Behavior Therapy Education for Police Reduces Misunderstandings

By Matthew J. Delaney, MSW, BCBA

Director of Applied Behavior Analysis

If you have tuned into the news recently, you are well aware of the behavior therapist in Miami who was shot by law enforcement as he was trying to bring his client who has autism back to the group home from which he had wandered. The video footage going viral on social media shows a behavior therapist with his hands up pleading with the man with autism to remain still and to lie down on the ground for fear that the police will shoot if he does not comply. The 23 year-old man with autism holding a toy truck continues to rock back and forth not adhering to the therapist’s request.

The fact that the individual did not comply with the demands of his therapist, and likely the demands of law enforcement, placed him at significant risk for harm. While many details will come out in the next few days regarding this unfortunate event, I think it is a great opportunity to spark discussion about the need for greater collaboration’ between behavior analysts and our law enforcement community in an effort to prevent events like this from reoccurring.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded a global initiative called Mental Health First Aid. The premise behind this initiative is that if an individual had a heart attack in a public venue, it is likely a witness in the community could come and provide CPR. However, if an individual was contemplating suicide or having a panic attack, the odds are less likely that a bystander would know how to adequately respond. These trainings are open to anyone, but are particularly marketed toward law enforcement and our first responders.

While this initiative is meeting a huge need within the mental health community, it does not address information and techniques specific to individuals with autism and related disorders. Similar to this initiative, there is an urgent need for behavior analysts to partner with first responders to provide training on the many presentations of autism symptoms and train law enforcement agencies on ways to interact with individuals who may have autism or related disorders that protects them from further escalation or harm.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics is eager to partner with law enforcement and other first responders in the Jacksonville community. We will provide educational training sessions as a community service to help empower these professionals with the tools and knowledge necessary to work with individuals with autism and related disorders.

We take seriously our role as advocates for the children and young adults we serve, and, in that role, we hope to build lasting partnerships with Jacksonville’s first responders and be a community resource for education and training on working with individuals with autism and related disorders.

You may contact Matt Delaney, 904.619.6071, delaney@keystonebehavioral.com, to discuss a potential educational training session or other ways that we may be helpful.

Free developmental screenings target birth to five years

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics will open a new Right from the Start Clinic beginning Aug. 2. The clinic is offering community infants and toddlers from birth to age 5 free comprehensive screenings to help parents identify as early as possible any physical or developmental issues that children may have. Study after study has shown that the earlier a delay is recognized and intervention is begun, the better chance a child has to substantially improve. Developmental screening is one of the best things you can do to ensure a child’s success in school and life.

Parents are invited to contact Keystone for a login code to complete a FREE online screening tool, part of the Ages and Stages Assessment and Toolkit. The screening involves answering a series of simple questions regarding their kid’s abilities (for example, “Does your child climb on an object such as a chair to reach something he wants?” or “When your child wants something does she tell you by pointing to it?”).

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics' Right from the Start Clinic identifies early developmental and behavioral delays.
Keystone founder and CEO Katie Falwell, Ph.D., works with young children to identify developmental delays and issues as early as possible to correct them before children start school.

Parents’ answers to the screening go directly to Keystone for therapists to identify any possible concerns. Then, parents are scheduled to bring their child in for a 1-hour session that includes free screenings by a licensed child psychologist, pediatric occupational therapist, pediatric speech/language therapist and pediatrician trained in developmental growth. Each of these four disciplines will give parents a “report card” with green, yellow or red light results. A green light means that the child is on track with peers, yellow means that there are slight indications of a developmental or behavioral delay compared to peers that parents will be advised to watch closely, and red means that a definite delay has been identified and should be addressed by professional therapy immediately so that the child is prepared for elementary school.

For children who receive a green light, the screening reassures their parents. Parents of a child who receives a red light report will be given recommendations of next steps that they may want to take on how to get the intervention services they need. All parents who participate will have access to a number of free resources about developmental stages to anticipate and ways to help their child.

To further encourage parents to get their infant a developmental check-up as early as possible, Keystone is offering FREE on-site first birthday screenings (by appointment on Tuesdays beginning Aug. 2, 2016). These screenings look for physical, developmental and behavioral delays, beyond what pediatricians typically monitor at a child’s 1-year well visit. Local pediatric health providers and daycare providers may contact 904.619.6071 or info@keystonebehavioral.com to request free Happy First Birthday postcards to give to their parents with 1-year-old children.

Parents of children from birth to age 5 should call Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, 904.619.6071, to receive a log-in code to complete the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, which will be accessed on Keystone’s website, www.keystonebehavioral.com.

Background

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics offers integrated healthcare by a team of highly educated child psychologists, behavior therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language therapists, feeding therapists and a medical director who lead the 120-person staff in collaborating to bring the best resources for addressing behavioral, developmental and physical issues in children. It offers one stop services to parents plus collaboration is the most effective way to address interactive issues that children often have. The organization is led by Katie Falwell, Ph.D. and a Florida licensed psychologist who specializes in child development. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants and young children be screened for delays as a regular part of their ongoing health care. Research shows that addressing these issues in children before they start elementary school can produce significant gains in language and mental abilities, improve their social communication and correct any physical delays or impairments before they become disabling. Because these issues are subtle in young children, most children who would benefit from early intervention are not identified until after they start school. 

As the National Academy of Sciences stated in From Neurons to Neighborhoods, “Compensating for missed opportunities, such as the failure to detect early difficulties or the lack of exposure to environments rich in language, often requires extensive intervention, if not heroic efforts, later in life.” 

Developmental delays, learning disorders and behavioral and social-emotional problems are estimated to affect 1 in every 6 children, yet only 20-30 percent of these children are identified as needing help before school begins. Identifying these issues prior to children starting kindergarten has huge academic, social and economic benefits. Studies have proven that children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to graduate from high school, hold jobs, live independently and avoid teen pregnancy, delinquency and violent crime which results in saving to society of about $30,000 to $100,000 per child. Plus, getting help with these issues as early in a child’s life as possible improves quality of life and reduces stress for the whole family.

Keystone Child Development Center students enjoy Navy Woodwind Quintet’s holiday music

Navy Band Southeast’s Woodwind Quintet, Fair Winds Quintet, will perform Christmas music for students at Keystone Child Development Center’s Christmas party, 11:30 a.m. to noon, Friday, Dec. 18. The performance will be extra special for one KCDC student, 3-year-old Oliver Corneanu, whose father, Ovidiu Corneanu, plays the clarinet in the quintet. Oliver is a member of KCDC’s Early Intervention Program.

“We started the Early Intervention Program this fall because we recognize that early identification, intervention and treatment are the keys to maximizing potential and preventing major challenges throughout a child’s life,” Ashley Kiser, M.S., BCBA, director of early childhood services, said. Clinicians work to reduce students’ problem behaviors and promote acquisition of appropriate skills while the students simultaneously attend the classes appropriate for their level.

KCDC, a private preschool located in the Southpoint Office Park on Jacksonville’s Southside, offers children, ages 18 months through kindergarten, early childhood care including individualized instruction and a nurturing and stimulating learning environment that includes both children with special needs and typically developing children. In addition to its Early Intervention Program, KCDC offers Preschool (18 months – 3 years), Pre-K/VPK (3½ – 5 years and including free VPK funded by the state), Kindergarten (a one- or two-year program), and Aftercare.

Students attending KCDC may take advantage of services offered by Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, such as onsite medical care including a pediatrician and nurse/psychological assessment; applied behavior analysis (ABA); early identification and intervention of developmental delays and behavioral challenges; and feeding, speech and occupational therapy.

Navy Bank Southeast's Woodwind Quintet
Oliver Corneanu’s father, Ovidiu Corneanu (second row, center), plays clarinet in the Navy Band Southeast’s Woodwind Quintet, Fair Winds Quintet, and will be performing for his son and other students at Keystone Child Development Center’s Dec. 18 Christmas Party.

Navy Band Southeast’s Woodwind Quintet performs musical styles ranging from traditional woodwind quintet literature to patriotic fare, Broadway hits and the popular music of today.  They have performed at numerous military ceremonies, official receptions, public concerts and schools throughout the Southeast region.  They also have a dynamic educational program specifically designed for elementary-aged children.

For more information about Keystone Child Development Center or Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, make an appointment online or contact info@keystonebehavioral.com or 904.619.6071.

Keystone’s VPK program earns perfect inspection by DCF

Keystone Child Development Center’s Pre-K/VPK program for 3½- to 5-year old children offers individualized instruction to prepare both children with special needs and also those typically developing for its kindergarten program, which is a one- to two-year program designed to fit the individual needs of each student. The Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) monitors KCDC’s facilities because the center offers a free voluntary prekindergarten program, which is funded by the state.

Under new KS48-croppedmanagement by Ashley Kiser, M.S., BCBA, director of early childhood services, and Greta Hernandez, RBT, assistant director of early childhood services, the KCDC facility has been 100 percent compliant in the past four quarterly inspections.

The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK) provides 4-year-old children who reside in Florida and were born on or before Sept. 1 each year with an opportunity to attend quality preschools such as KCDC for free, to enable them to receive age-appropriate curricula with a strong emphasis on early literacy skills, accountability, manageable class sizes and qualified instructors. The Florida VPK program supports Keystone’s emphasis on the importance of a child’s early years in learning to be attentive and to follow directions.

KCDC supports the philosophy that the most important growth and development in the brain happens by the age of five. Structured early learning fosters these abilities for later success in school and in life. In addition, KCDC’s Pre-K/VPK program uses a multi-age classroom setting, which allows younger students to learn from their older, more experienced peers while giving older students the opportunity to lead and support their younger peers.

KCDC uses the “Making Friends, Pre-K – 3: A Social Skills Program for Inclusive Settings” (Second Edition) curriculum. Students enjoy structured and unstructured social activities while reaping the benefits of weekly themes and lessons.

As a department within Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, KCDC offers its children services offered by other Keystone departments, such as onsite medical care including a pediatrician and nurse/ psychological assessment; applied behavior analysis (ABA); early identification and intervention of developmental delays and behavioral challenges; and feeding, speech and occupational therapy.

To learn more, arrange a visit or apply, visit Keystone’s website or contact info@keystonebehavioral.com, 904.619.6071.