Keystone Supports May National Mental Health Month

As the largest provider of integrated, collaborative healthcare in northeast Florida for children who have behavioral, developmental, mental, emotional and learning issues, Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics recognizes May as National Mental Health Month.

One of Keystone’s child psychologists, Max Horovitz, Ph.D., was interviewed by Action News CBS 47 Fox 30, about the connection between mental health issues and suicide by teenagers. Specifically, the news station was reporting on increasing concern by educators, schools and parents about the Netflix show, “13 Reasons Why,” which tells the story of the main character, Hannah Baker, who took her own life, leaving behind 13 tapes for the 13 people she said were responsible. Schools are beginning to send letters home to parents warning them about the show’s potentially dangerous message.

During the interview, Dr. Horovitz noted that some children are more easily influenced than others and parents might consider talking with their child about the show’s message. “We want kids to know there are a lot of ways they can be helped that don’t have to be suicide,” Horovitz said.

Several other occasions spotlight mental health issues throughout the month:

May 4 – Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

May 7-13 – National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week

May 13-17 – Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Keystone advocates every day for the importance of integrating behavioral health and primary care for children, youth and young adults is mental and/or substance use disorders by working with children in its Southside clinic, in their homes, at their schools and in the community. This year’s national theme, “Partnering for Help and Hope.” is especially meaningful, in light of the number of news stories recently that report instances of police having negative interactions with children and young adults who have special needs.

Keystone would welcome the opportunity to help local media discuss children’s mental health issues in a variety of subject areas to bring attention to National Mental Health Month. Its team of child psychologists and therapists can make themselves available for interviews as needed.

Keystone’s team also provides in-service training to educators in schools and other community organizations, police officers and emergency medical service providers. Keystone can share information and techniques to help them understand why children with special needs may act and/or react the ways that they do in stressful situations and what methods can be used to deescalate a potentially unpleasant or potentially dangerous situation.

To schedule an interview or an in-service training, contact Karen Rieley, director of marketing and communications, 904.333.1151, rieley@keystonebehavioral.com.

November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month

national-epilepsy-monthKeystone Behavioral Pediatrics’ Neuropsychological Assessment Clinic, led by co-directors Rea Anne A. Romero, Ph.D., licensed psychologist, and Rebecca J. Penna, Ph.D., NCSP, neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist, provides comprehensive evaluation of brain functions and processes. The neuropsychological approach is particularly useful for individuals who have experienced a brain injury or other medical conditions that impact the central nervous system, such as epilepsy, as well as other complex clinical conditions that impact the way a person thinks and learns. Following the assessment, a profile of the individual’s processing strengths and needs is developed, which guides treatment, rehabilitation and educational planning.

Parents of children with seizures have a special role.

The national Epilepsy Foundation acknowledges the following critical roles that parents of children with seizures play in their children’s lives:

  1. You are parents and the primary caregivers of your young children. You are the one giving information to the health care team and the primary one working with schools, camps, or other community groups. You are staying up at night worrying, or caring for your child during and after seizures. You want them to stay safe, but may have to balance this with how to let them be kids, and develop independence.
  2. You are a manager. You need to manage your young child’s epilepsy. As your child grows, you need to teach him or her how to manage his epilepsy. If your adult child can’t manage their epilepsy on their own, you may need to continue in the manager role or find someone else or an agency (for example a group home or agency overseeing your child’s care) to manage their care.
  3. You are an advocate. You may have to advocate for your child to get the care they need, to get an appropriate education and any necessary accommodations, and to have their rights respected.
  4. You are an educator. You have to educate so many people (as well as yourself) about epilepsy and how to treat and respond to your child. You want your child to be treated just like anyone else, but this may take work over the years.
  5. You are also a “patient.” Epilepsy affects the whole family – the person with seizures, parents, siblings, grandparents, and more. How it affects you will be different than how it affects the child, other children in the family, or your parents. But it will affect you. As a patient, you’ll have needs too and would benefit from information and support to help you.

Epilepsy and seizures are tough for children and families to bear. It might feel like more than you can handle on your own. Luckily, you don’t have to. Keystone can assess and evaluate your child to provide an individualized treatment and education planning.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has become a successful way to help people through a variety of problems. It has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, or anger (or more than one of these) in some people with epilepsy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is grounded in the belief that your thoughts guide your feelings and actions. To help your child manage feelings and change actions, we help your child first focus on changing thinking patterns. When your child learns how to focus on her own thoughts instead of outside events or other people, she can have more control over her progress and a greater chance of improving her life.

In many cases, epilepsy co-occurs with other developmental and behavioral issues, for example, autism. We can also provide specific recommendations that relate to educational placement and instructional strategies that can be shared with your child or adolescent’s school. This can include recommendations for testing accommodations (e.g., SAT) if indicated.

Macy’s Makes a Special Wish Come True at Thanksgiving for a Special Young Person

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Katie Falwell, CEO, hugs Sam LaManna, 14. She and other Keystone therapists have worked with Sam since he was six years old.

Sam LaManna is 14 years old and a student at Mainspring Academy a school for students with special needs. When he celebrated his birthday this past January, he had just one wish – to get an autograph from Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Executive Producer, Amy Kule. Sam first saw Amy cut the ribbon at the parade a few years ago and she has been his hero ever since!

Sam’s mother had placenta previa, which caused birth trauma and low heart rate and oxygen levels for Sam. Five days after his birth, the doctors discovered that he had two intraventricular brain hemorrhages. Sam survived but now lives with hydrocephalus, the buildup of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain. The excess fluid increases the size of the cavities and puts pressure on the brain, which damages brain tissues and causes a large spectrum of impairments in brain function.

Macy’s has invited Sam and His Family to be Special Guests at the 90th Anniversary of its Thanksgiving Parade

Last year, with the help of his teacher, Sam made a video message asking Amy for her autograph. The video went viral, eventually Amy saw the video, and she was honored to make his wish come true. Not only did Amy send Sam an autograph, she made a video herself inviting his family, Sam and his former teacher to be her special guests at the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Amy and Al Roker, weather anchor on NBC’s Today and Sam’s other favorite person, have a special Thanksgiving Day planned for Sam.

Sam still attends Mainspring Academy, a private, nonprofit school located in Jacksonville’s Southside. The school opened in 2010 to serve children with a broad range of special needs from elementary through high school.

Sam also receives a number of therapies provided by Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, which offers integrated healthcare for developmental, behavioral, emotional and learning issues. Using a collaborative team approach, more than 120 therapists are available to help children.

Sam’s lead therapist is Angela Chionchio. Keystone has worked with Sam since he was six years old. When his mother first brought Sam to Keystone in 2008, she described him as happy and affectionate, noting that he loved to read, learned quickly and had excellent memory. Yet, she was concerned that he was stubborn, easily distracted and developmentally delayed. He didn’t sit up until he was 13 months old and didn’t walk until he was 27 months old. Socially, Sam struggled to make friends and seemed disinterested and withdrawn around others.

According to Sam’s lead therapist, Angela Chionchio. “Sam has trouble with ‘first time listening,’ meaning he can be noncompliant when he impulsively sees an object that he wants play with but should not be available at the moment. In the classroom, his teacher and I prompt him to raise his hand to ask permission to do these things and offer him alternatives.”

Sam also has a problem with schedule change. “We help by preparing him for upcoming changes and praising him when he accepts change appropriately,” Angela says.

“Sam is doing great this year,” she says. His new classmates offer him opportunities to grow socially and behaviorally.

“When I asked Sam why he loved the parade so much, he said that it was because he loves when the producer cuts the ribbon at the start of the parade,” she laughs. “He said he also is very excited to see Santa Claus at the grand finale  and meet the host of the Today Show.”

“Sam is a wonderfully unique little guy,” his mom says. “I knew great things were inside him, but I needed Keystone’s help for Sam to bring out all that he has to offer the world.”

Sam’s trip to New York City is made even more special by the fact that his parents and he tried to visit the city last year, but had to cancel at the last minute because Sam needed emergency surgery. The IV shunt that was implanted in Sam’s brain unexpectedly quit working, so Sam had to endure hours of major surgery.

An implanted shunt diverts cerebrospinal fluid from the chambers within the brain to another body region where it will be absorbed. This creates an alternative route for removal of cerebrospinal fluid which is constantly produced within the brain and usually restores physiological balance.

Sam has blossomed under the therapy he receives at Keystone and in his classes at Mainspring Academy. All of us at Keystone and Mainspring are so excited for Sam that he has been able to achieve and even exceed his dream of getting autographs from Amy Kule and Al Roker.

“Sam is a wonderfully unique little guy,” his mom says. “I knew great things were inside him, but I needed Keystone’s help for Sam to bring out all that he has to offer the world.”

Sam’s trip to New York City is made even more special by the fact that his parents and he tried to visit the city last year, but had to cancel at the last minute because Sam needed emergency surgery. The IV shunt that was implanted in Sam’s brain unexpectedly quit working, so Sam had to endure hours of major surgery.

An implanted shunt diverts cerebrospinal fluid from the chambers within the brain to another body region where it will be absorbed. This creates an alternative route for removal of cerebrospinal fluid which is constantly produced within the brain and usually restores physiological balance.

Sam has blossomed under the therapy he receives at Keystone and in his classes at Mainspring Academy. All of us at Keystone and Mainspring are so excited for Sam that he has been able to achieve and even exceed his dream of getting autographs from Amy Kule and Al Roker.

Right from the Start Clinic Identifies Challenges Early for Best Outcomes

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Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics’ Right from the Start Clinic helps you know whether your child would benefit from early intervention to solve or alleviate any issues before they become problematic.

All children learn and grow at different rates. We know that getting help early can lead to the best outcomes for kids. Because these issues are often very subtle in young children, only 20-30 percent are identified as needing help before kindergarten. Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics’ Right from the Start Clinic helps you know whether your young child would benefit from early intervention to solve or alleviate any issues before they become problematic.

Developmental, learning, behavioral and socio-emotional issues are estimated to affect one in every six children

The Right from the Start clinic is a free screening clinic for children between the ages of 1 month and 5½ years old. We provide a multidisciplinary screening evaluation to assess your child’s developmental progress. You will meet with clinicians from our psychology, occupational therapy, and speech language departments, as well as our pediatrician. At the end of the visit, you will receive information on how your child is doing developmentally, with suggestions to target any areas of need that have been identified.

Common concerns that might indicate your child could benefit from a screening include delayed speech, not making eye contact, not smiling in response to you smiling, poor coordination, toileting delays, motor delays, prematurity, concerns about emotional or behavioral development, or other developmental delays.

The Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) is a developmental screening test that assesses communication, fine motor, gross motor, problem solving and person-social skills. Complete the ASQ online before your appointment, and the results will be reviewed with you during your visit.

At the conclusion of the Right from the Start screening appointment, you will meet with a psychologist to review the findings and recommendations. We will help you create an action plan of next steps to take, based upon what concerns were identified, if any. We provide local resources to assist your family, and our Client Care Coordinators are available to provide further guidance in accessing those resources.

Contact info@keystonebehavioral.com, 904.619-6071, to talk to a Client Care Coordinator.

By Rebecca J. Penna, Ph.D., NCSP, Neuropsychologist and Clinical Psychologist, Director of Right from the Start Clinic

Keystone named one of Jacksonville’s top 50 fastest-growing companies

Jacksonville Business Journal recently named Keystone to its Fast 50 list of the 50 fastest-growing companies in northeast Florida. By expanding based on need and stabilizing as necessary to remain financially sound, Keystone has steadily grown since its founding in 2008 as a small pediatric mental health behavior clinic.

In focusing on an integrated whole-child approach to assessment and treatment, Keystone quickly began to recognize the need for a school for special needs students who cannot function in a public school setting and who would benefit from having ready access to their behavioral therapists during the school day. As a result, in 2010, Keystone Academy was added as a special needs school for kindergarten through grade 12.

As more children and their families continued to come to Keystone for services, the clinic began seeing children with rehabilitative needs, with or without mental health/behavioral issues. Therapists were added to staff departments in occupational, feeding and speech and language with the goal of becoming truly interdisciplinary – one stop for services – to make it more convenient for families and less overwhelming to obtain services.

Keystone knows that early intervention is the key to successfully changing behaviors, so in 2013 Keystone Child Development Center was added to serve children 18 months through kindergarten. The center is VPK endorsed. In response to discovering that some children enrolled in the VPK program would benefit by having an extra year of kindergarten before transitioning to regular school, Keystone opened a one- or two- year kindergarten program this fall.

This summer Keystone transitioned Keystone Academy to Mainspring Academy, to enable it to grow as a separate, nonprofit, private, special needs school. Keystone therapists remain the primary providers of behavioral services for Mainspring Academy students, often working alongside academic teachers in the classroom, in addition to providing additional services after school.

In planning for the future, Keystone is adding more certified or credentialed staff because there is more need in the area than services available to meet the need. Keystone is focusing on making preschools and all public and private school in north Florida and south Georgia aware that it is available to train their staff on how to recognize and manage behavioral issues in the classroom.

Dr. Katherine Falwell, founder and CEO, continues to lead Keystone on its path to serving both typically developing children and children with special needs. While she was a professor and post-doc at the University of Florida, she became aware of the need for more pediatric behavioral services in general, and Jacksonville, as a large metro area, seemed a logical place to open a practice. The number of institutions of higher education in and near Jacksonville is a tremendous benefit to a growing practice like Keystone. The clinic regularly engages interns and practicum students majoring in psychology.

Keystone’s commitment to charitable organizations that relate to the developmental issues that its children face has helped it grow as well. For example, staff and families participate in annual runs and walks hosted by organizations such as the Early Learning Coalition, Walk Now for Autism Speaks, North Florida Chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Jax4Kids, March for Babies – First Coast, HEAL Foundation and Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville. These organizations work hard to raise money that goes towards improving and supporting services such as the ones Keystone provides and engaging and informing families with special needs children.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics is a full-service, outpatient clinic providing individual- and family-based services to both typically developing children and those with special needs from birth to 22 years of age. Keystone emphasizes an integrated whole-child approach to assessment and treatment. Treatment commonly involves new skill acquisition through evidence-based behavioral programming strategies to promote positive behaviors and to decrease problematic actions.