Any person needs to be aware of his/her surroundings before any “real” learning can occur. We teach our clients how to and why it’s important to become more aware of their surroundings and the people in these environments. The sessions are based on each individual’s interests and we expand their repertoire of words and understanding through these interests.
When incorporating interest-based activities, there is a high motivation to learn. Individuals willingly participate and increase their awareness of their environment and peers if they are motivated. Together with awareness comes self-advocacy, where individuals are taught from a young age that their voice is important and powerful. This way, they can become advocates for their own lives and futures. We believe that our clients all want to become as independent as possible and if they are aware of the learning process, they seem to be more willing to participate in this positive change.
Concepts are taught through each individual’s interests. In this way, learning is made fun and productive at the same time. The client’s ability to become as independent as possible is a main focus throughout interest-based activities.
We all love learning about topics we are interested in. Our clients are motivated by their interests if it is respected and explored and not used as “reinforcers”. AIMS’ philosophy is to respect each person’s love for their interests and utilizing this preference to teach concepts. AIMS programs teach concepts and the reasons behind needing to complete tasks or activities. From a young age, we support our clients to firstly, want to learn by including their interests and secondly, understanding why it’s important to learn more about a specific topic or concept.
Emotional coping strategies are taught through movement breaks and sensory activities. “Work” sessions and “movement breaks” are incorporated continuously. During the breaks; sensory activities, emotional coping strategies, gross and fine motor exercises are developed. AIMS programs have a strong focus on incorporating goals and strategies from other professionals, such as occupational therapists for movement breaks or speech targets from a speech therapist. Goals are generalized from one therapeutic environment to the home environment by including these exercises on a more consistent basis. Parents are also encouraged to observe sessions and generalize the strategies introduced for the child or young adult to experience consistency throughout his or her daily schedule. This consistency, paired with the generalization of goals ensures that each client is able to predict the expectations placed on him or her and in turn might reduce anxiety in transitions throughout the day. We also see a major decrease in any challenging behavior!
Each person has different sensory needs that can be seen as a crucial element to their development. If one is not aware of a person’s sensory needs and they are not addressed accordingly, the individual will not be in a state conducive to learning and general wellbeing.
In general, individuals diagnosed with ASD (or related disorders) have sensory sensitivities that need to be addressed. AIMS believes in teaching individuals how to firstly, become self-aware of these needs and preferences, and secondly, be able to self-regulate the types of sensory input. AIMS therapists will do a sensory profile for each child to ensure that we are offering appropriate sensory input for them within the different states that they are in. Once a client is more aware of the type of input that will lead to various emotions and feelings, we teach them how to provide this type of input themselves. We work closely with physical therapists as well as occupational therapists to ensure the recommended activities are in line with the individual’s age and developmental level.