You may be wondering what Early steps is, and what kind of skills your child will learn, or how will they be taught? This article will answer this for you!
More than a toddler group
We have the appearance of a toddler group, but we are different because all our activities and toys are tailored to develop the skills your child may need to learn. Sometimes they need intensive support and we are there to assist their learning. We understand that your child is not learning easily from the world around them and regular learning situations in the same way that typically developing children do. We create a group where these missing skills can be practised. We are a parent-assisted training service, so you can learn new techniques and apply these under the guidance of Early Steps staff. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about these techniques, and real-life situations can be worked through with your child. We are different to other standard courses that give parents ideas but without the opportunity for the trainers to meet your child and check the procedures are appropriate for them.
Individualised support not one size fits all
Some parents think that often recommended strategies might be “one size fits all” or applied “because your child has autism” rather than someone who has evaluated your child’s unique areas of difficulty, and individual approaches that may have worked for them in the past. Examples of generic support might include visual timetables. For some children this may be a useful way of reducing anxiety but for others they may find the lack of control over their day frustrating which in turn could lead to more tantrums. Also, a visual timetable alone may not address a child’s reluctance to complete the activity, therefore an alternative or additional approach may be required. Your child is unique, regardless of their diagnosis and we can help by individualising support and intervention, as well as teaching children the skills they need so that they learn to be more independent.
Experts in our field
We have a combined experience of over 35 years working on 1:1 individualised programmes of support for children with autism and related difficulties. We are experts in our field and have attended training, lectures and gained post graduate qualifications in function-based behaviour management, positive behaviour support, precision teaching and a function-based approach to increasing communication (vocal, sign or picture exchange) in pre-verbal children. In addition, we are affiliated to a clinical psychologist led service and are conducting doctoral level research into school readiness in children with additional needs. The approach we use is research based and backed up by evidence that has been rigorously tested and approved by psychologists all over the world.
Proud to help
We are proud to have helped children in these key four areas: communication, following instructions, friendship skills and independence. Through small group teaching, and parent support, these skills are practised across other environments, we have helped:
Children who were considered non-verbal begin to request vocally and learn to imitate sounds, words and phrases adults show them.
Children who insisted on being first in the line now tolerating and accepting other children going first
Children responding verbally and physically in a group, without individual support
Children supporting and encouraging each other to complete tasks, praising each other when they come first, or achieve a goal
Children identifying emotions and using phrases such as “I was angry when….” rather than lashing out
Children able to complete multiple component sequences (such as washing hands) without an adult guiding them through each step
Children discussing past events and sharing information with each other.
Children gaining attention from adults and other children appropriately rather than through challenging behaviour.
Finally, (and the first question many people may want to know!) how are we funded? We currently have no funders subsidising this service for us. Our long-term aim is to be able to offer this at very low cost and we are in talks with other services to achieve this aim. At the moment, we are more in line, priced per half hour, with a swimming, dance or sports class you might attend with your child.
We are passionate about supporting all children to make progress and achieve their potential and have seen amazing results across our combined 35 years in the field. We give as many parents as possible the opportunity to see these results working on minimal hours, so whilst typical private therapy is very expensive and intensive, you will learn to use some of these techniques yourself in the 2 hour sessions each week. We have chosen a few, high priority areas, and work together with parents to enable them to use these strategies in every-day situations with their children. Our support is more affordable and accessible because it is delivered in a group format, with children placed with others who need to learn skills at a similar pace. Similarly, if your child already receives some form of intervention already, but you would like to top up the number of hours as well as working on group skills to ready them for their educational setting, then we can help support you and your child to achieve their goals.
If you think these changes are something you want your child to experience get in touch.