While your child’s treatment program will be individualized and adapted to their unique needs and circumstances, there are some core elements that underlie our approach for all of our learners. We believe that addressing a child’s needs in the sequence we describe below leads to better outcomes and a more solid foundation for progress.
Our initial focus centers on teaching your child that adults are the givers of all things good. This builds trust and teaches them that interacting with people around them is the best way to have all of their needs and desires met. This critical because it prepares your loved one to be more receptive to learning from you and their treatment team members. Most importantly, this will help motivate them to WANT to learn. This is an essential step to take before we progress to more complex skill areas.
The next step in this process is to ensure your child has a reliable and effective way of communicating their needs. How we go about teaching this can look different for each individual depending on their current ability to communicate. Typically, it involves deciding the best way or ways for them to communicate (i.e. speech, sign, combination of the two, etc). It is important to choose as few modes as possible, while still being effective, to avoid unnecessary confusion and frustration that children often experience from having to communicate multiple ways.
Another important part of developing language skills is how we combine this along with other techniques as a vehicle for teaching your child how to handle difficult and upsetting situations. Any children that exhibit problematic behavior will have specialized plans developed to address and reduce these issues.
After we have established rapport and an effective mode of communication, we are more adequately equipped to begin working on what are often referred to as “learning to learn” to skills. Put simply, these are prerequisites that your child should demonstrate before they can begin to learn more complex language and functional skills. Some examples of learning to learn skills include following simple or routine directions with some consistency, making eye contact, cooperating with short learning tasks and imitating others.
The skills we’ve discussed so far may and often do take significant time and effort to establish and solidify. The stronger these skills become, the easier it will be for your young one to learn other more complex skills.
Most important to remember is that your child will have their own set of unique strengths, challenges, and barriers. It is crucial that we respect them at the level they are at and cultivate a treatment program that reflects that. This is a sentiment that we carry throughout our journey with your family.