All children misbehave. They hit, scream, and shout, even if they don’t have any diagnosable condition. But what happens when a child has also been identified as having autism spectrum disorder, behavioral diagnoses, substance use issues, depression, and/or other mood disorders? In these situations, where can families find the extra support they need?

JF&CS In-Home Services for Children & Adolescents addresses these issues by helping children and families learn new ways to communicate their needs, deescalate frustration or stress, and increase their knowledge of their child’s symptoms and diagnoses to understand healthy, safe, and acceptable behavior. We offer three programs to assist youth (ages three to 20) and their families with their behavioral needs. Employing an individualized, strengths-based, and person-centered approach, these unique programs are offered in the home or wherever the child and family would feel most comfortable, such as in a school or community center.

Ashton: Structure, Consistency, Connection, and Success

Ashton, a five-year-old boy diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, is non-verbal and was often physically aggressive before his first visit from a JF&CS In-Home Services therapist. He was living with his non-biological father, Donnie, who received disability payments and was mostly homebound. Donnie knew he needed to take action. Ashton had no rules, structure, or consistency in his life and it was not uncommon for Ashton to go without sleep for up to 20 hours. He rarely had consistent meal or bed times and he did not have a primary care physician.

JF&CS arranged for an In-Home Therapist to visit Ashton at home. Together with Donnie, they worked to build a trusting rapport. Soon, Ashton began to increase his eye contact and connect more during play-based therapy. At one session, Ashton’s therapist taught him how to sign for “more.” Donnie was overjoyed with the connection he felt when Ashton signed “more” to him. Over time, Ashton learned more signs and started to engage more frequently with both Donnie and the therapist.

In time, Ashton’s therapist referred him to JF&CS Autism Navigation, an integrated, coordinated approach to the care of children with autism spectrum disorder. During an intake home visit, it was discovered that Ashton, although five years old, was not enrolled in any school system for kindergarten, nor had he attended any preschool. An Autism Navigation staff member contacted the Special Education director of the local school system for evaluation, after which it was decided that Ashton would benefit most from an out-of-district placement into a program with a small class size better suited for his needs. He is currently on a waitlist for evaluation at Children’s Hospital and any decision on a school program will be made afterwards.

Donnie gave JF&CS his trust to help provide the most appropriate services for Ashton. He is thrilled with Ashton’s progress and credits the caring professionalism of his JF&CS team and the wide range of networks available at and through JF&CS for his success.

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