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

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.

Special education teacher starts each day with a compliment!

Special Books by Special Kids visit mayor's office
Mainspring Academy teacher Chris Ulmer’s kids visited the Mayor’s Office recently to talk with the Mayor’s Disability Council.

It all started with eight kids who have special needs and their teacher of three years, Chris Ulmer, at Mainspring Academy, a private, kindergarten through grade 12, special education school serving the Jacksonville area. The kids let Chris know that they often feel like outcasts, misunderstood and made fun of or ignored.

“Curious glances are directed at these children during community outings,” Chris said. “Their peers do not understand attempts at communication. Many adults avoid interaction because they fear they will offend somebody and don’t know the ‘appropriate’ way to interact with a special needs child.”

So, Chris decided to start every day by showering each student with 10 minutes of genuine compliments. Instead of focusing on what things they are not able to do or need to do better, he reminds them of all the things that make them each uniquely special.

“I noticed the kids were always more motivated, happier, and better-behaved on [the days that began with affirmations]. So we started doing it every day,” he told ABC News in a story ( that aired on Nov. 17.

Chris has been collaborating with his students and their parents about how they can work to erase social stigma in the larger community by showing the true nature of these eight students. The result is the Special Books for Special Kids project run by Chris with the help of others. The project includes editing videos, taking photos, collecting stories and responding to messages from people who visit the projects website or Facebook page.

“I also love to share stories from children with special needs around the world,” Chris said. “I believe if enough people follow our journey it will erase stigmas and show the beautiful nature of children with special needs.”

His wish is quickly coming true, as the story of these kids has gone “viral” in the past couple of weeks, due in large part to the ABC story which was quickly picked up by other news sources. He is receiving Facebook messages from parents and others around the world, with more than 136,000 “likes” for the Special Books by Special Kids Facebook page.

On the project’s website, Chris encourages parents and caregivers to share their stories of children with special needs by submitting a photo and story to Viewers of the website can read interviews and see photos of his children. Ultimately, Chris hopes to have a book published about his students and their stories.

Chris has taught for the past three years at Mainspring Academy, which was founded in 2010 as Keystone Academy, part of Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics. It became its own nonprofit school in summer 2015. Mainspring Academy was founded on the principles of special education, applied behavior analysis and psychology.

Mainspring Academy, a special needs private school in Jacksonville, Florida, was created with the entire child in mind. The school staff looks in detail at each area of development to ensure that academic, social skills, vocational and behavioral content are being presented in the most effective manner. To support the school’s curricula, Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics professionals push in to the classroom as needed and provide mental, behavioral and rehabilitative medicine services outside of regular classes, as Mainspring’s largest service provider.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics was formed in 2008 by Katherine Falwell, Ph.D., BCBA-D. Keystone offers a comprehensive, integrated team of professionals including a pediatrician, licensed child psychologists, licensed mental health counselor, board certified behavior analysts, master’s level clinicians and occupational therapists, who provide in-patient and out-patient care to assist families and primary care physicians. They work collaboratively in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of a broad range of developmental, behavioral, learning and genetic disorders in children and adolescents (birth to 22 years of age). Keystone focuses on the whole child – physically, mentally, socially, behaviorally and developmentally – to offer parents/caregivers one source to help meet all of their child’s needs.