SUNBEAM AUTISM CENTRE
We provide developmental support services for children on the autism spectrum. These support services help children with a developmental challenge or delay learn how to successfully participate in family activities, have routines and work towards experiencing full inclusion and integration in their communities.
What We Offer: Our developmental services run in THREE types of programs:
1. THE EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM
2. INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SESSIONS
3. VOCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM
THE EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM
The EIP at Sunbeam Autism Centre is a structured program with a timetable with all the three modalities of intervention discussed below incorporated for each child. The EIP runs from 2.30pm to 5.30pm at the Sunbeam Lahartara campus from Monday to Friday every week and include Developmental therapy, OT and Social Skills group sessions. Child-centred programs are packaged together by experts to bring maximum benefit to your child’s development. Children with early indicators of, or with a diagnosis of, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and social and/or communication delays, are the focus of this program.
Developmental and communication therapy sessions:
Our developmental therapy sessions are an optimal mix of principles of RDI, floor time, TEACH and ABA. But we believe in letting the child grow with faith in his abilities, developing the ability to think flexibly, appreciating different perspectives, coping with change and integrating information from multiple sources (e.g. sounds and sights, focusing on the belief that the child has to learn to survive in an ever-changing dynamic world, yet not undermining the need of a certain number of therapy hours (intensive therapy) required for children in that age group. Individual slots for one-on-one or group sessions outside of EIP hours may also be arranged upon request and depending on availability of therapist. Between the ages 2 and 5, we recommend all children be enrolled in the EIP as intensive, structured, early intervention therapy is recommended to bring out the full potential.
‘It is important for children with autism to begin treatment as soon as possible. The more intense or comprehensive the therapy, the better it is in terms of helping children improve social and communication skills,’ said clinical psychologist Dr. Micah Mazurek, assistant professor in the Department of Health Psychology at the University of Missouri.
Over time 95.4% of children demonstrated improvement for these skills with children who have received behavioural, speech and occupational therapy benefitting the most.
Analyses reveal that the children, who received more intensive treatment at a younger age, experienced far greater advancement in social-communication skills.
Speech and language therapy assesses and treats individuals who have a problem with the production of sounds, when a person has difficulties understanding or processing language or has difficulties using expressive language.Speech therapists are professionals who specialize in the development of communication. Our speech therapists identify, assess and provide treatment for individuals with speech, language, and cognitive/communication disorders. Speech therapy at SAC focuses on helping pre-linguistic skills, developmental therapy, communication and language enhancement, social engagement,play skills, focus on reciprocal interaction.The ways in which this can benefit your child are:
- Understanding directions or questions - receptive language
- Identifying objects
- Using gestures
- Learning new words
- Word order in a sentence
- Asking questions
- Naming objects
- Taking turns
- Having short conversational exchange
Occupational Therapy and Sensory Integration:
Every child has a daily routine that includes waking up, eating, playing, sleeping, etc. When a child has trouble with areas in their routine – feeding time, self-care, sensory integration, exploring their environments, or interacting with others – occupational therapy helps them build the skills they need to succeed in these daily “occupations”. OT addresses underlying behavioural problems and developmental delays by making adjustments in the physical environment and by introducing sensory integration. Areas in which your child could benefit from OT are:
- Fine motor and/or handwriting delays
- Feeding difficulties, including picky eating, utensil use and oral motor concerns
- Difficulty manipulating toys
- Aversion to certain textures, temperatures or sounds
- Difficulty transitioning or tolerating changes in the environment
- Delays in self-help skills, including self-feeding, dressing and bathing
- Anxiety with movement
- Hyperactivity and difficulty with attention
- Difficulty calming self
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Poor eye contact or sensitivity to light
- Poor balance, posture and coordination
Our occupational therapists work with your family to learn your child’s strengths and enhance handwriting, fine motor, and gross motor skills to address difficulties.
Social Skills Groups:
A key to any successful relationship is having good social skills. Some children have difficulty recognizing social cues from their peers and other models and require extra support to interpret and respond to the verbal and nonverbal communication of others. SAC offers social skills groups for a children within a range of ages and abilities to help children learn how to work together, create friendships within a group setting, strengthen their ability to express feelings, and promote positive problem-solving skills.
The Social Skills group at SAC grows in number slowly from 2 to upto 4 children in the similar age range in a group. Each session uses a relationship based, developmental approach to structure group activities that encourage children to be more aware of peers, learn how to approach them, and how to join and initiate play. Our therapists and interventionists use the children’s interests as tools to help bridge their interests with others.
Children become more aware of peers, how to approach them, as well as how to join and initiate play. Therapists help to facilitate socially appropriate communication between peers including; expressing and negotiating wants and needs, labelling emotions, joining play of others, taking turns, sharing, being flexible, playing games, being a good winner and loser in a game, complimenting, staying on topic, asking follow up questions and more. Sessions may also include sensory exploration opportunities, movement activities, music, art, snack and outings.
INDIVIDUAL THERAPY SESSIONS
We also aim to provide the above therapies in sessions for individuals who can not be part of the above program. The sessions are on availability basis and run after school for children who might be attending regular school in the day.
VOCATIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM
Our vocational program runs at the SAC campus alongside the EIP for young adults on the spectrum.
PARENT INVOLVEMENT - Creating the Right Plan for Your Child and Your Family - Family is an important part of the success of any child. Goals are created for the child collaboratively by the therapist and the caregiver. Ways to work on the goals outside of the centre are also incorporated. Through practice and facilitation, the skills learned in the group setting are generalized to the child’s natural environments; school, family gatherings, parties, park etc. These skills help children relate effectively to others and develop friendships.
SAC uses a relationship-based model to offer family support services within the treatment plan so that parents, caregivers, siblings and teachers are equipped with the tools to support and connect with the child. Our interventionists try and work with your family to create a treatment plan that incorporates your concerns and priorities for your child.
IEP Goals - Our trained staff incorporates your child’s Individualised Educational Program goals into an integrated plan to support the goals and needs of your child.On aquarterly basis, the caregiver and therapist meet to evaluate the child’s progress toward their goals and if any changes in plan would be beneficial.
Services Incorporated within Natural Environments – SAC provides developmental services not just in classrooms and one-on-one cubicles,we also practice in parks, play spaces and try simulate real life situations like grocery shops, vegetable markets, birthday parties and play dates. By providing services in natural environments, your child learns how to use learned skills in other settings. This also can help your family with practical ways to work with your child in everyday setting.
Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears in the first three years of life. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain that usually affects social interaction and communication skills. Children with autism classically have difficulty in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction including play activities. This disorder makes it hard for them to communicate with others, relate to people, regulate emotion and adapt to change around them.
Autism is often referred to as a spectrum disorder meaning that the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Also autism ranges from mild to severe, affecting different areas differently in each individual. The autism spectrum describes a range of conditions mainly including classic autism, Asperger syndrome and atypical autism. These disorders are typically characterized by social deficits, communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviours and interests, and in some cases, cognitive delays.
Asperger syndrome can be distinguished from autism by the lack of delay or deviance in early language development and absence of significant cognitive delays. Other symptoms similar to autism may include repetitive routines or rituals, peculiarities in speech and language, inapt social behaviour, problems with non-verbal communication, and clumsy or uncoordinated motor movements.
What causes Autism? Medical researchers are exploring different explanations for different forms of autism.
"Although one specifically links autism to biological or neurological changes in the brain, autism is not caused by unhappy home environment, both parents working, mental stress during pregnancy, poor handling by mother and/or emotional trauma."
Is there a cure? To cure means to restore to health, soundness and normalcy. In medical science, there is no cure for the differences in the brain that result in autism.
Rise in the incidence of Autism: The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has released a prevalence figure of 1 in 50 for autism in the United States. Autism is one of some common developmental disabilities, more common than Down Syndrome. Yet majority of the public, including many professionals in the medical, educational and vocational fields are unaware how to work effectively with individuals with autism. There is a need for better diagnosing to get better at accepting autistic people, seeing their potential, and ensuring the supports and resources they need to fulfil that potential.
So what is the most effective approach to Autism? Because of the spectrum nature of autism and the many behaviour combinations, no one approach is effective in alleviating symptoms of autism in all cases. Various types of therapeutic interventions available include behaviour modification, speech/language therapy, sensory integration, occupational therapy, music therapy, vision therapy, medications, dietary interventions etc. Experience has shown that individuals with autism respond well to a highly structured, specialised education and behaviour modification program.
A well designed intervention approach will include some amount of communication therapy, social skill development, sensory integration therapy, and behaviour modification at minimum, delivered by autism trained professionals, in a consistent, comprehensive and coordinated manner. These will give your child what he/she needs to strengthen skills in problem solving, communication, social development, emotional development, adaptive skills, and self-regulation.Parents can play a huge role by practising at home in a similar manner the skills taught at school.The areas where the child could benefit from developmental services are:
- Attention and interest
- Ability to follow directions
- Functional communication
- Ability to successfully initiate, sustain, and terminate mutually reciprocal interactions with adults and peers
- Developmentally appropriate play and social interaction
- Ability to regulate self in developmentally appropriate ways
- Self-help and safety awareness
- Problem solving skills
Importance of Developmental Screening, Assessment and Evaluation
Screening is a quick general measure of your child’s development. We use standardized screening tools to identify whether your child needs further evaluation. This determines if the child has a developmental delay or disability. Developmental screenings do not diagnose. Screenings help to tell parents if the child is át risk’ for autism. It is then recommended that a child who is ‘at risk’ of a later diagnosis of autism is put on an early intervention program as soon as possible. This ensures that we have effectively utilised the child’s early years that have proven to be so very important to development.
Why should I have my child screened? Between the ages of 2 and 5, children are in a critical stage of development. If your child has a delay or challenge, the earlier you identify the issue and seek services, the greater the impact of therapeutic services.
RED FLAGS of developmental delays:
- No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
- No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months or thereafter
- No babbling by 12 months
- No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
- No words by 16 months
- No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
- Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age (regression)
Assessments are specific to developmental domains – Assessments measure your child’s level of functioning in a specific domain:cognitive, motor, speech, physical, social/emotional, etc.
Evaluations identify a child’s needs in all areas of development and can determine the existence of a delay or disability. A developmental evaluation focuses on the whole child, targeting the above mentioned domains: cognitive development, speech and language (receptive and expressive communication),physical development(fine and gross motor)& Sensory Processing, social-emotional development (including attachment and peer interactions), self-help (adaptive) and behaviour. Evaluations are done through play observations and standardized tests that present your child with certain tasks to determine areas of strength and weakness.