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Old January 24th, 2016, 03:40 AM   #491
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

The Southwest Missouri Autism Network is a Springfield, Missouri-based nonprofit whose mission statement has five main points: encourage, enlighten, exchange, enrich, and experience. The nonprofit's monthly meetings are sometimes focused on a specific topic with experts on hand to speak. Elizabeth Obrey is a past president of the organisation...
Quote:
When Elizabeth Obrey’s oldest son, Nathan, went mute for five months, she knew the public school he was enrolled in wasn’t going to be able to help. It wasn’t because of a lack of desire; simply a lack of specialized training and experience in teaching students with autism.

Obrey turned to the Rivendale Institute of Learning, a private school in Springfield that grants students with learning disabilities, including autism, the chance to achieve their full capabilities. “It’s a wonderful place that provides an all-encompassing program for children struggling with autism,” Obrey says.

...In Nathan’s case, he just stopped communicating with the world. “Every child with autism is different,” says Dr. Kerri Duncan, director of the Rivendale Institute.

The school, which has a home-like atmosphere, nurtures students age 3 to 10 years old year-round with individualized programming and student-teacher ratios that are never more than eight to one. Teachers spend time on applied behavior analysis, or ABA, which is a way of teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors. Therapists work with the children to help them increase eye contact, for example, or by encouraging them to stay in their seats during class time.

Duncan has been in education 23 years as a teacher, special education director and principal. Rivendale’s website points out that Duncan’s passion for children with educational challenges began in college through a volunteer opportunity in St. Louis. She became the director of Rivendale in 2000 and started the autism program.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of myths about autism...

[One] myth is that kids with autism are not affectionate. “That is not true,” Duncan says. “I’ve had parents say, ‘My child hugs and kisses us, so that means that he doesn’t have autism.’ That’s not a ruling factor.”

Unfortunately, once a child has autism, the child will always have it. Early intervention improves the child’s social skills and ability to live and work with a level of normalcy...

...Obrey, who has two sons with autism, has seen great improvement in her kids thanks to Rivendale’s help. Nathan, who is now 8 years old, has enrolled in public school again, and 3-year-old Chase will move to public school this fall.

“Rivendale has given us our sons back,” Obrey says. “It’s definitely changed our lives.”
Here is a link to photos of kids from the Southwest Missouri Autism Network having a great time helping Elizabeth Obrey's sons, Nathan and Chase, celebrate their new playset from the Make-A-Wish Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...3071047&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 6th, 2016 at 03:16 AM.
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Old January 25th, 2016, 01:43 AM   #492
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

Circus Flora is a St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit that blends traditional European circus with modern theatre techniques. For the past couple of seasons, Circus Flora has partnered with another local nonprofit, Easter Seals Midwest, to offer a sensory-friendly experience for people with Autism and other sensory disorders.

According to the Director of Development at Circus Flora, Susan Mintz, "...The efforts of our acting company to create this specially-modified performance were rewarded by the outpouring of appreciation by parents, several of whom expressed through barely suppressed tears what it meant for them to attend a live performance together, as a family, and not have others stare or pass judgment at their child for spinning to express excitement, or clapping too long, or needing to exit and return several times..."
Quote:
...individuals and families with children on the autism spectrum can enjoy this rare opportunity to attend a live theater performance. Enter Circus Flora's delightfully imaginative world under the big top next to Powell Hall for The Pawn, a chess game brought to life through circus. This unique performance is sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Every June, more than 30,000 audience members gather under the big top and leave behind the everyday, entering a place of intrigue and awe. Here the impossible is possible. Adults as well as children are enthralled by a performance that captures their imaginations and transports them to a bygone era. Drawing from the history of chess, this mythic tale is steeped in the rich culture of ancient Persia and India. The audience will follow the Pawn on a journey to an exotic world where myth and intellect collide, and the stone city surrenders to the desert's ever shifting sands.

For individuals with developmental disabilities — including autism — loud noises, bright lights and unexpected change can cause extreme anxiety and fear. Often, unfamiliar large crowds and sensory overload create an overwhelmed feeling that can lead to meltdowns. To accommodate this expectation, Circus Flora's one day sensory-friendly circus performance has been specially designed with sensory issues in mind.

"We are happy to collaborate with Circus Flora to bring the first local sensory-friendly circus performance to individuals on the autism spectrum," said Wendy Sullivan, CEO of Easter Seals Midwest. "We believe all people can participate in a community that values their contributions, regardless of their disability. Now, these individuals can participate and enjoy themselves at one of St. Louis' greatest summer traditions."
Here is a link to a short video on Circus Flora:


Last edited by Visionary7903; January 27th, 2016 at 01:53 AM.
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Old January 25th, 2016, 02:43 AM   #493
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The last post mentioned Easter Seals Midwest. Easter Seals Midwest is a St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit that helps people with developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, learn, live, work and participate in the community...
Quote:
...after beginning the autism intervention and therapy program at Easter Seals Midwest, a profound change took place [for one young girl with autism]. Within a week, she was able to get her hair cut for the first time. "We changed the trajectory for that kid," says Jeanne Marshall, vice president of children's services. "You can't put into words what it did for that family's quality of life."

...Easter Seals Midwest, which assists individuals with a wide range of developmental disabilities, provides comprehensive therapy and services to more than 2,000 individuals with autism across Missouri annually. "Our goal is to help people with autism live a full, progressive life in the community and be as independent as possible," says CEO Wendy Sullivan. Although Easter Seals Midwest works with all ages, it strives to reach children with autism before they turn 3. "Early intervention can change the outcome of a child's life," Sullivan says, adding that two-thirds of kids who receive early intervention go on to kindergarten showing no sign of the disorder. To aid families grappling with a new diagnosis, the nonprofit offers a 'family navigation program.' "We lead them step-by-step and break down the individualized treatment plan into palatable bits so the family can take action," Marshall explains.

A free, two-week parent training program helps parents learn how best to interact and communicate with their child with autism. "Typical parenting strategies are not always effective," Marshall says. "When we give parents effective tools, families can better cope, and the child feels better because he or she is learning strategies to communicate and interact."

To provide these programs, Easter Seals Midwest relies on community support. ...[Jeanne Marshall says:] "It costs a lot to do it right, but it's worth it. You can't put a dollar amount on helping these children."

...For families including a child with autism, Easter Seals Midwest's programs can make a world of difference. "We frequently get letters and cards that say, 'You gave me my child back, and you gave me hope for the first time,'" Marshall says.
Here is a link to a video on how Parent Training through Easter Seals Midwest's Autism Services has helped the Barton family:


Last edited by Visionary7903; January 26th, 2016 at 02:51 AM.
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Old January 26th, 2016, 03:00 AM   #494
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

Horses of Hope – Missouri, Inc. is a Buffalo, Missouri-based nonprofit that was developed in 2003 and was designed to offer professional therapeutic, educational and recreational equestrian services. This followed the establishment six years earlier of Horses of Hope Riding Center, Inc., a Baxter Springs, Kansas-based non-profit that was soon affiliated with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH), International...
Quote:
Everyone calls the group “Room 35,” as it’s the best way to refer to the children without a label. They are young students from throughout Cherokee and Crawford County ...who each day are bused ...to attend the area’s only elementary classroom dedicated to those with autism.
Started last year by Pamela Thompson through the SEK Interlocal, the class serves students who are for the most part nonverbal and are easily overwhelmed in noisy, busy places.
That’s why Thompson, the children, their parents and their one-to-one paraprofessionals always look forward to Mondays: That's the day they get to have class in a peaceful barn on a country road.
Two years ago when Thompson started teaching special education at Riverton, she was introduced to Horses of Hope, a therapeutic riding center in rural Cherokee County between Baxter Springs and Columbus.
Founded in 1997 by Vallerie Sweeton and Shelly McColm, both of whom have backgrounds in special education and horseback riding, the center serves about 1,000 people annually.
“It’s like a family and is a wonderful social opportunity,” McColm said. “Those who come here find themselves connected with the horses, the barn, the instructors.”
When Thompson began Room 35 for children with autism last fall, she set about trying to find funding for a therapeutic riding program just for them at Horses of Hope. Her students made crafts and ornaments to sell... Regular education classrooms at their school, George Nettels Elementary, created themed gift baskets to auction.
Thompson also obtained $1,400 from Donors Choose and $1,200 from the USD 250 Foundation.

...Those sources combined were enough to fund Room 35's rides each Monday last spring semester and each Monday again this fall. A $4,600 grant Thompson sought from the Pritchett Trust that was awarded last month will help extend the program into the spring semester.
Now, Thompson is beginning to think of opportunities to fund next school year.
“It’s proven itself,” she said. “We have to keep this going.”
‘Integrated approach’
Now widely recognized across the nation by organizations that provide resources to disabled and special-needs populations, therapeutic riding is “more than just pony rides for disabled kids,” Sweeton said. “It goes beyond the warm fuzzy feeling of riding a horse.”
She and McColm developed a curriculum specific to Thompson’s class. Using grooming tools, staff want to see the children in Room 35 develop a mastery of motor skills.
Using flashcards with farm vocabulary, they want the children to be able to develop letter recognition and begin to read words.
Most importantly, they want the children to develop confidence and calmness, and to be able to better communicate. Nonverbal children in the class use iPads to indicate cues for the horses as their paraprofessionals walk beside them.
“It’s a pretty integrated approach,” McColm said. “For them to just be able to verbalize ‘go’ is a big deal.”
For each child, they also create goals that are as unique as the children themselves.
“Each week, we complete a rubric for each child and we track their progress,” Sweeton said.
“We see great things happening here, but our real goal and aim is for them to have carry-over beyond here.”
Parents say they’re seeing benefits.
Jeremiah Wright, a first-grader who lives in Baxter Springs, has demonstrated “tremendous improvement” since he began riding last year, his mother said.
“He’s more independent, more self-confident,” Tara Wright said. “I hope he gets to continue as he gets older. I’m real proud of him.”
Arin Fales said the program has had a calming effect on her son, Sam Fales, a kindergartner who lives in McCune.
“It also helps him with expression,” she said. “He gets excited, and he now can show us that excitement.”
Jennipher Weston, mother of Galena ...[resident] Brian Hyers, 6, said she wants the program to continue.
“It soothes Brian so much,” she said. “He sleeps much better after he rides.”

...Jerry White, a Baxter Springs resident whose 6-year-old daughter, Kenzie, is a member of the class, said that as a result of riding, anxiety troubles have dissipated. Completely nonverbal, Kenzie is also picking up on simple cues, he said.
“My goal is to do all I can do to continue this,” Thompson said. “It’s been so successful for the kids in so many ways.”...
Here is a link to some photos from the Horses of Hope program: Therapeutic Horseback Riding Lessons for Class with Autism | DonorsChoose.org project by Mrs. Thompson


Last edited by Visionary7903; January 27th, 2016 at 01:52 AM.
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Old January 27th, 2016, 07:35 AM   #495
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

United Services for Children is a St. Peters, Missouri-based nonprofit that provides developmental learning and pediatric therapy services to children of all abilities. The organisation's Intensive Behavior Intervention Classroom (IBIC) program provides one-on-one educational services for children ages 3-5 years who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other developmental disabilities, or children who need a highly structured learning environment...
Quote:
...[When Jeremy Couture] learned his twin sons had autism, he feared for their future.

..."I knew it was incurable. I thought it was going to be severe and never improve." [he said.]

Jeremy said his wife, Heidi Couture, also took the news hard. The O'Fallon couple spent the next two days educating themselves about autism...

Matthew Couture and William Couture were born in 2005, one month premature. At first, the boys did not exhibit serious problems. They were a little slow to crawl, and slow in learning to walk, but that was not uncommon among premature children, Jeremy said.

As the boys finished their second year, it became obvious that they were behind in speaking — especially William, who was not making eye contact.

..."William would stay focused on a particular toy," [Jeremy] said. "Matt would get very upset at sudden noises, or seeing certain stuffed animals."

The brothers engaged in 'parallel play,' Jeremy said. They would play near each other, but would not play with each other.

...Jeremy and Heidi contacted United Services for Children.

The Missouri Department of Mental Health had referred the Coutures to the nonprofit agency. Founded in 1975, United Services for Children operates two pediatric therapy and developmental learning centers in St. Charles County.

Matthew and William enrolled in preschool and physical, speech and occupational therapy programs at United Services' west center in Dardenne Prairie. They spent one year there before moving to United Services' east center in St. Peters, where they remained through spring 2010.

At the St. Peters center, the boys entered the Intensive Behavior Intervention Classroom (IBIC) program...

Jeremy said the twins made rapid progress in the more intensive program. William, who had not been able to speak, developed a small vocabulary. He and Matthew became more adept at physical activity, like playing on slides and climbing ladders. The boys learned to feed themselves using utensils and became more self-sufficient. At home, the Coutures noticed their sons were better able to complete tasks, follow directions and socialize.

Julia Crutchfield-Keeven, IBIC program manager, worked with the boys as a speech language pathologist. She was part of a team that included behavior specialists, therapists, and a special education teacher. Crutchfield-Keeven said they boys entered the program with very few language skills and little social interaction.

"They weren't looking at anyone, they were not playing near other people," she said. "They didn't really have a relationship together. They did not exist to each other."

The therapists placed the boys in situations where they had to acknowledge each other and share things. They helped the boys build friendships and interact with other children.

By the time the boys graduated from United Services and entered kindergarten in the Fort Zumwalt School District, they had learned how to process information like typically developing children. This enabled them to become mainstreamed at their new school, learning in a general education curriculum environment.

"They are a success story," Crutchfield-Keeven said. "They started as unengaged, nonverbal children. They left the agency being more social and able to learn in a more typical setting."

Jeremy Couture said he and his wife Heidi formed strong bonds with the therapists, teachers and aides at United Services for Children, even using some to babysit their boys to this day.

William and Matthew are now in third grade at Rock Creek Elementary School in the Fort Zumwalt district. They spend most of their time in a regular classroom with typically developing children. Though they still cope with challenges in socializing and interaction, they boys are well-liked by their peers and doing well academically, Jeremy said.

"...I wouldn't have thought that was possible, that you could have two kids doing well and living in the regular world like anyone else," he said.

...the teachers and therapists at United Services helped them...

"As a parent of autistic children, you need to mourn the loss of the kids you thought you'd have and eventually move on to accepting your kids for who they are — unique individuals with gifts and challenges, like any other kid."

Jeremy will be one of the guest speakers at the second annual Exploring the Spectrum autism information fair, presented by United Services for Children...
Here is a link to a video on United Services for Children:

(source: Beyond)

Last edited by Visionary7903; January 28th, 2016 at 03:34 AM.
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Old January 28th, 2016, 05:06 AM   #496
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

The Mercy Kids Autism Center is a Creve Coeur, Missouri-based non-profit that provides a comprehensive, child-centered approach to Autism treatment. This includes diagnosis and assessment for each patient’s specific needs, medical consultation, physical, occupational and speech therapy, an intensive early intervention program for toddlers aged 18 to 36 months old and social communication groups...
Quote:
Before her 2-year-old started the early intervention program at Mercy Kids Autism Center, Paula Juelich remembers filling out a lengthy assessment listing troublesome behaviors. She check-marked nearly all the boxes.
Her son David’s budding language skills and use of gestures had stopped. He no longer made eye contact with people. He couldn’t stand having to wait or move from one activity to the next.
“If I were to back out of my driveway and go right, and he thought we should go left, he would have a screaming tantrum,” Juelich said. “The rigid behavior and his need for control was so high. It was unattainable.”
After five months in the intensive program involving four mornings a week of one-on-one therapy in a group class, and continued work at home using the same therapies, David, now 4, is a different child.
He tells his mom about his day at preschool, takes swimming lessons and sits with his family at the dinner table. Instead of hiding in the bushes at the neighborhood block party, he comes out to play. Instead of taking his sister’s toys, he plays ball with her.
“They literally changed his life; and by changing his life, they changed our lives,” said Juelich, who lives near Webster Groves. “The way we were living before wasn’t living.”
The Mercy Kids Autism Center began about three years ago offering the early intensive program for ages 18 months to 3 years old, known as the Early Start Denver Model...

...“It’s not enough to intend to do good things for families. We have responsibility to make sure that interventions we provide have been supported by research,” said Dr. John Mantovani, founding medical director of the Mercy Kids Therapy and Development Center which encompasses autism services.

...Interventions commonly involve the long-used and proven techniques of applied behavioral analysis, which teaches behaviors through a system of rewards and consequences. The Early Start Denver Model builds on the techniques by integrating them into children’s natural activities of playing and communicating. It focuses on relationships, encouraging constant interaction with the therapist and other children. Parents learning the model is also key.
On a recent morning in Mercy’s classroom, five children pulled toys from the shelves – dolls, puzzles, books and instruments – and each child’s therapist played along closely. A therapist was constantly face-to-face with a child, overly animated, naming every object and action. Children were encouraged to ask for what they wanted, notice body language and clean up when done.
Children learned how to wait, share and take turns as they lined up to go outside, wash their hands or have snack together. In circle time, they sang songs, listened to someone read a book and learned one another’s names. Cheers and hugs were constant...

In just over five months of being in the program, Kate Wright, 38, of Des Peres, said her son Wesley has gone from hardly making a sound, lacking interest in toys and unaware of those around him — to saying words, engaging his siblings and wanting to be with his parents. Wright is hoping for the big changes she saw in her older son, who also completed the program. “As far as his engagement with us and being in our world, it’s priceless,” Wright said. “It’s the biggest gift you can give.”

...Mantovani wanted to bring the model to Mercy after serving on a state committee working to develop guidelines on how to best diagnose and treat children with autism. He came across a 2009 study that showed children who received therapy using the Early Start Denver Model for 20 hours a week over two years showed greater improvement in behavior, learning and language than others receiving commonly available interventions.

The community needs intervention programs for children diagnosed before they turn 3, the age when services are provided through school districts’ early childhood programs, Mantovani said. Toddlers diagnosed typically meet with a speech therapist, physical therapist or behavioral therapist in separate weekly appointments.
Before Mercy’s program, he said, there was no evidence-based, center-based intervention program for children under 3. Yet, with increased awareness and better screening techniques, children are getting diagnosed at younger ages. “We were diagnosing 2-year-olds, and families were like, ‘What do we do next?’” Mantovani said.
A dance is going on in a young child’s highly adaptable brain, Mantovani explained, a partnership of biological changes and environmental stimulation. “We know autism has a biological basis, but we don’t have drugs or surgeries to change that,” he said. “We have to use the environment as part of that dance to create biological pathways that will lead to improved outcomes.”
Even babies could benefit from Denver model techniques, according to a very small but promising study released earlier this month. The study showed that infants ages 6 months to 15 months who showed early signs of autism and received intervention had lower rates of symptoms at age 3 than a similar group that declined treatment.

...Despite struggles, the intense early intervention gave David the starting point his family is thankful for. His mom said his behavior is more typical than many of his cohorts who did not have the same experience...
Here is a link to photos of the 10th Annual Mercy Health Foundation 'Benefit for the Kids golf tournament and dinner auction' from a couple of years ago: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mercyh...7634859587597/


Last edited by Visionary7903; January 30th, 2016 at 03:55 AM.
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Old January 30th, 2016, 06:06 AM   #497
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital is a St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit 190-bed inpatient and outpatient pediatric medical center. The Knights of Columbus Developmental Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center aims to be a one-stop shop for children with developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. Often these children require a true team approach that includes developmental pediatricians, child psychologists and neurologists, geneticists, clinical psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, nurses and resource specialists that help families advocate for school services...
Quote:
...Dog therapy has long been considered a possible therapeutic tool in the treatment of many patients, particularly those accompanied by anxiety and stress.

...Higgins, who is 5 years old, has been assigned to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center since 2007. He was donated by a St. Louis organization called CHAMP or Canine Helpers Allow More Possibilities. Higgins lives and rides to work with Betty Miller, R.N., a nurse at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center for more than 30 years. Higgins, a standard poodle and golden retriever mix, was chosen for his job in part due to his size.

“He has a calm personality and is conditioned to handle whatever happens to him,” Miller says.

Higgins has worked with rehabilitation patients who need encouragement in their therapy sessions. He has been especially helpful in working with children with autism, who can have many issues surrounding social interactions.

“When Higgins enters the room, the children become much calmer,” Miller says. “A lot of children with autism don’t make eye contact with other people, but they will make eye contact by allowing the techniques to be demonstrated on him. For children who have trouble going to bed and falling asleep at night, Higgins demonstrates by lying down and pulling his blanket over himself. “Sometimes the children will actually lie next to him because they want to imitate him,” Miller says.

Why do children with autism relate so comfortably to a dog?
...Caring for the dog can boost self-esteem, and walking the dog may help children experience social acceptance...

...Ryan Rea, 8, and sister Madison Rea, 9, are patients in the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center. “Ryan has classic autism, and Madison has pervasive developmental disorder,” says their mother, Alice Rea, who also is a medical technician in Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center’s laboratory service. “Lack of communication was the big thing that led to their diagnoses. They just didn’t talk.”

Madison’s diagnosis, pervasive developmental disorder, is one subtype of the autism spectrum disorders. Office visits have been calmer with Higgins’ assistance, Alice explains. “Last time we were here, Madison went downstairs to have blood drawn. They had Higgins pretend he was having blood drawn, then Madison had hers drawn,” she says. “It went fine. Two months prior to that, she was kicking and scratching when her blood was drawn.”

Ryan has been drawn out socially. “Before Higgins, Ryan was running all over the room and looking out the window. He didn’t want to participate. This is big,” his mother says. “He is sitting there very nicely and visiting with Higgins, and is interested in the tea party. Every year there has been significant improvement. They are more vocal and are learning how to interact and do pretend play.”

The Knights of Columbus Developmental Center staff has begun a research project to quantify the behavioral responses that Higgins can elicit in therapy sessions.

...So Higgins is not only a therapist but also a scientist? “Yes,” Miller says. “Higgins is a clinical researcher.”
Here is a link to a video on the Knights of Columbus Developmental Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 8th, 2016 at 06:00 AM.
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Old January 31st, 2016, 03:52 AM   #498
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

The Howard Park Center is an Ellisville, Missouri-based nonprofit dedicated to meeting the developmental and educational needs of infants, young children, teens and their families, with specific attention to children with mild-to-severe developmental delays. The nonprofit's mission is to provide all children, regardless of their abilities, with a strong foundation to learn, grow and attain their highest potential...
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Three-year old Luke Eckhard bounces on a mini-trampoline, while holding the hands of his autism teacher. John Eckhard believes his young son is bouncing back.
"As amazing as it is to us," Eckhard saud, "it's more amazing when friends come by who haven't seen Luke for three months."
Luke was diagnosed with autism about a year ago.

...More children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at an earlier age, two and younger. ...As awareness has grown, parents are seeking help for children as young as a year old when they suspect their child isn't developing properly. Experts say early intervention is key to autism treatment.
After Luke's autism diagnosis, the Eckhards felt helpless.
"I have no idea what question to ask," Eckhard said.
A year ago, Luke enrolled at the Howard Park Center in Ellisville, where staff members like director of therapy services Tami Pentz have seen tremendous improvement, as if Luke's brain is being re-wired
"The most amazing thing lately is the improvement in social skills and the attempts at social communication," Pentz said. "They're seeing changes in the brains of really young children with autism to become more like that of typical children."
John Eckhard says early diagnosis of Luke's autism has made a huge difference in his son's development, like the first time Luke said the word 'daddy'.
"That first time he said it, it took my breath away," Eckhard said. "I have no idea what my son's future is going to be like, I have no idea where he's going to be in six months, a year, but because I reached out and got help, I've now seen a stare becomes a gaze, I've now heard a babble become a 'daddy' and a 'momma' and that is an amazing thing for families that have kids on the spectrum. I would say the most important thing is to reach out."
Experts say spending money on two years of early intervention can increase a child's chances of going to kindergarten with very little support. John Eckhard says his message to families with autism is that help is available, and the sooner the better.
"Just to see him be able to reach out and to make a connection with me, that now I'm able to get into his world," he said.
Here is a link to photos of 'Team Howard Park Center' at an Autism Walk about five years ago: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...3131761&type=3


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 1st, 2016 at 05:12 AM.
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Old February 1st, 2016, 05:13 AM   #499
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

Gateway Education & Therapy is a Union, Missouri-based nonprofit that provides services for children with special needs, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. Gateway, which started receiving funds from Franklin County Area United Way a few years ago, provides services such as speech/language therapy, tutoring, behaviour therapy and life skills classes...
Quote:
Five-year-old Eli Homyk was quick to smile Friday afternoon as he 'played' games with his teacher, Dena Douglas, an ABA implementer, on the soft blue spring floor at Gateway Center for Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities...
"Eli, find red," Douglas prompted him, as he dropped colored discs into a toy pig that would play music when he got it correct. At some points Douglas leaned in close to Eli to get his attention and make eye contact, which is part of the learning process for him.
Eli, like a growing number of children in Franklin County and across the country, has autism and is nonverbal, his mom, Stacey Homyk, said, but through ABA — Applied Behavior Analysis — classes, he's making major strides forward.
..."[ABA has] helped him with social skills and with learning to wait, to be patient." [she said.]
Other parents of children with special needs have noticed similar improvements with ABA classes, said Kim Helm, MS, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist and executive director of Gateway Center for Autism, which is a division of Gateway Center for the Arts.
Since Gateway began offering ABA last summer, Helm has had to increase the number of classes from two days a week to five days just to accommodate the interest from local families.
ABA is one of a number of classes that Gateway offers specifically for children with special needs.
There also is Sensory Seekers, a class for children with high sensory needs combined with language differences, and Social Skills, a class for children with autism and other language differences that helps them learn how to interact with their typical developing peers.
As a speech-language pathologist, Helm has worked with children with special needs, predominantly autism, from the start of her career.

...Children with these needs all benefit from early intervention, which is what led Helm earlier this year to create Gateway Center for Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities as a division of Gateway Center for the Arts, the nonprofit performing and visual arts center she founded several years ago.
She hopes the name will better help parents of children with special needs as they search for services and ideally having Gateway Center for Autism serve as 'a point of entry' for these families, a place where they can come for everything from assessments if they suspect their child has autism to classes for their child with special needs to support for the parents in terms of respite care and suggestions.
"Parents, when they hear autism . . . they don't know what to do, and they are so overwhelmed," said Helm. "There is a need in this county to have a point of entry for kids who are suspected (of having autism) or are on the spectrum.
"We can help them through this process."

...Helm began her career as a speech-language pathologist working in schools and hospitals in Springfield, but her interest in helping children with autism goes back to when she was in graduate school and took a class working with students who had autism.
"It became my passion," said Helm, noting the more difficult the case, the better she liked the work.
After Helm and her family moved to [this area] in 2002, she began working for Missouri's First Steps program for children birth to age 3 who were diagnosed with special needs and later she worked with the Franklin County Co-Op school ...for students with special needs.
She began offering private speech therapy as people in town learned of her work, and that naturally led to her organizing classes for children with special needs.
"I had wanted to do classes for a long time," said Helm. "These kids don't have a lot of chances for recreational activities... and the parents wanted to give their kids something to do that was just theirs."
She offered her first class, Sensory Seekers, in January 2008. The class is set up to help children with high sensory needs get that input and at the same time, improve language skills.
"When children have their sensory needs met, they become more open to language and social interactions," Helm explained.
In this class, like many others at Gateway, students are paired with a 'buddy,' a trained teenage volunteer. The class also includes 'typical developing' children to increase social interactions and to serve as good role models for language skills, said Helm.
The following year, Helm added the Social Skills class in response to demand from students enrolled in her Sensory Seekers class.
"They were starting to go to school, and needed to learn social skills," she said.
Last summer, Helm added the ABA classes mentioned earlier.
Helm described ABA as a way of teaching kids to learn. It's useful for children who have developmental disabilities, as well as typical developing children who may have a behavior issue, she said.

...Right now at Gateway Helm works with about 50 children with autism and about 25 children with other developmental disabilities.

...With the establishment of Gateway Center for Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Helm hopes to be a resource for more families, not just in terms of classes, but in helping them sort through the options.
Gateway already receives referrals from neurologists and some pediatricians, but Helm hopes to partner even more with local pediatricians.
She would like to see doctors doing a 'quick check' for autism during every child's regular well visits at 12 and 18 months. There is a free nationally-developed checklist that is available, Helm noted.
"Our goal is not to tell parents 'Don't worry' without giving them an avenue to calm their fears," said Helm.
Typically a diagnosis of autism isn't given until well after a child turns 2, because language development is part of the criteria, Helm explained, but in many cases the signs were there before the child turned 2.
"Most kids are saying their first words at 1," she said. "If a child is not speaking by 2, that is not OK. They need to be assessed.
"We can do an assessment as early as 18 months," said Helm, noting the goal is early intervention.
"If you hit it early with the right type of treatment, you will have a better outcome..."

...Helm plans to add more classes to the Gateway curriculum. Which ones will be determined by the need, she said.
"Our program changes as the needs of our students changes," Helm remarked...
Here is a link to a Franklin County Area United Way video from a couple of years ago which shows how one family with a child on the Autism Spectrum has been helped through Gateway Education & Therapy:


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 7th, 2016 at 04:07 AM.
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Old February 5th, 2016, 05:55 AM   #500
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Default 'Agricultural specialisterne': rural employment revolution for those with Autism

The subject of recent posts has mainly been on Autism-related organisations and events in the state of Missouri.

Giant Steps of St. Louis is a Maplewood, Missouri-based nonprofit whose mission is to empower children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to participate fully in all aspects of life, including home, community and education. Beginning as the project of a group of parents with young Autistic children who sought to offer both a tailored education and secure care under the same roof, Giant Steps of St. Louis serves Missouri and Illinois students from the age of 3...
Quote:
A second-grade boy plays with building blocks, puts together puzzles and practices counting. When he gets home from school, his mother gets a full report on how he spent his day, but not from her son. Nick is nonverbal.

Nick is one of about 30 students who attend Giant Steps of St. Louis, a therapeutic school for children with differing degrees of autism. The school also offers a six-week day camp that serves more than 70 children each summer.

...Students at Giant Steps enroll when a typical school setting proves to be a poor fit. A common characteristic of autistic children is Sensory Processing Disorder, a neurological syndrome that affects the ability to filter and prioritize the constant stream of information gathered by the senses. Thus the sights and sounds of the average school can be overwhelming, and many school districts do not have the means to offer the necessary accommodations to these students.

That's where Giant Steps enters the picture. With a 1:1 student to teacher ratio, each child gets the assistance and attention they need and deserve.

"We treat each child as an individual," said Nora Kelleher, director of development at Giant Steps.

"If you can create a program that meets the individual child's sensory needs, you can see an amazing transformation happen. Our teachers and therapists are masters at figuring out what will enable each student to make progress."

And Kelleher said they have indeed adapted to some unusual circumstances, such as a young man who felt calm and focused only while balancing on an object. After quickly realizing that he could not continue balancing on the backs of chairs while he learned, Giant Steps provided a safe piece of climbing equipment that he carried with him to academic and therapy sessions until he was ready to sit at a table.

Besides offering an alternative educational environment, Giant Steps provides speech and occupational therapy, music therapy, adapted physical education and art programs, group academic classes, and assistance with vocational skills so that students can later be placed in available jobs in their communities.

"The right kind of intervention early on will do wonders for children's ability to be independent and lead fulfilling lives," Kelleher said.

With the Old Newsboys Day grant it received, Giant Steps has been able to purchase new equipment to enhance its curriculum. This enables the program to draw out individual students' interests in order to get them more engaged in learning.

Nick's mother discussed the transformation she saw in her son after switching him from a large public school to Giant Steps. Her 7-year-old used to dread going to school, and now she said he runs to the bus.

..."The teachers there are phenomenally patient and just really understand our kiddos." [she said]

Nick's mother also wanted to emphasize her appreciation for the support of the St. Louis community. Giant Steps will host several fundraisers throughout the year, including a trivia night in February and a 20th anniversary gala in April.

"I don't want him anywhere else," Nick's mother said. "I know he's safe and loved and cared for, and he's making progress every day."
Here is a link to photos of 'Team Giant Steps' at the last 'St. Louis Walk Now for Autism Speaks' at Forest Park from a few months ago: Autism Speaks Walk on October 10th. | Giant Steps of St. Louis


Last edited by Visionary7903; February 5th, 2016 at 06:38 AM.
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