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.

Keystone CEO Recognized for Integrated Healthcare

Keystone CEO Katherine Falwell, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, was recognized in a recent issue of the Ponte Vedra Recorder for her efforts to help children with integrated healthcare that focuses on all areas of behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional and learning services provided by Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, which Dr. Falwell founded in 2008.

The article chronicled the path that led Dr. Falwell to open Keystone, starting with her postdoctoral residency at the University of Florida, where Dr. Falwell became part of the faculty at University of Florida in the Department of Behavior Analysis. She became aware that Northeast Florida needed more comprehensive pediatric services than it had available at the time to meet the growing numbers of children with unique needs and took the opportunity to open Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics in 2008 to further her idea of collaborative, integrated healthcare.

Keystone provides Integrated Healthcare that Focuses on All Areas of Behavioral, Developmental, Socio-Emotional and Learning Services

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Katie Falwell (far right), in addition to her passion for helping children become successful, is also devoted to her family and northeast Florida beaches community.

Next, Dr. Falwell opened Keystone Child Development Center in 2013, because she believes passionately in research that supports the importance of providing individualized instruction and support as early as possible in a young child’s life. She designed KCDC to focus on all aspects of a child – mind, body and soul – to offer children the best opportunity for success in elementary school and throughout life.

In response to the paper’s question about her focus on early intervention, Dr. Falwell notes, “All children learn and grow at different rates. These first five years of a child’s life are filled with major developmental milestones that prepare them for lifelong learning.” She refers to research which shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5.

Research also confirms that getting help early can lead to the best outcomes for kids. Developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues are estimated to affect one in every six children. Because these issues are often very subtle in young children, only 20 to 30 percent are identified as needing help before kindergarten.

The article described Keystone’s new Right from the Start Clinic designed to help parents know whether their baby would benefit from early intervention to solve or alleviate any issues before they become problematic. The Right from the Start clinic is a free screening clinic for children between the ages of one month and 5-1/2 years old. Parents can complete a free questionnaire online by clicking on the ASQ logo on our website. The questionnaire gives Keystone therapists an idea of areas of a child’s development that are of concern to the child’s parents. A client care coordinator contacts the parents after the clinic receives their completed survey and invites them to visit Keystone for a free multidisciplinary screening evaluation to assess their child’s developmental progress. Parents will meet with clinicians from Keystone’s psychology, occupational therapy and speech language departments, as well as a pediatrician. At the end of the visit, they will receive information on how their child is doing developmentally, with suggestions to target any areas of need that have been identified.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, located in Jacksonville, Duval County, northeast Florida, offers integrated healthcare by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of 130 child psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, behavior analysts and technicians, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, teachers, and pediatrician working in 17 specialized clinics. The focus is on early intervention regarding health and wellness, the whole child and all issues that affect a child’s potential for success including physical, developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues.

Keystone works with children from one month old to 22 years old on all types of behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional, physical and learning issues in four types of clinics: assessment clinics (Neuropsychological, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Health and Wellness and Educational and Learning), developmental clinics (Autism and Developmental, Right from the Start, Early Intervention and Day Treatment); Rehabilitative Clinics (Feeding, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language); and Treatment Clinics (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), Disruptive Behavior and Mood).

Keystone Child Development Center offers safe, nurturing and stimulating preschool and early intervention services from infancy through kindergarten. We have a minimum of two teachers in each classroom and a child development team that works with the teachers to focus on intellectual, social and behavioral success for each child. With maximum class sizes of 12, KCDC is able to create individualized learning plans.

Crafting is Good Occupational Therapy

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Making crafts with your child to celebrate the season is a great way to create memories, while helping your child improve hand and eye coordination.

With the holidays upon us, we turn our attention to decorating the house and entertaining friends and family. RJ Navarro, OT/L, cNDT and director of Rehabilitative Medicine for Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, reminds parents that craft activities are a great way to have fun with your kids this holiday season, while helping them develop important skills that can translate into their daily activities at home and in school. Crafting with your children can promote: 

  • Fine motor coordination – Crafts that incorporate drawing, cutting and manipulation of small items will develop your child’s fine motor coordination. Fine motor skills are necessary for manipulating clothing fasteners such as buttons, for improving pencil skills and utensil use, and for manipulating other small objects.
  • Bilateral coordination – Crafts that involve the use of both hands together will develop your child’s bilateral coordination. Examples include cutting activities, gluing or taping, and beading. Bilateral coordination is necessary for any activity in which your child needs to use both sides of her body together, such as dressing or playing.
  • Visual perception – Crafts that incorporate following a pattern, following a template, and sorting or matching shapes or colors will develop your child’s visual perception skills. Visual perception is necessary for discriminating shapes and colors, for identifying objects, for avoiding obstacles and for reading.
  • Visual motor skills – Crafts that involve writing or drawing, cutting, beading and following designs will develop your child’s visual motor skills. Visual motor skills, or hand-eye coordination, are necessary for all pencil and paper tasks, for play and for dressing.
  • Problem-solving – Encourage your child to think by allowing him to attempt to figure things out on his own and make mistakes. Facilitate corrections as needed.
  • Sequencing – Crafts that follow steps or instructions will develop your child’s sequencing skills. Sequencing skills are important in daily activities such as toileting, dressing, brushing teeth and preparing food.
  • Social skills – Crafting together in itself has a social component. Encourage appropriate behavior, sharing, conversation and discussion!

 Resources:

 Pinterest – Crafting

DLTK’s Crafts for Kids

Parents – Creative Holiday Crafts for Kids

Crafts for Kids

ActivityVillage.co.uk Crafts

 

Group Behavior Therapy Gives Children Support and Perspective

Depending on the nature of your child’s challenges, group therapy can be an ideal choice for addressing your child’s concerns and making positive changes in your child’s life. Group therapy may look different depending on a variety of factors including the ages and developmental levels of the attendees, the issues that various children have and the purpose of the therapy program as developed by the therapist.

Groups may be designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety or chronic pain. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem. Groups often help those who have experienced loss, whether it be a parent, a sibling or friend.

Your child may find joining a group of strangers intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Psychologists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.

Groups can act as a sounding board

Other members of the group often help your child come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge and hold your child accountable along the way.

Regularly talking and listening to others also helps your child put his own problems in perspective. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they’re going through, and realize you’re not alone.

Diversity is another important benefit of group therapy. Children have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other children tackle problems and make positive changes, your child can discover a whole range of strategies for facing concerns.

While group members are a valuable source of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. Group therapy sessions are led by one or more psychologists with specialized training, who teach group members proven strategies for managing specific problems. That expert guidance can help your child make the most of the group therapy experience.

At Keystone:

  • All groups meet for one hour, once a week.
  • Regular attendance of group sessions is a requirement, with no more than one or two absences allowed. This ensures continuity of sessions and allows skills to be built over sessions. If your child misses multiple sessions, he or she may be asked to sit out until the next running of the group.
  • Depending on the group, group size may vary from 4-12 clients at any time.
  • All groups are led or co-led by the highly qualified staff at Keystone, including psychologists, post-doctoral residents, mental health interns, psychological assistants, BCBAs, BCaBAs and behavior therapists.
  • If a group that is currently running is full, your child will be put on the wait list for the next time the group runs.

 Currently, Keystone is offering the following therapy groups:

  • 8-Week Beginning Social Skills Group – Wednesdays; Winter Round  begins February 2017; led by Keri Franklin, Psy.D.
    • An eight-week group focusing on getting children ready to play well with others and succeed in their social environment
    • For children between the ages of 5-8 years old who are able to walk/transport independently to group from reception and minimally maintain attention, have minimal expressive communication skills and are able to participate minimally in group without significant disruption.
    • Skills targeted in this group include appropriate communication with peers, emotional identification and self-regulation, ability to gain attention appropriately, how to meet new people, how to share and take turns, good sportsmanship, conflict resolution and establishing and maintaining personal boundaries
  • 8-Week Intermediate Social Skills Group – Wednesdays; Winter Round begins February 2017; led by Yadira Torres, Psy.D.
    • An eight-week social skills group aimed at elementary-aged children who need help and guidance with making and keeping friends, as well as understanding boundaries and emotional skills needed to handle social situations
    • For children between the ages of 8-12 years old who meet the following criteria: have adequate expressive communication skills and are able to participate minimally in group without significant disruption
    • Topics include what communication is, how to make and keep friends, what a friend is, establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries, hygiene, good sportsmanship, perspective taking, understanding facial expressions and body language, and building conversation.
  • 8-Week Advanced Social Skills Group – Mondays, Jan. 16 – March 6 2017; led by Andrew Scherbarth, ph.D., BCBA-D
    • An eight-week group focused on pre-teens and adolescents who need help and guidance with making and keeping friends, as well as age-appropriate emotional skills needed to handle social situations
    • Appropriate for pre-teens and adolescents between the ages of 12-16 years old
    • Skills targeted in this group include what social skills are and why they are important, levels of friendship, appropriate boundaries, emotional awareness of self and others, perspective taking, decoding body language, problem solving and conversations.
  • Other Group Therapy Opportunities – will start based on sufficient enrollment to from a group
    • 8-Week Worry Busters Group: Teaches children 6-10 years old the skills needed to overcome anxiety and worries such as learning about feelings, identifying scary situations, building the coping skills to handle things independently when worries or fears come up and practicing their new skill
    • 8-Week Anger Management Group: Teaches children 8-12 years old the skills needed to manage anger and helps them develop appropriate, alternative coping skills such as identifying anger triggers, monitoring anger, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, imagery and problem solving
    • 12-Week Managing Deployment Group: Guides youth 8-12 years old through the unique challenges of having an immediate family member deployed or about to leave for military deployment by teaching skills such as emotion training, management of negative emotions, learning coping strategies, building connections with similar children and identifying how to manage living without the deployed family member, as well as how to prepare for the return of their loved one
    • 10-Week Children of Divorce Group: Uses Children of Divorce Intervention Program curriculum to help children 6-8 years old increase their ability to identify and appropriately express divorce/separation related feelings, reduce worry and anxiety about family circumstances and build confidence by teaching coping and problem-solving skills.

If you feel that your child might benefit from participation in a group therapy program, but do not see a group that matches your child’s needs and characteristics, please let your Keystone therapist know or contact us online, email info@keystonebehavioral.com or call 904.619.6071

Resource:

American Psychological Association – Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy

Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development – Divorce and Separation

Keystone’s preschool offers Enrichment Membership Program

Keystone Child Development Center’s Enrichment Membership Program provides a variety of fun and educational classes for kids, in one location, for one all-inclusive price! Enrollment is open to community children, in addition to students of KCDC.

Before- and After-School Program open to all Community Children beginning Aug. 22, 2016

All children, three to eight years old, can pick and choose a variety of experiences as they explore a wide variety of classes. The KCDC Enrichment Membership Program is an unbeatable package and provides teachable moments for all children. The purpose of these classes is to enhance “the whole child,” including health and wellness, creativity, social skills, manners and much more!

Examples of Enrichment Classes that may be offered at various times throughout the year:

  • Picasso Painters – All children are artists! Become transformed into miniature Picassos. All types of media will be explored to encourage self-expression and creativity with every lesson.
  • Making Music – In an atmosphere of joy through singing, playing instruments and games and enjoying storytelling. Unleash your creativity and embrace fun through the arts.
  • Tiny Dancers – Through movement, music, games and choreography, get a healthy amount of exercise, express yourself and have a blast!
  • Keystone Yogis – Go on an adventure as you get to explore kid friendly yoga movements. Release energy in healthy, natural ways. Strengthen your body while trying new movements, such as balancing, handstands and finding stillness at the end of an energy-filled class.
  • Se Habla Español – Through games, songs, stories and movements, learn the basics of Spanish as a second language while building confidence and having fun learning.
  • Mad Scientists – The best way to learn is through experiments! Fun, easy and educational experiments (even a few messy mixtures) that will fascinate the young mind.
  • Nature Lovers – Explore the outdoors through nature walks, nature talks and ways to save the environment. Learn the importance of getting outside and being one with nature.
  • Creative Cooks – Calling all little chefs! Have a blast mixing and measuring while creating kid friendly yummy bites. Learn about mealtime manners and surprise mom and dad! This is a peanut free class.
  • Cardio Lovers – Get your body movin’ and groovin’ in the high energy class. It’s good healthy fun when you jump, skip and run!
  • Dog Care and Etiquette – Pamper your pet by learning how to feed, walk and groom your dog, as well as how to approach strange dogs in terms of petting and playing with them.
  • Computer Lab – Experiment with various software and learn keyboarding, 3D design printing, digital special effects and more!

Monthly membership fee:  

$110 includes UNLIMITED CLASSES for the month and renews monthly

Sibling discount: $25

Classes are offered before and after school at regularly scheduled times.

You and your child can pick and choose a variety of experiences by downloading and using the free MINDBODY app on your iPad or iPhone or Android cell phone. To learn how to enroll online via your computer or iPhone, Android or iPad, click here!

Contact rbowersox@keystonebehavioral.com or Rebecca Bowersox, Director of Admissions, 904.619.6071, Ext. 117, for more information and/or to enroll your child.

Keystone Child Development Center, a program of Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, is the area’s premier early learning and child development center for children from infancy through kindergarten. The center focuses on individualized instruction with a low student-to-teacher ratio designed to prepare children for success in elementary school and beyond. KCDC will offer classes for the following age groups this fall: Infants and 1’s, Preschool for 2’s and 3’s, Pre-K/VPK (VPK-endorsed by DCF) for 4-year-olds and up to two years of kindergarten. An Early Intervention class is also offered, as well as before- and after-care services.

 

 

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.

Mainspring kids with special needs enjoy Special Olympics day

On Friday, April 29, Mainspring Academy, a private, nonprofit special needs school that is located at Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, hosted a track and field event for its students, with the help of Special Olympics. The students worked hard in their P.E. classes for the past the past month and a half on the skills for participating in these events. Students competed in events such as softball throw, long jump, 50 meter dash, shot put and 100 meter dash. Special Olympics handed out medals at the end. Their smiles and cheers for each other and themselves made all their hard work worthwhile!

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Mainspring Academy helps students with special needs reach their fullest potential in all areas of life

Students from 5-22 years of age receive individualized instruction in classrooms with low student to teacher ratios. The academy provides special education for kids who have a wide range of learning issues and behavior disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, Down syndrome, brain injury and developmental disorders. Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics providers are the academy’s primary source of behavioral service. Collaborating as a team to provide integrative healthcare, they provide a full range of mental health, applied behavior analysis, speech/language, feeding and occupational therapy to augment work in the classroom.

Mainspring Academy opens new class this fall to provide individualized instruction and minimal behavior therapy services

 

Mainspring Academy will open a new class starting this fall for students aged 10-14 who are currently on Florida State Standards but would benefit from a slower pace to learn or need some remediation to maintain grade level academics.

Complex Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (CLDD) class to serve children 10-14 years old

Mainspring’s class is specially designed for children 10-14 years old who are close to grade level and have little to no behavior support needs, possess strong communication abilities and are able to function independently, but struggle in academics. Individualized instruction and minimal behavior therapy services may be all they need to be successful and prepare them for high school academics.

Faculty to student ratio will be 12:2 to ensure individualized attention to each student. The teacher and a clinical assistant will focus on each student’s unique style of learning. Mainspring strives to bring out each student’s best effort and build confidence that the student will be successful going forward.

As is true of allmainspring_academy_tagline_logo Mainspring Academy classes, the CLDD class will provide standards-based instruction in all academic areas. Students will be exposed to Florida State Standards. A Florida-certified general education teacher who is well versed in implementing prescriptive programs will focus on individual learning needs.

Mainspring’s website gives detailed information about the Mainspring Matrix, which closely aligns with the Florida Department of Education’s Matrix of Services. Children scoring at Level 1 in each of the four domains – curriculum and learning, independent functioning, communication and behavior – are most appropriate for the CLDD class.

Tuition is $12,500 plus a yearly enrollment fee of $300 and an event fee of $200 to cover parents’ admission to Mainspring’s annual fundraising events. You may complete an information request online that will be sent directly to Mainspring’s school coordinator, who will call you to get some preliminary information about your child and schedule a tour. You may also call 904.503.0344 to request information and get answers to questions.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics  is the primary provider of behavioral services to students attending Mainspring Academy. The special needs school located in the same facility as Keystone is a private, nonprofit school on Jacksonville’s Southside. Previously known as Keystone Academy, Mainspring Academy has operated since 2010 as a premier academic center for students with learning challenges and special needs.

Grant funds new sensory garden

Keystone Behavioral Services has broken ground on a new sensory garden, with a grant it was awarded March 2015 from the HEAL Foundation. The garden is the vision of Sam Bean, MOTR/L, assistant director of Keystone’s Occupational Therapy Department, and Dawn Berg, BCaBA, director of the Feeding Disorders Department, who wanted an outdoor space for the children and community that would enhance learning and therapy.

Staff has been busy clearing the land and building retaining walls for the new Keystone Sensory Garden.
Staff has been busy clearing the land and building retaining walls for the new Keystone Sensory Garden.

Staff volunteers have begun clearing land and building retaining walls. Next the staff will prepare the soil and choose plants that will appeal to all five senses. The goal is to have Keystone Sensory Garden planted and growing sometime this summer to offer a richer and more therapeutic experience to children with special needs.

“A sensory garden offers the children we serve many benefits,” Berg. “The children take pride in their work and gain a sense of responsibility, plus working in the garden helps reduce stress, anxiety and frustration. It’s a natural learning environment,” she said.

The garden enhances math, science, health, writing/language arts and social studies concepts taught in Keystone Child Development Center and Keystone Academy students.

It also offers therapeutic value for all children served by Keystone Behavioral Services, many of whom face behavioral challenges such as ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, speech/language disorders, Down Syndrome, feeding disorders, or brain injury, for example.

“The children have been very curious about the garden,” Bean said. “Their education has been inside and in a relatively sterile environment, so we’re all very excited that they will be able to interact with nature and learn outside.”

“In addition to improving fine and gross motor skills, working in the garden encourages communication and increases social skills. One student even went out of his way to thank the volunteers for helping in the garden,” Bean said.

Four types of plants will be included in the Keystone Sensory Garden: tactile plants such as Touch Me Not with leaves that fold inward and droop when touched or shaken and Lamb’s Ear with a silvery grey foliage that is soft and fuzzy; olfactory plants such as rosemary and cilantro; visual plants such as hibiscus and coleus; and gustatory plants such as lemons and peppers. Staff hopes to add special features such as wind chimes, a birdhouse, hummingbird feeder and a water feature.

The concept of a sensory garden is based on clinical research. One article, “Gardening as therapy for children with behavioral disorders” written by Marilyn McGinnis, BSN, RN, and published in the Vol. 2, Issue 3, pages 87-91, September 1989 issue of Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, reports that in addition to the physical benefits the children received from the garden, they also were able to discuss “feelings of fear, sadness, abandonment and pride, as well as family issues” (91).