Child and Family Developmental Services

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please call to reschedule your appointment.

Child and Family Developmental Services is composed of an interdisciplinary team that includes developmental-behavior pediatric providers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, board certified behavior analysts, and behavior health consultants. This team seeks to collaborate in providing a wide range of supportive care to children and families with developmental and behavioral needs.

CFDS features a state-of-the-art clinic with two large sensory/motor gyms and multiple smaller individualized treatment spaces to meet a variety of customer-owner needs. CFDS is equipped with telemedicine capability to provide telehealth services to customer-owners in rural communities.

Child and Family Developmental Services will provide pediatric services (ages birth to 18) related to:

  • Prenatal substance exposure
  • Premature birth
  • Autism
  • Developmental delay
  • Motor disabilities
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech language pathology
  • Applied behavior analysis

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Services

An interdisciplinary assessment team is a team of providers made up of:

  • Specialized pediatrician or nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric neuropsychologist
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Physical therapist
  • Behavioral health consultant

These providers meet to review a child’s health records, plan diagnostic tests, and facilitate feedback sessions with the child’s family. The actual composition of an IDAT depends on the complexity of the customer-owner’s condition, age, and other known developmental factors. A customer-owner’s IDAT clinic experience is organized and managed by a clinic coordinator and a team of community case managers.

What does an IDAT do?

An IDAT performs an assessment on children who exhibit complex neurodevelopmental symptoms and do not yet have a formal diagnosis, with other known factors contributing to concern. Possible concerns include autism, prenatal exposure, and developmental delays.

How can an IDAT help?

An IDAT can help bring understanding to the child’s developmental concerns. It is an opportunity to meet a variety of specialized providers to ask questions. The IDAT prepares a summary of the assessment that can be shared with the child’s school, community therapists, and primary care providers. The IDAT will also make as-needed plan recommendations for medical concerns, genetic testing, specific therapies, counseling, medication management, additional testing, and offer help with accessing other community resources. Children with established diagnoses and plans are not assessed by an IDAT and may be recommended to continue with established plans, or to meet with other specialized providers to receive additional care.

What is speech therapy?

Pediatric speech therapy treats communication and swallowing disorders. Treatments include interventions in the areas of:

  • Articulation
  • Cognition
  • Expressive language
  • Feeding and swallowing
  • Fluency
  • Reading
  • Receptive language
  • Social language
  • Voice

How can speech therapy help?

A speech therapist can help:

  • Assist in the creation of communications systems for children who can’t use their voice
  • Help develop motor skills to safely swallow age-appropriate foods
  • Help increase their vocabulary and storytelling skills
  • Teach a child to produce speech sounds

Speech therapy activities can include playtime activities, muscle exercises, and structured learning tasks.

Speech therapy activities can include playtime activities, muscle exercises, and structured learning tasks.

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy can help customer-owners participate in life activities and provide recommendations for:

  • Activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, and eating)
  • Adaptive equipment (such as shower chairs or equipment to make daily tasks easier).

How can occupational therapy help?

Occupational therapy can help encourage participation in daily life activities despite impairments or limitations in physical or mental functioning.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy helps enhance or enable the mobility of the customer-owner. This includes mobility function in school, at home, or while participating in sports.

How can physical therapy help?

The skills physical therapy can help with are varied. Sometimes physical therapy is used for individuals who may have a developmental issue related to movement. In this case, physical therapy can help teach skills such as walking, climbing stairs, eye-hand coordination, and general mobility.

Physical therapy is also used to help after an injury. This type of physical therapy helps the muscles heal and regain the level of activity that the individual enjoyed before the injury.

How many therapy appointments are needed?

The number of appointments depend on the individual’s needs. Most children will receive therapy up to twice a week, but some can receive up to five appointments a week depending on their diagnosis, their wellness goals, and where they live. Therapy can be administered in-person or via telemedicine. The provider will create a treatment plan tailored to the child, which will dictate the frequency of appointments.

How long is an individual in treatment?

Therapy programs are designed with a defined time frame and a few functional goals to focus on within that time frame. Progress toward these goals is assessed continuously to determine how effective the therapy plan is in achieving the family and child’s goals. We believe family participation is integral to your child’s success. Research has shown that children make progress faster when families and professionals work together to develop carryover skills for all environments.

What if I don’t live in Anchorage?

There are two options for families residing outside of Anchorage, and your provider will give an appropriate recommendation.

  • Telemedicine – the customer-owner and guardian will attend visits at their local health clinic and connect with a provider over teleconference.
  • Intensive therapy –the customer-owner and guardian will travel to Anchorage for four consecutive days each month to receive therapy services.

How are school district speech therapy services different from these services?

We encourage all families to access therapy services through their school district when the child qualifies. CFDS may provide therapy services supplementary to therapy they are already receiving at school.

How can we get the most out of therapy?

Family support is critical to a successful treatment plan. Your provider will suggest activities and strategies to practice at home that will reinforce skills learned in therapy. Guardians are encouraged to attend each session with the child to learn tactics for use at home. Encourage your child to keep working, even when it gets frustrating.

Physical therapy (PT) helps enhance or enable the mobility of the customer-owner. This includes mobility function in school, at home, or while participating in sports.

Who does PT help?

Although PT can be utilized at all levels, the Child and Family Developmental Services clinic serves customer-owners from birth to 18 years old.

How can PT help?

The skills PT can help with are varied. Sometimes PT is used for individuals who may have a developmental issue related to movement. In this case, PT can help teach skills such as walking, climbing stairs, eye-hand coordination, and general mobility.

PT is also used to help after an injury. This type of PT helps the muscles heal and regain the level of activity that the individual enjoyed before the injury.

How many PT appointments are needed?

The number of appointments is dependent on the customer-owner’s need. Most people have PT appointments twice a week, but there could be up to five appointments per week depending on the diagnosis, the goal of the individual, and where they live. PT appointments can only be scheduled one week in advance.

How long is the treatment plan?

The goal of PT is to enhance the mobility to the customer-owner’s desired level. It takes eight weeks for a change in muscle strength, so treatment plans are generally made for six months. If the customer-owner would like to increase weekly appointments, that time may be reduced. An at-home wellness plan is also created; utilizing this plan will affect how long the overall wellness plan lasts. Repetition is key, so the more reinforcement the customer-owner provides between appointments can greatly affect how many they have.

What if I don’t live in Anchorage?

For those who come in from rural locations, the customer-owner and guardian travel to Anchorage for one week for daily appointments. From there, the at-home wellness plan will be developed, and each movement will be demonstrated. Check-ups will be scheduled at the interval that works best for the wellness plan.

How are school district physical therapists different?

Some school districts employ physical therapists, but in some schools, PT may not be available. If PT is available at your school, it is best to view those sessions as supplementary, rather than substitutions for the PT work done in the clinic.

How can we get the most out of PT?

Family support is critical to successful PT. The provider will provide activities and strategies for at-home use to practice that will help the child generalize skills and enhance therapy received in clinic. To get the best results, practice the techniques taught in PT at home to help reinforce learning. Encourage your child to keep working, even when it gets frustrating.

A neurodevelopmental disorder is when a child experiences a delay in usual neurodevelopmental milestones. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Comprehension
  • Mental focus
  • Nervous system development
  • Skills involved in speech
  • Walking

Depending on the symptoms your child is displaying, a treatment plan will be different. It could mean the child will have physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy, as part of their established treatment plan.

What are the next steps?

A primary care provider can refer a child to the Child and Family Developmental Services clinic for neurodevelopmental evaluation. A registered nurse case manager will reach out with paperwork that will help the team learn more about the child and family. From there, the child will be scheduled for a diagnostic appointment.

How long does this process take?

You should receive a call within a week of the referral from primary care. Forms may be sent to the family to be filled out prior to attending the initial CFDS appointment.

Why do I need to do all of this?

If your child potentially has a neurodevelopmental concern, receiving a diagnosis can open the door to a variety of other services, including:

  • Community support programs
  • Potential financial support programs
  • School support through 504 reports and Individualized Education Plans
  • Specialized support care

What is applied behavior analysis?

Applied behavior analysis is an evidence-based practice used to treat people with autism spectrum disorder. Treatment focuses on improving communication, social interaction, and flexibility. A board-certified behavior analyst will evaluate your child’s current skill set, and work with you to create a plan specific to your child’s needs. Services will be delivered by our treatment team of BCBAs and registered behavior technicians.

 How will ABA help my child?

The goal of ABA is to teach your child the skills they need to effectively access their environment. This may include communication, hand washing, toilet use, self-calming, following directions, social skills, and safety.

How often will my child receive services?

A BCBA will work with you to determine the number of service hours your child needs to make progress. Typically, children receive between 10-20 hours per week of direct service.  Parent training is an important part of the treatment plan, which allows you to support the growth and learning of your child.

 What does a BCBA do?

Your BCBA will look at what the function of the behavior is, simply because people repeat behaviors that have worked to achieve a desired result. Once we know the function of the behavior, your BCBA will make suggestions for more appropriate ways in which your child can meet the same need. For example, a child who hits their sibling to get a toy could be encouraged to use their words instead. The behavior therapist will use rewards or reinforcers that work for the child to encourage appropriate behavior. Data will also be collected to ensure the interventions are working, and progress is being made. A BCBA conducts a series of assessments across environments with people that know the child well. Using this information, a treatment plan is developed in consultation with you.

Some common tools used by a BCBA are;

  • Pairing

The first few sessions may look like the therapist is simply playing with your child.  This is an important part of the process called pairing.  Pairing is building a relationship with the child.  The therapist wants the child to build trust with the child to show them that they are safe.

  • Functional Communication Training

Children with ASD often struggle to make their needs known to those around them.  These children may learn to get their needs met by behaving in ways that are not safe.  Functional communication training breaks communication down and teaches them how to effectively meet their needs.

  • Skill Development

BCBAs and RBTs use proven techniques to teach skills.  Some examples are positive reinforcement, visual schedules, and task analyses. Task analyses are when larger tasks are broken down into steps, individual steps are taught in order, building one upon the next until the whole skill has been mastered. These techniques as well as many more, can be applied to develop skills.

  • Social Skills

Skills like taking turns, playing with others, and responding to social situations can be part of your child’s ABA program.

If you have any questions, please call and we will set up a time for you to speak with a BCBA.


Child and Family Developmental Services

4441 Diplomacy Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508

(907) 729-8880

7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.