Autism care at Studer Family Children’s Hospital
Pediatric specialists at Studer Family Children's Hospital Autism Center in Pensacola provide multidisciplinary care for children with autism and other related conditions. Children with autism may need additional support and care. Our compassionate and experienced teams care for the whole child – from occupational and feeding therapy to emotional health care and social skills development. And each child’s care plan is personalized for their specific needs. Your child’s care team can help diagnose and treat conditions that commonly affect children with autism, such as speech and feeding disorders. We also provide your family with education and resources to help you care for your child. This includes special training for family members and caregivers on how to care for your child in your home, at school, and in community settings.
A doctor’s referral and prior authorization from your insurance company is required. Ask your child’s doctor to fax a referral form and prescription to 850-416-7776.
Care for the whole child
At Studer Family Children's Hospital Autism Center, we start by getting to know you and your child. By better understanding your child’s condition and unique needs, we create a personalized care plan. Our multispecialty care team includes occupational therapists, speech therapists, a licensed clinical social worker, and a board-certified behavior analyst. Together, we provide a range of services, including:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Assistive technology
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
- Behavioral safety and crisis management
- Community integrative therapy to train life skills
- Counseling services for children and caregivers
- Family support, education and hands-on training
- Feeding therapy
- Group training for families and professionals
- Multi-sensory techniques to handwriting
- Occupational therapy
- Sensory integration therapy
- Social skills groups for various ages
- Speech therapy
The autism center was designed with your child’s needs in mind. Our creative environment is tailored to the sensory needs and preferences of your child to provide fun and motivating therapy opportunities. The autism center includes:
- A garden where children can plant seeds and even participate in growing food for feeding therapy sessions.
- A turfed and fenced outdoor play area with multiple play structures, a trampoline, and a water table for therapy sessions.
- Large sensory gym that includes a trampoline, climbing mats, foam building blocks, balancing structures, and tunnels.
- Low-sensory rooms equipped with a sensory station designed to help calm children. There are also mirrors, bean bags, and stereo capabilities for music or soothing noise machine functions.
- Sensory swing structures for calming, grounding, and alerting effects.
- Space to be used for treatment, movement-based sensorimotor strategies, and caregiver classes.
Speech and feeding therapy
Our pediatric speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained to assess, diagnose and treat speech and feeding disorders or delays in children of all ages. Our specialized training includes:
- Auditory processing therapy
- Augmentative and alternative communications (AAC/voice output devices)
- Feeding therapy for food aversions and oral-motor difficulties
- Home programs and education for parents and caregivers
- Language processing therapy
- Movement disorder care
- Neurodevelopmental treatment for oral-motor concerns
- Sign language
- Social skills therapy
Pediatric occupational therapists (OTs) help children with everyday life skills and tasks. Our occupational therapists evaluate and provide treatment to help your child become independent in the activities they need and want to do in daily life. Based on your child’s age and needs, this may include:
- Fine-motor milestones
- Motor planning
- Self-care, including dressing, personal hygiene and eating
- Sensory integration
- Social participation
- Visual motor milestones
Social skills therapy
Social skills therapy offers individualized therapy plans for children. Treatment plans are created based on your child's needs. Your child meets with their social group each week to practice skills such as problem-solving during disagreements, conversation skills, positive peer interactions, emotional regulation, reading and using non-verbal language appropriately, and cooperative play. We use games and therapeutic activities that help reinforce appropriate social skills. Certain social groups meet monthly at locations in the community to practice social skills in other environments, such as bowling, restaurants and mini-golf.
Helping your child learn life skills in the community
The community integrative therapy program is a community-based program for children and young adults with autism or who may have other physical or cognitive challenges. This program gives children opportunities to learn life and relationship skills in a variety of community-based settings.
With your consent, we coordinate with your child's teachers, doctors, therapists, and family members to help your child reach their goals. We also partner with the University of West Florida, Centers for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), Autism Pensacola, Inc., Early Steps, and the local school districts. We welcome opportunities to guide students and community members through volunteering, observation, and even formal clinical hours for graduate students with supervision from our experienced therapists. Students implement evidence-based projects, connect the latest research to practice, and gain hands-on feedback from experienced professionals. We use the latest research and best practices for our patients.
At Studer Family Children's Hospital, we understand that each family has unique needs. You are a valued member of your child's care team, and your input is important. We work with you to deliver the care that’s right for your child and encourage you to be involved in their therapy sessions. Family involvement makes a big impact on how effective your child’s care plan is. We understand families need support to help their child communicate and develop social skills. To help your child succeed and to support you along this journey, a social worker is part of your child’s care team to provide family support services.
Educational classes for parents and caregivers
Our team offers educational classes to help support your family. Pre-registration is required for all classes. Classes are open to all families in the community, no matter where your child is receiving treatment. Find out more and register online.
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