Milestones Spring Issue 2022

Helping Individuals with Disabilities & their Families Achieve & Celebrate Events & Milestones in their Lives

Helping Individuals with Disabilities & their Families Achieve & Celebrate Events & Milestones in their Lives


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eyond disabilities<br />

SPRING ISSUE <strong>2022</strong><br />

IN THIS<br />

ISSUE<br />

listen to the music<br />

Choosing an ABA Therapist<br />

ALSO<br />

The Mother of Invention<br />

Going for a Ride

Publisher<br />

Susie Redfern, is the parent of a<br />

special needs child who recently<br />

“aged out” of the public-school<br />

system.<br />

05<br />

She developed <strong>Milestones</strong><br />

Magazine to help individuals with<br />

disabilities and their families<br />

achieve and celebrate events and<br />

milestones in their lives.<br />


Listen to the Music<br />

info@milestonesmagazine.com<br />

<strong>Milestones</strong>Magazine.net<br />


03<br />

Born Too Soon<br />

09<br />

Choosing an ABA Therapist<br />

13<br />

8<br />

The Mother of Invention<br />

15<br />

Acting Up or Acting Out: What’s the solution?<br />

19<br />

Going for a Ride<br />

21<br />

IEP Advocate, anyone?<br />

23<br />

There’s an Association for That<br />


Born Too Soon<br />

Most everybody who is expecting<br />

a baby hopes for a child that is<br />

born healthy and full-term.<br />

Things don’t always go according to plan, however, and perhaps the most common<br />

complication is that of a child born prematurely. The most well-known, life-threatening<br />

complications, are the difficulties such children have with regulating their body<br />

temperature to stay warm enough, and undeveloped lungs where they often cannot<br />

breathe on their own.<br />

Beyond these life-threatening complications (and others not listed), however, are a host<br />

of other issues that can lead to short-term developmental delays in some cases, and lifelong<br />

difficulties in others. One such circumstance, which I was introduced to, is a brain<br />

bleed. This complication can put children at risk for conditions such as Cerebral Palsy. To<br />

explain more about this, I am pleased to introduce Physical Therapist Teresa Alliston.<br />


Most infants born prematurely (those infants born before 37<br />

weeks of pregnancy are completed) also have a low birth weight.<br />

Infants are placed in the low-birth weight category at 5 pounds 5<br />

ounces (2500 grams). Premature, low birth weight infants, can be are at risk<br />

of brain bleeds, or otherwise referred to by medical staff as Intraventricular<br />

hemorrhage IVH. Infants born at term may also experience an IVH, but<br />

have a much lower risk of this happening. Intraventricular hemorrhages, for<br />

the most part occur sometime within the first few weeks after birth.<br />

An Intraventricular hemorrhage for an infant is similar to<br />

a stroke for an adult. Just like a stroke there are varying<br />

degrees of the amount of the bleed within the brain’s<br />

area. These levels of degree for the infant are referred<br />

the NICU/hospital. But, in that moment of dealing with,<br />

and surviving that time in the hospital with your young<br />

infant, it is hard to take in and process all the information<br />

that is given to you.<br />

to as “Grades”, and range from a low grade, rated as a<br />

Grade I, IVH; to the most severe known as a Grade IV,<br />

IVH. Similar to a stroke as well, is the effect the blood<br />

in the area of the brain tissue may have on the patient’s<br />

various areas of abilities to move, see, speak, the process<br />

thinking/problem solving. The lesser the Grade of bleed<br />

the lesser the level of impact on the patient’s various<br />

abilities, the greater the Grade of bleed the greater the<br />

As a Physical Therapist that has a passion for preterm/<br />

low birth weight infants, I would be happy to have a<br />

conversation with you about any questions you may have.<br />

You are welcome to contact me at Pediatric Therapy of<br />

Washington State, PLLC through the “book a consult”<br />

tab on the home page of www.ptows.com. Just put your<br />

question in the comment/message box, and I will know<br />

level of impairment on the patient’s various ability to<br />

move, see, speak, or think/problem solve. Based on the<br />

area(s) of the brain tissue which the blood has affected,<br />

determines the area(s) of the infant’s abilities that may be<br />

impaired. For example, if the motor area of the brain has<br />

blood affecting that area, then the possible result will be<br />

an impact to the physical movements of the infant.<br />

you have a question, and are not looking for a consult.<br />

M<br />

Grades I and II, IVH’s, may temporarily show some mild<br />

impacts on the infant’s abilities for movement, sight, etc.;<br />

but usually resolve on their own without the need for<br />

interventions. For those that do not resolve on their own,<br />

there are treatments available to address the various needs<br />

of the infant. The latest research is showing the sooner the<br />

treatment is started the better the outcomes for the infant.<br />

For Grades III and IV, IVH’s, there is a greater possibility<br />

that the more severe impacts on the infant’s abilities for<br />

movement, sight, etc.: may not resolve on their own,<br />

making these infants more likely candidates for early<br />

treatment options.<br />

Most likely all of this information has been shared with the<br />

family/caregiver of the preterm infant while they were in<br />

Editor’s Note: Teresa is a future magazine<br />

contributor for articles related to various<br />

assessments and treatments for pre-term and<br />

full-term babies, and young children.<br />


COVER<br />


listen to the music<br />

The old saying is<br />

“Music hath charms to soothe<br />

the savage beast.”<br />

There are, probably, just a handful of people throughout<br />

history who qualify as savage beasts (and music probably<br />

wouldn’t soothe them), but music can be inspiring,<br />

enjoyable, and therapeutic for the rest of us.<br />


Music therapy, as a service, is available to a variety<br />

of people, including those with disabilities. I am<br />

honored to introduce Fatima, a Senior Music<br />

Therapist/Researcher with Integrative Music<br />

Therapy, LLC to tell us about what they do, and<br />

how neurologic music therapy helps individuals with<br />

disabilities enhance their quality of life.<br />

Introduction<br />

The sound of music ebbs and flows throughout each day<br />

inside the red brick building, where Integrative Music<br />

Therapy, LLC (IMT) operates our clinic. Clients of<br />

all ages with various disabilities enter this “CAN-Do”<br />

environment to receive therapy with goals to enhance<br />

their quality of life. Many people may notice the singing<br />

and playing musical instruments common to our<br />

environment, but many may not know the power that<br />

music has to support change and learning. Did you know<br />

that rhythmic cueing can improve speech articulation<br />

for someone who has experienced a stroke-related<br />

communication challenge? Did you know that the steady<br />

beat of a drum or simple metronome clicks have the power<br />

to improve coordination and efficient movement for<br />

someone with a movement disorder? These are just part of<br />

our innovative and unique approach to therapy, utilizing<br />

our Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) model.<br />

Rhythm is Key<br />

Internal rhythm exists within each human body like a<br />

personal identity. This unique rhythm flows through<br />

our body to promote regulation and support volitional<br />

movements, which allow most of us to be functional<br />

and purposeful in our lives. Recent neuroscience<br />

evidence suggests that there is a growing number of<br />

neurodivergent individuals whose brains are differently<br />

connected. This leads to exciting gifts and abilities,<br />

but for some, difficulties with emotional and sensory<br />

regulation, and motor planning. This<br />

is recently being described as<br />

“apraxia” or “dyspraxia” and<br />

it may impact speech/<br />

communication,<br />

social interactions,<br />

body awareness,<br />

self-confidence,<br />

community<br />

Why do we provide Neurologic<br />

Music Therapy?<br />

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is an evidence-based<br />

music therapy approach that uses music and rhythm to<br />

improve the way the brain functions during functional,<br />

everyday tasks. This approach utilizes a Transformational<br />

Design Model (TDM) to assess the functional needs of<br />

a client and then design music-based interventions or<br />

exercises to strengthen the neural pathways of the brain<br />

to support a positive change in the individual’s abilities to<br />

carry out the targeted goals. The skills that are developed<br />

during music therapy can then be easily transferred to<br />

other settings outside the music therapy session. Our<br />

therapists believe that a research-based approach is the<br />

most responsible and effective way to support individuals<br />

to obtain therapeutic outcomes.<br />

access, etc.<br />

These unique<br />

brains may<br />

become<br />

overstimulated<br />

by stimuli in<br />

their environment.<br />

Their environment<br />

may consist of a wide<br />

variety of sights, sounds,<br />

smells, tastes, and textures<br />

all at the same time, and that can<br />

greatly impact their ability to regulate their bodies and<br />

move in the way they intended to. Unfortunately, these<br />

support needs are often mis-evaluated or assumed to be<br />

intentional behaviors, leading to therapeutic strategies<br />

meant to “control” the person or “teach compliance”.<br />


Fortunately, neurologic music therapy has a very different<br />

focus - one focused on strengths and abilities, along with<br />

a commitment to provide supports and accommodations<br />

the individual needs to best access their life. Sometimes<br />

the support that is needed is simply a rhythm that matches<br />

with the individual’s internal rhythm to help them entrain<br />

and develop new sensory and motor brain connections,<br />

therefore improving body awareness and motor planning.<br />

only provide visual cues and/or written instructions for<br />

the individual to read and respond to. This technique<br />

is an under-utilized support to bodies when needing<br />

to calm, slow down, or regulate, and can really support<br />

co-regulation between a therapist and an individual<br />

receiving music therapy (or a parent/child or a teacher/<br />

student). This approach is especially effective when the<br />

individual’s responses are dominated by the autonomic<br />

nervous system, often referred to as our “fight-flightfreeze”<br />

mode, which commonly occurs when an individual<br />

Never forget about Silence…<br />

That’s part of the music too!<br />

Our fast-paced world often forces us to move and respond<br />

without a break. However, silence is equally important,<br />

just like there are rests within the music. Silence provides<br />

room for our brain to focus, think and process. This leads<br />

us to the common mantra at our clinic: “Think, Look,<br />

Move”, which is also associated with a traffic visual that we<br />

have available in every office. We teach our clients to first<br />

STOP and THINK about what they want to do; second,<br />

YIELD and LOOK by utilizing their central vision to<br />

locate their target; and third, GO to MOVE to complete<br />

the desired task. By using this strategy, we have seen many<br />

successful moments when our clients have been able to<br />

becomes overwhelmed or perceives stress or fear.<br />

In order to truly understand the needs of a person<br />

identified to have a disability and to provide an effective<br />

music therapy treatment, it’s important to address the<br />

needs at the brain level. By utilizing a neuroscienceinformed<br />

approach to music therapy (NMT) to guide our<br />

treatment strategies and supports, we can deepen the<br />

way the brain connects and positively enhance outcomes<br />

in sensory processing, meaningful communication, and<br />

purposeful motor skills for individuals who are working<br />

to overcome the limitations of their disability. When<br />

these needs are met, our clients are able to enjoy a truly<br />

meaningful life and improved autonomy. Isn’t that what<br />

we all hope for?<br />

M<br />

participate in activities that they never had found success<br />

to do before.<br />

Contact Information:<br />

Through our neurologic approach, we have found that<br />

“Silent Support” can be crucial to help neurodiverse<br />

individuals regulate their emotions and increase their<br />

body awareness. Silent support requires the support<br />

person to inhibit their own speaking voice to instead<br />

Integrative Music Therapy, LLC<br />

1003 SR 662 W<br />

Newburgh, IN 47630<br />

(812)490-9400<br />

www.inmusictherapy.com<br />





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Choosing an<br />

ABA Therapist<br />

Children with challenges<br />

of various kinds often have the need for therapists, tutors, and other<br />

professionals to address the issues they are experiencing. For parents,<br />

the challenge is to select the professional that best fits with their child’s<br />

personality and mindset (along with, of course, meeting training and<br />

licensure requirements). The saying making the rounds summarizes<br />

this nicely: “When you know one person with autism, that means you<br />

know one person with autism.”<br />

One size does not fit all.<br />


<strong>Milestones</strong> Magazine is honored to introduce IABA Consultants,<br />

which has posted the following article about ABA<br />

Therapy Red Flags, on their blog. ABA Therapy is,<br />

perhaps, the most well-known therapy used for/<br />

with individuals on the Autism Spectrum.<br />

ABA Therapy Red Flags (Part 1)<br />

ABA therapy is the only evidence-based ASD<br />

therapy, but the treatment only works if it is<br />

done with care. Not all ABA service providers<br />

are the same. How can you tell if your child’s<br />

treatment is being conducted correctly?<br />

No Observation or Information<br />

One of the most important aspects of ABA<br />

therapy is continuing a program at home.<br />

If an ABA service provider refuses to share<br />

information or allow observation you may<br />

want to take a closer look at the program.<br />

There are some red flags you can look for<br />

if you feel your child is not progressing or<br />

benefitting from ABA therapy. The points we<br />

are going to talk about won’t cover everything,<br />

but they will cover some of the most easily<br />

observable ABA therapy red flags.<br />

Information should always be available on<br />

how your child is progressing. Daily records<br />

should be available to parents if they want<br />

to know what is going on in treatment. If<br />

an ABA service provider is unable to share<br />

information, it may be time to take a closer<br />

look. Quick note: information and records may<br />

take a few days to be logged, each clinic is<br />

We have split this article into two parts, as we<br />

different.<br />

want to mention why these red flags can be<br />

harmful and what you can do to notice them.<br />

Too Many Hours of Therapy<br />

If you are not allowed to visit your child’s ABA<br />

clinic to observe treatment and progress you<br />

may have a problem on your hands. Dropping<br />

ABA therapy is a billable medical expense. Like<br />

most medically billable services, some ABA<br />

therapy providers will look to bill for as many<br />

hours as possible. Most people don’t require<br />

40+ hours a week of ABA treatment.<br />

Be sure to look at your child’s program and<br />

what exactly is being done from a therapy<br />

standpoint. Does the program cover<br />

everything your child needs? Are the<br />

hours reasonable for the needs of your<br />

child?<br />

A note that some people do need a<br />

lot of therapy, just not everyone. ABA<br />

therapy is not supposed to last forever.<br />

Your child will eventually be able to live<br />

an independent life with honed social<br />

skills. Too many hours of therapy is not<br />

something that will necessarily help with<br />

ABA therapy.<br />


y without notice is not recommended, the<br />

situations we are talking about are never<br />

being able to observe your child’s clinic &<br />

program.<br />

ABA Therapy Red Flags (Part 2)<br />

ABA therapy is the only evidence-based ASD<br />

therapy, but the treatment only works if it is<br />

done with care. Not all ABA service providers<br />

are the same. How can you tell if your child’s<br />

Another red flag related to this is a provider<br />

treatment is being conducted correctly?<br />

only using telehealth methods (phone calls,<br />

video chats etc.) for BCBA supervision. A<br />

BCBA should be directly involved in each<br />

child’s program. The only exception to this is<br />

ABA providers located in rural areas, as they<br />

may be spread very thin and have a limited<br />

number of BCBAs.<br />

There are some red flags you can look for if you<br />

feel your child is not progressing or benefitting<br />

from ABA therapy. The points we are going to<br />

talk about won’t cover everything, but they will<br />

cover some of the most easily observable ABA<br />

therapy red flags.<br />

Extremely Strict Behavior<br />

Requirements<br />

ABA therapy works to help people<br />

We have split this article into two parts, as we<br />

want to mention why these red flags can be<br />

harmful and what you can do to notice<br />

them. Click here for part 1.<br />

with ASD adapt to neurotypical<br />

social norms. Having strict<br />

requirements to not allow<br />

normal ASD behaviors may<br />

lead to issues with many<br />

people.<br />

Not Listening<br />

Every parent has concerns<br />

about their children.<br />

ASD parents usually<br />

have more things to be<br />

If a therapy program doesn’t<br />

allow things like stimming,<br />

forces social interaction, or has<br />

eye contact requirements, you may<br />

want to take a closer look. Forcing<br />

behavior changes through programs or<br />

(worse) aggressive interactions is a huge<br />

issue for any ABA therapy program.<br />

Some behaviors and issues will need to<br />

change over time, but forcing the issue<br />

through strict programs or adherence to<br />

certain behaviors is not the way to go. Be sure<br />

to routinely check your child’s program and<br />

progress if you think any requirements of the<br />

program are too strict.<br />

concerned about. If you have<br />

voiced specific major concerns<br />

to your child’s ABA provider<br />

without an acceptable response, you<br />

may need to rethink things.<br />

By voicing major concerns, we are talking<br />

about lack of progress, not sharing enough<br />

information, billing too many hours etc. These<br />

are things that should be addressed as soon<br />

as possible. Smaller concerns may slip through<br />

the cracks so you may need to repeat them in<br />

order to ensure they are taken seriously.<br />

If all of your concerns go unaddressed by an<br />

ABA therapy provider, it may be time to look for<br />

a new one.<br />

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants<br />

If you have questions regarding autism<br />

treatment, education, or plans using ABA<br />

therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to<br />

make sure no family is turned away due to<br />

financial constraints. Our therapy team would<br />

love to talk to you. Find the location closest to<br />

you and give us a call. We’re here for you.<br />

Only Using a Few ABA Therapy<br />

Techniques<br />

Relying on a small pool of ABA therapy<br />

treatments and techniques can lead to a<br />

poorly developed program. If you notice your<br />

child is being treated with the same methods<br />

all the time, you may need to look at their<br />

overall program.<br />


Some programs may focus on a small number<br />

is being offered.<br />

of treatments for a set period of time, so be<br />

sure to ask when or if the program will change<br />

or progress. Your child’s ABA therapist should<br />

have a good answer why certain treatment<br />

methods are or aren’t being used.<br />

In order to get the most out of ABA therapy,<br />

each child needs a custom-built program.<br />

ABA programs built on general needs will not<br />

help each child enough to address specific<br />

behaviors and needs.<br />

All children with ASD are different, so be sure<br />

not to question a treatment program after a<br />

short amount of time. Have a discussion with<br />

your ABA provider to learn about the program<br />

that was designed for your child.<br />

Templated ABA Therapy Programs<br />

Similar to only using a few aba therapy<br />

ABA Therapy from IABA Consultants<br />

If you have questions regarding autism<br />

treatment, education, or plans using ABA<br />

therapy, we are here for you! Our goal is to<br />

make sure no family is turned away due to<br />

financial constraints. Our therapy team would<br />

love to talk to you. Find the location closest to<br />

methods, templated programs can be a major<br />

red flag for ABA programs. Every child with ASD<br />

is different and requires a different approach<br />

tailored to their strengths and needs.<br />

you and give us a call. We’re here for you.<br />

Contact<br />

website: www.iabaconsultants.com<br />

M<br />

contact page: www.iabaconsultants.com/<br />

This red flag can be seen relatively early<br />

in selecting an ASD treatment program or<br />

clinic. If you are presented with a brochure of<br />

programs or therapy ‘packages’ mentioned in<br />

contact-us<br />

email: services@instructional-aba.com<br />

blogs: www.iabaconsultants.com/autismblog;<br />

www.iabaconsultants.com/blog<br />

a consultation, you need to really look at what<br />


The Mother of Invention<br />

Necessity is<br />

The Mother<br />

of Invention.<br />

his may be a cliché, but it’s also<br />

true. Many of the contributors to<br />

<strong>Milestones</strong> Magazine are parents<br />

who created a product or service to benefit<br />

or employ their own child and others with<br />

a similar challenge. Others are adults<br />

who create a product or technology to<br />

overcome a challenge they have. Clothing<br />

is an obstacle to many with one challenge<br />

or another. Some can’t zip/unzip or fasten<br />

traditional clothing; others have sensory<br />

issues, and so on.<br />

I’m pleased to introduce some folks who are<br />

meeting this challenge head on.<br />


Heidi McKenzie founded Alter UR Ego after<br />

being left a paraplegic from her injuries in a<br />

traumatic car accident in 2007 (at the age of<br />

21). In her own words:<br />

“In 2007 I was in a traumatic car accident that left me a<br />

T4 paraplegic (meaning I can’t feel from the chest down)<br />

at the age of 21. I have always kept a positive attitude in<br />

regards to my injury, and I live every day to the fullest with<br />

a smile on my face. I designed jeans for other people in<br />

wheelchairs that are both functional, and fashionable. I<br />

want to make it possible for those with disabilities to be<br />

able to express their “alter-ego” through fashion while<br />

breaking down social barriers.<br />

Another way I decided to expand my brand identity was<br />

Keisha Greaves, after her diagnosis of<br />

Muscular Dystrophy (apparently not just a<br />

disease in children), started a T-shirt clothing<br />

line called Girls Chronically Rock.<br />

to team up with Wheelers Depot, an inclusive business<br />

providing products for an adaptive lifestyle, and designing<br />

t-shirts that allowed me to express my sense of humor and<br />

showing that life doesn’t have to end after a spinal cord<br />

injury.<br />

“For someone who sits on a wheelchair all day or<br />

someone who wears braces, slipping buttons in place and<br />

maneuvering zippers can be a hassle. Finding the right<br />

size of pants or jeans that accommodate their peculiarities<br />

can also be impossible. Adaptive clothing is not accessible<br />

to everyone. Not all stores carry this kind of clothing and<br />

many of the ones who do operate wholly online making<br />

the process of shopping for clothes tedious.”<br />

The Girls Chronically Rock Adaptive Project provides<br />

“unique designs that make members of the disability<br />

The company designs jeans that are “both functional,<br />

and fashionable for people in wheelchairs,” to “make it<br />

possible for those with disabilities to be able to express<br />

their ‘alter-ego’ through fashion while breaking down<br />

social barriers.”<br />

“Adaptable clothing is hard to find, especially if you want to<br />

look fashionable. The adaptable jeans are just the beginning<br />

of clothing that has all the fashion and all the function for<br />

someone in a wheelchair. People with disabilities should<br />

have just as many clothing options.”<br />

M<br />

community feel that they rock”. The fashion line is<br />

intended for the physical and the online stores. The<br />

clothing is accessible and easy to use so people can slip<br />

into them on a moment’s notice. Customers will have a<br />

range of choices to select from within the collection.<br />

“The Girls Chronically Rock Adaptive Project currently<br />

has 12 designs that feature the work of Fashion Design<br />

students and is a mixture of swimwear, dresses, swimwear<br />

cover ups, evening wear, shirts, and so on. The fashion<br />

line uses magnetic snaps, hooks, and easy to take on and<br />

off closures. Students involved in the project are creating<br />

pants, tops, evening dresses, and more, that all look<br />

amazing.”<br />


Acting Up or<br />

Acting Out:<br />

What’s the<br />

solution?<br />


Behavioral therapy is often used by, for, and with people of all ages who are having challenges<br />

of one kind or another. Some of them are “neuro-divergent.” Applied Behavior Analysis<br />

(ABA) is a therapy commonly used with people on the Autism Spectrum, but it is not the<br />

only strategy out there for this group.<br />

I am pleased to introduce Dr. Robert Jason Grant, creator of AutPlay Therapy, author<br />

of the article “AutPlay Therapy: Integrating Play, Parents, and Children into the<br />

Therapeutic Process”<br />

AutPlay Therapy: Integrating Play, Parents, and Children into the Therapeutic Process<br />

AutPlay Therapy has been defined as an integrative family<br />

play therapy approach designed to address the mental<br />

health needs of neurodivergent children (autistic, ADHD,<br />

mental health needs with which they may be struggling.<br />

Play therapy is uniquely designed for and responsive to<br />

the individual and developmental needs of each child.<br />

learning differences, sensory differences, Tourette<br />

Syndrome, giftedness/twice exceptional, intellectual<br />

developmental disability, developmental disabilities,<br />

etc.). The AutPlay Therapy process can be utilized to<br />

address a variety of concerns and the need areas that<br />

neurodivergent children may present which include but<br />

are not limited to trauma issues, parent/child relationship<br />

struggles, emotional regulation, social navigation, sensory<br />

processing, anxiety reduction, and life adjustment issues.<br />

AutPlay Therapy incorporates a parent partnering<br />

(training) component where parents are trained by the<br />

therapist in using various play therapy approaches and<br />

techniques at home with their child. Parents are viewed<br />

as partners with the therapist and are empowered to<br />

become co-change agents with the therapist in helping<br />

their child address and advance in therapy goals. AutPlay<br />

Therapy’s parent training component teaches parents<br />

how to facilitate the AutPlay Follow Me Approach (FMA)<br />

AutPlay is a neurodiversity informed approach which<br />

strives to value neurodivergence and support non-ableist<br />

processes – respecting, valuing, and appreciating the<br />

identity and voice of the child client. AutPlay framework<br />

highlights affirming evidence based and research<br />

informed practices to address identified needs and<br />

play times and specific play therapy technique play times<br />

at home with their child between therapy sessions. Parents<br />

learn about play, procedures, and techniques, and are<br />

shown how to implement play times at home to improve<br />

the parent/child relationship and work toward addressing<br />

therapy goals.<br />

therapy goals. It is a guide for establishing therapeutic<br />

relationship, assessing for individualized therapy needs,<br />

and implementation of play therapy approaches and<br />

interventions.<br />

Play therapy is a theoretical modality that uses a<br />

wide variety of methodologies to communicate<br />

with clients, including adventure therapy,<br />

storytelling and therapeutic metaphors,<br />

movement/dance/music experiences,<br />

sandtray activities, art techniques,<br />

and structured play experiences in<br />

addition to free, unstructured play.<br />

Play therapy approaches can hold<br />

many benefits for autistic and<br />

neurodivergent children and their<br />

families, especially in addressing<br />


Children are also viewed as partners in the process with<br />

the therapist and the parent. As much as possible, the<br />

child’s thoughts, feelings, and voice are included into the<br />

therapy process, goals, and plan. Children should have a<br />

say in what they want to achieve and the process to achieve<br />

it. Children should be clearly informed that they can freely<br />

share what they think, like, and don’t like. In AutPlay,<br />

children are often asked if they liked a play intervention<br />

■ What is your experience working with<br />

autistic/neurodivergent children and their<br />

families?<br />

■ Can you describe the types of issues you<br />

have worked on with neurodivergent<br />

children?<br />

and if they felt the intervention was helpful to them.<br />

■ How might the play therapy you offer<br />

AutPlay Therapy functions ideally as a family play therapy<br />

benefit my autistic/neurodivergent child?<br />

approach involving both the child and the parent in the<br />

therapeutic process. Using a play therapy base that is<br />

a natural language for the child enables the parent to<br />

be involved with their child in a way that builds healthy<br />

relationship and addresses therapy goals within a fun and<br />

connecting process. When parents are seeking out a play<br />

therapist for their autistic or neurodivergent child or a<br />

therapist is looking for a play therapist to make a referral,<br />

there are a few questions they might ask:<br />

■ What would a typical play therapy session<br />

look like and how would you involve the<br />

parent and/or family members?<br />

■ What are some possible mental health<br />

needs and typical therapy goals when<br />

working with neurodivergent children?<br />

■ What type of play therapy do you offer and<br />

what are your credentials/training for<br />

providing play therapy?<br />

■ How would you conceptualize<br />

neurodiversity and describe a<br />

neurodiversity affirming approach?<br />


Ultimately, Play is the natural language of all children<br />

and holds many benefits including therapeutic<br />

components. Play is also the agent of change that<br />

propels children forward in healing and growth. Within<br />

the therapeutic powers of play, neurodivergent<br />

children have a validating and naturalistic process to<br />

address needs and work on mental health growth<br />

and goals. AutPlay Therapy protocol is mindfully<br />

infused with play core agents of change that<br />

specifically align with the neurodivergence<br />

of autistic children and children with<br />

other neurotype needs.<br />

M<br />

Dr. Robert Jason Grant<br />

www.autplaytherapy.com<br />

Planning<br />

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California and Colorado<br />

for a Child with<br />

Special Needs?<br />

Learn about the<br />

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Survival Guide or call for<br />

your free consultation<br />

with Diedre Braverman,<br />

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Planning Attorney.<br />

melanie@braverman-law.com<br />


19<br />


Many children, with a variety of conditions,<br />

such as Cerebral Palsy, have physical<br />

and coordination difficulties that require<br />

occupational therapy. The therapy often<br />

involves working with toys, feeding utensils, and other<br />

devices to improve a child’s skills in various areas.<br />

However, there are some therapy practices that<br />

take a bit more unusual, albeit evidence-based,<br />

approach. One such organization is Riding with<br />

HEART (Hunterdon Equine Assisted Recreation and<br />

Therapy), located in Pittstown NJ.<br />

Riding with HEART offers people with disabilities the<br />

following programs and services:<br />

■ Adaptive Therapeutic Horseback Riding: This<br />

recreational activity helps participants develop<br />

and improve their core strength, gross and<br />

fine motor skills, balance, problem solving and<br />

social skills, sensory integration, and eye/hand<br />

coordination. Riders have a variety of conditions,<br />

including Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, and<br />

Spina Bifida.<br />

■ Hippotherapy: The American Hippotherapy<br />

Association defines the term as a reference to<br />

“how occupational therapy, physical therapy<br />

or speech and language professionals use<br />

evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning<br />

in the purposeful manipulation of equine<br />

movement to engage sensory, neuromotor,<br />

and cognitive systems to achieve functional<br />

outcomes. In conjunction with the affordances<br />

of the equine environment and other treatment<br />

strategies, hippotherapy is part of a patient’s<br />

integrated plan of care.”<br />

■ Social Skills Group: “A specialized program for<br />

children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, related<br />

developmental disorders, ADD, ADHD, and<br />

barn as well as working and riding horses is<br />

planned to teach, reinforce and generalize<br />

social skills. Participants are introduced to<br />

a weekly-targeted social skill through the<br />

use of picture stories, didactic instruction,<br />

modeling or role-playing. Working in the barn,<br />

reciprocal interactions (sharing, personal space,<br />

cooperation, and communication) are taught<br />

using a Naturalistic teaching method while<br />

students work cooperatively. Students are also<br />

taught basic riding skills as part of the program.”<br />

■ Peer Lessons: “An inclusive riding program that<br />

offers riding lessons to parents, siblings, and<br />

volunteers in our Peer Lesson program. While<br />

Riding with HEART’s focus is on Equine Assisted<br />

Activities and Therapies, Peer Lessons enhance<br />

the equine experience for all. What better way to<br />

improve the quality of life than to afford everyone<br />

the chance to share their love of horseback<br />

riding?”<br />

learning disabilities. The unique setting of the<br />

“Riding with HEART offers a wide range of Equine-<br />

Assisted Activities to individuals and their families.<br />

We provide a comprehensive, inclusive and<br />

therapeutic environment to participants with a<br />

wide range of disabilities including, but not limited<br />

to ADD/ADHD, Autism, PDD NOS, Down Syndrome,<br />

Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Visual Impairments<br />

or Traumatic Brain Injury. All of the Therapeutic<br />

Riding Instructors at RWH are PATH certified and our<br />

professional therapists hold proper credentials and /<br />

or licenses.”<br />

M<br />

Publisher’s Note: Riding with Heart is located at 639<br />

County Road 513, Pittstown, NJ 08867. They can be<br />

reached at 908-735-5912 and/or seen online at<br />

www.ridingwithheart.org<br />

Happy Trails to you!<br />


IEP Advocate,<br />

anyone?<br />

Bob Dylan once wrote a song, “The<br />

Times they are a changing”, and those<br />

words are perhaps more relevant now than<br />

they have ever been. Parents have been turned<br />

into educators; home-schooling their children on top of<br />

other working from home duties. Children have become<br />

little squares on Zoom during their remote learning<br />

sessions. Families are stressed, and all children are<br />

having difficulties with the new reality. Children with<br />

disabilities are getting the worst of this in many cases.<br />

IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Advocates are<br />

more important than ever. Many parents are unsure<br />

of what an IEP is, let alone how to go about hiring<br />

an IEP advocate who will help them successfully<br />

navigate and overcome whatever issues they are having<br />

with a school district.<br />

Therefore, I am honored to introduce Fiona Sifontes,<br />

Owner/CEO of NYAdvocates4Kids. I came upon their<br />

service while developing IEP Advocate Resource<br />

Lists for metro areas across the United States. I am<br />

honored to have Fiona provide an overview of<br />

■ What an IEP (Educational) Advocate is/does<br />

■ Difference between Section 504 and IDEA<br />

■ Tips/Advice for parents when choosing an<br />

IEP or Parent Advocate<br />


Educational Advocate<br />

An Educational Advocate makes sure and oversees<br />

that school districts are required to identify and evaluate<br />

every child that may need special education services,<br />

accommodations, modifications, and the appropriate class<br />

setting under a legal requirement called “the child to find.”<br />

Every student with an Individualized Education Program<br />

(IEP) must be re-evaluated every three years, unless the<br />

parent agrees in writing that testing is not necessary, this<br />

process is called a triennial evaluation. The parent can<br />

have the Department of Education conduct the psycheducational<br />

evaluation or may have one done privately.<br />

Under the FAPE Law, Section 504 regulation requires<br />

a school district to provide a “free appropriate public<br />

education” (FAPE) to each qualified person with a disability<br />

who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of<br />

the nature or severity of the person’s disability. IDEA Law<br />

enforces that all school-aged children who fall within one<br />

or more specific categories of qualifying conditions (i.e.,<br />

autism, specific learning disabilities, speech or language<br />

However, a parent doesn’t need to wait for the threeyear<br />

evaluation, if the parent sees their child is regressing<br />

in areas of academics or any other areas or the current<br />

program isn’t sufficient, new evaluations should be<br />

requested in wiring to your school district. The Department<br />

of Education will NOT evaluate a child on mental health<br />

needs or diagnose a child with a specific condition, such as<br />

ADHD, ADD, or dyslexia.<br />

impairments, emotional disturbance, traumatic brain<br />

injury, visual impairment, hearing impairment,<br />

and other health impairments).<br />

An independent or private evaluation is usually<br />

necessary for a specific diagnosis and may<br />

be paid for through a child’s Medicaid,<br />

IDEA requires that a child’s<br />

disability adversely affects her<br />

educational performance, while<br />

504 enforces that individuals<br />

who meet the definition of<br />

qualified “handicapped”<br />

person, for example, a child<br />

who has or has had a physical<br />

private medical insurance, or out of<br />

pocket expenses, in which some<br />

cases can be reimbursed by the<br />

(DOE) Department of Education<br />

if the parent disagrees with<br />

the DOE’s evaluations or<br />

feels they are not sufficiently<br />

comprehensive.<br />

or mental impairment that<br />

substantially limits a major<br />

life activity or is regarded as<br />

handicapped by others. (Major<br />

life activities include: walking,<br />

seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing,<br />

learning, working, caring for oneself, and<br />

performing manual tasks.)<br />

Most Educational Advocates<br />

accompany the parent to IEP<br />

meetings, school, or expulsion<br />

meetings. Some advocates may charge<br />

for their services hourly or a one-time<br />

fee which includes everything the advocate<br />

provides for services. Federal law states that schools<br />

“must ensure that the IEP Team includes the parents of the<br />

It does not require that a child need special education to<br />

child.”<br />

qualify. Students who are ineligible for services or are no<br />

longer entitled to services under IDEA (e.g., kids with<br />

LD who no longer meet IDEA eligibility criteria) may be<br />

entitled to accommodations under Section 504.<br />

If you want a specific teacher or administrator to be part<br />

of the team, you’ll need to advocate for that. The same is<br />

true if you don’t want a certain staff member to take part.<br />

The key is to persuade the school that the staffing you want<br />

As an Educational Advocate, Parent Advocate, or even<br />

an attorney who specializes in Education Law, one<br />

must initiate the parent in seeking the appropriate set<br />

of evaluations that include at least the child’s school<br />

file, psycho-educational evaluation, social history, and<br />

classroom observation, and may include other evaluations<br />

to determine whether that child may benefit from additional<br />

services to accommodate their educational needs. Also, it<br />

is critical to your child’s success. The most vital person<br />

of the IEP Team is The Local Educational Agency (LEA)<br />

representative, who is an important and required team<br />

member of each student’s IEP Team and the Parent(s).<br />

General education teacher, Special education teacher,<br />

School-system representative, Evaluator, and/or additional<br />

team members would be Specialists/experts or the student<br />

(if 15 years old or older) are critical in determining the<br />

must include a recent physical evaluation, usually done by<br />

the child’s pediatrician and provided by the parent.<br />

appropriate services and class setting for the student.<br />

M<br />


There’s an<br />


for That<br />

As the parent of a now-27-year-old on<br />

the Autism Spectrum, I have spent years<br />

interacting with teachers and school-based<br />

therapists, social workers, and counselors. I also have<br />

started a home business, <strong>Milestones</strong> Magazine, dedicated<br />

ABA Therapists (Behavior Analysts)<br />

“The Board-Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®)<br />

is a graduate-level certification in behavior analysis.<br />

Professionals certified at the BCBA level are independent<br />

practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services.<br />

to showcasing programs, products, and services that help<br />

empower and support people with divergent abilities.<br />

BCBAs may supervise the work of Board-Certified<br />

Assistant Behavior Analysts® (BCaBAs®),<br />

My first step to showcasing these programs and services is<br />

to find them and enter them into resource lists I compile<br />

nationwide, on a state-by-state basis. I then reach out to<br />

them, to verify the accuracy of the information I’ve found<br />

Registered Behavior Technicians® (RBTs®), and<br />

other professionals who implement behavior-analytic<br />

interventions.” From the website of the Behavior Analyst<br />

Certification Board<br />

online at first party websites and social media pages.<br />

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board website has<br />

One assist I have in compiling the lists are the websites<br />

of national associations that exist. While most are<br />

professional organizations for prospective and current<br />

practitioners; the Association for Play Therapy website<br />

also has a search function for people looking for a Play<br />

information on credential requirements for the Registered<br />

Behavior Technician (RBT), Board Certified Associate<br />

Behavior Analyst (BCaBA), Board Certified Behavior<br />

Analyst (BCBA), and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst-<br />

Doctorate (BCBA-D).<br />

Therapist.<br />

The Behavior Analyst Certification Board is focused<br />

Here’s a rundown of the national organizations I’ve come<br />

across while compiling the resource lists.<br />

exclusively on practitioners. It does not serve as a<br />

resource & referral to families looking for a therapist.<br />

■ Occupational Therapists<br />

■ Physical Therapists<br />

■ Speech Therapists (Pathologists)<br />

Autism Speaks offers resource guides, including one for<br />

ABA therapists, on its website.<br />

Psychology Today also offers online information and<br />

resource/referral for/about a number of therapies,<br />

■ Music Therapists<br />

■ Art Therapists<br />

■ ABA Therapists (Behavior Analysts)<br />

■ Recreational Therapists<br />

including Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). It has a<br />

search function on its website where you can enter a city<br />

or zip code.<br />

The Association for Play Therapy (APT) maintains a<br />

website that provides a directory of Play Therapists that<br />


have the academic credentials and training for the<br />

designations as Registered Play Therapists (RPT),<br />

School Based-Registered Play Therapists (SB-RPT),<br />

and Registered Play Therapist-Supervisors (RPT-S)<br />

with the Association for Play Therapy.<br />

Individual information pages feature contact and other<br />

information, sometimes including a website address<br />

and/or email address. Searches can be done for a<br />

specific individual or for a geographic location, such as<br />

a state or city.<br />

The website of the National Council for Therapeutic<br />

Recreation Certification provides assistance to<br />

prospective Recreation Therapists in achieving and<br />

renewing the CTRS credential. For the public, it<br />

offers a database through which individuals can verify a<br />

practitioner’s credentials.<br />

Jeanne Hastings also maintains a website, My<br />

Recreation Therapist, through which therapists<br />

and families can connect. This is a log-in site for<br />

which registration is free for families, and available to<br />

professionals with a monthly or annual membership.<br />

The American Occupational Therapy Association is<br />

a professional organization for prospective and current<br />

Occupational Therapists. It does not provide resource<br />

& referral for the public.<br />

The American Physical Therapy Association is a<br />

professional organization for prospective and current<br />

Physical Therapists. It does not provide resource &<br />

referral for the public.<br />

The American Speech-Language-Hearing<br />

Association is a professional organization for<br />

prospective and current Speech-Language<br />

Pathologists. It does not provide resource & referral<br />

for the public.<br />

The American Music Therapy Association is a<br />

professional organization for prospective and current<br />

Music Therapists. It does not provide resource &<br />

referral for the public.<br />

The American Art Therapy Association is a<br />

professional organization for prospective and current<br />

Music Therapists. It does not provide resource &<br />

referral for the public. M


Helping Individuals with Disabilities & their Families<br />

Achieve & Celebrate Events & <strong>Milestones</strong> in their Lives<br />

MILESTONES Magazine - Sponsorship for an Event Guide<br />

The Event Guide will include information about the event and highlight all the speakers.<br />

Sponsors will be highlighted on the Event Platform website and in the Event Guide. A sponsor<br />

can sign up for a full, half, or quarter page; outlined below. Each sponsor will also be included<br />

in the program schedule and receive (as per resource list order form) one or more resource lists,<br />

with a license to freely distribute (sales prohibited) to clients, colleagues, friends, and family.<br />

Our Next Event:<br />

All Things Therapeutic<br />

Therapeutic Virtual Event:<br />

June 2, 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST)<br />

The Event Includes:<br />

Speech-Language Pathology, Occupational, Physical, Art, Music,<br />

Recreational, and Play Therapies.<br />

Currently, we have 1,000+ invitees on our list for this Event!<br />

Speakers<br />

Teresa Alliston, MPT:<br />

Lisa Morris MS:<br />

Lillian Chen-Byerley:<br />

Fatima Chan:<br />

Jeanne Hastings, CTR:<br />

Physical Therapist, Pediatric Therapy of Washington State<br />

CCC-SLP/L, Clinical Director, Pediatric Interactions Inc.<br />

Owner and Occupational Therapist<br />

Senior Music Therapist/Researcher, Integrative Music Therapy<br />

CEO of My Recreation Therapist<br />

Sponsorship Opportunities<br />

Please email Susie Redfern at info@milestonesmagazine.net<br />

if you are interested in Sponsoring an Event Guide.<br />


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