Child therapy program moves

YVMC's pediatric service's new home a small red house on Pine Grove Road

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Ben James, 6, enjoys a ride on an indoor swing at the Pediatric Physical Therapy Center in Steamboat Springs with the help of therapist Beth Staunton on Friday. The Yampa Valley Medical Center recently moved its Pediatric Therapy Services program to a small house on Pine Grove Road.

If you go

What: Open House for the Pediatric Therapy Services program and the Yampa Valley Autism Program

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: the "Little House" at 1920 Pine Grove Rd.

How to tell if your child could benefit from therapy

Infant/Toddler

- absence of listening to speech and making cooing sounds by 3 months

- absence of babbling and attending to environmental sounds

- absence of words by 18 months

- absence of two-word phrases that have a message by 2 years

- undeveloped play skills

Elementary and older

- unclear speech

- word-finding problems

- stuttering

- poor understanding of concepts

- difficulty following directions

- difficulty naming, describing, relating events and retelling stories

- inappropriate pitch, volume, rate, resonance of voice for the child's age and gender

- poor school performance

- medical diagnosis known to impact development

Motor Concepts

- delays in gross, fine, visual or motor skills

- musculoskeletal problems such as torticollis or scoliosis

- frequent falls or tripping

- awkward movement patterns

- avoidance of playground equipment

- decreased coordination and balance

- difficulty with self-care

- sensory concerns

- poor body awareness

— Ben James didn't want to leave therapy.

On Friday, he and occupational therapist Beth Staunton practiced identifying colors and sang a song while Ben was swinging back and forth.

"Whoa," said Ben, while wearing the largest smile possible for a 6-year-old.

"Circles," Ben told Staunton, who gently pushed the swing in a circular motion.

Ben's mother, Holly James, looked on, encouraging her son before having to carry the reluctant child from his therapy session so he could go to kindergarten.

The Yampa Valley Medical Center moved its Pediatric Therapy Services program only one month ago, but the response from children such as Ben and parents such as Holly James has been positive.

The Pediatric Therapy Ser-vices program's former home was in the SportsMed center at the hospital, so the distractions were countless and the pressure on children's senses was at a maximum, James said.

In the small house at 1920 Pine Grove Road, no one but the children, their parents and the therapists are inside. Children associate the hospital with being sick or having shots, Staunton said, so any chance to pull children into therapy in a less intimidating setting such as the "Little House" is a beneficial one.

"They are coming here, and they don't feel like they are doing therapy," Staunton said. "They are having fun. We want this to be theirs."

Ben was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, the most common cause of inherited mental impairment, at 15 months.

Now 6, Ben works with therapists on developing sensory and motor skills as well as social skills. On Friday, before he jumped into the swing, Ben built a train track on the floor of the "Little House," which forced him to piece together the track like a puzzle and match the notched edges together.

Fragile X Syndrome is the most common known cause of autism or "autistic-like" behaviors, and the Yampa Valley Autism Program has set up offices in the Pediatric Therapy Services house as well.

On Wednesday, the YVMC's Pediatric Therapy Services program and the YVAP are hosting an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The Pediatric Therapy Services already offers specialized winter and summer programs, but the therapists are hoping to expand their services now that they have a dedicated space for children.

Pediatric Therapy Services offers physical and occupational therapy as well as speech and language therapy.

"The next project is to have more group projects," Staunton said.

The other therapists who work with children are Sally Hertzog and Diana Sperry. Cheri Trousil, owner of Humble Ranch, also works with the Pediatric Therapy Services department.

Staunton and Janna Marxuach, executive director of YVAP, said early intervention is most beneficial in providing the appropriate services for a child so that future needs could be limited or perhaps not necessary. The open house will be a chance for parents to ask questions.

The Pediatric Therapy Services offers $10 screenings by appointment for children to determine if special assistance is needed.

- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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