A journey of learning in the Golden State
In March, Therapy Focus clinicians Sulin Ng and Christine Bosch travelled to California as part of a 2-week study tour hosted by Achieve Kids.
In the following, Sulin shares her experience:
“Christine and I were fortunate to be chosen to represent Therapy Focus as part of a study tour visiting the main sites of Achieve Kids in Palo Alto, Sacramento and San Jose, as well as partner organisations in the Bay Area.
Achieve Kids is a specialised school that accept students with significant behavioural challenges and who have had difficulties attending previous schools. The students can have a diagnosis of autism, ADD, ADHD, intellectual disabilities and/or have emotional difficulties, including experiencing trauma.
What really impressed us was the dedication and immense patience the staff showed towards the students while working on functional, social and academic skills.
We were also warmly welcomed by various partner organisations who showed us around their facilities, attended therapy sessions and exchanged information about our organisations.
Similarly to Achieve Kids, the staff were passionate and dedicated to their roles, and the people they work with. Christine and I were also impressed by the range of programs available, including camp programs, employment services, recreational and social programs.
The therapy services available in California are fragmented due to the way they are funded. Families and service providers often have to fight for funding from government or insurance companies. Organisations also rely on fundraising so that they can provide the necessary services to their client population. We realised how incredibly lucky we are to be living in Australia, where there is more funding for disability and therapy services.
While we were in Palo Alto we also attended the ‘Autism through the Life Span’ Conference held at Stanford University, where we learnt about current research and programs. I was particularly interested in the research presented by Dr Ami Klin about a device used for eye tracking and assessing social interactions to assist with early diagnosis of autism in infants and toddlers, as it would enable children to access vital early childhood intervention services sooner.
While at the conference, we were invited to present information about Therapy Focus’ services to the Special Needs Professionals. We had positive feedback about our services, particularly around the flexibility of where services can occur, our transdisciplinary team approach, and our specialist teams.
The study tour was a great learning and networking opportunity, and we would like to express our thanks to Achieve Kids CEO Ryan Eisenberg for welcoming us to his wonderful organisation. Our thanks also go to the partner organisations Abilities United, Via Services, Via West Camp, Gatepath, Laughing Giraffe Therapy, Rebekah’s Children Services, Children’s Health Council, Stanford Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Greater Opportunities.
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