Developmental Therapies

The Cortica Care Model

Developmental Therapies address specific areas of need and strengths in a child's development during early years of life. Developmental therapies is an umbrella term for a set of therapies that focus on improving cognitive, social, motor, communication, and functional skills.
Developmental Therapies

What are Developmental Therapies?

At Cortica, Developmental Therapies address specific areas of need and strengths in a child’s development during the early years of life. Developmental Therapies is an umbrella term for a set of therapies that focus on improving cognitive, social, sensory, motor, communication, and functional skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

A child and therapist playing with blocks.

Cortica offers the following Developmental Therapies at our centers and via telehealth:

  • Occupational Therapy

  • Speech-Language Therapy

  • Music Therapy

  • Physical Therapy

Cortica’s developmental therapists will assess how a child receives, processes, and responds to information in order to participate in the world. They collaborate with the family and treatment team to determine the most effective strategies and therapy combinations for meaningful progress toward goals.

Occupational Therapy

A child playing with clay on a table.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy uses play techniques to build a child's foundation in sensory processing and integration, self-care, fine motor development, self-regulation, social-emotional development, and play skills.

At Cortica, occupational therapy aims to improve everyday skills, which allow individuals with neurodevelopmental differences to become more independent and participate in desired activities.

What is the goal of occupational therapy?

The goals of occupational therapy vary based on each child’s unique developmental needs. Some goals and benefits of occupational therapy can include:

  • Regulation and arousal

  • Motor planning (creating, planning/organizing and executing movement patterns for everyday activities)

  • Independent dressing and grooming

  • Eating and meal participation

  • Using the bathroom

  • Fine motor skills such as drawing, painting, writing, or using scissors

Occupational therapy activities at Cortica

Activity 1: Ninja Obstacle Course - This activity helps the child work on their sensory processing skills (vestibular and proprioceptive) to support body awareness, postural control and motor planning skills.

Activity 2: Creating an About Me collage using magazines and paint - This activity helps the child work on their tactile processing skills (with glue and paint), visual-motor integration, and fine motor grasp and manipulative skills.

Activity 3: Acting out famous superheroes based on emotions chart - This activity helps the child work on their ability to identify challenging situations, and helps to build their own self-regulation toolkit.

Who will I be working with?

Getting to know your Team:

Occupational Therapists (OT)

  • Master’s or Doctoral degree

  • Conducts evaluations and re-evaluations

  • Designs and supervises occupational therapy programs

Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)

  • Conducts occupational therapy sessions

  • Supervised by OT

Speech Therapy

A child and therapist practicing pronunciation.

What is speech therapy?

Speech-language therapy uses a variety of functional daily activities and play-based techniques to improve a child's ability to effectively express themselves, understand others, produce sounds clearly, use language socially, problem-solve, chew, and swallow.

Children with neurodevelopmental differences may often have difficulties with communication. At Cortica, early intervention speech-language therapy integrates the child's unique sensory and motor profile into relationship-based activities to improve a child's functional communication.

What is the goal of speech therapy for autism?

The goals of speech-language therapy vary based on each child's unique developmental needs. Some goals and benefits of speech-language therapy can include:

  • Speech sound production

  • Language comprehension

  • Expressive language through gestures, speech, and/or alternative communication

  • Speech fluency (stuttering)

  • Social pragmatic communication

  • Organizing, planning and problem-solving

  • Feeding and swallowing

Speech therapy activities at Cortica

Activity 1: Facilitating play between parent and child using Mr. Potato Head toy. The speech therapist provides strategies for the parent to pause and wait, provide choices, model language, and pair spoken language with visuals.

Activity 2: Reading the Animal Boogie Book with parent and child, modeling animal movements, and animal sounds. This strengthens prelinguistic imitation skills while incorporating movement opportunities to sustain engagement.

Activity 3: Pretend play building a sandwich activity. This creates an opportunity for the child to request various ingredients, make choices, engage in pretend play, turn-take, express preferences, and follow directions.

Who will I be working with?

Getting to know your Team:

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

  • Master’s or Doctoral degree

  • Conducts evaluations and re-evaluations

  • Designs and supervises speech-language therapy programs

Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA)

  • Conducts speech-language therapy sessions

  • Supervised by SLP

Music Therapy

A child and therapist playing the guitar together.

What is music therapy?

Neurologic music therapy applies the tools of music such as rhythm, pitch and instrument play to foster language, sensory integration, cognitive control, motor planning and execution. Research shows that individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental diagnoses respond positively to music— often showing a heightened neurologic response and interest.

At Cortica, music therapy focuses on promoting well-being and developmental goals through the therapeutic relationship and music as a means of expression and engagement.

What is the goal of music therapy for autism?

The goals of music therapy vary based on each child's unique developmental needs. Some goals and benefits of music therapy can include:

  • Task attention

  • Body awareness and coordination

  • Emotion awareness and regulation

  • Speech and vocalization

  • Executive Function (organization, planning, decision making and flexibility)

  • Social connection and trust building

Music therapy activities at Cortica

Activity 1: Singing a child-preferred book - This helps the child comprehend the words they sing by seeing pictures that related to the story, work on fluency of speech with the predictable rhythm and familiar melody and provide opportunities for spontaneous observations.

Activity 2: Reaching and hitting paddle drums with different rhythms - This helps the child with functional movement patterns such as crossing midline, bilateral integration, and gross/fine motor skills.

Activity 3: Creating a song using handbell tone bars. This form of instrument play targets sequencing skills, working memory, and attention skills

Who will I be working with?

Getting to know your Team:

Music Therapist (MT)

  • Bachelor's or master's degree

  • Conducts evaluations and re-evaluations

  • Designs and supervises music therapy programs

Physical Therapy

A child lifting weights with the help of a therapist.

What is physical therapy?

Physical therapy uses activities and exercise to improve gross motor skills and large-scale movements of the arms, legs, and torso, to build strength, balance, coordination, functional mobility, and endurance.

Children with neurodevelopmental differences often have underdeveloped muscle definition or poor posture and balance. At Cortica, physical therapy aims to help children build muscle control and strength so he or she can navigate their environment safely and play more easily with their peers.

What is the goal of physical therapy for autism?

The goals of physical therapy vary based on each child's unique developmental needs. Some goals and benefits of physical therapy can include:

  • Increased balance and motor coordination

  • Increased hand-eye coordination

  • Improved posture and strength

  • Functional mobility (walking and running)

  • Body safety and awareness

Physical therapy activities at Cortica

Activity 1: Reaching for items of various weights while on an exercise ball

  • Practices single-leg balance

  • Strengthens stabilizing muscles needed for balance

  • Targets range of motion at the ankle for more effective strides

Activity 2: Farm Animal walks

  • Works on muscle strength

  • Targets motor planning

  • Gross motor skill development

Activity 3: Seated on an exercise ball and writing ABCs with the foot by moving only at the ankle.

  • Improves core strength and stability

  • Increases ankle strength

  • Improves ankle range of motion

Who will I be working with?

Getting to know your Team:

Physical Therapist (PT)

  • Master's or Doctoral degree

  • Conducts evaluations and re-evaluations

  • Designs and supervises physical therapy programs

Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

  • Conducts physical therapy sessions

  • Supervised by PT

Developmental Therapies at Cortica

A child and parent interacting with a doctor.

Every child is unique, and we, at Cortica, believe your child’s therapy program should be just as extraordinary as they are. As our services provide a unique treatment and plan based on developmental therapies for your child, each therapy session is its own unique developmental path, to higher and higher levels of ability across all domains of learning. You should talk with your child’s provider to determine the right services that are right for your child. Developmental therapies can be delivered in different ways depending on your child’s needs and goals:

  • One-to-One: Therapy provided by one therapist to one child.

  • Co-Treatment: Sessions provided by two therapists of different therapy types to one child.

  • Group Sessions: Sessions provided by one or more therapists to multiple children.

  • Parent Coaching: An interactive process between clinician and caregiver that involves observation, reflection, and action to directly promote the caregiver’s ability to support their child’s participation in family and community activities.

Which developmental therapies are right for my child?

During your initial appointment, one of our medical providers will recommend any combination of the above developmental therapies based on your child's unique developmental goals. After this recommendation is made, our scheduling team will reach out to you to obtain your availability and schedule the initial evaluation appointment. Learn more about the roadmap to developmental therapies below.

A roadmap of starting developmental therapies at Cortica.

If you are interested in getting started with any of the above therapies that were not recommended by your Cortica physician, please contact us at scheduling@corticacare.com or call your local center. To learn more about our services and therapies, please visit Cortica's Services and Therapies page.

Will My Insurance Cover Autism Therapy?

Does your insurance cover the therapy you are looking for? At Cortica, we work with a wide range of health insurance plans. We can provide you with a benefits check and cost estimate before beginning services with Cortica. Please reach out to us for information about your specific insurance coverage.

Free Brochure on the Cortica Care Model
Take a peek at your future. Download a brochure about the six child development areas that we target and the types of therapies we offer to help children reach their greatest potential.