ABA therapists are one part of a very important team of people that coordinate and execute therapy for their clients. Depending on the child, members of these teams may vary. This means that students with different needs will have different related service providers on their therapy teams. In schools, these teams are called Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams. Typical team members include the child’s teachers (general and special education), parents/guardians, BCBA, RBT, and related service providers. We work with related service providers every day through our partnership with The Therapy Spot, a multidisciplinary clinic for children with disabilities. Today, we are going to present different related service providers on the child’s care team.
Let’s start with speech-language pathologists (SLPs). SLPs help clients communicate more effectively, administer swallowing and voice therapy, and work with a variety of disabilities. When working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), SLPs typically focus on effective communication and language use. Some children with ASD present with articulation disorders, which can be remediated through speech therapy. Other children with ASD need assistance in pragmatic language, meaning the actual use of language. Some clients display a lack of understanding of jokes and sarcasm, which is a deficit in their social communication. Not understanding jokes and sarcasm can be a huge disadvantage for children with ASD because it can negatively affect their peer interactions. SLPs use various exercises throughout therapy to help clients understand the difference between sarcasm and regular conversation.
Another related service provider is an occupational therapist (OT). OTs help their clients participate to their best abilities in daily activities. They can work with children or adults in helping them achieve their best daily living. They use daily activities in a therapeutic way to help clients in school, at home, or in their line of work. For children with disabilities, they typically focus on more fine and gross motor tasks and adaptations. Their work can range from teaching clients to roll a ball back and forth to helping them write their names. Students with ASD sometimes have trouble with writing or with playing catch. Having the OTs on their therapy teams will help them with these skills.
Lastly, we will talk about physical therapists (PT). PTs are similar to OTs in that they help students with motor needs, but they focus more deeply on gross motor tasks. Gross motor skills are typically acquired throughout childhood, and include walking, running, and standing up. PTs have a wide range of work, which includes sports medicine and geriatric exercise. Some children with ASD display deficits in gross motor areas because their motor development is impaired. PTs who work with these clients typically work in stabilizing posture, making bigger body movements (i.e. hopping, pedaling a bicycle), and improving play skills. Play skills can include playing catch with a ball and swinging a baseball bat.
All professionals and family members on a child’s therapy team bring unique skills to the table. They are all important for planning and executing therapy to help the child live a happy and healthy life. STEPS recognizes the importance of this team collaboration, which is why we partner with The Therapy Spot. The Therapy Spot is a SLP, OT, and PT clinic for the pediatric population. We collaborate with the professionals there and with our clients’ school teachers to provide the best and most effective therapy possible.