EARLY IN­TER­VEN­TION For Bet­ter Learn­ing

Northern Living - - MOMS & KIDS - BY NANA NADAL

Mind Frames In­te­grated Learn­ing Center of­fers Early In­ter­ven­tion, a sys­tem of co­or­di­nated ser­vices given to chil­dren with spe­cial needs. The hope is that if th­ese ser­vices are pro­vided early enough, they will ad­dress any de­lays in de­vel­op­ment so that the child will not need the ser­vices later on.

“We work on mild to se­vere de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties. It cov­ers learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, men­tal re­tar­da­tion, Autism, and At­ten­tion Deficit Hy­per­ac­tiv­ity Dis­or­der (ADHD),” vol­un­teers Stephanie Lopez-Sy, Pro­gram and Train­ing Di­rec­tor. Ide­ally, Early In­ter­ven­tion is done be­fore the child turns five but in some cases, Mind Frames still ac­cepts chil­dren of up to 10 years old.

Upon vis­it­ing the center, a child is as­sessed by Sy. “That as­sess­ment fo­cuses on the child’s abil­i­ties, cur­rent func­tion­ing, and most im­por­tantly, the learn­ing style. Ev­ery child is unique with very unique learn­ing styles. They may have the same di­ag­no­sis of Autism, but their learn­ing styles can be very, very dif­fer­ent,” ex­plains the Early In­ter­ven­tion Pro­gram Spe­cial­ist.

MAN­AG­ING BE­HAV­IOR

Be­hav­ior man­age­ment is Mind Frames’ strength. They be­lieve in the be­hav­ior­ist ap­proach and in the mantra that “all be­hav­ior is a form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and can be changed.” “We an­a­lyze the func­tions of the child’s be­hav­ior, where is it com­ing from? It can be due to re­in­force­ment by those around him, or some­times there’s a sen­sory over­load. What­ever it is, you have to iden­tify. There are a lot of meth­ods we work with on chang­ing and ma­nip­u­lat­ing be­hav­ior,” says Sy who holds a Mas­ter’s De­gree in Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion from the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines. “We teach the chil­dren ev­ery­thing from pro­cess­ing in­for­ma­tion to the ap­pro­pri­ate re­ac­tion, you model the ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponse,” she de­scribes.

An In­di­vid­u­al­ized Ed­u­ca­tional Pro­gram (IEP) is pre­pared for ev­ery stu­dent. “It’s all one-on-one on cer­tain lev­els but they also have to prac­tice what they learned and ap­ply it so we also test them and put them in small group classes,” she ra­tio­nal­izes.

BUILD­ING FOUN­DA­TIONS

Mind Frames builds the foun­da­tion of pre-req­ui­sites such as ac­qui­si­tion of ba­sic lan­guage and learn­ing skills as well as at­tend­ing skills (eye con­tact, fol­low­ing sim­ple com­mands). “For fur­ther in­ter­ven­tion to be fruit­ful, ben­e­fi­cial, fi­nan­cially ef­fi­cient and prac­ti­cal, the child must be equipped with the nec­es­sary skills that are needed for any mean­ing­ful learn­ing. If the child is not able to process in­for­ma­tion, how can he learn to speak? So what we do is work on the pro­cess­ing first be­fore turn­ing him over to a speech ther­a­pist. A two-year-old who can’t es­tab­lish eye con­tact or doesn’t have sit­ting skills shouldn’t be do­ing speech ther­apy right away,” she shares, re­it­er­at­ing the ne­ces­sity in build­ing foun­da­tion first. “Un­til the child is able to sus­tain at­ten­tion, the child is able to process in­for­ma­tion that you tell them and un­der­stand, re­spond and com­ply, that’s the only time we do add-on in­ter­ven­tions be­cause we want to save on the cost also.”

Mind Frames ros­ter of staff also in­cludes speech ther­a­pists, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pists, and phys­i­cal ther­a­pists. The pro­gram di­rec­tor syn­er­gizes their roles, mon­i­tors the stu­dent’s progress weekly, and re­ports the progress to the par­ents. “I con­duct train­ings for them to be not ther­a­pist-de­pen­dent,” points out Sy who meets with who­ever spends the most time with the child. “I be­lieve that it’s a part­ner­ship and if they’re not go­ing to par­tic­i­pate and work with us, it’s not go­ing to work, they will just be wast­ing money and time if they don’t fol­low up at home, it won’t make sense,” she rea­sons. They can even go to the ex­tent of vis­it­ing the home of the child and help­ing the par­ents set it up in a more struc­tured way which is con­ducive to man­ag­ing the be­hav­ior.

MORE THAN JUST A SCHOOL

As­sis­tance in school place­ment is another ser­vice that Mind Frames ex­tends to their clients. “It doesn’t stop with find­ing a school. We still work on co­or­di­nat­ing with the school, we fol­low up on the progress of the child, how the child is cop­ing. We also ask the teacher what the child would be need­ing to as­sist more in his pre-school or grade school life and we work on that at the center as well,” she guar­an­tees.

Sy trav­eled to the US for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams in Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis, Treat­ment and Ed­u­ca­tion of Autis­tic Chil­dren and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Hand­i­cap dis­or­der (TEACCH) and Pic­tures Ex­change Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sys­tem (PECS). She took on a job there, teach­ing chil­dren with se­vere dis­abil­i­ties for over two years be­fore com­ing back to Manila. She cas­cades what she has learned to her team of teach­ers with reg­u­lar train­ing ses­sions. “At the center, we work as a team. Help­ing chil­dren with spe­cial needs is not just a busi­ness for us, it is an ad­vo­cacy,” she closes.

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