A coordinated academic and therapy program has always been central to the Giant Steps approach. Our therapists are educated at the Masters level, are registered with their professional organizations and have extensive experience working in the field of autism.
We are continually fine tuning our delivery of best practices with respect for the unique communication, sensory and behavioural challenges experienced by each child. In coordination with academics, we are delivering 3 core therapy programs – speech, behaviour and occupational therapies, and address play/social skills and daily living skills in our programming.
Our therapists work closely with our teachers and Program Assistants, teachers in our kids’ local schools, other professionals and families to provide consistent support and reinforcement of therapeutic strategies in all settings.
In our current “Week 1, Week 2” approach, our therapists alternate working one-on-one with children in the therapy room with sessions spent working in the child’s classroom at Giant Steps. This model provides our team with more opportunities for collaboration and students with generalization of skills outside of the therapy room.
Speech and Language Therapy
Impaired communication is one of the hallmarks of ASD and 50% of children with autism are non-verbal. Successful functional communication is a primary focus of the Giant Steps program.
Giant Steps students participate in individual speech therapy sessions with our Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP). Our SLP assesses each student’s abilities and methods of communicating, and formulates an individualized communication plan. These plans are implemented by our SLP and often combine visual strategies, such as the use of sign language and picture symbols, with those that focus on verbal expression and articulation. For non-verbal children, strategies using the Picture Exchange Communication System, augmentative communication devices, iPads and other forms of technology are developed and expanded. TD Securities Underwriting Hope Fund is the major sponsor of our speech therapy program. We thank them for helping us give children with autism a voice!
“Communication challenges are one of the central hallmarks of Autism Spectrum Disorder. My objective is to provide practical, theoretically sound, evidence-based therapy. I see the progress of our students on a daily basis, both in the therapy room and in our classrooms. Particularly with non-verbal children, it is important to hear what isn’t being said, and whether it is through the use of an iPad or other augmentative communication device, the PECS system, or verbally, all our students experience empowerment in their communication skills. This translates into greater success in their daily lives at home, in their communities, and within the school setting.” Nomce (Nick) Trposki Speech and Language Pathologist at Giant Steps Reg. CASLPO
Occupational and Sensory Integration Therapy
Motor and sensory system dysfunctions are common in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many have difficulty with a wide variety of daily living activities including self-care and daily routines, printing, reading, writing, and participating in sports and recreational activities. Sensory issues such as sensitivity to light, sound and touch, difficulty calming themselves, sitting still, paying attention, and processing auditory input are common challenges that affect their ability to cope and function in different environments.
Using a wide variety of treatment modes and sensory integration strategies, our registered Occupational Therapist works with each child, addressing their individual needs.
Goals and therapeutic strategies are implemented to improve gross and fine motor skills, motor planning abilities and proprioception, oral motor and visual perception skills, independence with self-care, sensory modulation and integration of information from all 5 senses.
A generous grant from Unity for Autism is funding our OT program again in 2017-2018.
Common traits of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder that are functions of their neurological and sensory challenges include behaviours that impede functioning, learning and socializing. Some of these may include hyperactivity, anxiety, repetitive behaviours, unusual attachments to objects, tantrums, aggressive or self-injurious behaviours, preference for being alone, avoidance of body contact and difficulties adjusting to change in routines, activities or environments.
Giant Steps’ behaviour therapist is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA). Using principles of applied behavioural analysis, our therapist conducts assessments and develops individualized behavioural strategies and modifications to curriculum and programming that are implemented by our team and shared with the family and school. Our therapist also educates and trains staff in positive behavioural intervention strategies and techniques.
Giant Steps Toronto/York Region 35 Flowervale Road, Thornhill, ON Canada L3T 4J3 Tel. (905) 881-3104
A school & therapy centre affiliated with the York Region District School Board Registered Charitable # 898362579RR0001