April is Autism Awareness Month and here is what our friends at MindWorks have to say about this condition and the services they provide:
MindWorks Rehabilitation Center was established in August of 2006 as a result of our passion and commitment to service children, and their families, affected by Autism. Over the years, we have always been drawn to treating children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have had the opportunity to be employed and work for various agencies here in the Rio Grande Valley and it is at these facilities where we established and implemented autism programs. Thereafter, in August of 2006, we made the decision to go out on our own and establish a program that would meet our standards and criteria for an effective rehabilitation program.
MindWorks Rehabilitation Center is a small, outpatient rehabilitation center that services children solely diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We provide speech and occupational therapy services, utilizing a variety of models and frames of reference such as: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Verbal Behavior Training (VBT), Sensory Integration (SI), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), TEACCH, DIR (Floortime), and Social Stories. We have developed an intensive program, with patients receiving skilled speech and occupational therapy services 2-3 times a week for 30-45 minutes session. Our program is designed on the unique strengths and weakness of each individual child, utilizing the appropriate model or frame of reference as well as clinician/patient fit.
We also include parent education and training on strategies and techniques to combat maladaptive behavior and to facilitate replacement behaviors such as functional communication and social skills in addition to occupational and speech foundational skills.
As owners and practicing clinicians, we will always maintain a hands-on approach to our program design. We feel honored physicians and families have entrusted the care of their patient/child to MindWorks Rehabilitation Center.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a life-long disability which warrants speech language therapy services and occupational therapy services to increase functional communication skills and independence with age appropriate areas of occupation. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with ASD typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication skills, social interaction skills, and leisure or play activities. One should keep in mind however, that autism is a spectrum disorder and it affects each individual differently and at varying degrees – this is why intensive intervention is so crucial.
While there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there are treatment approaches that will reduce some of the challenges associated with the condition. Intervention will help to lessen disruptive behaviors and can teach communication skills that allow for greater independence. Individuals can learn to function within the confines of ASD and use the positive aspects of their condition to their benefit, but treatment must be an option and must be tailored to their unique strengths, weaknesses and needs.
Furthermore, the demands of raising an individual with ASD are great and families frequently experience high levels of stress. The carryover information the collaborative team will provide to the family should help to assist with the basic tools they may need to successfully raise an individual with ASD. Again, it should be noted that the diagnosis of autism is a life long disability and requires continuous treatment intervention to maintain sufficient functional capacity to perform age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate daily activities.
- Does not respond to his/her name by 12 months of age
- Cannot explain what he/she wants
- Doesn’t follow directions
- Seems to hear sometimes, but not other times
- Doesn’t point or wave “bye-bye”
- Used to say a few words or babble, but now does not
- Doesn’t smile when smiled at
- Has poor eye contact
- Seems to prefer to play alone
- Gets things for him/herself only
- Is very independent for his/her age
- Seems to be in his/her “own world”
- Seems to tune people out
- Is not interested in other children
- Doesn’t point out interesting objects by 14 months of age
- Doesn’t like to play “peek-a-boo”
- Doesn’t try to attract his/her parent’s attention
- Gets “stuck” doing the same things over and over and can’t move on to other things
- Shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or routines (for example, always holding a string or having to put on socks before pants)
- Spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order
- Repeats words or phrases(sometimes called echolalia)
Some of these red flags apply only at certain ages, so consider what is typical for children your child’s age. Some red flags are more strongly associated with autism than others. If your child shows any red flags for autism, talk to his or her health care provider right away.