Where do we go from here? So what now? What does this mean for our family? What help should we get for our child? These are far too common questions from parents who just found out that their son or daughter has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While my career choice has been Occupational Therapy (OT), I choose to take a focus in pediatrics working predominantly with children who have been diagnosed with ASD. Early in my career as an OT it was apparent to me that many clinics where putting therapy services in an either-or category; “you can get Occupational Therapy or Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy, but not both.” “You can get Speech Therapy [ST) but not Physical Therapy (PT)”. I found this to be frustrating. Parents forced to choose/prioritize therapy services for their child is like making American Airlines choose between pilots and mechanics. They need both to soar to new heights. To make my self clear, not all children who have been diagnosed with ASD need a multi-disciplined approach. At times, when they are beneficial, they should be advocated for. Game Changer Therapy Services work together for the common focus of improving function and skill on a daily basis. For parents and care givers to better understand each of these services (OT,ST,PT,ABA), I felt it best to describe them into common roles they play for ASD Interventions.
Occupational Therapists are experts in the social, emotional, and physiological effects of ASD. Children who have a lack of leisure interests, activities, and limited play skills often benefit from Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapists help people with autism develop skills at home, in the community and in clinic. They initiate service plans through development of a person’s interaction with the environment through daily activities. This knowledge helps them promote skills for independent living in people with ASD and other developmental disorders.
Address barriers regarding language and communication. ST helps individuals with ASD improve their verbal, nonverbal, and social communication. The goal focus for ST is to help the person communicate in more useful and functional ways. ST is not just a focus on spoken language for children with ASD; learning nonverbal skills such as signs or gestures, or learning to communicate using an alternative method known as Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) is additional intervention approaches for children with ASD and other developmental disorders.
Children with ASD have delays in the development of basic skills. There are often delays in forming motor/movement skills, including coordination/posture control. These are areas where children with ASD may struggle and PT can help . Game Changer Physical Therapists help children with ASD develop basic movement skills and gross motor skills.
Applied Behavior AnalysisApplied Behavior Analysis is the application of basic behavioral practices to facilitate the development of language, social interactions, independent living skills, and other socially significant needs. With ABA’s focus on observable behavior, and behavior change to a socially acceptable and meaningful extent. Most of the time, ABA is intended to “extinguish” undesirable behaviors and teach desired behaviors and skills.
As defined above these four services work and focus on specific areas of an individuals day, activity and life skills. For children who have delay or deficits in specific areas pertaining to the above disciplines a combination of these services would be essential for improved function. I started Game Changer Therapy Services in 2016 with the idea that parents should be able to work with and choose services that are medically necessary for their child and offer the ease of coordination by facilitating these services under one clinic setting. From inception in April of 2016 to current, Game Changer has grown from one staff in one clinic to over 115 staff and 4 clinics located throughout the Tri-Cities. I feel that Game Changer Therapy is systematically changing the foundation of what outpatient pediatric therapy looks like for children with ASD and parents are responding to it with positivity and reported progress towards daily function and goals. Game Changer is a true multi-discipline approach for families who live in the Tri-Cities. For parents who are dealing with the difficult decisions to coordinate care and services for a child diagnosed with ASD, they know the struggle and stress with being made to choose between two or three medically needed services. We also offer transportation to and from therapy appointments for families needing this service!
Game Changer Therapy Services Locations
3727 Wilder Rd, Bay City MI
218 N. Main St. Freeland, MI. 48623
2544 McLeod Dr. Saginaw, MI. 48604
3210 Davenport Ave. Saginaw MI. 48602
Telephone: (989) 860-0846
***Article written by Kellie Staszak, owner of Game Changer Therapy Services, LLC