A Leader in Clinical Innovation
Clinical Services at The Center for Discovery include Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Therapy, Vision Services, Adaptive Physical Education, and Assistive Technology. Each department contributes to an interdisciplinary approach to promote participation, independence, and overall enhancement of the lives of all individuals who reside here as well as those who come here for day programs. Our clinicians also provide services on an outpatient basis through our Article 28 Clinic and through our Preschool and Early Intervention Programs.
Services are provided in the context of classrooms, day habilitation programs, and within our residential programs. Clinical staff work alongside staff and caregivers in each location to ensure an understanding of therapeutic strategies that can be integrated throughout the day to support consistent carryover of skills and skill development. The carryover of strategies and skills across environments is integral to ensuring the best possible outcome for all.
The Center for Discovery has developed several innovative programs including:
Our speech pathologists have developed an initiative referred to as C.H.A.T.T (Communication Happens All the Time). This initiative stresses the importance of having the ability to communicate during all aspects of life and across all environments. Each individual who receives speech services receives a comprehensive assessment to determine the most appropriate strategy, technology, device, or system that would best support one’s communication needs. Staff members receive training on how each individual uses their specific communication system or device with the expectation that the individual will have access to this system or device throughout their day. These systems and devices are used daily to support staff to student communication as well as peer to peer communication as we strive to build meaningful and lasting friendships.
Our FED Program is a collaborative effort between our speech pathologists and occupational therapists. The FED team works with individuals who present with mealtime and feeding challenges. They have had success with improving individuals’ relationship with food. They have been able to increase the variety of foods that individuals eat to ensure adequate nutrition. They have also seen a reduction in stress and anxiety surrounding mealtimes for many of the individuals and families they have worked with. The FED team works closely with students, staff, and families to support the development of mealtimes that are an enjoyable and social experience. They are able to do this by building a trustful relationship with the child in need, providing positive experiences with food, providing caregiver training for generalization of skills, and eliminating power struggles at mealtime.
ENERGym is a custom designed simple circuit training program that was developed by The Center for Discovery. This program is comprised of 9 exercise stations devoted to aerobic, balance, core strengthening, and general strengthening activities. The ENERGym program was created based on current brain research, which has demonstrated that exercise is critical in promoting brain health and growth. Exercise has been shown to enhance one’s ability to self-regulate, thereby supporting the daily living skill development. Exercise has also been shown to promote one’s ability to attend to tasks, retain information, and to reduce anxiety. This program is implemented with all students in the program.
Our physical therapists strive to make the idea of M.H.A.T.T. (Movement Happens All The Time) a reality for all. M.H.A.T.T. is the premise that all individuals should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. The program emphasizes that movement should be fun and incorporate individual interests. PTs develop an individualized exercise “prescription” to not only build healthy bodies but to foster learning by “waking up the brain” and promoting energy regulation. Physical therapists at the Center for Discovery use a variety of tools including Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) principles, aquatics, custom adaptive equipment, and our sensory motor gym.
The occupational therapists at the Center for Discovery refer to the term L.I.F.E. (Learning Independence for Everyone). They use everyday life experiences and routines in a therapeutic manner to enhance and enable participation in the many roles that life entails. Engagement in occupations and activities is encouraged for individuals of all levels of ability. This is accomplished through approaches to intervention that may include creating and promoting new skills, restoring function, modifying activities or task demands, creating optimal learning environments, and adapting equipment to allow for more independent access to one’s environment. Our OTs are highly skilled in treating the whole person including underlying sensory system impairments. They are able to implement sensory based treatment to ensure a regulated and organized body system to promote optimal opportunities for participation, learning, and the development of skills that will last a lifetime.
The power mobility initiative at The Center for Discovery is led by an occupational therapist, but is once again a collaborative effort by many professionals including rehabilitation technologists, assistive technology specialists, adapted physical education teachers, and seating and mobility specialists. The approach to power mobility is unique to the Center in that we believe in the use of power mobility to enhance existing skills and to learn new motor skills. While some who participate in power mobility are striving to become (and do become) independent drivers, many participate to improve their motor learning, visual motor skills, sensorimotor integration, or cognitive skill development. As the power mobility initiative began to grow and pick up speed, a transdisciplinary idea came to be. What we now fondly refer to as indieGo. The indieGo is an innovative power mobility device that turns almost any manual wheelchair into a power wheelchair, instantly. It is a power wheelchair alternative for use in accessible environments like inside the home, in school, at work, or during trips to the park, grocery store, or mall.
As part of the power mobility initiative, the Power Soccer Club came into existence. Within this club, independent and novice power wheelchair users meet to hone or learn driving skills in a fun and dynamic environment that uses the sport of power soccer to motivate participants to grow as athletes and drivers. Organized power soccer games are held in our gymnasium where families and friends are always invited to come to cheer for their favorite team.