Autism Spectrum Focus
We believe that Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are information processing disorders that lead to the disruption in a child’s development of social-communication abilities, the development of social relationships, and the ability to develop higher level flexible and dynamic thinking. We realize that most learning in childhood happens in the context of social interactions in everyday activities and play with family members and other familiar caregivers. Difficulties in a child with ASD in the ability to attend to others (share attention), reference (use the emotional reaction of another person to guide your actions and behaviors when presented with novel situations), and co-regulate (continuous, ongoing ability of each partner in relationship to assess and modify their actions on a moment-to-moment basis dependent on their partner’s responses) with others limit the child’s ability to fully engage in these simple interactions such as sharing meals together, playing together, even going to the store together, and impact their ability to benefit from these simple daily interactions. We emphasize these areas as we provide specific interventions from our speech and occupational therapy disciplines to help the child with ASD learn how to be an apprentice and engage with others more knowledgeable around them. This, we believe, is how humans learn.
When engaging with our children with ASD, we make sure that we are emphasizing their ability to attend (share attention), reference, and coordinate with others, all critical foundations for social-emotional development and all weaknesses in those with ASD. We also ensure that each child, regardless of their communication abilities, can understand and use all aspects of communication, including verbal and non-verbal communication (voice intonation, gestures, facial expressions, prosody (the patterns of stress and intonation in communication) and that all children with ASD can learn to develop both aspects of communication: 1) to get their needs met, to express their needs and wants; and 2) to experience share with others.
As we help our children with ASD develop the ability to more actively engage in social communication and better regulate their emotions by enhancing the social emotional connection found in relationships, we also help families move through difficult behavioral issues they and their child may be facing. Our goal is to empower and support parents so that the gains the child is making in therapy can be generalized and appreciated by the family in their home and community settings.