Every parent has experienced challenges during the current pandemic – from finding a routine so they stay on top of schoolwork to creating activities to keep children engaged. These challenges have been magnified by the restrictions, uncertainty, and stress related to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders.
Samantha, resident at RPM-managed Radius at the Domain, has been working with families to overcome some of those same challenges. Samantha provides therapy to children with autism spectrum disorder. She’s an applied behavior analyst who works with children to build communication skills, social skills, and to overcome challenging behavior.
“The work we do depends on the learner and how they communicate,” Samantha said. “We use devices or pictures and focus on communication – getting their wants and needs met. We also focus on skills like talking with their friends, sharing, and taking turns.”
When Texas started shelter-in-place orders, her clinic started offering their services in a variety of ways, depending on parental preferences.
“Some parents opted to stay home and I’ve used Telehealth to try and coach them through it,” she said. “I’ve met with some clients in-home, and others have decided to continue meeting at the clinic maintaining social distance, using face masks and hand-washing.”
Samantha explained since social skills are a keystone to her therapy, her families have seen some unique challenges.
“Parents with typical kids are struggling, but my families are really struggling,” Samantha said. “My job is to teach as fast as I can; I’m trying to get them where their peers are with social behavior, but they’re missing out on months of learning opportunities.”
Telehealth has presented the largest challenge for Samantha when working with children to overcome social challenges, but she has implemented strategies to help overcome the hurdles.
“We will have siblings or neighbors that come over to visit the families,” she said. “I can’t really see them on camera, but I can give parents advice on how to make sure the kids are sharing and don’t engage in aggression.”
Samantha has also worked to help parents overcome the anxiety and stress they’re currently facing.
“Parents are trying to run the program and sometimes that results in the kids showing more behavior toward the parents,” Samantha said. “I’ve given them a lot of programs and check in with them to review what they’re seeing. I’m available for them to call and share what’s happening so I can see it, then coach them through it in the moment. It’s really been difficult. You learn best when we model – I watch you and give you feedback.”
For clients who are still attending therapy in clinic, she says some have seen more progress than normal.
“I have one client who is using therapy instead of school and is showing a lot of results and communicating much more,” Samantha said, adding that even families using Telehealth are showing progress. “Our field is very positive – you do see change very quickly, especially with younger kids. Helping the families keeps me motivated.”
As Texas continues to receive new guidelines from the CDC and government officials, she encourages everyone to follow the social distancing instructions so her families can begin working on social goals again.
“Parents want to come back,” she said. “I am seeing progress, but I know we could have more. If you’re sick, stay at home because we all want this to pass.”
RPM is proud to serve Samantha as a resident. She’s an important part of The People Behind The Property making a difference despite great obstacles. We are grateful to her for the dedication and creativity she brings to her work and our community.