Dr. Kessler provides diagnostic evaluations for individuals of any age concerned about a possible autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents are initially interviewed regarding their child’s early developmental history, the history of the problem, and current concerns. The child is then administered a developmental or IQ test, depending on their age, and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). In some cases, a school observation is also recommended. Dr. Kessler then meets with parents to discuss the results of the evaluation and make recommendations for how to proceed.
We provide social skills training.
One of the hallmarks of Autism Spectrum Disorders is difficulty with language and communication, negatively affecting the child’s social functioning. Our intervention primarily targets social speech in naturalistic settings: entertaining games, activities, and play. For toddlers and preschoolers, play is the most important teaching tool when targeting social speech. Improving the right play skills increases social attention, also known as joint attention, the building block for social reciprocity. For school age children, goals may include explicitly teaching social rules, e.g. conversation starters and killers, reading non-verbal communication, e.g. what does it mean when someone frowns and crosses their arms, teaching what others may be thinking, providing skills to deal with classmates etc., and ideally practicing these social skills in small groups. We also work with siblings and transferring goals from therapy into your home.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, is often helpful to individuals with ASD who are struggling with their social behavior and emotions. Individuals who have trouble knowing how to behave or managing their behavior in social situations can benefit from CBT, as can individuals who have difficulty managing intense emotions. CBT typically relies on parent involvement to allow the child to generalize what they learn in therapy to their everyday life.
Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders often have difficulty with sensory processing, self regulation, motor planning, and fine/visual motor skills. Occupational therapy intervention primarily focuses on assessing the child’s individual sensory processing skills in relation to everyday functional living skills. Assessment also involves assessing all other areas of occupational therapy’s domain, including activities of daily living, play skills, social skills, and motor skills. For toddlers and preschoolers, intervention would include parent education, home programs, sensory diets if necessary, and targeting the individual needs of each child to develop foundational skills needed for the child’s everyday functioning whether that be in a sensory gym setting or in the home. For school age children, goals may include social skills, functional writing skills, or activities of daily living as it relates to school, home, and community performance. Individual occupational therapy sessions are also provided in a sensory gym for families who are interested in having access to specialized therapeutic equipment to target sensory processing skills. Consultation is also provided to families who currently are receiving services and would like strategies to be integrated in the home and community.
Individuals with ASD who are having behavioral, social, or academic issues may benefit from a school consultation. Consultation involves a school observation, meetings with school staff (including teachers and any related services staff), and a summary report of recommendations.
Parent Consultation involves meeting with parents to help them manage their child’s behavior. Parent Consultation may be warranted if a child has difficulty managing their behavior or emotions, or if a parent needs assistance helping their child learn new skills. These skills often include independence skills, such as potty training, getting dressed, leisure skills, etc.