Together for Success: The Early Intervention Program for Children with Pervasive Developmental and Autism Spectrum Challenges
Together for Success is a family-centered program that addresses the unique and individual needs of children with pervasive developmental disorders.
Emphasis is placed on the child’s strengths in order to bring about positive changes in his/her ability to engage, relate and communicate in daily life. The children with whom we work often:
- Have been diagnosed with a pervasive development disorder (e.g. autism, PDD, PDD-NOS)
- Have rigid, delayed, or non-conforming interaction and play skills
- Have noticeable delays in communication skills (expressive and receptive), with mild to significant difficulty using language in everyday interactions ("pragmatics").
We believe that progress for children with autism and related developmental disorders is optimal when an intervention program meets the following criteria:
- Intervention is tailored to the unique characteristics of the child.
- Parents and caregivers gain confidence through the program about their ability to help their child.
- Intervention strategies are applied across different settings of the child’s daily life.
To achieve this, our therapists work closely with parents to identify the approaches and interventions that work best for each child. These family-centered interventions heavily rely on the DIR©/Floortime™ approach. We also incorporate elements from RDI, SCERTS and the Hanen method. Intervention strategies are taught in coaching sessions, parent meetings, and home visits.
The elements of the Together for Success Program include an individualized and comprehensive assessment, collaborative intervention planning for a prescribed number of weekly sessions, and a re-assessment to measure progress and refine intervention goals and techniques.
Individualized and Comprehensive Assessment
The Together for Success Program begins with an individualized assessment to develop a comprehensive picture of the child's social, emotional, communication, and developmental strengths and challenges. Depending on the needs of the child and family, the assessment process will vary in length, content, and cost. Elements of individualized assessment may include:
- Observation of parent-child interactions
- Observation of the child
- Analysis of taped interactions with child
- Parent meetings to establish family priorities and goals
- Use of observation ratings by therapists to highlight child’s strengths and challenges
- Neuropsychological testing
A written report is provided to the family that summarizes the findings and outlines a set of specific recommendations.
We work with families to plan and implement an intervention program that meets the child’s needs, is manageable and realistic for the parents, and works on accomplishing the established goals. Each program emphasizes parent education and coaching to help increase the effectiveness of interactions with the child. Sessions occur at the Family Compass office, but also include home visits or observations in the community to bring the therapy to the family’s natural setting.
16 to 20 Weekly Sessions
Based on the goals and intervention planning done with the family, a prescribed number of 16 to 20 weekly sessions over a period of four to five months is agreed upon by the therapist and family. Initially, the sessions are dedicated to working intensively with the family to incorporate the intervention into daily life. Later, emphasis expands to include other settings, such as school or other settings in the child and family’s life. We believe that making the commitment to a prescribed number of sessions helps to focus our work to achieve progress in the goals we identify and provide lasting change to the child and family.
Upon completion of the agreed upon weekly sessions, a re-assessment is conducted to evaluate and measure the child’s progress. At this time, the therapist and parents decide how best to proceed (more weekly sessions, take a break with periodic consultations, or referrals to other services offered by Family Compass).
Collaboration with other therapists, educators, and people in the child’s life is an important component of our program. We work closely with the parents to determine how best to collaborate and with whom.
Together for Success Team
Our Together for Success team is led by Moshe Shtuhl, Ph.D., Family Compass Clinical Director. Joshua Metz, MSW is the Program Director. Dr. Shtuhl and Mr. Metz have extensive training and experience working with children with challenges in engaging, relating, and communicating. They share a passion and commitment to helping children realize their full potential.
Recommended Readings & DVDs
Engaging Autism, by Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder
Going to the Heart of Autism: The Relationship Development Intervention Program DVD, narrated by Dr. Stephen Gutstein
The SCERTS Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, by Barry M. Prizant, Amy M. Wetherby, Emily M. S. Rubin, Amy C. Laurent, and Patrick J. Rydell
Awakening Children's Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can Make a Difference, by Laura E. Berk
Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL) (home of the DIR/Floortime Model)
RDI Connection Center
The SCERTS Model