A Letter from a Trellis Parent

Trellis means home to me…

I remember the first day I came into visit the school, two months after Max was diagnosed with Autism. For the two months before walking through the Trellis doors, I felt lost and, honestly, sad every time I met with an ASD service provider. The approach was “we know best” and “your son has this laundry list of limitations” … as a result my expectations were low and actually misguided.

When I walked through the door of Trellis, children were laughing, teachers were smiling. It was a school not a “treatment center”. I was asked all about Max and said “he sounds great” and I felt proud of Max for the first time after his diagnosis. I will never forget that moment. I have never stopped feeling proud of Max since then.

Thank you. All of you. Thank you for ignoring behaviors, counting and manding, working patiently when Max’s sensory needs carry him away and make him unavailable for a while and even taking a right hook or two.

Today, Max is soaring – he is talking. Yes talking. At one point in time, that was not clear he would talk. You all did that. You pushed him. You coached me and you never, never, never gave up on us. Max’s behaviors are manageable. Before Trellis, Max had broken my nose, and more things at home than I care to remember. Now he says “no” when he is unhappy at home. If he has behaviors, I know the ABCs and can manage them along with the latest protocol that we are generalizing at home. You did that. You implemented the protocol. You coached me and you never, never, never gave up on us.

When you are the parent of a kid on the spectrum you feel like you are either fighting or apologizing with everyone in your child’s path. When Max started at Trellis, for the first time that feeling changed. Now I feel like I have a team of people in my corner. From the front desk, the program managers, Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists and Instructors on our team.

At the end of the day, Trellis means home to us. Max is known and loved for his whole self. You accept him for who he is and at the same time push him to reach his potential. Thank you for teaching my son with love and respect. You will never know what you mean to Max and me. He and all of the children you serve will reach their potential thanks to you.

– Audra Jones

Alphabet Soup: Understanding ABA & AVB

Chances are you’ve heard the terms Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB) more times than you can count. So what do they really mean? And are they the miracle intervention for your child?

ABA, in the most complex terms is “the application of the principles of learning and motivation from Behavior Analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles, to the solution of problems of social significance.”

In the simplest terms?  It’s using learning to change behavior. And AVB?  Basically the same thing except it’s all about language.

At Trellis, we use the principals of ABA and an AVB methodology to lay the foundation for success in school and life. We integrate ABA principles into all the work we do at Trellis and we primarily focus on using AVB in our Trellis School and Love2Learn programs.

How we use the principals of ABA

The goal of most families is to have children develop the basic communication, social and life skills they need to be successful. That’s what we focus on. Using ABA, we’re able to help teach new behaviors by breaking skills down into small, understandable steps that are taught separately. Once each step is learned separately they are strung together into a targeted behavior or task. For example, a child working on building a pre-requisite skill of sitting at a table might start with short intervals, gradually increasing the time and the seatmates. The goal isn’t just to have the child sit at a table during a group session, but to be an engaged participating member at the end.

How we use AVB

Using words, having conversations, reading and writing. We know that’s what you want for your child. AVB is a natural next step as children and students at Trellis slowly begin to trust staff and beginning developing activities. As activities are established, instructors are providing learners with all the language needed to talk about the items, what the items do, the parts of the items, etc. This is what facilitates communication. Motivation is key in this process. When a learner is motivated by an item or something fun that an instructor can do with the item, they will be motivated to “demand” or request that item or activity again. Multiple opportunities for the learner to communicate those “wants” are contrived throughout an activity, evoking the learner’s communication and repeated opportunities to practice that communication.

At Trellis, we emphasize the AVB methodology because aside from the scientific evidence, we believe that communication is the foundation for learning, and by rigorously focusing on communication we can better support a child functioning in school and the community.

AVB gives children the language they need to engage in social situations within the school and community. They are able to participate in those situations because of their increased ability to communicate their wants and needs. Also, for some, an increase in communication can contribute to reductions in interfering or challenging behavior.  Trellis understands that children need various ways to communicate too, that’s why we teach using a variety of modalities, such as vocal communication, sign language, through the use of pictures, or using an augmentative communication system (e.g., software on an iPad or another voice output device).

These are very simple explanations of what ABA and AVB are and how we try to integrate the principles into our work at Trellis. We invite you to read more on our website or contact us to find out more about how and why we use these interventions to create fun, motivating and individualized programs for each of our learners.

New Wave of Speech-Language Therapy

The story of Isaac, a bright-eyed and energetic four-year- old, brings to life the power of blended speech-language therapy.

All things considered, everything was going as you would expect with a boy his age. He loved superheroes, video games, and trying to learn to skateboard. But early on his mother noticed she was having trouble understanding him when he spoke. She had gone through a similar situation with Isaac’s older sister. So, she had him tested.

Isaac lives in Nye County, Nevada. This rural county is home to several environmentally sensitive areas, including a portion of Death Valley National Park and is remarkable in the fact that it is the third largest county in the contiguous U.S., larger than the combined total area of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Delaware. While those four states hold a total population of more than 17 million, Nye County’s residents are estimated to be less than 44,000. Yet, the needs of a young child, such as Isaac, don’t change with the size of a county’s population.

As his mother suspected, Isaac was having articulation problems. So, the county provided the services Isaac needed, until Joe Gent, the Special Education Coordinator in Nye County, Nevada, found himself shorthanded. The therapist working with Isaac moved away in the middle of the school year. Mr. Gent wanted to ensure there was continuity in the services Isaac received.

The situation marked the start of a relationship between Learn It, a national provider of special education services, and Nye County.

Creating New Possibilities With Blended Therapy

Telepractice redefines the delivery of Speech-Language services. It enables the creation of a new blended therapy model that is more flexible, more customized and more in tune with challenges facing both the administrators who have to address the needs of their students and the ability of the therapists to fulfill their obligations.

For Learn It, telepractice has enabled the creation of a wide range of services for both individual students and small groups of students. These services have proven ideal for school districts where there are larger caseloads, high indirect costs, difficult to staff locations, and significant travel time between schools. Learn It has also been able to work with schools just to cover their response to intervention services. In sum, telepractice has proven to be an excellent resource offering the flexibility to be utilized in many different ways to address the needs of school districts.

To facilitate a blended approach, Learn It can provide a full or part-time, on-site or telepractice solution that allows for in-person therapy combined with the on-demand benefits of telepractice. This also allows for the greatest short-term and long-term flexibility in caseload management. Learn It can also provide blended on-site/telepractice services in combination with a district’s on-site SLPs, allowing schools to extend services to more students while managing special education costs. This blended solution helps eliminate gaps in therapy and maintain compliance.