Therapy in a home environment for kids with autism

January 7, 2010 10:08:25 AM PST
The best place for children with autism to develop language is at home. A new west suburban therapy center has recreated home environments and is seeing great improvements with their young clients. By Your Side, located in Burr Ridge, is set up to promote and create a natural environment for children with autism. It is the first of its kind in the Chicagoland area.

A kitchen, a den, a playroom and an indoor playground are some of the therapy rooms used to help children with autism develop communications and social skills.

"We often used many rooms for many children, so in a one-hour visit, a child may be in three out of the five rooms. Another child could be in one room. We also have individual therapy rooms if someone really needs to learn skills outside of the distractions," said Julie Martin.

Martin is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist who specializes in autism. She is also the director of this center.

"Kids get a lot of wonderful skills in school, but what we really wanted to do is create a place where they could practice them in an environment where they could use them," Martin said.

Subtle accommodations, such as safety corners and visual-picture cues, are found in every room.

By Your Side Autism Language Center opened in the beginning of October.

"We've already seen a big difference and parents have commented on some of the kids are more talkative to their bus drivers. Other parents have commented on how their kids are more interactive with them," said Martin.

Danny Rendell's 9-year-old son, Daniel III, is diagnosed with mild-to-moderate autism.

"I've seen improvement," said Rendell. "I was pretty impressed. Over there, that 's really the first time I've really seen him play with other children and go through an imaginary state, like he was pretending that he was a captain of a boat."

"Our long term goal is that we can really provide many services in the field of speech and language and autism to a large population of the autism community. We want to be able to add services to adults," Martin said.

By Your Side's fee is $125 an hour. They work with many private insurance companies and are in the process of contracting with Medicare, Medicaid and All Kids.

For more information go to