TheraFriends is a non-profit organization. Our goal is to make sure that all children can receive therapy services that meet their needs. We want to create an inclusive environment that welcomes children and families of all identities.
We use a neurodiversity-affirming approach. This means that we value the child’s goals and perspective. Our goal is to help children feel supported and cared for. We do not try to make children “more normal”. We also work with parents and caregivers to make therapy that works best for the child.
We know that sometimes there can be barriers to therapy. For example, sometimes therapy can be too expensive. It can also be difficult for families to find transportation. This is why we work with other groups in the community to remove these barriers so that our therapy can be accessible to all children.
Some of the specific therapies that we offer are speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and developmental therapy services.
What We Do
We want to make it easier for all families to access therapy and programs. One way that we make therapy more accessible is by working in different locations. We can provide therapy to a child in their home, school, or daycare.
We also hold outdoor playgroups. The goal of these playgroups is to give children a place to connect with each other. Our playgroups also support the child’s creativity and developmental skills.
We hope that in the future we can also have a building where we can offer services.
How We Partner
We are connected with our community. We work with local universities and businesses to help families get support they need. We also listen to people in the community. We want to better understand what their needs are, and how we can make better services.
We believe in diversity and equity. We realize that many people are not treated fairly. For example, people can be treated unfairly because of their race, disability, or financial situation. We want to create a community where everyone is treated fairly. We believe every person’s perspective is very valuable. We want all people to feel safe and welcome.
We are inclusive of people who are LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ means lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+.
Starting this fall (2022), we plan to offer different services. Some of the services that we plan to offer are:
Screenings and evaluations
Treatment plans that help support each person to meet their goals
Therapy sessions. We can meet with someone individually for therapy. We can also offer group therapy sessions.
Progress reports and re-evaluation. This helps us support people in setting new goals. It also helps us learn how much progress someone has made.
Parent/teacher communication. We learn valuable information about the child and family from parents and teachers. We also help parents and teachers learn how they can best support their child at home or at school.
IMAGE ID: A child wearing a white shirt is pointing to her lips with both index fingers while sitting on a caretagker's lap. The child is looking at a speech therapist who is also pointing to her lips.
In speech-language therapy, a speech therapist will work with the child. Speech therapists can help in many different ways. For example, they can help children learn how to speak or communicate. They can also help children who have trouble swallowing or eating food.
There are many other things that speech therapy can help with. We will describe some of these now.
SPEECH-LANGUAGE THERAPY CAN HELP WITH:
Difficulty pronouncing certain sounds
Difficulty understanding what other people want to communicate to them.
Difficulty communicating with other people. For example, maybe someone feels sad but they do not know how to let other people know that they are sad. A speech therapist can help them find words or gestures or another way to let other people know their thoughts and feelings.
Difficulty speaking smoothly.
If someone has hearing loss and wants support with communicating.
If someone would like to use a letterboard or type to communicate. Sometimes this is called AAC (augmentative and alternative communication.)
Difficulty with movement. For example, someone might bump into things often on accident.
Loss of speech after brain damage or an injury that affects the brain.
Difficulty feeding or swallowing
Learning to read
IMAGE ID: A baby wearing a white headband is playing with a colorful toy while an occupational therapist sits on the floor nearby holding the toy with one hand.
Occupational therapy (also known as OT) addresses issues related to a child’s participation in daily activities or routines. The term “occupation” relates to what occupies a child’s time.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY INCLUDES
Using your hands to manipulate toys, feed, dress, brush teeth, comb hair, or bathe.
Coordinating your body in order to explore your environment
Playing and interacting with others
Trying and eating different types of nutritious foods
Paying attention and listening to others
Organizing information from your environment that is received through your senses
IMAGE ID: A child wearing a pink shirt is walking on a small therapy treadmill with supports while a smiling physical therapist wearing glasses sits behind the child.
Physical therapy promotes independence, increases participation, facilitates motor development and function, improves strength and endurance, enhances learning opportunities, and eases challenges with daily caregiving.
PHYSICAL THERAPY INCLUDES
Positioning during daily routines and activities
Adapting toys for play
Expanding mobility options
Using equipment effectively
Facilitating safety for the home and community
Providing information on the child’s physical and healthcare needs
Smoothing transitions from early childhood to school and into adult life
IMAGE ID: A developmental therapist wearing a dark green shirt is smiling and sitting behind a group of four children who are coloring pictures with crayons at a table.
Developmental therapy is performed by a professional with a background in child development and education as well as an Infant Toddler Family Specialist (ITFS) certification granted by the state’s Infant-Toddler Program.
Developmental therapy helps to support a child’s developmental progress by addressing specialized goals.
Our therapists share Early Intervention’s primary goal – to support families in promoting their child’s optimal development and to facilitate the child’s participation in family and community activities.
IMAGE ID: The side profile of two young children wearing light blue rain jackets and yellow rainboots who are standing in a field with yellow flowers and grass. One child is reaching up to a tree branch to hold an orange fruit that is hanging from the branch.
OUTDOOR THERAPEUTIC PLAYGROUPS
Let’s get back to nature!
Our inclusive, therapeutic playgroups welcome children to go back to the basics of creative, outdoor play while connecting with their peers. Countless studies show the benefits of being outdoors on our health, mood, activity level, senses, creativity, and concentration. We want to harness those benefits for our children by providing them the space to learn, explore, and grow together.
Rainy day? Grab your raincoat, boots, and umbrella! Our outdoor playgroup is RAIN OR SHINE because what can be more fun than playing in the puddles?! We have adopted the mantra: There isn’t bad weather, just bad clothing.
What does “inclusive” mean? Inclusive means “open to everyone.” So no matter how your child thinks, communicates, or moves...all are welcomed, supported, and affirmed here. Being a part of a more diverse peer group makes diversity the norm for children. It helps them understand that everyone is different and that we celebrate, embrace, and respect these differences.
So whether your child might require a little extra help, or they love to be a helper (and we know that those roles can reverse at any time)....this group is for them!
IMAGE ID: A child wearing a white t-shirt with a red design on it is laying back on pillows and looking towards a device that has a black background and a red elephant on the foreground. A therapist is holding the device with one hand and an open mouth seemingly speaking while the child points at the image.
FUNCTIONAL VISION ASSESSMENT FOR CORTICAL/CEREBRAL VISUAL IMPAIRMENT (CVI)
CVI is the most prevalent form of visual impairment in children in developed countries such as the United States. The main cause of visual impairment impacts certain areas of the brain responsible for processing visual information, and NOT due solely to ocular dysfunction, therefore functional vision is assessed differently for an individual with CVI versus ocular issues.
It is imperative that a child with CVI, who is actively involved in therapies that encourage the use of their vision, have their functional vision assessed periodically, as vision can improve with proper intervention
Training for the therapy team on how to meet the unique needs of children with CVI will be provided.