Providing the Support
With over 25 years of experience, Gersh Academy is committed to providing individuals with the resources, therapeutic services and individualized programs which give our students the opportunity to reach their full potential academically, socially and emotionally.
We understand that receiving an autism diagnosis is a pivotal moment in the life of your family. Confusion and worry for the future can quickly become overwhelming. We want to reassure you that it is not the label that defines who a person is. An autism diagnosis can be the key to gaining access to therapeutic services that can make a tremendous shift in the course of your loved one’s development.
We promise to be a trusted source of quality services, information and support every step of the way.
Speech Therapy: Speech Therapists provide treatment, support and care for children/students who have difficulty with communication, or with eating or drinking. Therapy is individualized to each child's needs. Children both verbal and nonverbal receive speech and language services. Speech therapist focus on children gain the functionality of basic communication first and then build on expansion to not only make them effective communicators in school but across all environments. Where applicable, a voice output device, signs and/or pictures may be added to a child's program if it offers them success with communication.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy in our school works towards maximizing the potential of each student to help him or her function independently and safely, while actively participating in the school environment. Physical therapists help students learn to perform gross motor skills and functional mobility skills (i.e., walking in the hallway and climbing the stairs). Physical therapists at Gersh Academy work collaboratively with other related service disciplines and teachers to ensure that the students are able to carry over any skills being worked on. In addition, our therapists provide suggestions for improved classroom participation. Treatment is specifically geared to address the needs of the student and the way that he or she learns and performs best. Sensory activities may be integrated to improve concentration and participation.
Occupational Therapy: The profession of occupational therapy is concerned with a person’s ability to participate in desired daily life activities or “occupations.” At Gersh Academy, our occupational therapy program is designed to help students build the skills needed for all areas of life. Our team of occupational therapists use their unique expertise to help our students adapt to their learning environment so that they can successfully participate in the academic setting. Our therapists are certified in Sensory Integration and Craniosacral Therapy/Myofascial Release, which help students develop cognitive skills required for motor planning and other areas of motor skills.
Counseling Services: The counseling services at Gersh Academy provide individualized therapeutic treatment to assist each child in functioning successfully throughout the school environment. This treatment includes individual and group sessions, as well as crisis intervention, which all target the social/emotional growth of our children. The counseling providers, along with all other members of the Gersh Academy staff, are trained and efficient in the use of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS). CPS is a cognitive behavioral therapeutic model that addresses maladaptive behaviors derived from lagging cognitive skills. The therapeutic treatment team work closely with all classroom staff, as well as all service providers, to collaborate and implement specific strategies and methodologies across all environments to develop the student’s social/emotional skills.
Equine Therapy: Equine therapy (also referred to as horse therapy, equine-assisted therapy, and equine-assisted psychotherapy) is a form of experiential therapy that involves interactions between persons with special needs and horses.
Equine therapy involves activities such as grooming, feeding, haltering and leading a horse. Speech therapy is provided during all the activities the children participate in while at the Equestrian Center. We work on pragmatic skills, including having appropriate conversations and greeting. When working with the animals directly, our staff works on showing the child how to use appropriate body language and tone of voice. This is very important as the horses are sensitive creatures that react to the people around them. When feeding the horses or grooming and tacking, our team works with the child on following multi-step directions and turn-taking.
While a child is mounting a horse, our team works on sequencing of events (i.e., first step onto the stair platform, etc.). We ask the child to verbally state all steps as they happen. In addition, we continuously work with the child on their “why” questions and receptive language while helping the child acquire new vocabulary.
After each session, the children review their lessons and recall the events that happened while at the Equestrian Center.
Many of the benefits of Equine Therapy are likely due to the nature of the animals with which the patient and equine therapist are interacting. Horses are typically non-judgmental, have no preconceived expectations or motives and are highly effective at mirroring attitudes and behaviors of the humans with whom they are working.