Child and Family Developmental Services

COVID-19 Information

Southcentral Foundation’s President/CEO and leadership understand these are difficult times and continue to closely monitor this dynamic, rapidly evolving situation.

Part of SCF’s Emergency Management Plan and Pandemic Response includes different levels of operations and staffing based on many factors, including paying attention to guidance from health authorities and local officials.

  • Services will be offered via limited telehealth for established customer-owners on a case-by-case basis.

Child and Family Developmental Services is composed of an interdisciplinary team which will include developmental-behavior pediatric providers, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, board certified behavior analysists, and behavior health providers. 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 related to:

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Services

An interdisciplinary assessment team (IDAT) is a team of providers made up of:

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

These providers meet to review a child’s records, plan diagnostic tests, and facilitate wellness 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 a wellness assessment on children who exhibit complex neurodevelopmental symptoms and do not yet have a formal diagnosis, and there are other known factors contributing to concern.

How can an IDAT help?

An IDAT can help bring understanding to the child’s potentially complicated developmental concerns. It is an opportunity to meet and ask questions of a variety of specialized providers. The IDAT prepares a brief summary of the wellness assessment that can be shared with the child’s school, community therapists, and primary care providers. The IDAT will also make as-needed wellness 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 wellness plans are not assessed by an IDAT and may be recommended to continue with established wellness plans, or to meet with other specialized providers to receive additional care.

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

Who does speech therapy help?

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

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.

How many speech therapy appointments are needed?

The number of appointments is dependent on the individual’s need. 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 wellness plan tailored to the child, which will dictate the frequency of appointments.

How long is an individual in treatment?

The length of treatment will depend on the child’s learning abilities and the needs identified in their wellness plan. The plan of care created by the speech therapist will address duration of services, which can last anywhere between three months to a year. Regular attendance and home practice will usually help a child progress and may shorten the duration of their wellness plan.

What if I don’t live in Anchorage?

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

  • Telemedicine – the customer-owner and guardian will attend visits at your local health clinic, and your provider will connect with you 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 any different from these services?

We encourage all families to access speech 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 speech therapy?

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

The birth-to-three Clinic at SCF’s Child and Family Developmental Services is a special clinic for infants and toddlers who are at risk for developmental delays or a disability.

Risk factors include:

  • Being identified as at-risk during routine well-child check-ups
  • Complications at delivery
  • Having undergone complicated surgical procedures
  • History of serious infections or injuries
  • Premature birth
  • Prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol

The birth-to-three provider team includes a developmental pediatrician and developmental pediatric nurse practitioners. Occasionally, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and a behavioral health consultant may join depending on the needs of the child. The clinic is coordinated by a registered nurse case manager.

What does the birth-to-three clinic do?

Providers in this clinic will conduct medical and developmental history interviews, and perform physical examinations and any additional tests. When appropriate, developmental diagnoses may be made. Families will receive feedback and receive recommendations on their wellness plan to share with their primary care provider. When appropriate, some children will be offered a series of visits spaced four to six months apart until age three, for subsequent developmental testing and monitoring.

How can the birth-to-three clinic help?

The birth-to-three clinic is an opportunity for families to meet and ask questions of providers in a friendly and relaxed environment. The provider will provide updates on the child’s progress, explain any diagnoses that they may have, and make necessary recommendations for ongoing treatment and counseling.

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 issue is a term used when a child experiences a delay in usual neurodevelopmental milestone. This can include:

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

Depending on the symptoms your child is displaying, the wellness 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 wellness 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 community case manager will reach out to the family and ask you to complete some paperwork that will help the team learn more about the child and family. From there, the child will be scheduled for a two-day diagnostic appointment. Although this may seem like a lot, it is critical to properly diagnose and recommend treatments. A variety of tests will be administered on one day, as well as any blood work or physical examinations. The next day will be a clinic day, where you and the team of providers will determine what options you have for the personalized wellness plan. After the wellness plan is completed, the primary care team will begin working on the referral needed to start working with the customer-owner.

Who will we be seeing?

There is a special family interdisciplinary assessment team that is designed for this situation, which includes:

  • A behavioral health consultant
  • Developmental specialists
  • An occupational therapist
  • A parent navigation supporter
  • A pediatrician
  • A pediatric neurodevelopment specialist
  • A speech language pathologist

This team is specially trained to help in these diagnostic processes and are there to help you choose the best plan for your family.

How long does this process take?

You should receive a call within two business days of the primary care provider referral. The next step is completing all paperwork that is sent by the primary care team. After all the paper is received at the clinic, a diagnostic day is scheduled.

Why do I need to do all of this?

If your child potentially has a neurodevelopmental concerns, 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

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure. Each child will exhibit symptoms differently, depending on how it affects them.

There is the potential for delays in motor skills, learning, memory, language skills, emotional development, and more. It is important to determine if it is FASD or if it is another condition augmenting these symptoms. If it is FASD, the level of severity must also be determined.

What are the next steps?

A primary care provider can refer a child to the Child and Family Developmental Services clinic for FASD. A community case manager will reach out to the family ask you to complete paperwork that will help the team learn a little more about the child and family. From there, the child will be scheduled for a two-day diagnostic appointment. Although this may seem like a lot, it is critical to properly diagnose and recommend a wellness plan to help your child. A variety of tests will be administered on one day, as well as any blood work or physical examinations. The next day will be a clinic day, where you and the team of providers will determine what options you have for your child’s personalized wellness plan. After the wellness plan is completed, the primary care team will begin working on the referral needed to start treatment.

How long does this take?

You should receive a call within two business days of the primary care provider referral. The next step is completing all paperwork that is sent by the primary care team. After all the paper is received at the clinic, a diagnostic day is scheduled.

Why do I need to do all of this?

If your child potentially has an FASD condition, 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

Who will we be seeing?

There is a special family interdisciplinary assessment team that is designed for this situation, which includes:

  • A behavioral health consultant
  • Developmental specialists
  • An occupational therapist
  • A parent navigation supporter
  • A pediatrician
  • A pediatric neurodevelopment specialist
  • A speech language pathologist

Autism spectrum disorder covers a wide range of differences in the standard development timeline for children. It can affect social skills, communication, movement, language, and learning abilities.

Wellness plan options will differ, depending on the symptoms that the child may display. Autism is a spectral disorder, meaning not only will the symptoms be different for every person, but the severity will also be different. Some children that have autism may need very little help, while others may experience symptoms that may warrant more treatment and assistance. A proper diagnosis is critical to ensuring your child is best prepared for their future.

What are the next steps?

A primary care provider can refer a child to the Child and Family Developmental Services clinic for autism. A community case manager will reach out to the family and there will be some paperwork that will help the team learn a little more about the child and family. From there, the child will be scheduled for a two-day diagnostic appointment. Although this may seem like a lot, it is critical to properly diagnose and recommend the treatments to help your child. A variety of tests will be administered on one day, as well as any blood work or physical examinations. The next day will be a clinic day, where you and the team of providers will determine what options you have for the personalized wellness plan. After the wellness plan is completed, the primary care team will begin working on the referral needed to start treatment.

How long does this take?

You should receive a call within two business days of the primary care provider referral. The next step is completing all paperwork that is sent by the primary care team. After all the paper is received at the clinic, a diagnostic day is scheduled.

Why do I need to do all of this?

If your child is potentially on the autism spectrum, 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

Who will we be seeing?

There is a special family interdisciplinary assessment team that is designed for this situation, which includes:

  • A behavioral health consultant
  • Developmental specialists
  • An occupational therapist
  • A parent navigation supporter
  • A pediatrician
  • A pediatric neurodevelopment specialist
  • A speech language pathologist

What is applied behavior analysis?

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the application of the science of behaviorism to address challenges in everyday life.  It uses what we know about learning to teach your child to navigate the world around them successfully.  It is often used to address symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.  It may help with increasing independence and communication, as well as reducing challenging behaviors.

Your child’s ABA services will be supervised by a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA).  The BCBA will assess your child’s needs and work with you to come up with a plan.  Once everyone has agreed on the plan, services will be delivered by a registered behavior technician (RBT) under the BCBA’s supervision, or the BCBA depending on the needs of the child.

What does a BCBA do?

To change a behavior, either to see more or less of it, the BCBA will look at what the payoff for the behavior is because we know that people repeat behaviors that have worked to achieve a desired result in the past.  Once we know what the payoff, or function of the behavior is, the BCBA will come up with suggestions for other ways the child can meet the same need.  For example, a child who hits his brother to get a toy could be taught to ask for it instead.  The behavior therapist will use rewards or reinforcers that work for the child to encourage the child to behave appropriately.  They will also work to make sure that the behaviors that we do not want them to do are rewarded less, or not at all if possible. Data will be collected to make sure the interventions are working.

How will ABA help my child?

ABA is an evidence-based treatment for people with autism spectrum disorder.  During their sessions your child will work on learning the skills that they need to increase their independence.  These skills can include activities of daily living, such as hand washing or toilet use, as well as communication, self-calming, and the skills needed to learn from instruction such as paying attention, following directions, and staying safe at home and school.  ABA focuses on behaviors that you can see, or observable behavior.

The ultimate goal is to teach the child the skills that they need to become as independent and capable as possible.  Together with your child’s behavior analytic team, you can help your child learn to navigate the world around them.

  • 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 know that good things come from the therapist and other adults.

  • 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 meet their needs more easily through communication.

  • Skill Development

ABA uses proven teaching techniques, including positive reinforcement and visual aids, to teach skills.  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 can be applied to almost any skill.

  • Social Skills

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

How often will my child receive services?

Depending on the needs of the individual, the child’s team will determine how many hours of services per week they will receive.  Typically, children receive between 10-20 hours per week, but this will vary by individual.  Initially services will be offered in the clinic, but we hope to offer home-based services soon.  Talk to your child’s BCBA about determining the best fit for your family.

Contact

Child and Family Developmental Services

4441 Diplomacy Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99508

Phone
(907) 729-8880