JF&CS News Winter 2014
When five-year-old Cole and his loving parents Stephanie and Peter came to JF&CS, they faced several challenges. Cole, who has a form of autism spectrum disorder, had difficulties with eating and toilet training, staying safe, and following verbal requests. His parents found it hard to engage him in day-to-day activities and brushing his teeth or sitting down for dinner could bring on a tantrum.
Today, Cole is a thriving, active little boy who, like many other children his age, enjoys playing games on his mother's iPad. Stephanie and Peter are thrilled by his progress – from an explosion in his spontaneous speech to his ability to transition between activities and act independently. His home is a happier place, thanks to JF&CS In-Home Behavioral Services.
"The gains we made in such a short time are incredible," said Stephanie. "JF&CS helped with things I didn't even realize we could get help with. From the get go, our therapist could connect with Cole and get into his world."
In-Home Behavioral Services provides comprehensive intervention to children and young adults ages 3 to 21 with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities. The program's goal is to work closely with parents to help children improve their behavior by enhancing communication skills and teaching strategies for self-regulation. Launched in 2012, this new program has expanded our ability to serve children and their families.
"Our program's emphasis is unique in that we focus on enhancing a child's expressive abilities so they can communicate better with their families and have better choice and control," said Holly McCarthy, MEd, Manager, Children's Behavioral Health Services.
JF&CS therapist Alissa Rahilly worked with Cole to set expectations and reinforce behaviors to encourage his progress at home and in the community. Using best practices, she made clear visuals and storyboards for the family to refer to. His schedule and daily activities such as walking outside, going to the bathroom, brushing his teeth, and sitting at the table for meals were presented in steps with matching photos to minimize confusion and ease transitions.
Cole thrived on the repetition and reinforcement. "All those things helped him get into a routine and facilitate the process," said Stephanie. For many activities, the storyboards worked so well that "We don't have to use them anymore."
Cole is now able to express himself verbally, complete two-step requests, toilet independently, bathe and transition without tantrums, take walks with minimal safety reminders, and sit independently to eat a meal. At the same time, Cole's family has gained valuable insight into how to implement and understand behavioral interventions and is more confident in managing his behavioral challenges.
"JF&CS exceeded our expectations. They helped improve our quality of life," said Stephanie. "I can't thank Alissa and the team at JF&CS enough for their teachings and support with Cole."