How Group-Homes Help With Behavioral Disabilities in Autism Residents

Live in institutions are bettering the lives of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities through constant daily care along with receiving therapies and interventions, one of them being various forms of behavioral therapy.

It has been proven through group-homes that give quality support to individuals with autism and other mental disabilities better quality of life outcomes, according to the journal Culture in Better Group Homes for People With Intellectual Disability at Severe Level (Beadle-Brown, Bigbly, 2016).

Through this care, some individuals if capable are able to gain the necessary skills to eventually become more self-sufficient and move back with family members or other independent living situations.

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

“Through group-homes, individuals with autism are able to receive psychical, occupational, behavioral, and more interventions,” said Lucille Lore, Public Health Nurse Advior, Nurse Executive, RN, MSN, and former Public Health Nurse Advisor for a group-home organization. ‘These individuals are treated to a home setting with personal care attendants who cook, clean, and provide the ultimate care in order to insure residents gain self-independence while still receiving the care they need.”

Behavioral specialist, as well as a list of healthcare specialists provides the interventions to residents that aid in the development for individuals with autism, and their ultimate goal is for residents to work in their highest potential.

This intervention is also given through support services, which are provided by the group-home such as various employment opportunities within the group-home organization.

‘One of the things the organization does is make their own natural, nontoxic cleaning agents to that are used to clean the organization’s group-houses. The organization employs residents who are higher functioning to bottle and label the chemicals, and the residents get paid for it all while still living at the group-home,” said Lore. “The organization also has a transition to work program, outside employment programs, day community, respite, education, and after-school support.”

Some of the other behavioral therapies and interventions provided through group-homes to residents are through pet and equine-assisted therapy.

“The organization is partnered with a horse ranch where the residents take care of horses and ride them on a daily basis,” said Lore. “The organization is also now working on a pet therapy program where residents can train rescue dogs, which is extremely therapeutic for the residents who are participating.”

Studies have shown that individuals with developmental disabilities who participate in social activities had gained social engagement skills and this includes group-home environments as an influence in bettering behavioral and social skills, according to the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research article The impact of individual and organizational factors on engagement of individuals with intellectual disability living in community group homes: multilevel model.

New Treatments Give Autism Patients Hope For a Better Life

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

While there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), through the advancement of science, medicine and a better understanding of the condition have opened the doors of innovation on treatments for autism, which has made it possible for individuals with the condition to have fulfilling lives and a brighter future.

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

It has been proven through early detection and intervention children with autism can sustain a better quality of life. According to Autism Speaks, parents had reported through MyAutismTeam, which is a social networking site with more than 28,000 members of parents with children who have autism, said the best therapies to treat the condition were occupational, speech, and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapies.

Through occupational therapy, children with autism focus on various developmental topics to relieve auditory, visual, and motor symptoms in autism such as motor skills development, sensory processing disorder, social interaction, potty training, sleep training, and more.

Sensory Integration, a form of occupational therapy and research study currently being conducted by Roseann Schaff, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Chair and Professor of Thomas Jefferson University—Department of Occupational Therapy, addresses the way the nervous system receives messages from senses by using occupational therapy of sensory integration. While using a randomized design, comparing 200 children over the age of five through discrete trial training to determine how both approached impact functional skills. Sensory integration therapy practiced through occupational therapists use play activities in ways aimed to change how the brain reacts to sight, movement, sound, and touch.

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

the theory behind sensory integration is through working on underlying sensory-motor factors, they will enhance neuroplasticity in the brain, overall changing the brain functions based on the experiences it has had. The goal is for children with autism to gain the highest level of independence while taking part in their daily activities.

The ability of speech and communication varies for every child with autism depending on where they fall on the spectrum, which makes speech, behavioral, and social therapies and interventions one of the most utilized in the treatment for the condition.

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(From left to right) Christine Corrigan with daughter Alanna and son Conor, who has low functioning autism, playing Picture Word Bingo, a form of PECS intervention on family game night. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Speech therapy addresses a range of challenges, and one form of speech therapy that is highly popular is Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). PECS is an alternative communication intervention for individuals with the condition that “teaches an individual to give a picture of a desired item to a ‘communicative partner,’ who immediately honors the exchange as a request. The system goes on to teach discrimination of pictures and how to put them together in sentences. In the more advanced phases, individuals are taught to answer questions and to comment,” according to Pyramid Educational Consultants (PECS) website.

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Christine Corrigan playing Picture Word Bingo, a form of PECS intervention with son Conor and daughter Alanna. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

PECS is especially effective for children who have a very limited vocabulary, they have gained a significant amount of spoken language as an effect from the therapy, and it has given nonverbal children a form of communication.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), a behavioral therapy is considered autism’s most common and highly effective form of therapy, but is also consideredhighly controversial treatment for autism. ABA focuses on systematically applying interventions in order to improve social behaviors while demonstrating interventions to a reasonable degree and that they are based on principles of learning, according to Applied Behavioral Strategies’ website.

ABA involves as much as 40 hours a week of one-on-one therapy, which breaks desirable behaviors down into steps and rewards the child for completing each step as they complete it. Dr. Ivar Lovaas, the founder of ABA compared first graders with autism and found that those who received the therapy showed larger numbers of inclusion into mainstream school systems.

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

According to Autism Spectrum Therapies article A Response to “The Controversy Over Autism’s Most Common Therapy,” since ABA was first founded, the form of treatment has changed tremendously since Dr. Lovaas’ initial research. ABA now provides effective interventions and technology based on the science of behavior analysis of the individuals needs.

 

Christine Corrigan, an ER Nurse, and single mother has a son named Conor, who 14-years-old with low functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He was diagnosed with the condition when he was three years old.

Corrigan has found that ABA therapy has helped her son’s condition tremendously.

“The ABA therapy was the biggest help, which he had through the school district until he was in the third grade and then they cut that. There were a whole bunch of budget cuts and we fought and fought that,” said Corrigan.

There are also other various extensive forms of treatment and therapies for the condition, ranging from biochemical, neuros
ensory
, behavioral, social, and even pet therapy, along with other social and behavioral skills classes and support systems, which are just some of the general approaches to combat the condition.

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(Infographic: Victoria Lore)

Once Conor was no longer able to receive ABA treatment through his school district, Corrigan set out to find a replacement treatment to improve her son’s condition. Corrigan later discovered DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) Protocol, which is a general approach to treating children with the condition through biomedical interventions such as dietary, nutritional, gastroenterology, immune therapy, heavy metal removal, etc., according to Autism Society Larimer County’s website. It is also a highly controversial form of treatment.

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Conor having fun playing Picture Word Bingo, a form of PECS intervention with his sister Alanna on family game night. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“We did Chelation therapy, where they removed the heavy metals from his body every two weeks and that made a big difference, he had very high levels in him,” said Corrigan. “He actually gained a lot of speech with that, he was doing really well.”

The Autism Research Institute discontinued DAN Protocol in 2011 due to its highly contentious and risky method of treatment, according to Very Well’s article, “What was the DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) Protocol?

There are also services available for individuals with the condition that involve interaction through incorporating social and behavioral therapy while doing basic daily activities.

Nicholas Palagonia, a Direct Support Professional and Home Aid, works for Independent Support Services, Inc. (ISS), a company that specializes in the care of individuals with disabilities, specifically autism. ISS offers individuals with developmental disabilities, the resources, and the support needed in order to sustain a better life and independent future. To accomplish this, ISS provides services that often focus on social and communication therapy and interaction.

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(From left to right) In-Home Aid Nick, Christine Corrigan, daughter Alanna, and son Conor enjoying the board game Candy Land on family game night. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“I usually engage to a participants specific goals that the participant needs to follow in order to succeed for the long term and future,” said Palagonia.

In order to reach an individual’s specific goals, a goal sheet is created through ISS for the individual’s specific needs and capabilities.

“We need to follow each specific goal that is stated and outlined on the sheet and we need to make sure we achieve every goal with the individual at their time, pace, and capability,” said Palagonia. “The ultimate purpose of achieving each goal set for the individual is for the long term success and independence for the individual. We help and assist our participants to eventually lead a normal and independent life.”

Palagonia has engaged with his participants with communication, socialization, and physical activity through exercise and has encouraged writing as a form of supporting communication improvement.

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Conor learning social and communication skills with the help of In-Home Aid Nick through playing the board game Candy Land. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Group homes have also helped individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other various disabilities who need continual care and assistance on a 24-hour a day basis by trained caregivers, while still giving these individuals independence.

Lucille Lore, Public Health Advance Practice Nurse, Nurse Executive, RN, MSN, and former Public Health Nurse Advisor for a group home organization that specialized and provided care for individuals with mental disabilities. Due to HIPPA laws, the name of the organization could not be disclosed in this publication.

“Through group homes, individuals with autism are able to receive psychical, occupational, behavioral, and more interventions,” said Lore. “These individuals are treated to a home setting with personal care attendants who cook, clean, and provide the ultimate care in order to insure residents gain self-independence while still receiving the care they need.”

Behavior specialists are also provided to the patients in these group homes to aid in the development for individuals with autism and other mental disabilities.

“These specialist support more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness, and traumatic brain injury,” said Lore. “The mission of the organization is to support these individuals to work in their highest potential. The residents have a list of healthcare specialties to support their needs.”

Lore went on to further discuss some of the programs that the organization offers to residents who are higher functioning.

“The organization itself through support services. One of the things the organization does is make their own natural, nontoxic cleaning agents to clean all of the organization’s group houses. The organization employs residents who are higher functioning to bottle and label the chemicals, and the residents get paid for it all while still living at the group home,” said Lore. “The organization also has a transition to work program, outside employment programs, day community, respite, education, and after-school support.”

The organization also provides programs that involve the arts. The organization has created a marching band, which is made up of the residents of the group home. The marching band is invited to various events to march and play. The organization is also partnered with an acting theatre, which gives residents an opportunity to participate in a drama club and to preform plays for the local community.

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(From left to right) In-Home Aid Nick interacting with Conor as he plays with play-doh. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Corrigan has found that in-home health care services have helped improve her teenage son’s condition both behaviorally and socially, which has enabled him to gain a more normal quality of life.

“I get services for Conor through the state that has taken me a long time to get, but I was diligent with the paperwork and now that I’ve gotten it’s been life changing. He can be a teenager who goes out in the community and does things, and like any teenager does not want to be with his mom and six-year-old little sister all the time, whether they’re autistic or not,” said Corrigan. “With the aids that come in, they are in their 20’s and they are more of a peer model than they are mom. Conor can have a friendship-like relationship and it’s so wonderful.”

Through various studies, it has been proven that pets have a greatly positive impact on children with autism. Animal-assisted therapy may increase self-confidence, social, and other skills in children with the condition. In one study by the Journal of Pediatric Nursing had surveyed parents of children with autism and how their children interacted with dogs. It was discovered that nearly two thirds of the families owned a dog and of these families 94 percent of parents said their child bonded strongly with the pet. Seven in 10 of children with autism from families who did not have or had a dog enjoyed interacting with dogs.

In a previous research also found that children with autism who had a family pet from a young age tended to have greater social skills, and other research studies have shown social behaviors in children with the condition to temporarily improve even after just a short period of playtime with a live animal instead of a toy.

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

Lucille Lore also stated that she supports the use of pet and equine-assisted therapy and discussed some of the programs involving animal therapy that the organization provides for its residents.

“The organization is partnered with a horse ranch where the residents take care of horses and ride them on a daily basis, and the organization is also now working on a pet therapy program where residents can train rescue dogs, which is extremely therapeutic for the residents who are participating.”

Arleen Leone, Special Programs Manager at Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center, discussed how the no-kill shelter provides various programs for individuals with disabilities in the Long Island, New York area, one being their reading program for children with various learning disabilities, including autism.

“We have seven therapy dogs who were adopted at Little Shelter and now live in homes. We take the same dog and handler to the same seven local elementary schools and see the same children on a weekly basis,” said Leone. “We deal with children who show stress and anxiety with reading in a traditional classroom and I cannot tell you what our dogs have accomplished. Nonverbal children are now speaking, and it’s very hard to feel uptight or stressed when you’re sitting on the floor when a dog is on your lap licking you as you’re reading.”

Little Shelter has put a great emphasis on social development skills for these children through using Little Shelter alumni therapy dogs.

Equine therapy has also been proven to have a positive impact on children with autism. Marisa Striano, Executive Director, and Founder of Spirit’s Promise Equine Sanctuary discussed how her horse rescue center is saving the lives of horses and helping people with disabilities in the Long Island, New York community through providing equine-assisted therapy (EAT).

“Our slogan is help us, help horses, help people,” said Striano. “We rehabilitate the horses so we can rehabilitate the people.”

EAT’s main goal is to help rehabilitate both gross motor movement and fine motor ability that both physical and occupational therapy provides for individuals with disabilities in a way that is both a fun and therapeutic experience.

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Conor playing with play-doh before playing Picture Word Bingo, a form of PECS intervention. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Autism has had a controversial and complicated history since its discovery. Little was known about the condition and was once associated with other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Eventually, the condition began to be associated with various learning and behavioral disabilities, which is considered entirely separate form schizophrenia. When Christine Corrigan was given her son’s diagnoses, she began conducting extensive research on the condition.

“As a nurse and health professional, I had heard of what autism was and knew one or two people with it, but I didn’t really have any background to it at all. So it was kind of new for me,” said Corrigan. “I didn’t have a computer at the time because things weren’t like the way they are now, so I took out one of my old nursing textbooks and there under psychiatric disorders was autism and I didn’t really know what to make of it. There were only two paragraphs and that was it.”

The understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has come a long way since it’s discovery. Through modern medicine and research, many techniques, treatments, therapies, and programs exist that did not once before. This has resulted in bettering the lives of countless individuals with the condition and has given these individuals a brighter future.

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Conor after learning he had placed the word card on to the right picture on the board when playing Picture Word Bingo, a form of PECS intervention. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in Centereach, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

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Save a Life: Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center

This PSA depicts how every animal deserves a chance at life and how no-kill shelter Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center is saving the lives and provides forever homes for animals in the Long Island, New York community.

Also check out feature story, How Little Shelter is Changing The Lives of Both Animals and Residents on Long Island.

For more information, visit littleshelter.com

Information provided by www.dosomething.org

The Power of Baking Soda

Baking soda has an endless amount of uses, between personal care, for in the home, cooking, and cleaning purposes. It has even been used to beat stage four cancer and to treat Swine Flu 85 years ago, making baking soda a must-have product.

Lucille Lore, emergency room nurse and homemaker swears by baking soda since she has used it for many reasons between cleaning her home and in the emergency room when treating patients.

“I have used baking soda for my rugs, in my fridge, and in my bed sheets because it neutralizes carboxylic acids and ester derivatives (the smell of garbage) odors. It really makes everything smell fresh air,” said Lore. “When washing my hands after cooking with garlic and onions I use baking soda to rid those smells, along with even using for clothes, bed linens, and dogs beds to keep them all fresh smelling.”

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

When baking soda comes into contact with acidic or alkaline substances, it naturally adjust pH levels, which makes using baking soda beneficial for many health issues.

“Gargle with baking soda when you have a cough and sore throat because of baking soda’s properties, it immediately minimizes the symptoms of a cough and sore throat,” said Lore. “I recommend using baking soda with a doctor’s permission for treating a urinary track infection instead of drinking cranberry juice, because it is acidic and will cause more pain during urination. Baking soda on the other hand combats acidic properties.”

When baking soda is mixed with an acid, it has a reaction, making bubbles and giving off carbon dioxide gas, making baking a rising agent because when this happens it causes dough to rise.

“Often when cooking, I use baking soda to counteract an acidic element that I may be also cooking with such as vinegar or lemon juice to take out the bitter taste that may be in a specific recipe,” said Lore. “I also use baking soda when baking. When I am baking a cake from scratch I put baking soda in the cake batter to ensure that the cake rises.”

So, the next time you are grocery shopping and come across baking soda, just remember the endless possibilities that comes with purchasing the very inexpensive product. As Lucille Lore will tell you, “it’s worth every penny.”

Maureen’s Kitchen is Bringing Country Flair, Quality Eats, and Good Care to the Long Island Community

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Front Entrance of Maureen’s Kitchen right before closing for the end of the day. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Long Island’s breakfast mecca Maureen’s Kitchen isn’t your average restaurant. Known for it’s old fashioned, homestyle cooking and cow-theme decor, Maureen’s Kitchen has long been a local favorite for tasty morning meals.

Located in Smithtown, New York, Maureen’s Kitchen was founded by Maureen Dernbach in 1984. The restaurant’s first location was initially found by “accident” when Dernbach was driving on New York State route 347. Making the wrong turn led her to Terry Road, where her restaurant Maureen’s Kitchen was born. Starting as a small shack on the side of the road, Dernbach catered to local blue-collar workers by giving them a decent meal at a low price.

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A regular customer sitting at the breakfast bar waiting on his cup of coffee while reading the daily newspaper. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

As it gained popularity, in 1997 the restaurant relocated across the street to a custom built two-story country house in order to accommodate the large crowds that it had attracted.

Maureen Dernbach later retired and passed down the business to her two children, Kevin Dernbach and Christine Fortier, who are also chefs at the restaurant.

Maureen Dernbach also passed down old family recipes to Kevin Dernbach and Christine Fortier. They kept true to the original recipes while taking them to the next level.

“The unique part about Maureen’s Kitchen is the creativity in our food, it just speaks for itself,” said Kevin Dernbach, chef and co-owner. “We come up with all of our original concept of dishes from our baked oatmeals, to all of our daily specials, to putting a little twist to pancakes and omelets, etc.”

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Cow statues displayed in the waiting area at Maureen’s Kitchen. The majority of the cow statues are donated to the restaurant from customers. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

Besides Maureen’s Kitchen’s emphasis on it’s delicious and unique dishes, building relationships with it’s customers and the local community is something the restaurant takes pride in.

“We were brought up on the premise of how you treat the community is a direct reflection on our restaurant. Just do right by people and they do right by you. We love what we do, and I think that’s also part of it,” said Dernbach. “Even when people are sometimes difficult our goal is turn their day around for them. Our customers are like our family.”

From the beginning, Maureen’s Kitchen has always been looking to take care of the working class community by always making sure it’s customers enjoy quality food, large portions, and good care for a low price.

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Customers enjoying the delicious and unique meals that Maureen’s Kitchen has to offer. Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Smithtown, NY. (Photo by: Victoria Lore)

“My mom always really wanted to take care of the common man, like the guy working hard to provide for his family. She always made sure that they were taken care of with good quality food and good portions at a fair price,” said Dernbach. “To this day, this is what we strive to do when serving our customers. Quality is something we never compromised in business.”

Maureen’s Kitchen was featured on the Cooking Channel’s show Unique Eats. To watch, click here.

Maureen’s Kitchen was also listed on OnlyInYourState.com list of “The 12 Places You Should Eat In New York in 2017” and “These 11 Amazing Breakfast Spots In New York Will Make Your Morning Just Right.”

If you’re looking for authentic homestyle cooking, Maureen’s Kitchen is the place you will definitely want to visit.

To find out more information on Maureen’s Kitchen, click here.

Address: 108 Terry Road Smithtown, NY 11787

Treatments That Can Improve Speech and Communication Skills in Children with Autism

For many children with autism, the ability of speech and communication varies for every child depending on where they fall on the spectrum, making speech and social therapy and intervention one of the most crucial and utilized treatments.

On Autism Speaks website, they give a list of available treatments for speech, language, and motor skills. Since there is no known cure for the condition, the common symptoms that are associated with autism are treated.

Some of the therapies that are given to address these common symptoms are speech-language therapy, augmentative and alternative communication, occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, and physical therapy.

One out of three people with the condition have trouble producing speech sounds to effectively communicate with others, causing the individuals language to be too hard to understand, and in some cases, the individual is unable to speak at all.

Along with speech challenges, many children with autism have a difficult time with conversational skills including eye contact, gestures, memorization, and have dependence on echolalia, which is where an individual with the condition often repeats words that are spoken to them. Speech and language therapy is one of the forms to combat these various symptoms of the condition.

One of the ways speech and language therapy is administered is through music therapy. In a recent study, music is significant for non-verbal children and children with speech and language delays because music has both sound and rhythmic elements that communicate to the human body.

Many nonverbal children with autism have also benefited from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). This form of communication therapy includes all forms of communication other than oral speech through facial expressions, gestures, use of symbols, pictures, and writing. AAC is used for children with severe speech challenges in order to replace speech that is not present. AAC is also utilized while still in speech and language therapy.

The AAC Institute, “are a non-for-profit, charitable organization that is dedicated to the most effective communication for people who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The two most important values expressed by people who rely on AAC are: 1. Saying exactly what they want to say 2. Saying it as fast as they can,” according to AAC Institute website. AAC Institute offer information and provide services throughout the world for children with autism who have speech and communication challenges.

Through occupational therapy, children with autism are able to better develop skills such as communication and interaction with other people in the classroom and at home. Occupational therapist observe an individual child to see if they are able to do task that are expected from their age level and create a specific program for a child with autism to follow that also parents and teachers can work on as well.

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(Infographic by: Victoria Lore)

The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc has set out to advance the quality, availability, and support of occupational therapy through providing both services and education in order to improve healthcare. Through AOTA, parents, teachers, and practitioners have been able to provide the best care needed for children with autism.

Another therapy used in the treatment for communication and speech challenges for children with autism is sensory integration, which is the natural neurobiological process that refers to the integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from the environment by the brain. This therapy focuses on three senses, tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive and is practiced by occupational therapist.

In a recent study led by occupational therapists at Philadelphia’s Jefferson School of Health Professions found sensory integration therapy had improved the daily function in children with autism and ultimately can lead to a more independent life.

Many children with autism have trouble with functional movement and balance such as sitting, walking, running, and jumping. This often leads to challenges with moving through their environment effectively and can cause lifelong limitations. Due to these symptoms, psychical therapy is needed to improve poor muscle tone, balance, and coordination.

Through programs like Autism Fitness Therapy, children with autism are able to receive the help they need with motion, flexibility, motor, sensory, and coordination skills while also improving on their socialization, interaction, attention, behavior, and communication skills in a fun, nurturing, and safe environment.

Communication and Social Therapy Helping the Lives of Individuals with Autism

For many children with autism, the ability of speech and communication varies for every child depending on where they fall on the spectrum, making speech and social therapy and intervention one of the most crucial and utilized treatments.

There are many programs that offer services for individuals with autism. Many of these services often focus on the social and communication therapy. Nicholas Palagonia, a Direct Support Professional, and Home Aid, works for a company that specializes in the care of individuals with disabilities, specifically autism.

“I’ve been doing this for a couple years now, I usually engage to a participants specific goals that the participant needs to follow in order to succeed for the long term and future,” said Palagonia.

Through following protocols, participants are required to stick to their goal sheet, which is created for each individual’s specific needs and capabilities.

“Each participant is administered a goal sheet, and we need to follow each specific goal that is stated and outlined on the sheet and we need to make sure we achieve every goal with the individual at their time pace and capability,” said Palagonia. “The ultimate purpose of achieving each goal set for the individual is for the long term success and independence for the individual. We help and assist our participants to eventually lead a normal and independent life.”

Palagonia went on to discuss current participant’s specific case and what their individual goal sheet is, which is to gain better communication and social skills, all while maintaining a healthy lifestyle through proper diet and exercise.

“We usually will go to the gym, we’ll workout, go swimming, go in the sauna as well as working on communication skills at the same time. So I always try to engage in a conversation with him as well as trying to get him to engage in conversations with the people we come in contact with, whether that be at the gym or a restaurant.”

Not only has Palagonia engaged his participant with communication, socialization, and psychical activity, he has also encouraged writing as a form of supporting communication improvement.

“I try to get him to communicate with me through writing as well. We have a notebook to write down certain things we did throughout each day. Once we end our day, I ask him what it is we did for the day and what his favorite part of that day was and he’ll tell me and that’s when I ask him to write it down in the notebook,” said Palagonia. That’s been usually the best way to better is operational goals and outcome in his situation. Through writing in the notebook, he has been able to improving in his social skills and is now able to have longer conversations with me and others.”

Palagonia went on to further state how he has found this form of therapy to be the most effective for the progress of his participant.

“His progression has been a quick progression actually, which is phenomenal,” said Palagonia. “I stated working with my participant about six months ago and I can say he was not where he was now… He didn’t really talk too much and basically had very limited communication skills, but eventually as time went on we has able to talk to other individuals and keep conversations.”

For more information on communication and social therapies, visit www.autismspeaks.org.