early intervention therapy services Fort Myers

When a child falls behind developmentally - whether due to a delay, disability, or some other condition - it can have a long-term impact. That's why we're so passionate about our early intervention therapy services at FOCUS.

These include:

Other services at FOCUS include teletherapy (just for speech & OT), IEP assistance & planning, and accent modification (for adults).

Fort Myers ABA Therapy and other early intervention therapy services

Who We Serve

Most of our early intervention therapy services clients are children diagnosed with disabilities or delays or who are recovering from serious injuries. Some have identified conditions that 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 early intervention 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 for Early Intervention Therapy Services in SWFL

The first step to determining whether a child needs therapy services is typically a formal evaluation. Therapists conduct these assessments at our Fort Myers clinic on Royal Gulf Drive.

A therapy specialist's assessment is typically initiated through one of the following:

  • Independent parental concerns about a child’s development.
  • Referral to our clinic by a physician or other health care professional.
  • Therapy services are being transferred from one clinic from another.

Usually when parent concern kickstarts 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, but 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 benefit from therapy, we may ask for a physician referral, which allows us to conduct a more intensive evaluation. This structured assessments 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.

"Can't They Just Get Therapy in School?"

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).

For one thing, waiting until a child is school-age means you're ceding a critical window of time in which early intervention therapy services are often most effective. The brains of children under 5 are the most malleable. They're little sponges. There is a wealth of research showing the earlier we start with intervention therapies, the more positive their long-term prognoses.

For another thing, when children with disabilities and delays DO reach school age, the ideal is for them to receive both private and school-based therapy. That's because while the goals of therapists in both setting may align generally, school-based therapists are more focused on those elements of  that impact academics.

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.

Fort Myers speech therapy and other early intervention therapy services

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 Fort Myers early intervention therapy services under one roof is not simply for the convenience of parents and therapists, but mainly for the benefit of children we serve.

Children thrive on routine, and this is especially true with many children with disabilities, delays, and other conditions.

“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. And that's really when kids are going to make the most progress.”