FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers
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.”
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.
Assessment and Evaluation of Speech-Language Disorders in Schools, American Speech-Language Hearing Association
More Blog Entries:
ADOS Testing, FOCUSFlorida.com
At FOCUS Therapy, you’ll never hear us say, “Let’s go back and do some therapy.” We say, “Let’s go play!”
Research has shown time and again that for therapists who work with kids, play-based therapy approaches are truly the most effective. Play is how children learn to understand and use language, regulate emotions, and bridge symbols and thoughts into actions.
Whether we’re working on speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy or ABA therapy, we first find out what kids are most interested in. Then we use that to teach them the skills they’re going to need in life – to talk, move, listen, and participate.
To those on the outside looking in, it may appear we’re “just playing.” But each sessions is tailored for each child, targeting their unique goals. We love what we do, and have so much fun doing it – but the main reason we use the play-based approach is because: It works!
To learn more about our services or to schedule testing or an appointment, call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.
Dear FOCUS Therapy Families,
If ever a year could be described as a rollercoaster, it was 2020. FOCUS Therapy is beyond grateful for the families, therapists and staff who stuck with us through whirlwind months of office closures (in accordance with CDC guidelines), rapidly-expanded teletherapy services, scheduling upheavals and enhanced safety protocols. Our services are vital to patients’ health and development, and we’re committed to delivering no matter the obstacles. Still, our success has always hinged heavily on the dedication of our FOCUS families.
As a token of our thanks, this new year we’re gifting each patient a clean slate on their appointment cancellation record. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, cancellations for the prior calendar year will not count against you or adversely impact your child’s standing as a FOCUS patient.
It’s a new school year, which means a new routine – and all of us at FOCUS Therapy recognize the transition this year is especially significant because it’s the longest so many of our kids have been away from school for any one stretch. For some, this school year and all the milestones that go with it are going to continue to look much different.
School officially starts for students in the Lee County School District on Aug. 31st, with one of four instruction model options. The Fort Myers News-Press reports most will do so at half capacity. Desks will be spaced-out. Certain hallways and stairwells will be designated one-way. Classroom changes will be staggered and lunches will be served in classrooms to prevent large gatherings of students at any one place on campus. Approximately 58 percent of students are learning virtually, with 39 percent signing up for Lee Home Connect and 19 percent for Lee Virtual School.
Our dedicated team of therapists and staffers is SO excited to hear all about your first days back to school. Because this new year is going to mean many changes and everyone will be quite busy, we wanted to send out some friendly reminders to help families as they navigate through these challenges.
At FOCUS Therapy, we’re always looking for creative ways to teach our patients life skills by making speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapy fun and engaging. The new FOCUS Kids Store is yet another example of how FOCUS Therapy is looking outside the box to achieve this.
The brainchild of our Therapist Manager, Lisa Shogren, The FOCUS Kids Store offers an array of toys, games, puzzles, books, bracelets and more.
Patients can “pay” for items of their choice using FOCUS Bucks. FOCUS Bucks are earned by achieving certain therapy goals as well as completing a task from our list of chores. Each chore is tiered by price. Some examples of chores include:
- Refilling snack containers (once weekly – take note of any snacks we’re low on, inform our office staff if we are low so more can be ordered) – $5
- Paper shredding (twice monthly – gather any paper that needs to be shredded from all of the four offices at FOCUS Therapy, shred the paper and change the bag as needed) – $10
- Party Planner (once monthly – pick a theme and choose a day, make decorations and a list of food to be brought, design signs and display them to let everyone know) – $20
- Office closing sign creator (pick from one of the upcoming holidays FOCUS Therapy is closed, create a sign, laminate it, give to the front office staff so they can be hung the week before the holiday). – $1 per sign creation, $0.50 each to hang
Saturday, Dec. 7th: FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Offering 3 Hrs of Free Childcare to Patients & Siblings!
Need a few kid-free hours to knock out your holiday shopping? Or maybe you could really just use a much-needed mom-date or some “me-time.” FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers has your back!
Our licensed, certified and experienced therapists are giving our clients the gift of three full hours of child-free time during two convenient time slots (10 a.m. to 1 p.m. OR 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019.
“We know how tough it is for so many parents of children with special needs to carve out the time just to get through the business of everyday – and then try to tackle something like holiday shopping on top of that,” said FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Owner Jennifer Voltz-Ronco. “Taking your kids with you may not be an option (you wouldn’t want to anyway if you’re buying presents for them). But the other challenge is finding someone you can trust with your child.”