Therapy Moves Forward

Changing the lives of children with special needs.

Children with special needs should be able to play and participate in the same activities as typical children. Many parents of children with special needs want their children to ride a bicycle with friends, play tee-ball, participate in an art program or just have fun with their peers. However, many kids with special needs have difficulty participating in such group-oriented programs.

Since most children play and socially interact in groups, why can't therapy services be provided in this same context? With this idea in mind, Intensive Therapeutics, a nonprofit, charitable organization, started its programs. Intensive Therapeutics provides occupational therapy (OT) services in both individual and group settings to children with special needs.

Many people assume that OT is only for job or work-related issues. However, it's actually an instrumental component to help people of all ages pursue activities, or occupations, in all aspects of life. The occupations of a child are vast, but primarily there are two: school and play. If play is broken down into other occupations, the possibilities are endless. This is why Intensive Therapeutics has created programs to help children with special needs participate in some of the most common occupations of all children.

The organization was incorporated in 2005 as a response to a prevalent concern. Many parents of children with special needs have had problems getting their children to participate in typical community-based programs and activities. There is a common theme among these stories: failure. When parents have generally brought their child with special needs to a program, the child had difficulty or was not able to participate. The programs of Intensive Therapeutics turn this around, making the child's participation successful. So far, Intensive Therapeutics has developed athletic programs involving tee-ball, soccer and bike riding. The bike program teaches children how to ride a two-wheeler. Intensive Therapeutics also offers a handwriting program. It is the job of the occupational therapist to make the program fit the needs of the child, which leads to success. This is why Intensive Therapeutics programs can be adapted to any child's age and functioning level.

Another concern many parents have is convenience and accessibility to therapy services. Many people must drive far to find services specific to their child and pay exorbitant costs for therapy services. Others can't find services available at times that are convenient, especially if they have other children or they work. To address these concerns, Intensive Therapeutics offers afterschool programs during the school year and camps during vacations. By providing these services in a group setting, it brings the cost down considerably and makes programming more affordable. Intensive Therapeutics became a nonprofit, charitable organization to be able to seek fundraising, grants and donations to reduce the cost of services even further.

The camp programs that Intensive Therapeutics provides are based on the idea that if you do more of something you can get better at it. Intensive Therapeutics offers two summer camps: Camp Helping Hands and Camp Leaps and Bounds.

Camp Helping Hands is a summer program for children with hemiplegia (a paralysis of one side of the body). The children who attend the program have a problem using one of their arms or hands due to cerebral palsy, a traumatic brain injury, a stroke or several other causes. Children in the program come for six hours per day for four weeks during the month of July. The intensity of the therapy is crucial for improving movement of the child's arm or hand. Through repetition and practice, kids build on their successes and improve their functioning to be able to use both hands together. Many families from around the country attend this program because they believe that kids should be with other kids, that a program should be fun and that positive results can be achieved over a relatively short period of time.

Camp Leaps and Bounds takes place during August when most children with special needs have off from school. The program is attended primarily by children with autism spectrum disorder, but is not limited to just this diagnosis. Leaps and Bounds is held for three hours a day for three weeks. Campers work on social skills, fine and gross motor play skills and self-help skills, such as dressing and eating. By addressing these skills in a group context, we create real-life situations to facilitate social interactions and group play. All of the children's goals are individualized to meet the needs of each particular child. However, goals are addressed within the context of the camp. Activities include music, games, snack/lunch, arts and crafts and gym. Every day brings a new theme, like Beach Day and Winter Day, to make the activities more entertaining and more like a typical camp program.

Intensive Therapeutics has developed various group activity therapy programs that can be provided within the community by utilizing the same equipment, parks and facilities that all children get to use. Therapy services are less expensive, more convenient and target the specific skills that children need to acquire. Therapy services are provided in a group context to make programming mimic real life, beneficial to the child and more fun, encouraging children with special needs to reach their maximum potential.