First Steps Toward Inclusion

From the day we are born we are a member of a community. As our development progresses and we learn to convey our wants and needs, our involvement and inclusion in family and community life increases. In some instances, infants and young children require early intervention therapy to augment their social, emotional and physical development so that they become actively engaged in their community.


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What is a Social Story?

By Integrated Pediatric Interventions

A Social Story, developed by special needs teacher Carol Gray, is a social learning tool that support the safe and meaningful exchange of information between parents, professionals and people with autism of all ages.

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May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month

Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States.  With 1 in 68 children now estimated to have autism spectrum disorder, community support is critical. During May Is Better Hearing & Speech Month, the speech-language pathologists at Integrated Pediatric Interventions encourage people to use this as an opportunity to consider how they communicate and interact with people with autism.

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First Steps After Receiving an Autism Diagnosis

by Caitlin McIlwee, M.A., Psychological Services Pre-Doctoral Intern

You have just learned that your child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. For some parents, the news comes as a shock, while other parents may have been expecting it. However, almost all parents who receive this diagnosis for their child struggle with reimagining their child’s future with this pervasive developmental disability. You are not alone, and it is normal to feel this way. The important thing to know is that, although there is no known “cure” for autism, there is hope. Your child will be able to learn, grow and gain new skills within their potential. The important first steps are educating yourself about the diagnosis, adjusting the child’s home environment to best meet their needs, and seeking professional therapeutic services.

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Social Thinking at Camp Firefly

by Ali Katz, Camp Firefly Counselor

At Camp Firefly we have found that the Social Thinking ® approach, developed by Michelle Garcia Winner, has proven to be the most appropriate for our recreational camp therapy model, and best for meeting the needs of our campers.

Social Thinking ® has been described as a way of thinking flexibly about every unique situation and person whom we encounter.  It is not necessarily an approach for teaching basic social skills, but a way to engage a child, teen or adult in initiating and responding to interactions that instill confidence, happiness and success!

The Social Thinking ® approach has various models which help to understand how to tailor strategies for teaching flexible thinking.  One such model is called the ILAUGH ® model.  It is an acronym that describes the skills needed to be successful within social interactions.

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Occupational Therapy Can Help Your Child Adjust to Pre-School and Kindergarten

by Leora Goldman MS, OTR/L
Integrated Pediatric Interventions at Jewish Child & Family Services

As with all beginnings, starting school can be a very exciting, yet challenging time in a child's life—suddenly there is a different environment to adapt to, unfamiliar people to get to know and a new set of rules to follow.  A child may be introduced to different activities which require skills not frequently used at home.

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A Week in the Life of a Camp Firefly Camper

by Audra Kaplan, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist and Senior Advisor, Camp Firefly

First day of camp, Mike is quietly keeping to himself. He’s not sure of his new surroundings. Some strange lady is trying to help him put his clothes into the drawers that will hold his possessions and a few favorite objects from home for the next several days. Mike is excited about camp, but if he knew how to express it, he would say he is nervous. This is not only his first time at an overnight camp, this is his first time sleeping away from family. He did have that one sleep over at Aunt Sue’s, but she is still family.

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Come Fly With Me: Travel Tips for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

by Eliana Wool, M.A., Psychological Services Pre-Doctoral Intern

Air travel can be an exciting, yet anxiety provoking experience. This may be particularly true for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because of factors connected to flying, including a change in routine, navigating unfamiliar environments and considerable sensory stimulation.

The following recommendations have been found beneficial to families planning air travel. It is important to remember that children diagnosed with ASD vary in terms of abilities and preferences, and not all recommendations may suit every child with ASD.

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