GIANT Steps is a day-treatment program for preschool-aged children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder either before or at the time of assessment.  Our unit has five classrooms with a capacity of 12 children, serving a total of 60 preschoolers and their families (Medicaid & non-Medicaid).  We have partnerships with the Alpine and Provo School Districts to provide Special Education services for our students.  This relationship allows us to run our program in a typical school environment.

Our program runs Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 3:20 pm.  We follow the school district schedule throughout the school year but continue our program until the end of June.  During the month of July, we provide a summer program so children are able to continue working on the things they have learned during the school year.

Meet our staff.

History

GIANT Steps Pre-School came to Utah County in 1997 as the Children’s Behavior Therapy Unit of Utah County when a few concerned and diligent parents who were driving their children to Salt Lake City on a daily basis procured the funding.  The program started out as a coordinated effort between Valley Mental Health, Wasatch Mental Health, and the three school districts in Utah County.  GIANT Steps received it’s current name when it became exclusive to Wasatch Mental Health.  Although the relationships between the school districts remain, Wasatch Mental Health has complete supervision of staff hiring and training, as well as treatment approaches and implementation.  Through the years, GIANT Steps has experienced variable funding but continues to provide quality treatment and results at no cost to families.


Admissions Information


Children must be between the ages of three and five.  This means that when an opening is available, a child who is three or older will be assessed and, if accepted, will graduate at the time they transition to a Kindergarten program.

Children must also have a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder or fall on the Autism spectrum at the time of assessment.

At present, we do not prioritize student acceptance based on justification of severity/functioning level or convenience. Assessments for eligibility are offered to children on a first come, first serve basis.  It is not uncommon to have a waiting list of over a hundred names each school year.  Because funding from Medicaid allows us to provide twice as many placements, we are required to reserve those slots for Medicaid clients.  However, even Medicaid children age off the waiting list.  For this reason it is important for families to contact us with the first signs of developmental delay, or even as a precaution if there is a history of autism spectrum disorders.

Call (801) 226-5437 for information about having your child placed on the waiting list.

Each family is required to volunteer during the program at least one hour a week.  Minimum requirement: 80% Our staff will work with you to allow for a consistent time that will make this possible for you.  This is an important aspect of our program.  You will be able to learn many techniques that can be used at home, as well as see how we interact with your child.  This is also a good opportunity for our staff to address any questions or concerns you may have.
Each family must attend parent trainings.  Minimum requirement: 80% Parent trainings will be held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday (evening) of each month.  A schedule will be provided and you will be notified of any changes that are made
Each family must attend and provide transportation for their own child on at least four outings. This allows room for our staff to ride with your children when they are transported in the Wasatch Mental Health vans.   This is a safety issue.  Some children need help staying in their car seat.  This is also a good time for staff to promote social skills with other peers, as well as improve self regulation and coping skills for children who have a difficult time riding and waiting in vehicles for a prolonged time.
Treatment requirements (PPOQ’s, permission forms, private service plans (IEP), psychological testing, etc.): Paperwork or other communication required for treatment at GIANT Steps must be completed in a timely manner. This includes the Plenk Preschool Outcome Questionnaire (PPOQ), which will be sent home monthly, permission forms for upcoming events or school district testing/coordination.  Private Service Plan meetings or transition IEP meetings must be kept once they are scheduled.  Parent portions to our psychological testing will also be sent home at the end of the school year, which we use for outcome measures.  All our measures are used to report to the state to continue funding and continue an evidence‐based treatment setting.

Parent Requirements

Our program depends on parent participation. Not only is parent participation mandatory to stay in the program, the hours are used to show how much our parents give back to the program.  This helps us continue our funding.


Treatment Approach

We believe that optimum progress is made through an individualized multi-treatment approach founded in a structured routine designed for positive increments of growth.  Our goal is to help our children learn through various methods to develop the skills it takes to cope with planned and unplanned changes in routine.  Some approaches are used in combination throughout the day and include, but are not limited to:

  • Principals of Learning and Behavior Modification such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Attending Leveling (taken from “Getting Ready to Learn” model) and Curriculum Progress
  • Principals of Greenspan’s FloorTime/DIR
  • Basic principles of TEACCH (picture schedules)
  • Alternative Communication Methods such as simple Sign Language or the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Social Stories
Services

Day Treatment Program (Preschool)

  • Language
  • Social Skills
  • Centers (Themed weekly, targets fine motor, social, and sensory)
  • Kindermusik Curriculum
  • Monthly Themed Music
  • Computer Group
  • Community Outings

 

  • Attending Goals
  • Imitation skills
  • Receptive Language skills
  • Expressive Language skills
  • Cognitive Skills (Retaining academics & other age-appropriate skills)
  • Toilet Training
  • Eating Variety food/feeding self
  • Dressing & Clean up
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Speech Therapy
  • Adaptive Physical Education (APE)
  • TeachTown Curriculum (provided by school district, administered by WMH staff)
  • Behavior Management
  • Following Directions
  • Applied Social/Interpersonal Skills
  • Mental Health and Autism Diagnostic Evaluation
  • Pre and Post Developmental Test (PEP-3, CARS-2)
  • Psychiatric Services
  • Individual and Family Therapy
  • In-Program Parent Training (about 1 hour per week)
  • Evening Parent Training (2-4 hours per month)
  • Parent Support Group (Sponsored by Friends of GIANT Steps)
  • Sibling Support Annual Day Camp
  • Home visits and treatment (as needed)
  • Other family involvement: Date Night, Family Day, Daddy’s Day
  • Case Management Services
  • Services to help with your child’s transition to School District Services following graduation.