Families across Northeast Ohio are gearing up for their summer travel plans. Although vacation is supposed to be a time of relaxation, new experiences and fun, the prospect of it can be overwhelming for families of children with autism. As Brecksville ABA providers, we understand the task can seem daunting.
Autism is often defined by rigidity in routine, while great travel experiences are so often about flexibility. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. As awareness and accessibility has grown, many businesses and entire communities are offering more inclusive opportunities than ever before. Don’t presume your child won’t enjoy it just because he or she can’t say so!
In our role as ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapists for children in Northeast Ohio, the most valuable advice is to prepare as much as you can, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself your child if it doesn’t. Expect that things can and will go wrong, but the goal is to enjoy as much of the time as you can.
The crowds, camaraderie, cranked up stereos and unpredictable seatmates: It’s a major part of why so many love sporting events. Conversely, it’s also the HE reason some will never set foot in these facilities – even if they love the game. For many children and adults diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and related conditions, the reality is it’s simply too much sensory overload.
Sports teams have begun deciding to offer these fans a sensory break. Our Cleveland occupational therapists especially applauded the very first of those in the = NBA, the Cleveland Cavalier at Quicken Loans Arena, in 2017.
Our Cleveland occupational therapists realize the number of teams investing in certified sensory rooms will mean more people with SPD to enjoy the same experiences as the rest of us.
- Maintaining eye contact.
- Improving Communication
- Self-regulation of emotions
- Better understanding others’ emotions
Anytime one of our autism speech-language therapy sessions are in an open space and there is a board game involved, it’s not uncommon other kids gravitate.
Board Games are Better Than Screens
Raising a child with Down syndrome is full of so many unique joys and challenges. With loving parents, proper medical care and early intervention therapy (some combination of speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, starting before age 5) many children with Down syndrome go on to lead healthy, happy and productive lives.
While many parents of a baby or toddler with Down syndrome can see the value of speech therapy and even occupational therapy (skills of independent living). Physical therapy for Down syndrome may seem unnecessary because parents are already expecting delays characteristic of the diagnoses. Most children with Down syndrome DO learn to do all those things, albeit at around 24 months rather than 12 months for typically-developing children.
When physical therapists work with children who have Down syndrome, they aren’t as concerned about those missed milestones as we are that WHEN they walk, run, play, skip and jump, they will be less likely to develop some of the functional and orthopedic issues to which people with Down Syndrome are prone.
One of the reasons our services for people with autism don’t cut off at the arbitrary age of adulthood is because our Northeast Ohio speech, ABA and occupational therapists recognize that success means ongoing support. A recent study bolsters the theory behind our practice at Therapy and Wellness Connection. Researchers at Drexel University found that youths who lack access to Ohio autism vocational services have greater difficulty finding and maintaining employment – and thus achieving independence.
The university’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute analyzed Ohio autism vocational services availability, as well as those in several other states, using data from the U.S. Department of Education to determine the extent to which disparate access impacts long-term success.
What they discovered was troubling: Despite youth with autism being eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation and the implementation of these services as early as possible proven (ideally starting in secondary school) to boost long-term independence, the likelihood of actually receiving those services varied widely from state-to-state.
Availability of Autism Vocational Services Widely Disparate
Every child deserves the chance to experience the magic of summer camp – and children of all abilities benefit when they can experience it together! This Sunday, April 14th, we invite families to attend our Thrive Summer Camp Open House at Therapy & Wellness Connection to learn more about our therapist-led, inclusive Brecksville summer camp for children with special needs that welcomes children of ALL abilities and all ages.
Families who join us at our Brecksville Road location from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. will have the opportunity to meet the speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapists who run Thrive Summer Camp, play fun games, enjoy some great food, learn more about our programming AND enter drawings for chances to win FREE weeks at summer camp!
Parents are finding an increasing number of options for Northeast Ohio summer camps for children with special needs, which is excellent news considering the choices were paltry even just a few years ago. Two aspects (of many) that make Thrive Summer Camp so exceptional:
- We are an INCLUSIVE summer camp. Inclusion means that we welcome children with special needs, as well as their siblings, friends and all others of any age who want to join. Inclusion is a top goal of Therapy & Wellness Connection because we believe all children benefit with ample opportunities to engage with others whose skills and perspective are different from their own.
- We are THERAPIST-LED. That means no matter what challenges your child faces, therapists are right there ensuring they are safe, supported and that their therapy goals are carried over in every activity we host. Whether it’s exploring the MetroParks, venturing out to the Akron Zoo, learning about horses (and maybe taking a ride) at a local equine center or discovering the wonders of flight at a local aviation facility, we make sure our kids are making memories – and learning/reinforcing skills that will last a lifetime.
Therapy and Wellness Connection is proud to provide support services and therapy to young adults and children with disabilities in Akron – the fifth-largest Ohio city – with a greater metro area home to a diverse population of more than 700,000.
Fun Fact: When Akron Public Schools were first founded in 1947, it cost just $2-a-year to educate a child. Of course, there’s no question that for children with disabilities, outcomes were markedly poorer – if they were even noted at all. That was 20 years before Down syndrome was formally identified and 50 years before the first occupational therapists and “speech correctionists” (pioneers of speech-language pathology) began organizing. ABA therapy, meanwhile, was still more than 120 years away.
Akron Pediatric Therapy for Kids with Disabilities: We’ve Come a Long Way
Sometimes as Akron speech therapists, occupational therapists, ABA specialists, physical therapists and educators, we ponder the fact that we still have so much farther to go in terms of understanding, inclusivity and acceptance for the populations we serve. Yet even just looking back 150 years, we see how far we’ve come – undoubtedly in ways that would have been unimaginable in 1850s America.
In some ways, it’s a good analogy for the way one might picture the arch of a person’s progress from early diagnosis of a disability to adulthood and the realization of their full potential.
It’s likely you’ve heard stories of doctors issuing near-hopeless prognoses for patients with autism spectrum disorder (i.e., they’ll never talk, they’ll never be capable of participating in mainstream schooling, they’ll always be dependent, they may never show affection, etc.). This is followed years later by “miraculous” stories of those very same individuals who grew up to defy the odds – and go on to achieve things considered incredible even by typically-developing standards, with careers are renowned doctors, lawyers, authors, motivational speakers, famous entertainers or tech company gurus.
To be sure, those stories are inspirational. But people with disabilities have ALWAYS been capable of so much more than what they were given credit. It just needed to be recognized and nurtured.
As it turns out: The ABLE matters more than the LABLE.
These days, our Akron pediatric therapists know doctors are more cautious in dictating long-term prognoses for some conditions (autism is a prime example). No two people with the same diagnosis will experience it exactly 100 percent the same way.
At Therapy and Wellness Connection, it’s not our job to tell a child what isn’t possible or what they can’t or shouldn’t try do. It’s to show them what they can, handing them the tools they need to pursue life without limitations.
Cleveland, Ohio is the largest city in proximity to Therapy and Wellness Connection’s pediatric therapy and special services center. Situated on the southern shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, the Greater Cleveland Area has more than 2 million residents, while the city proper has about 400,000. It’s a diverse and dynamic community, rich with science, history and cultural centers, interesting architecture, national treasures, excellence in education, ingenuity in medicine and many amazing chances for our clients to explore it all.
One of primary advantages of Therapy and Wellness Connection – what truly sets us apart from other Cleveland pediatric therapy providers – is the encouragement of real-world engagement.
Our therapy services (speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy and physical therapy) are held wherever it’s going to have the greatest impact – whether that’s in our fully-equipped Brecksville clinic, some 20 minutes away from downtown Cleveland – or in your Cleveland home, school or workplace.
We believe in opening the door to a life without limitations. Our clients deserve as much opportunity as everyone else to connect with their community and enjoy all that Cleveland has to offer. Therapy and Wellness Connection makes it possible.
Among the adventures on which we’ve taken our clients and campers:
- Cleveland MetroParks Zoo
- Great Lakes Science Center
- Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame
- The Cleveland Museum of Art
- The Cleveland Botanical Gardens
- The Greater Cleveland Aquarium
- The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
- The West Side Market
- Playhouse Square
- Cleveland Children’s Museum (one of our personal favorites)
Cleveland Speech, Occupational, Physical and ABA Therapy is More Effective Beyond Four Walls
Whereas many Cleveland pediatric therapy clinics provide services strictly in-office, we believe functional application of the skills learned in speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and ABA therapy means we MUST venture out with our clients into the real world.
Some parents express surprise, concern or an occasional, “that’s brave” when we explain the types of recreational activities and field trips we arrange for children in our programs, typically through either Thrive Summer Camp or as part of individual therapy or therapy groups.
We explain first and foremost, participants’ safety is always No. 1, which is why we always arrange a very high therapist-to-patient and volunteer-to-child ratio. We make sure we have enough “hands-on-deck.”
The second is that it’s just as important for children with special needs to explore the world around them as it is for anyone else. Yes, sometimes doing so requires more planning and preparation. Not everyone may get the same thing from each experience – but that’s true for everyone. No matter what, we know our clients are getting opportunities to work on socialization, communication and behavior skills.
We also firmly believe that when Therapy and Wellness Connection clients engage directly with their community in the course of safe, supervised outings, everyone else enjoying the same space benefits too. These connections can chip away at the stigma, isolation and misunderstandings that sometimes punctuates the lives of people with disabilities.
Our Cleveland pediatric therapists look forward to walking your child through each new experience, discovery and milestone.
Brecksville and Broadview Heights are sister city suburbs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio within the Greater Cleveland area.
Therapy and Wellness Connection founders chose Brecksville-Broadview Heights as home base for our pediatric therapy services for children with disabilities. We offer:
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- ABA therapy
- Therapy groups
- Social center courses
- Thrive Summer Camp
- Individualized education
- Vocational services
From our Brecksville therapy clinic, we provide children and young adults throughout Northeast Ohio with the skills they need for optimal independence, function, socialization and academic success.
We believe every child is unique, valuable and has a greater purpose. No child is untreatable or unteachable. Our goal is to help them overcome their challenges, discover their gifts, become socially-integrated and give them all the tools they need to live life to their fullest potential.
Brecksville-Broadview Heights is a safe, quiet and centrally-located community that has welcomed us and our clients from around Northeast Ohio. It’s been the perfect place for our clients to receive all therapies and specialist services in one location, with ample opportunity to explore the world beyond our four walls, including within beautiful parks, inviting cultural centers and a receptive business community in Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
About Brecksville-Broadview Heights
Brecksville and Broadview Heights are small cities on the outskirts of Cleveland, with a combined estimated population of about 33,000. They share a border and a highly-rated high school (consistently ranked in the top 4-to-5 percent in academics for all high schools nationally based on measurements by numerous analysts).
Brecksville is bordered by the 2,500-acre Brecksville Reservation portion of the Cleveland Metroparks as well as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park – one of the most beautiful, popular parks in the country. The city also has a Human Resources and Community Center. Therapy and Wellness Connection clients and Thrive Summer Camp attendees are frequent “tourists” in our own community.
Nearby Broadview Heights is the location of the Lawrence School, which bears the slogan, “Not All Great Minds Think Alike.” The Lawrence School is considered one of the best schools in Northeast Ohio for children with special needs and learning differences such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Specific Learning Disability (SLD) (which includes difficulty with reading fluency, reading comprehension and written expression), dyslexia, dysgraphia and expressive and receptive language disorders. The school offers K-12 grade classes, as well as college and continuing education, summer camps and inclusive extracurricular activities.
The educational services at Lawrence can be complimentary to services provided at Therapy and Wellness Connection, which include speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapy. We also offer individualized education, therapy group day programs and social courses. Our services can stand on their own for those who may not qualify for the Lawrence School, are unable to obtain tuition assistance or are content with their child’s current educational setting.
Broadview Heights is also home to Vatterott College, which offers associate degrees and board certifications in fields like audio visual, automotive, health and beauty, business, culinary, trades and technology.
Therapy and Wellness Connection works closely with colleges, local government agencies and community business leaders in Brecksville-Broadview Heights to secure successful opportunities for fun, educational therapy outings with practical application and placement through our vocational skills programs.