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  • Karen George

    Karen George is a speech-language pathologist. In 2014, Karen founded CST Academy, a therapeutic preschool program, which offers speech, occupational, feeding and ABA therapy.



    Karen George

    Karen George is a speech-language pathologist. In 2014, Karen founded CST Academy, a therapeutic preschool program, which offers speech, occupational, feeding and ABA therapy.

    What to look for in a therapeutic preschool

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    Considering a therapeutic preschool for your child? Here are the important things to look for to find the right fit.

     

    As a parent, you want to ensure that your child receives every opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. Preschool can play a significant role in achieving these goals. For children who may not fit into a standard preschool setting because of a disorder, diagnosis, or disability, a therapeutic preschool program can be life-changing.

    If your child would benefit from a therapeutic preschool, it is critical that you do your research. In my own experience, I found the following factors incredibly important.

    [Related: How to advocate for your special-needs child in CPS]

    Your goals as a parent
    A therapeutic preschool can provide support by meeting critical developmental milestones in areas such as speech and language, social skills, feeding, expanded gross and fine motor skills, and more. It is important that the program meets the unique goals you have in mind for your child.

    Flexibility of the program
    The more flexible a program is, the more it will meet your child’s needs. Does the program require you to make a year commitment or allow month-to-month? Does it offer both morning and afternoon sessions? Are you able to start at two days a week and increase if it is going well? Rigid rules and policies may not fit your child’s specific needs.

    Well-educated and experienced staff
    Top therapeutic programs tend to employ individuals with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. This additional education will manifest itself in better outcomes for your child.

    A multidisciplinary team
    This means a team of professionals with expertise in speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, ABA therapy, and more. This diverse team allows children to receive the most well-rounded and comprehensive care and allows a program to treat the whole child.

    Student-to-teacher ratio
    A program with a low student-to-teacher ratio can provide more personalized care. A standard preschool program may have 8 to 10 children for just one teacher, while a good therapeutic program may have just 3 or 4 students per teacher.

    [Related: IEP 101 (video)]

    Reviews and results
    In my time as a speech-language pathologist, I have had a front-row seat in observing therapeutic services for children with a wide range of developmental delays. I have discovered that the gains children make vary greatly from program to program. The progress your child makes in a therapeutic program is a direct result of the effectiveness of the clinicians. Look for online reviews and references from satisfied parents so you know that your child is receiving the best care possible.

    Open-door policy
    The best therapeutic programs want parents involved in their child’s progress. An open-door policy that allows parents to drop in to observe their child’s day (such as through a two-way mirror) is the hallmark of a quality program.

    The results of a therapeutic preschool program can be truly transformative for your child. Ask questions. Ask around. Look online for reviews. Doing your research will pay off, as you will find the right program to become your “partner” in helping your child reach their full potential.

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