KidsConnect Maintains High Quality Treatment and Dissemination through COVID

It has been a year of unprecedented new realities. We know that the entirety of our community has had to adjust to a “new normal.”

In March 2020, KidsConnect faced significant challenges as the reality of COVID limitations became apparent. How on earth could we continue to provide effective treatment for young children with autism in a safe manner? We closed the clinic for 4 days, restructured, innovated and quickly came up with a viable plan using a combination of in-person and remote therapy. We reopened and have been treating children in-person since then with success and safety. Our families have been hugely grateful for the opportunity to receive services at a time when most educational and clinical services were providing little to nothing. This has been an enormous undertaking on our part to ensure that we consistently meet the integrity of transformative therapy and safe conditions. We are incredibly proud that we have continued to successfully support our children and families this year without disruption.

In conjunction with clinical services, KidsConnect is a training clinic, providing year-round on-site training to students at all levels. With COVID however, that became challenging and again, we shifted and adjusted. To this end, we disseminate treatment knowledge to the community in a variety of ways.

Unquestionably, our success is in large part due to innovative use of technology and the ongoing training and support of the staff. All through Zoom to maintain social distancing, we added early morning trainings and boosters for particular topics. We then continued to support them throughout the day in a highly targeted manner, as they delivered therapy to individual children or to treatment groups. Further, we remain in touch with outside community providers as those services slowly resumed – having consistent observations available and even providing direct teaching, training, and talks to agencies on topics relevant to the shared client.

This year, we published a social skills curriculum for minimally verbal children with autism to help teachers promote social skills in the classroom and group settings Our App “Autism: Teaching Play” (App Store) continues to reach parents, therapists, and teachers with play ideas in a developmentally sequential way. We also worked closely with the Strategies for Enhancing Early Developmental Success Training Program (SEEDS) here in our department and have developed an Executive Function curriculum for neurotypical preschoolers, children with disabilities, and children in at-risk environments.

Collaborating across departments, we re-launched our training program for pediatric dentists. Through a collaborative grant, our multidisciplinary program professionals lecture and provide hands-on behavioral training for dental visits to pediatric dentists. If a child’s treatment plan indicates dental needs, then the child and their dentist are behaviorally coached through a dental appointment on our site.

Finally, we continue to play a major role in the CAN REACH training program providing content and lectures to community professionals and parents with pro-bono best practice treatment information regarding individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

KidsConnect may be a little “distanced” in person but our connection with our children, family, staff, and community has grown stronger.