Thanks to our guest contributor Colleen Gallagher, a Berkeley mom of three with a background in teaching.
- Fiddleheads in Tilden Park. An outdoor social skills playgroup created and run by therapist Doug Lerch. I cannot say enough about this innovative and supportive environment that blends sensory activities, brain gym exercises, hiking, story-telling, drama, learning, self-awareness, and social lessons in a very naturalistic way in a beautiful and naturalistic environment. Learn more at his website.
- Music Therapy. Susan Rancer, Registered Music Therapist (RMT), of Piedmont has been such a delight to get to know and work with. She's been teaching my son piano for the past year. He loves his “Susan day”. She is just amazing. Music therapy is where my son gets to shine. He gains skills and is developing real talent with someone who has a passion and gift for teaching and advocating for children with special needs. Visit her website.
- Clinic4kidz Feeding Therapy. Dr. Meeta Patel of Clinic4kidz is located in Sausalito, but comes and works with your family in your home to create a menu and plan to get your child eating on their own. My son had severe reflux and aversions to many foods and mostly drank formula for his first three years. Dr. Patel has successfully gotten many children off of gtubes and able to not just tolerate eating food, but liking it! With my son's combo metabolic disease in which he cannot break down protein well and needs to adhere to a strict higher calorie diet, and yet he had lower muscle tone and aversions to eating, Dr. Patel was truly a lifesaver to our family. Every time I have a meal with my son I send her a silent hundred thank yous.
- Berkeley YMCA Swimming and Play Programs. The pools, the activities, the inclusive environment, and many ongoing classes for children and families dealing with special needs is truly a local gem. (Ed note: See our previous post about the Y's programs.)
- Head Over Heels Gymnastics. Coaches at the Emeryville gym have received training from Behavioral Intervention Association (BIA) in order to tailor classes to better serve children on the autism spectrum. Classes are offered during times in the gym that are less crowded. Depending on the child’s need, a parent, guardian or aide may be required in order to best support each child in the class. Over the phone, Head Over Heels personnel told me that kids as old as 14 or 15 have enjoyed this class.
Thanks, Colleen, for sharing your tips and letting us all benefit from your journey!