FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers

FOCUS Therapy Only Schedules Evaluations if We Have Space to Treat Your Child

Evaluations are an important step in the process of securing speech, occupational, physical, and/or ABA therapy for your child. But parents and caregivers should be wary of facilities that offer these evaluations while lacking capacity to immediately treat the child.

FOCUS Therapy Owner/Founder Jennifer Voltz-Ronco explains that unless her team is being called on for a second opinion of an initial evaluation, they refrain from conducting formal assessments if unable to promptly provide treatment once the evaluation is complete.

“A standardized assessment is only a snapshot in time during the child’s development,” Voltz-Ronco said. “It’s like taking a picture of a child now, and then expecting it not to change in a few months. … If your child cannot access therapy within 1 or 2 months of that evaluation, the results are no longer going to be accurate. Kids develop new skills every few months. But the longer the child goes without therapy, the more significant that standard score comparison/discrepancy to same-age peers is going to be.”

Jennifer Voltz-Ronco FOCUS Therapy Owner
Jennifer Voltz-Ronco, FOCUS Therapy Owner/Founder

Beyond this, families who rely on insurance to cover the cost of these evaluations (and they aren’t cheap) should be aware that insurers typically only cover one evaluation every six months or so. Even though clinics can utilize standardized assessments administered by another, it’s not ideal.

“Your child gets the most benefit when the team that directly observed your child’s abilities and deficits are the ones who ultimately formulate a plan of care and follow through with treatment,” Voltz-Ronco said. “In my opinion, it’s unethical for a clinic to profit from an evaluation that reveals a child is delayed or needs intervention – without providing that help.”

Types of Pediatric Evaluations FOCUS Therapy Offers

Children are usually referred to FOCUS Therapy and other therapy specialists by their primary care physician. Evaluations are typically ordered when a child is showing some developmental deficit, such as not sitting up or crawling, not talking or making regular eye contact, or red flags for a possible cognitive deficit. They could also be diagnosed with a condition that we can pretty well say for certain is going to require some combination of therapy services (such as cerebral palsy, down syndrome, vision impairments or hearing deficits).

Depending on the child’s condition and identified areas of concern, qualified therapists will be scheduled to conduct age-appropriate assessments to determine the need for therapy intervention services.

The specifics of the evaluation may vary, but they are generally going to include:

  • A look at case history, including medical status, education, socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, and information from other providers.
  • Child and/or parent interview.
  • Review of the child’s auditory, visual, motor, and cognitive status.
  • Standardized and non-standardized assessments of specific aspects of speech, non-spoken language, swallowing function, cognitive communication, etc.
  • Assessment of self-care and/or self-awareness.
  • Skilled observation. This is where we keenly observe an accurately record a child’s abilities and behaviors.

There are several different types of standardized tests (including the ADOS test for autism screening, which FOCUS Therapy also provides).

“If a parent wants a second or third opinion after their child has been evaluated by a school or another provider, that’s one thing,” Voltz-Ronco. “But they’re most likely going to pay for that out-of-pocket – and they’re going to understand the purpose upfront. But if parents are looking for action, to get the ball rolling on the therapy interventions that a child needs, then the clinic conducting the assessment should be able to provide that.”

Not all of them do. Therefore, it’s incumbent on parents to ask the question before scheduling the assessment.

“We’ve gotten calls from parents of children who were evaluated other clinics, only to be told after the fact that the clinic did not have the ability to treat their child,” Voltz-Ronco said. “They were told to just call around and see what other clinics may be able to use the report generated from their assessment. That, to me, is not ethical.

“It’s a situation where parents need to be aware of this issue, and make sure they are asking the question upfront: ‘If I schedule this assessment and my child needs treatment, do you have the capacity to provide that treatment?’ If not, I would advise parents to move on and find a place with the capacity and willingness to do both.”

FOCUS offers ADOS testing and other standardized assessments in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida for children who may need speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or ABA therapy. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Assessment and Evaluation of Speech-Language Disorders in Schools, American Speech-Language Hearing Association

More Blog Entries:

ADOS Testing, FOCUSFlorida.com

FOCUS ABA Therapy Talks

FOCUS Therapy ABA Talks: Hosted by Our ABA Team!

FOCUS Therapy ABA Talks

At FOCUS Therapy, we offer speech, occupational, physical, and ABA therapy. For that last one, "ABA" stands for "Applied Behavioral Analysis." It also sometimes goes by the name, "behavior therapy." It involves the study of behavior and ways it is reinforced. ABA therapy is considered the gold standard for treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other conditions that make it difficult to communicate and behave in ways that are expected.

The concept of what ABA therapy is and how it works is often unfamiliar to families who first seek our services on the basis of a physician referral. In an effort to help parents and families better understand ABA and how it works, Dr. Dean Funk, M.D./B.S. Biological Science and the rest of our FOCUS Therapy ABA team have created a series of in-depth videos we hope will better explain it all.

Insight is provided by invaluable members of our FOCUS Therapy ABA team, including Ignacio Fernandez, BCBA.

Watch the videos below!

FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers

FOCUS Therapy Closed for the Holidays

A friendly reminder that FOCUS Therapy will be closed December 21st through 25th for the holidays. Our clinic will also be closed for a half day on New Year’s Eve and a full day on New Year’s Day.

Individual therapists may still schedule teletherapy services for speech therapy and occupational therapy patients.

Our annual scheduled office closings can be found on our Contact Us page.

If you have any other questions, you may email us or send us a direct message on our Facebook page.

From all of us at FOCUS Therapy, we wish each of our clients and their families the happiest of holidays and a new year that is both merry and bright! 

FOCUS offers speech, ABA, OT and physical therapy to children in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers

Why FOCUS Therapy Celebrates With “Therapy Graduation” Ceremonies

FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers is ALL about celebrating milestones big and small. We know just how hard these kids work – whether it’s speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy or physical therapy. We also know how hard their therapists and families work, too. When a child meets all the objectives of their plan of care – that is a huge success that deserves special recognition!FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers

We’ve always held therapy graduations for kids, but we’ve been thinking more about their importance lately, not only because we’ve held several in the past few weeks, but also because we know so many kids in our community have missed important rites of passage like these in recent months. It was a real loss to them and their families. It drives home the point that whether you’re 8 or 18 or 80, a graduation is a very significant appreciation of one’s personal achievements and hard work. It’s also a gift to their family and others who have supported them along the way. When a child starts therapy, it’s often as much a journey for their family and therapy team as it is for them.

“Therapy is a commitment for the parents and the child,” explained FOCUS Therapy Owner and Founder Jennifer Voltz-Ronco. “They have to attend a certain amount of times per week, they need to show up, they need to give it their best. If it’s going to be effective, parents need to be on-board to ensure consistency and carryover. The kids work hard, the families work hard – and the therapists work so hard too! So when a child gets to the point that they’ve met all their goals and therapy is no longer necessary, I have always felt it is SO important to celebrate that victory.”

ABA therapy

ABA Therapy Tip: Kids With Disabilities Vulnerable to Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time

Teenagers and children prone to depression, apathy or behavior problems may benefit significantly from an “electronics fast,” according to a new article published in Psychology Today. At our FOCUS Fort Myers ABA therapy clinic, we have noted that exposure to electronics in children of all ages is an environmental factor many parents overlook when analyzing how to curb certain behavior issues.

For example, if your child is having a difficult time at dinner sitting still, focusing or avoiding meltdowns, handing them a smartphone to occupy them for a few minutes is not an uncommon strategy. It’s often effective too – at least in the short-term. The problem is the adverse impact it has in the long-term.

Firstly, in this situation, the parent is unintentionally reinforcing the undesirable behavior by rewarding the child with a screen – something they probably desperately want. But even if it buys you a few minutes of quiet time (and we don’t doubt that so many parents need that), what it won’t do is help your child get any better at sitting through a meal.

Further, it’s likely to be exacerbating behaviors subsequent to meal time, and the effects can be cumulative.