A strong belief in the critical importance of in-person learning for children with special needs, a commitment to the health and safety of our children and staff, and careful adherence to all provincial health regulations guide our programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As these measures fluctuate, we adjust our program delivery strategies to include various combinations of virtual and in-person programming with the goal of keeping our kids fully engaged in their therapy and skill development programs.
At Giant Steps, we are continually fine tuning our delivery of best practices with respect for the unique communication, sensory and behavioural strengths and challenges experienced by each child.
We deliver 3 core therapy programs – speech, behaviour and occupational therapies, and address each child’s needs in the areas of play/social skills, daily living skills and academics.
Each child’s therapy goals are implemented and evaluated based on daily data collection and analysis, and each child’s program plan undergoes frequent clinical reviews. Children receive 1 hour/week of direct therapy in each discipline.
Our therapists are registered with their professional organizations and have extensive experience working in the field of autism. Giant Steps’ program assistants are dedicated and experienced team members who are passionate about working with children with autism. Integral to our kids’ success, they work with our kids in a 2:1 child to staff ratio, collecting data and implementing and evaluating strategies to meet each child’s therapy, life skills and academic goals.
Families are important partners in the development of their children’s therapy plans, the prioritization of goals and evaluation of progress. Our team also works closely with families and with teachers and other professionals as needed to provide consistent support and reinforcement of therapeutic strategies in all settings.
Speech and Language Therapy
Impaired communication is one of the hallmarks of ASD and approximately 50% of children with autism are non-verbal. Successful functional communication is a primary focus of the Giant Steps program.
Children at Giant Steps participate in individual speech therapy sessions with our Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP). Our SLP assesses each child’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 and those needing more assistance with functional communication, strategies that include iPads and other forms of technology, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) and augmentative communication devices 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.
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 funded our OT program again in 2021. We are grateful for all they do for individuals and families living with autism.
Common traits of individuals with autism that are functions of neurological and sensory challenges include behaviours that can 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 and data collection and analysis, our therapist conducts assessments and develops individualized behavioural strategies and modifications to curriculum and programming that are implemented by our team. Our behaviour therapist also educates and trains our staff in positive behavioural intervention strategies and techniques.
Giant Steps Toronto/York Region Mailing address: 35 Flowervale Road, Thornhill, ON Canada L3T 4J3
A member of CASDA The Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance
Giant Steps is a therapy centre that builds the skills and abilities of children with autism through specialized therapies, life skills programs and academic support