There’s always something new at Spectra and we wouldn’t want it any other way! We strive to remain current with our teaching and counseling practices and pride ourselves on providing services that are a true reflection of the state of the art.
Spectra school continues to thrive as our passionate educators have taken it upon themselves to lead with positivity and productivity. Spectra recently began integrating The Family Behavior Support App and leveraging the many benefits it provides our kiddos and their families. In the world of occupational therapy, Spectra therapists have embraced heavy work and the many benefits it provides including helping our clients feel more grounded. Meanwhile, our social workers continue to make use of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help diagnose how an individual's thoughts can impact their behavior and feelings.
Education Staff & Teachers
Teaching in a pandemic has made for an unprecedented year for teachers, students, and families around the world. It’s difficult not to feel the heavy weight of doom and gloom. It’s hard to teach students in-person and remote at the same time. None of us have ever done this before. One thing we know for sure -- we want to do this as best we can. This month we discussed how to foster positive and productive conversations in the classroom. We believe teachers, as leaders, set the tone for everyone. We believe the foundation in thriving during these crazy times is leading with positivity and productivity. So, how can we achieve this? A few ways we decided we can foster an environment as such include the following: be a team player, focus on the important things, and take a breather.
How are we team players at Spectra? We choose to see the good in people and presume
positive intent. The more we view our coworkers as teammates, the more productive our communication will be. Plain and simple, when our coworkers are doing well, we’re doing well.
Next, we must focus on the important things. But, how do we know what’s important? For our teachers, the important things are that students are safe, feel love, and make progress. This means the beautiful group lesson you had planned might look entirely different than you thought. Instead of everyone sitting nicely at their desks you might have students on bean bags, in rocking chairs, or standing. None of that matters to us! If students feel safe, loved, and can
make progress we don’t mind how it looks!
Finally, taking a breather is essential to almost everything in life and certainly to being a teacher in a pandemic. Our learning environment is far different from a typical setting. Many of our students are still developing their ability to regulate emotions and use functional communication in order to access academics successfully. They also thrive on routine and this year is anything but. This combination among other things can lead to student outbursts. It’s important
that we use every tool in our toolbox to help students through difficult situations. It’s important that we take a breather, erase the slate, and start a new each second, minute, and day.
What is heavy work? Heavy work is any type of activity that pushes or pulls against the body. They are activities which use movement and resistance to provide sensory input, and ideally activate as many muscles and joints as possible at the same time, for a short period of time. These types of activities engage the “sixth sense” of proprioception, or body awareness, which can help a person feel more grounded. Proprioceptive input helps a person, especially a child who has difficulties with sensory processing, determine where their body is in space, and what it should be doing.
Why is heavy work important? Heavy work helps kids who have sensory processing difficulties feel more centered. Many people get the necessary proprioceptive and movement input naturally throughout the day. However, someone who has difficulty integrating those experiences may need extra input to “jump start” their sensory systems. A child who seeks input requires more sensory experiences to feel calm and grounded in his or her body. This may look like crashing into walls, seeking out frequent hugs or squeezes, jumping off objects, and even aggressive behaviors. The purpose of heavy work is to give a child the input they are seeking in safer, more consistent ways.
What are some examples of heavy work? Taking the trash out, pushing/pulling a full laundry basket, push-ups/wall push-ups, yoga, wheelbarrow walks, resistance bands, catching/throwing activities, rolling a therapy ball up and down the wall, mopping/sweeping/vacuuming, tearing paper, jumping onto a couch or cushions, wall sits, and much more!
The Communication Bill of Rights was developed by the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities (NJC). The NJC is committed to advocating for the rights of people who need significant support in the area of communication, and the Communication Bill of Rights was developed to ensure these individuals’ basic rights.
These rights are increasingly important to be aware of during the Coronavirus pandemic. It has been an isolating time for all of us, but particularly for those with significant communication disabilities. Services have been limited, and masks make verbal and nonverbal communication even more difficult to interpret.
As speech-language pathologists at Spectra, we are committed to preserving the communication rights of all the students we work with. We work closely with other related service providers as well as classroom staff to provide and support programming that meet a variety of communicative needs. Additionally, we recognize that communication is so much more than simple requesting wants and needs -- it is the ability to form relationships, to make meaningful choices, to have autonomy and so much more.
Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs)
The Family Behavior Support App (FBSApp), created by Dr. Erin Barton’s Lab at Vanderbilt University with partnership from Dr. Fettig and Dr. Meadan from University of Illinois, helps parents of children ages 2-5 with disabilities and challenging behaviors. The free App, which can be downloaded on smart phones and tablets, helps parents monitor and implement function-based, behavior support plans for their children in the home. When first using the App, parents provide their child’s behaviors and the antecedents and consequences to those behaviors. From there, a behavior plan is created unique to the function of the child’s behavior. The App is very user-friendly in helping families navigate data collection, following through with the behavior plan, and progress monitoring. It also provides parents with video tools on how to prevent challenging behaviors, respond to behaviors, and how to teach replacement behaviors. For more information and support on the App or early childhood Special Education, you can follow Dr. Barton’s lab on Instagram at @BartonLab or the hashtag #FBSApp.
Mental Health & Social Work
Spectra Centers utilizes the therapeutic approach of cognitive behavioral therapy within both the outpatient setting, as well as the school setting. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) looks at how a person’s thoughts can impact their feelings, and ultimately their behaviors. When a person’s thoughts become cyclic around perceived negative outcomes, threats, or failures, they can lead to anxiety and an aversion to different tasks and/or experiences in their day-to-day life.
When a person’s thoughts become cyclic around negative or perceived negative aspects of life, they can lead to depression and struggles to engage in day-to-day functioning. They can also lead to a lack of trust in others and active efforts to push others away to avoid being hurt or let down in some way.
In the outpatient setting, CBT can be used to coach individuals to look at situations and/or people differently, in order to better function in various settings. Coaching in the outpatient setting may look like helping a person to identify negative and/or anxious thoughts that could be impacting how the person sees their environment or other people. Once a person is able to identify anxious or negative thoughts that are impeding their ability to function in certain settings, then they can be coached on how to reframe or change the way they look at certain situations. For example, if the person avoids activities due to fear of failure, they could reframe their thought to recognize that there is a possibility of failure, but there is also a possibility of success, if they try. Reframing may take some time, and some conscious efforts by the individual, but is a proven effective way to shift a person’s thought process. Long term, this approach can help a person to change their overall perception of situations and events taking place, which can alleviate feelings of anxiety or depression. It can also lead to improved self-confidence, assertiveness, and self-advocacy for the individual.
In the school setting, CBT is used to help students understand and identify those emotions and thoughts that lead to behaviors that may impede their success in school. This is done during weekly group therapy sessions as well as one-on-one sessions as needed. In group therapy sessions, students are able to hear their peers identify unhelpful thoughts and learn from not only the clinician, but by their peers as well.