Our therapists work in collaboration and conjunction with our teaching staff and case managers to ensure that their specific therapy lessons are being generalized across all settings. By providing this integrative approach, we are maximizing the effectiveness of our program. At Milestones our therapy and education teams meet multiple times per week to discuss our students. Each of our experts plays a crucial role in understanding each student as a whole person and conceptualizing each student’s challenges from a developmental perspective. Through this individualized approach we seek to understand what skills the student is missing; this information drives our interventions. If a student is struggling, we want to understand the “why” behind the struggle, and not only address the struggle itself. Below you will find the therapies we offer and the goals we address which occurs in group settings, but also may occur individually.
Theory of Mind/Perspective Taking
The ability to take another’s perspective and see their point of view. This is achieved by the ability to attribute mental states (such as beliefs, desires, emotions, perceptions, and intentions) to one’s one self and others in order to understand and predict behavior.
- Understanding another’s perspective or intentions
- Having empathy
- Altering comments based upon what a peer or adult is thinking/feeling (“being sensitive”)
General Socialization & Communication
General Socialization is a person’s ability to interact and communicate with others. This also involves understanding and playing by accepted social rules and norms.
- Initiating, monitoring, maintaining, and disengaging from conversations
- Joining conversations or joining games already in progress
- Knowing when and when not to say something, whom to say it to, and when it is an appropriate time to say it
- Spontaneously greeting people
- Using a combination of questions and comments when interacting
- Cooperating, compromising, and negotiating with peers and adults
- Reading the room
- Telling stories about one’s self
Non-verbal Cues involve everything about communication, except for the actual verbal communication itself. When we communicate, we use both verbal language and nonverbal cues to get our message across. Nonverbal communication generally clarifies the meaning or intention behind a message. For example, if James asks, “Who can go to the store” and Ellen replies “I’ll do it” we can generally assume that Ellen is willing to go to the store. However, if Ellen replies, “I’ll do it” with her hands on her hips and rolling her eyes back, we can assume that she will do it, but doesn’t really want to. Nonverbal cues refers to: body language, tone of voice (rate, rhythm, and inflection), posture, gestures, eye contact. Nonverbal cues can also involve style of dress, hair cut, slogans warns on clothing, frequency of showering, etc.
- Identifying non-verbal cues
- Recognizing emotions of both peers and adults based upon non verbal cues and understanding another’s intensions
- Using nonverbal cues to emphasize your point
Sensory Regulation & Coping Skills
Self-regulation is defined as, “the ability to attain, maintain, and change arousal appropriately for a task or situation”. Self-regulation also refers to the ability to control one’s emotional, mental or physical responses to sensations (Kranowitz, 1998). Individuals experiencing self-regulation difficulties are often unable to keep an even keel, or maintain suitable or appropriate behavior in certain situations, in particular, when a change occurs quickly without forewarning.
- Recognize signs of stress/anxiety in him/herself and others
- Learn to better regulate his/her sensory systems
- Increase knowledge of problem solving skills
- Increase ability to tolerate one’s own emotions
- Learn solutions for anger management and conflict resolution
- Recognize signs of upcoming dysregulation
Executive Functioning refers to the brain’s ability to create goals and plans and carry them out. Executive Functioning encompasses several tasks including the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor one’s self and other’s behavior, to recognize when a task is not going well and change plans, to deal effectively with novelty, filter out stimuli and focus on the task at hand, time management, ability to learn from past mistakes, inhibit impulses, and to delay gratification.
- Knowing what to pay attention to and what’s not important
- Learning to make goal directed plans
- Learning to prioritize and to manage time
- When things don’t go according to plan, learning to create a new plan (without getting upset)
- Increasing flexibility, tolerating ambiguity, and decreasing literal thinking
- Problem solving
Many students enter Milestones with a deflated self-image. Through games and other activities students gain a sense of belonging and community. For many students, it’s the first time they have felt accepted and experience true friendships with peers. Many students come to Milestones in a self-protective mode, which is understandable. Self-esteem is valuable and crucial for taking risks and engaging in therapeutic programming. Our staff work to gain the trust and respect of our students to get them to feel comfortable enough to take the risks necessary to leave behind ineffective strategies that they are familiar with, and exchange them for new and more effective ones. Areas our teaching staff focus on are:
- Increasing feelings of self-worth
- Increasing ability to trust others
- Seeing the positive side of one’s self and others
- Going into new situations with an open mind
- Taking risks
At Milestones we not only prepare students academically and therapeutically but also help students increase independence and prepare them for life. For some students, we help them cross into different stages of development, such as from childhood to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood. Goals vary for each student but may include:
- Independently preparing for the day with tasks such as setting an alarm clock, getting dressed, taking a shower, making breakfast, packing a lunch, and gathering materials for school.
- Independently doing homework
- Answering the phone and delivering messages
- Cleaning their own room
- Contributing to the family by participating in chores
- Having hobbies to occupy his/her time
- Providing personal information such as address, phone number, medical issues or medications s/he may be taking (if applicable)
- Doing his/her own laundry
- Independently traveling into the community (when age appropriate)
- Having a part-time job after school or on weekends
- Making good decisions based upon evidence and facts
- Managing money and time effectively