My name is Maddie Jones and I am an intern at The Therapy Place. I am currently a senior exercise science major at the University of South Carolina hoping to become a physical therapist in the next few years. I am so blessed to be able to have this opportunity to spend most of my time this semester here at TTP. I have always known that I wanted to be a physical therapist, but working here has really shown me how special working with pediatrics really is.
Being a part of the TTP family this past semester has really influenced me as a person. I cannot express how grateful I am to have gotten to known the staff and all the patients here. The staff has truly been exceptional and extremely helpful in working with me to fulfill my dreams of becoming a pediatric physical therapist. I have truthfully seen what a difference the staff has made on their patients and how far the patients have come in the past six months, which is outstanding. I will forever look up to them and their guidance will take me a long way. My experience at TTP will be carried with me forever and I will never forget about this wonderful community I was so lucky to be a part of!
Hi TTP family! I go by “Minnie the Guinea!” Some places have therapy dogs, but here at TTP there is just me, Minnie (SQUEEK)! I love all my new friends here. Everyday they love on me, play with me, and they even feed me lots of treats!
The Therapy Place is the best place ever! The best part of my day is story time with my friends; they read new books to me! I talk to my friends’ siblings in the waiting room. It’s a great way to pass the time, sharing secrets, and having silly conversations! We eat all the time here at TTP! My friends and I eat veggies together; they know how to help brighten my day!
I am thankful for my new friends and all the love I get! Don’t forget to visit me! I CAN’T WAIT to meet all of you!
October is here and with it comes Halloween! How appropriate to pair the month of scary things with the IEP!! The entire IEP process can be daunting, confusing, and certainly scary. In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve used a skeleton to strip the IEP process down to its bare bones. Hopefully with more information and some simplified explanations, the IEP can seem less scary and more like a friendly jack-o-lantern illuminating the path of your child’s education.
Of course, what kind of special education teacher would I be if I didn’t account for your different needs?!?! I invite you to explore all of this post, or just click through the graphics with the information relevant to you.
If you are at the starting line of the IEP world, wondering what it even means to have an IEP, start with the text below on getting an IEP started. For the “bare bone” components of what an IEP is and what is included in it, click through the skeleton graphic. If you have an idea or two about the IEP and just want tips to feel more confident and successful in the IEP process, consider yourself a rock star and click through the drum set graphic.
Who has an IEP?
Every child receiving special education services has an IEP. As is true with many things in today’s world, special education ain’t what it used to be. Special education is truly individualized, specialized instruction at a range of levels that even the playing field so all children have access to education, regardless of ‘dis’ability. For more on what special education can entail, see the “Services” and “Placement” tabs in the skeleton graphic.
In order to have an IEP, two things must be true. The child must have a documented disability AND the disability must impact the child’s education, necessitating some form of specialized curriculum or services. For example, let’s say I have a documented diagnosis of narcolepsy. Let’s also say my narcolepsy is controlled by my doctor through medication and does not affect my schooling in any way. In this scenario, I do not qualify for special education. Even though I have a documented disability, it does not affect my education and therefore does not require specialized instruction.
How does a child get an IEP?
An IEP is created after a child has been found eligible for special education services. Discussion of eligibility is usually led by a school psychologist. Eligibility requires two meetings of the IEP team (that can sometimes be accomplished in one, depending on the situation). The purpose of the first meeting is essentially to decide what kind of information and evaluations are needed to decide if the child will qualify or need special education services and to get the parents’ permission to gather the information and conduct the needed evaluations. The purpose of the second meeting is to review all the information collected and determine if the child meets the criteria set forth by federal and state law for special education services. If the child is found to be eligible, the team will write the first IEP.
From January to July I have had the pleasure of interning, followed by working in the Bridges Program at The Therapy Place in South Carolina. To sum it up quickly, Bridges is a preschool structured program designed to fit the needs of kids with a wide range of special needs diagnoses. With the help of occupational, physical, and speech therapists we are able to integrate the goals they have set for a child into a daily routine. If you have talked to me since I have started here, I have most likely told stories, or shown pictures and videos of all the kids there, that without a doubt, have changed my life forever.
Although I love all of these children with my whole heart, and could go on forever describing the impact they have had on my life, I want to share the story of my friendship with one child in particular.
This is Brandon.
Brandon is diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Due to his condition, Brandon could experience 100, if not more, seizures a year. Many people are frightened by the thought of one seizure in a lifetime, and at 4 years old this kid has already been through more than any one of us could ever imagine.
When I first started with Bridges, I had told the two directors my interest in working as a behavior analyst. They glanced at each other, and smiled saying “we have the perfect kid for you.” And boy were they right.
After I started with Bridges, Brandon and I quickly became close friends. When things became too stimulating or sitting still wasn’t on his list of things to do, we went to the front gym to play basketball, stayed in the classroom to do puzzles, and blow bubbles, or play with a tractor and farm animals in the sensory room. As the days went on, it quickly became evident, that I would hang out with Brandon more and more. Not only was I starting to feel attached to Brandon, wanting to spend the day working with him to eliminate some of his behaviors that could be seen as disruptive, but it seemed as if he had gained a sense of trust in me as well. We ate snack together, made it through circle time together, and dug too many holes to count in the sand outside together.
As good as it all seems, I’d be lying if I said everyday was rainbows and butterflies for Brandon and I. Some days Brandon wouldn’t want to eat his snack, and instead would want his jell-o on the floor or all over me. Some days sitting through circle wasn’t an option, and instead he wanted to see how close he could get to running out of the classroom. Some days the activities Brandon loved were replaced by sitting out and having him listen about how he could make a different choice tomorrow.
On days like these, it is easy to give up. It is easy to say “oh well I guess we will try again tomorrow.” It is easy to pass Brandon over to someone else to have them sit with him for a while. It is easy to just look past everything. But easy isn’t always right. By the end of my time with Bridges, I had built a trust with Brandon. It seemed he knew when I was having a rough day, and would compliment me with acting perfectly. But then again, he knew when I was on my toes and exactly how to push my buttons. But, in the end, all that mattered was our friendship. I knew, and Brandon knew, that we could come back and figure out what was going on. We figured out a way to maximize his success, getting what he wanted, while learning, and having fun at the same time.
For sure we had our tough times, but more importantly I got to witness Brandon make remarkable strides. Over these past 7 months Brandon became so willing to not only engage with adults but other children as well. He learned to take turns with his friends. He learned that in order to get his reward he needed to put in work. He became much more vocal, expressing his emotions and feelings verbally. And I have never been more proud.
On my last day, Brandon’s mom told me how I have impacted Brandon’s life. This feeling is one I do not know if I will ever be able to top or one I will ever be put into words. I never started working with Brandon to be applauded, or have someone tell me how good I am doing. I worked with Brandon because I saw his need. I saw his need for a friend. I saw his need for someone to trust. I saw his need for someone to push him to try harder every single day.
With the career choice I have chosen, many people tell me that I am going to get burnt out and I ought to make sure I have a back up plan. But I don’t see that happening, not any time soon. All it takes is seeing that smile, being a part of one accomplishment, or hearing a parent say “you have helped my child.” Moments like these stick with you. They make the bad days good, and the good days better. I could not be more excited to continue in this field, and a lot of this passion I owe to Bridges, and to Brandon.
So Brandon, I have to thank you. Thank you for reminding me the importance of friendship and trust in helping people grow. Thank you for always making me laugh with your big ‘ole smile. Thank you for teaching me to “waiiiiiiiit”. Thank you for pushing me down the slide, even if I wasn’t quite ready to go. Thank you for teaching me that puzzles are more fun when you start out by putting the pieces in the wrong place and saying “NO” before putting them where they belong. Thank you for teaching me to advocate for those who may not be able to advocate for themselves. Thank you for reminding me why I chose the career path that I chose. Thank you for being you.
A child uses his mouth for many things-communication, eating/drinking, exploring new objects and even calming! One of the first ways a child learns to self soothe and calm is through sucking (on a pacifier, thumb, bottle) and oral input, as they receive deep pressure input in a rhythmical manner which is calming and organizing. As a child grows and develops, self-regulation continues to evolve and progress, but for some children oral stimulation remains one of the main ways to assist with this process. As sucking on a pacifier/bottle is no longer an appropriate or available way to gain this stimulation the child may seek this input in other ways, such as chewing on shirts/hair, putting everything in their mouth, biting themselves or others and licking non-edible objects. For those kids seeking oral input Chewlery is a great therapeutic tool.
Chewlery is specifically designed necklaces, bracelets and pendants the child can wear at all times to safely and efficiently get the oral stimulation they are looking for in an appropriate and fashionable manner. The pieces are made of medical grade plastic that are designed in various strengths to withstand even the strongest chewer. Here are a couple benefits to Chewelry:
Availability– As it is meant to be worn all the times the child will always have access to it and they can be easily redirected towards it needed, decreasing mouthing/chewing on inappropriate objects
Adaptabililty-You can find pieces that come in various strengths to adapt to even the strongest chewer -if you have a child who seeks a lot of input and is an excessive chewer you will want to look for a piece with a stronger material that can withstand this. If your child just needs to have, something in their mouth a softer material may be right for them.
Functionality/Design- Chewlery comes in necklaces, bracelets and pendants giving you the option of its placement. So if your child tends to mouth/chew their hands or something they are holding a bracelet may be more beneficial than a necklace. If chewing on collars or hair is the problem a necklace design may be the answer.
Comfort/Size- if you have a small child or an excessive chewer a design with larger pieces or one solid piece will be safer than a piece that has smaller components.
Fashion-Chewlery comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and designs- so don’t let the name fool you…there are plenty of options available for both girls AND boys
Chewlery can be found through the following resources:
In bible study last night, one of my friends asked if any of us had difficulty talking about our faith at work. At first I thought what a strange question because at The Therapy Place, we are always thanking God, praying, blessing our meals and sharing our stories of faith here at work. Then I remembered that this was strange to me because our workplace is one of the exceptions, being a private facility. Throughout TTP, we have painted the walls with words of faith to remind us from where our strength comes, posted pictures, poems and scriptures to share what this place means to us and why we love what we do here.
While TTP is a business, and we have to make money to pay the bills, each of our staff enters the doors each morning more importantly hoping to make a difference in the life of a child.
Everyone hired was told the story of our humble beginnings. Two moms who knew Columbia needed to do more for our children with special needs and set out to do so against all odds. Only by the grace of God did the vision become a reality. Our original business plan was a list of what we thought should be and very little about how we expected to get there, and then there was our trust in God. And that proved to be enough. Time and time again.
We know that education, skills and experience, while necessary here in our earthly roles, only take us so far. We thank God every day for the gifts He has provided through unexpected donations, happy “coincidences” and willing volunteers.
So many of us parents did not even know the meaning of the diagnosis we now talk about on a daily basis, and we could certainly choose to stay angry and isolated over what it has done to our family.
But I truly believe that we are all the lucky ones, the ones who are living richer lives because of the new perspective we have on life, the relationships we have grown with people we would have never met and the priorities we have rearranged to live more meaningful lives.
If you are reading this, I’m hoping that means The Therapy Place is special to you and I pray that you are feeling God’s love through our walls. We are thankful we are able to share our faith as it gets us all through the triumphs and difficult times. God bless you!