don’t just try to put a stop to behaviors. We recognize that all behavior, at its core, is communication. We use evidence-based approaches to get to the root of why a child is behaving in a certain behavior. Usually, motivations include access to attention, tangibles, escape, or sensory input/avoidance.

This understanding is what allows us to help kids phase out certain behaviors while also providing the tools that help them express themselves and meet their personal needs in ways that are clearer, safer, more effective.

A few guiding truths in behavior science are:

  • Behavior is controlled by consequences.
  • Reinforcement (i.e., reward) can increase or strengthen a behavior.
  • Negative consequence can decrease or weaken a behavior.
  • Extinction (withholding reinforcement of a previously reinforced behavior) can help us minimize challenging behaviors.

In working with children, we find that a mix of positive reinforcement and extinction tend to be the most effective approaches.

The Skills on Which We Spend the Most Time

The exact skills and behaviors targeted by our Fort Myers ABA therapists will depend heavily on the individual. We look at the child from the “whole child” perspective to determine what skills are going to be the most meaningful and significant for them – both now and in the future.

That said, most skills our Fort Myers ABA therapists are working on in our pediatric sessions fall under one of the following umbrellas:

Fort Myers speech therapists AAC

Unlocking Communication: How Fort Myers Speech Therapists Use AAC for Kids

As Fort Myers speech therapists, teaching kids to communicate as effectively as possible is always are top goal. How we approach that task varies depending on the unique needs, interests, and abilities of each child.

Increasingly, we’re using AAC as a means to teach and expand meaningful speech & language skills for our patients. AAC stands for augmentative & alternative communication. “Augmentative” technologies can be used to augment or add to one’s speech and language skills. “Alternative” technologies can be used in place of speech and language.

These can be unaided (gestures, facial expressions, etc.), or aided modes (communication boards, computers, handheld devices, tablets, or synthetically-produced speech). Our Fort Myers speech therapists use both, though generally when we’re recommending AAC for our pediatric patients, we’re referring to aided forms of it.

Why AAC Use is Expanding

Part of the reason more and more Fort Myers speech therapists offering AAC is that advancing technology has made these tools both more effective and more widely accessible to pediatric patients and their families.

Beyond that, there are reams of research backing up the effectiveness of these tools when used with kids who have speech and language disorders, delays, and deficits.

Some parents express concerns that once we introduce AAC – even low-tech AAC solutions – their child may develop an overreliance on these tools.

On the contrary, AAC actually supports verbal speech and language development. Some people do use AAC their whole life. However, these are almost always individuals with severe, complex speech and language difficulties (approximately 1.3% of the U.S. population).

Many more kids may only need AAC for a few months or years, and then ultimately rely on it less and less. Studies show that AAC can reduce frustration, set the foundation for improved communication skills, and help facilitate faster progress with reading and literacy. They are a means to bridge the communication gap and help kids unlock their potential.

Early intervention with Fort Myers speech therapists who can work with your child 1:1, recommend the right AAC device for their unique needs, and teach them and you how use it most effectively can go a long way toward improving both short- and long-term clinical outcomes.

Fort Myers Speech Therapists on Key Strategies for Effective AAC Use

Augmentative and alternative communication devices can be empowering tools for children with communication difficulties, allowing them to express themselves, engage with others, and participate more fully in daily activities.

Here’s how we implement effective use of AAC devices for our young patients: