Firemen Visit Building BLOCS

A huge thank you to the Firemen at Fire Station 25! They came by our center today and let us take a tour of their truck and even spray the firehose!

Now Enrolling ABA Therapy for Fall

Building BLOCS is enrolling for the Fall 2021 semester. We have openings for Early Intervention groups as well as Individual ABA Therapy.

Call us for more information and to schedule your assessment.

What is a support group and is it right for me?

What is a support group and is it right for me?

Recently at Building BLOCS we have begun offering a support group for parents of special needs kiddos, specifically for parents of children with ASD. A question that was frequently posed to me was, “what is the purpose of a support group and how would it benefit me?” I thought this was a great topic for our blog.

Support groups offer a group therapy environment where all the members are tackling similar issues in their lives and give the opportunity for members to share their stories and experiences in the hopes of creating a cathartic experience for themselves as well as helping others on a similar path. Support groups may meet anywhere from once to several times a month and can be specified to an ever-increasing array of topics such as depression, anxiety, and survivors of various serious illnesses.

Parents of children with special needs often find they have similar struggles and successes with their journeys despite whatever differences in diagnoses and family life may exist. It is a space where parents can feel validated and heard as well as hear feedback from their group and facilitator. Often parents will discuss and share resources, normalize the experiences of other parents, and share uplifting successes. Support groups are a beautiful opportunity to expand your world view, heal, empower others and be empowered, be a part of a community, and participate in self-care!

While all of this may sound wonderful to some parents, others may not quite be ready for the process and the overall group experience. How will you know if it is right for you? I would recommend contacting the therapist facilitating the group to discuss if group is appropriate for your needs. There can be dozens of factors contributing to why a person isn’t ready for the group experience just yet.

  • You may be an incredibly empathetic person and hearing about the struggles of others puts more weight on your shoulders and may cause you additional distress. You may find that hearing about the problems of others does not relieve your distress but adds to it. This may be a fluctuating experience. There may be some discomfort with mental health counseling as we are discussing situations that are causing issues in your life, however ultimately, we want the group experience to create empowerment, catharsis, acceptance, and healing.  
  • You may have additional presenting concerns affecting your mental health that require more individual attention. Or you may simply prefer the individual attention provided by individual counseling. If you’ve never experienced a support group, I would either research what to possibly expect, or again, reach out to the facilitator. If you’re considering our BLOCS parent support group I am more than happy to have a consultation with anyone considering the support group or individual therapy to discuss your options and which would be a better fit for your mental health needs.
  • One of the biggest reasons anyone avoids a support group of any kind is the hesitancy to accept there is an issue. Sometimes we find that parents struggle with accepting the reality of the diagnosis or it is still “too fresh” and they haven’t had time to come to terms with it yet, let alone join a group with people sharing the same issue. This is perfectly normal and to be expected! Just because you’re not quite ready for a support group does not mean you’re not necessarily ready for therapy. This is a scenario where individual or even couples counseling would be a great beginning opportunity to promote healing.

I could look for jokes, quotes, or any cute little platitude to summarize these thoughts, but as a parent of special needs kiddos, you’ve likely heard them all! So, I’ll save you an eye roll at whatever horrible joke I would have come up with by again stating the utmost importance of self-care. Regardless of if you’re even a parent or not, self-care is vital to good mental health and we want to ensure our BLOCS parents (and all other parents) are taking care of themselves in addition to their kiddos. Please feel free to contact me at maggie@blocsaustin.com with any questions regarding our counseling services.

 

Maggie Hammer, M.A., LPC-Intern, RBT

Supervised by Wanda Montemayor, LPC-S

Meet Our Team: Emma Henson

This week, we’re proud to introduce you to Emma Henson! Emma is one of our BCBAs, which means that she works with our behavior therapists to provide therapy to children. As a BCBA, she designs, implements, and supervises children’s individual programming, provides supervision for the early intervention groups, and also provides direct therapy. In other words, she’s kept quite busy making sure children get the best care possible!

Emma’s interest in ABA started as an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas. She found herself interested in the brain and human behavior, and after observing a BCBA leading an early-intervention classroom, she knew that she wanted to pursue a Master’s in ABA. This led her to Austin, where she attended the University of Texas, earning her Master’s in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

Since joining Building BLOCS in June 2016, Emma has enjoyed watching everyone as a team succeed in reaching a child’s goal. “The best part about this job is the moment when the whole team (the child, the therapist, the supervisor, the family)…has been working so hard on one goal (for example, potty training) and the child starts to achieve success,” remarks Emma. “[I]t’s a huge milestone!” In addition to achieving success in big goals, she also gets to witness small goals getting reached daily in her favorite activity, pretend play. Emma notes that children with ASD often need more prompting and modeling in arranging props and choosing roles, but once they catch on, their creativity is “magical.” It’s so much fun to watch their sometimes hilarious spins on traditional stories and play activities!

Generating creativity in adults, on the other hand, can be a bit more challenging. “After you’ve re-enacted the three little pigs a million times, you can’t always find a way to make it new and exciting,” Emma notes. “But just when my creativity fails me, the kids come up with some out of this world idea.” Sometimes the most challenging moments are those that prove the most rewarding, and seeing children’s creativity shine is truly wonderful.

Talk to Me Baby: Starting in January at Building BLOCS

We’re so excited for our brand new class for both parents and kids, Talk to Me Baby! In this class, board-certified SLP Jennifer Grantham teaches simple ways to increase your child’s speech and language skills through books, music, motor games and toy play. It’s great for kids aged 18 months to 3 years of any developmental background.

We know that you know your child best, so this class gives speech language pathologists and parents the opportunity to join forces in order to teach language skills effectively. You can show us what your child’s favorite game or song is, and we’ll show you how to utilize that play activity to target communication skills. The goal of this class is to shape what you’re already doing at home to foster language development.

Every class will target a different goal based on the needs of the families attending. For example, one class might target what sounds are developmentally appropriate, while another might target using a slower rate of conversation to be a better conversational partner for your little one. However, each class will feature music, a story, toy time, and motor time. There will also be time for questions and time to practice the day’s target strategy. It’s fun for kids and educational for parents, so both of you are sure to enjoy the activities. Plus, there’s no need to bring or prepare anything–just show up ready to learn and have fun!

Talk to Me Baby will take place from 9:30-10:30am on Fridays starting in January. For more information, call 512-827-7011 or email us at Therapy@BlocsAustin.com

Grand Opening–Halloween Carnival

Building BLOCS has moved into our new center, and we’d like to invite you all to join us at our Grand Opening–October 29 from 10:00-2:00.

We will have a petting zoo for the first two hours so be sure to come early!

grand-opening

Map to New Location

11623 Angus Road, Suite E20

Austin, TX 78759

(183 and Duval)

Low-Tech Voice Output Devices

Think voice output devices are expensive, bulky, or easily breakable? Think again. Watch Brandy talk about some of the low-tech, inexpensive options we use to assist kids with communication.

What are some easy tricks that you’ve found for assisting with communication?