New Medical Program for Young Children on the Autism Spectrum at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute

You & Me Autism Program for Children Ages 2 to 5 Offers One-on-One ABA and Group Activities

You and Me Program

A new medical rehabilitation program for young children ages 2 to 5 with autism spectrum disorders has launched at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.

The You & Me Autism Program for Young Children, part of the JFK Johnson Pediatric Rehabilitation Department, provides one-on-one Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in addition to group activities. Speech therapy and occupational therapy can also be provided.

The medically-based program builds on JFK Johnson’s four decades of experience with autism spectrum disorders through other You & Me programs at the rehabilitation institute. The program’s experienced therapists include Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) Special Educators and Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT). Each child is given an individual and comprehensive plan.

Children will work one-on-one with therapists and also come together for group activities to learn social skills. Speech and occupational specialists are available to consult with the special educators and provide input on communication and sensory and fine motor skills.

Early intervention with ABA is generally most effective, and intensive therapy beginning before the age of four can result in better long-term outcomes as well as a reduction in the need for special services in education.

When the You & Me care team met 4-year-old Julian, for example, he had significant developmental delays. His limited language spanned around 10 words, he made little eye contact and was self-directed. The team performed an assessment and set goals and objectives for Julian, including developing expressive and receptive language, daily living, cognitive and play skills.

On his first day, his care team began using pairing, a relationship-building technique, that taught Julian to feel safe with his caregivers and allowed them to learn about him.

“We brought Julian’s favorite animal toy downstairs at drop-off, which helped him to feel comfortable enough to walk into the therapy room with us,” said registered behavior technician Gloria Oviedo. “After a few weeks, Julian no longer needed the toy and now runs up to us each morning to give us hugs.”

Through a combination of manding exercises, speech therapy and additional work on shaping sounds and words, Julian now can say between 50 and 100 words and is beginning to string them together. The team also uses timers to help Julian transition from one activity to another and is assisting Julian with toilet training and developing social skills. Julian’s care team has monthly meetings with his parents to discuss his progress and things they can work on at home.

Learn more about excellence in rehabilitative care at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.

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