Parents of autistic children have new option for safe, in-person therapy this summer

Updated: Jun. 5, 2020 at 2:25 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -When schools shut down, so did in-person therapy sessions for special needs children, many of which struggled with virtual therapy and distance learning.

But Thrive Early Learning Center, a new early intervention program, opened just this week, amid COVID-19 restrictions, to meet the intense needs of these kids.

“We just need that in-person contact to provide this kind of intensive therapy. There was no question in my mind that when the Governor gave the green light for some summer programming for child care and day camps that we could fit in under that guideline and get our doors open,” said Owner and Executive Clinical Director, Jaclynn Bosley.

When schools shut down, so did 4 year old Quinn’s intense therapy for her autism. And her parents struggled with virtual...

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The center, in Warrensville Heights, serves primarily autistic children, from 18 months to 6 years old.

They provide 3 hour sessions that include behavior and occupational therapy, speech and language, in a preschool, not clinical, setting.

Bosley says autistic children who thrive on routine, are at serious risk for regression because of the disruption in service and therapy.

“Those skills will go away if they’re not practicing them every day, like unpacking a back pack, going to the bathroom independently or even feeding skill,” she said.

“Within two weeks it was turning in to behaviors that we had never seen before. She couldn’t express herself verbally and turned to physical behaviors,” said Kim Cohen, mother of a four year old autistic daughter, Quinn.

She and her husband, Craig, were concerned about the lack of in-personal therapy and Quinn’s regression during quarantine and the state shut-down.

“It happened super fast. I’m trying to be a therapist and he is trying to work from home," she said.

Quinn is now enrolled at Thrive and to them, the first day of summer school there, bringing back that personal contact, felt like Christmas morning.

“Being in a place that understands your child, understands their needs and more importantly understands how to take care of those needs and meet those needs is tremendously important. You don’t always get that and it’s hard to find," said Craig.

"To hear kid voices, little kid steps in the hallway, playing, getting therapy, it feels good. It’s normal. It feels like the world is coming back around and we’re opening back up. It gives us the confidence that we can do it and we can serve this population with these guidelines,” said Bosley.

The restrictions imposed by the state do reduce their planned capacity from 15 kids in the morning and 15 in the afternoon, to just six for each half of the day.

But they are running a summer program and there are openings.

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