A message from the Founder
As the first anniversary of Ausome Foundation approaches in May 2022, I am extremely proud of the many accomplishments the team has produced. Through their strategic priorities, they have successfully helped numerous individuals, families, schools, and institutions while positioning the Foundation with partners and sponsors that are genuinely invested in our mission and will be instrumental in the future of Ausome Foundation.
The Foundation celebrated April “Autism Awareness Month” through various activities, new programs, and events while educating and advocating on behalf of all those individuals on the Spectrum.
The fundamental rights of all individuals on the Spectrum will always be a driver in our work.
If this is your first time reading our newsletter, or have seen our inaugural edition, I want to personally thank you for celebrating this milestone with us and invite each one of you to frequently return to our website for all upcoming events and information and watch our story as it continues to unfold.
Founder & CEO
Design of a program for the development of communicative skills in adolescents with Autism and ADHD through body expression.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013) and the World Health Organization (WHO, 1992) are the most frequently diagnosed disorders in childhood worldwide. These disorders have been increasing their prevalence since the last century, according to studies carried out, considering the educational field, each teacher will have in their regular class, a minimum of one (1) to three (3) students with these diagnoses.
Among the three core symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, we find that attention deficit, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, are incompatible with school life, not only in terms of academic performance but also in the enjoyment of the different activities that are carried out in an academic environment. These symptoms interfere in the different areas of development of a child and/or adolescent in the behavioral area and in the family, social, emotional, academic, and leisure areas, resulting in a significant dysfunction not only in the child, but also in the family, friends, and teachers of the child.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (hereinafter, DSM), Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD are included within neurodevelopmental disorders, since it has a fundamentally neurological origin, which implies a slower maturation of the brain if we compare it with that of neurotypical children of the same age. These disorders are one of the most frequent reasons for consultation in the fields of neuropsychology, psychopathology, and child neurology.
Although both Autism and ADHD are commonly diagnosed during childhood, contrary to common belief, it has been shown that in most cases it is not resolved with the onset of puberty; thus, the adolescent presents significant inattentive and impulsive behaviors, some with permanent consequences. Because adolescence is a period of great changes in the social, physical, and emotional areas, this implies differences in the diagnosis, treatment, as well as compliance with the treatment of adolescents with these diagnoses. A very high percentage of adolescents with these disorders present great difficulties in the emotional and social spheres.
A large portion of the children and adolescents diagnosed, do not have below-average intelligence. The knowledge that they may have of the social arena is not deteriorated, rather it is the application of that social knowledge to daily life that is affected. This means that, when children and adolescents diagnosed on the Spectrum are not additionally diagnosed with a psychiatric disability that decreases their intellectual capacity, they can learn and develop different strategies of social skills.
The development of communication is a prerequisite for the acquisition of social skills, hence their close relationships. This confirms that these children and adolescents need to develop communicative skills that have a positive impact on their social relationships.
In this sense, it is necessary to distinguish between verbal and non-verbal communication and specifically the latter. Non-verbal communication is based on paralinguistic elements (sound elements that are nonlinguistic) that contain a significant volume of information that is transmitted through verbal communication and is used for the expression of emotions and attitudes. It is manifested through gestures, gaze, intonation, silence, and posture, among others.
This means that in this form of communication the body is used to express feelings and emotions that adolescents with this diagnosis must learn to recognize in others and, in addition, to express them with their own body. That is why this research is aimed at the design of a psychoeducational program for the development of communication skills in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD through body expression.
The general objective of this work is aimed at designing a psychoeducational program for the development of communication skills in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, using body expressions who attend the Golden Horizon Academy school, located in Cutler Bay.
The following specific objectives are proposed:
To begin, from the theoretical point of view, the use of body expression activities in a psychoeducational program for the development of communicative skills in adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD.
Diagnose the development of communication skills and body image that adolescents have with these diagnoses attend the school.
To address the selected topic, it is intended to use the perspective of professional guidance, specifically in this modality.
Preparation of a social intervention project; based on previous analysis of the real situation of a center attended by adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD.
This section aims to approach the study of both Disorders, identifying the main diagnostic criteria, prevalence, and etiology, specifically on the contribution of genetic, neurobiological, environmental, and/or psychosocial factors in their origin.
This disorder is contextualized in the period of adolescent development and addresses the challenges that this population group must endure in the face of biological, psychological, and social transformations. Finally, body expression is recognized as an ideal way for learning and developing communication skills.
Stay tuned in the next quarterly newsletters, we will continue to write about this topic and propose solutions.
KIDDZ Sense was born from a need of a mom who saw something fun, engaging, and beneficial for her children and wanted to share it with others in our community. My name is Sylvia Orozco-Vaca, a teacher and along with my cousin, Paula Leal, a police officer started KIDDZ Sense (Kids Imaginative Dexterity Development) because my twins were born prematurely at 29 weeks and needed physical therapy, speech therapy, and sessions with an Infant Toddler Developmental Specialist. I realized early on my son had an aversion to certain textures, so I started exposing him and his sister to all kinds of textures in a fun and playful way. I approached my children from my special education teaching perspective and augmented their therapies with my own sensory play using homemade playdough, colored beans, pasta, and rice and just letting them explore. I placed them as young as 9 months in a bin of cooked rainbow spaghetti and let them sit and explore in it. “It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” (Fred Rogers) and a difference it did make!
Carol Kranowitz, author of the Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun defines Sensory Processing as “the normal neurological process of organizing sensations for us in our everyday life.” We use our sensations daily to guide every aspect of our lives and having a breakdown or inability to use them effectively can affect our learning and perception of the world around us especially as a young child. Seeing the benefits sensory play had for my children we began making themed sensory kits to provide children in our community the same benefits. Sensory play promotes and supports language development, provides the opportunity to practice practical life skills such as pouring, scooping, measuring, and grasping objects, strengthens fine motor skills, regulates emotions and behaviors, sparks interest in learning, develops problem-solving, critical thinking, and cause and effect skills and encourages role-play.
Our themed kits include:
- at least 3 different types of textures (e.g., soft, hard, smooth)
- at least 4 sensory inputs (i.e., Sound, Touch, Hearing, and of course Visual)
- Fine Motor Tools (e.g., wind-up toy/tongs/tweezers)
- Scooping and Pouring Tools (e.g., scoop/spoon/basket/cup)
- Toy (s) for role playing
- Promote relaxation via the various fillers/optional scents
- Filler in a variety of colors (e.g., Pasta/Rice/ Beans/ Chickpeas/ Popcorn kernels)
Kids of all ages (adults too!) get the opportunity to have unscripted independent play and have fun while exploring various sensorial inputs. “Play is the foundation of learning, creativity, self-expression, and constructive problem-solving. It’s how children wrestle with life to make it meaningful.” (Susan Linn, Ed. D.).
Sylvia Orozco | Paula Leal
Employers: The Key to a Successful Renewal
Every year most businesses are faced with a tough decision – how to manage their new premium increase. “Can we absorb it?” “Should we split the increase?” “Should we water down our plans?” “Is there room to continue to increase the deductible?” “Should we change carriers?”
In the last 7 years, I’ve seen an incredible amount of money being wasted by the lack of understanding on how the healthcare system works, money that could have been invested in ways that better provided support for the well-being of employees and their families. Employees are faced with challenges, this can be very disruptive to their productivity, and one that continues to increase year, after year is the need to manage special care for a child on the spectrum. Imagine what could be possible if Employers were able to drastically reduce their costs and redirect those funds to programs that speak to the needs of their own population of employees?
Insurance carriers utilize complicated underwriting techniques and algorithms for forecasting which cause many employers to feel overmatched when reviewing their renewals. Employer complaints at renewal range from:
- “My loss ratio was significantly better than last year, yet I’m still being hit with a 10% increase.”
- “My renewal started at 19% and ended up at 8%. How can there be that much movement in the rate and is the carrier overstating the initial request to create a perception of more movement of the original request?”
- “I have this aggressive bid from a carrier, but I’m worried about getting hit with a high increase after year one.”
- “We are being told every year we have a few large claims that are causing us to have to pay higher increases. Aside from these few claims, we are a healthy population.”
Despite most HR team’s reluctance to disrupt their employees by moving to a new carrier, most brokers and consultants threaten to go to market as the primary strategy to negotiate pricing. While this may work some of the time, a skilled broker/consultant/advisor should offer a different perspective and process to help employers achieve a successful renewal.
They should also have access to in-house underwriters, actuaries, and analysts with knowledge of all the various financing and plan design models that generate profit for the carrier. Here are a couple of steps that should be in your process:
- Underwriting clients’ risks based upon claims and pricing history
- Evaluating multiple years of claims to determine the most advantageous basis to finance claims and assessing the effect of blending in carrier manual rates
- Calculating the full carrier profit earned in prior plan years and using this information to set optimized pricing
- Evaluating reserves that may be based on overly conservative or incorrect assumptions about ongoing claims
- Verifying carrier trend factors and months of trend which can inflate projections well above the true risk of a plan
- Reviewing pooling charges and individual elements of carrier expenses to be certain each factor can stand on its own
- Identifying revenue sources to the carrier from third party transactions (PBM and others)
- Evaluating historical profit of the carrier for the client’s program
Negotiating an insurance renewal can be perplexing and stressful. Working with an experienced broker/consultant/advisor with supporting data, analytics, and a team of subject matter experts on every component of healthcare is the key to a successful renewal.
Cynthia Borkoski is a Licensed Employee Benefits Consultant with USI Insurance Services. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and earned her Master’s in Sales Management. Prior to joining USI Cynthia has been consulting businesses for the last 12 years helping business owners and executives with strategies to mitigate risk, increase employee engagement and manage healthcare benefits. For more information, contact your insurance broker or she can be reached at (786) 785-1173 or by email at [email protected].
Autism Awareness and Education the Foundation to a Better Prognosis
A portion of the population wondered why an entire month was dedicated to Autism Awareness. The simple fact of wondering is a clear sign of the need to increase the level of education regarding this disorder. According to the CDC investigation sites, an average of 1 in every 44 (2.3%) 8-year-old children was estimated to have ASD in 2018. Many believe that the United States leads the level of incidence of this disorder in the world. To the surprise of many people, the United States is not on the list of the 10 countries with the highest incidence, nor is it reported as among those that provide the best care and treatment to people who suffer from this disorder. Since 2000, there has been a peak in the incidence of the diagnosis, which does not mean that the number of clients is increasing at that pace. In 2000, epidemiologists and researchers first began tracking diagnostic rates, which is one of the associated variables of the increasing trend.
Autism is a developmental disorder that shows its first signs in early childhood. However, it is not always diagnosed until the social demands increase around the child’s third year. Autism is expressed as a delay in communication and social skills, the presence of stereotyped behaviors, and hyper or hyporeactivity to sensory input ( sounds, textures, light, and tastes). There may be fixated interest in some items, cartoons, colors, and clothing with difficulties coping with changes in routines and activities. Other indicators include a lack of social interest and emotional reciprocity.
Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. The prognosis in clients with Autism depends on multiple variables. How early the diagnosis and treatment are, the better the prognosis will be. During the last years, the Applied Behavior Analysis has been an effective treatment as an early and intensive treatment for decreasing maladaptive behaviors and acquiring functional equivalent skills in children with Autism. Nonetheless, individuals with autism spectrum disorders have a higher comorbidity problem than the general pediatric population, including higher rates of seizures, psychiatric illness, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. According to the scientific literature, 50 to 70% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) also present with comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The early diagnosis and treatment will be favored by acquiring awareness and knowledge amongst the population. Parents who are better informed will be able to seek the appropriate help in their community. Although access to therapy varies across the USA, there are an increasing number of scientific organizations and foundations that advocate for funds and resources. Joining efforts at all levels will help this population to maximize their potential and social integration. As part of the professional community involved in the treatment of Autism, we are committed to supporting this population and advocating for the required services and resources. “Organizations like Ausome Foundation are essential as a platform to educate and advocate on behalf of those that can’t”.
Carnival on The Mile presented by Kiwanis of Little Havana (March 5-6, 2022)
Ausome Foundation, with its Ausome Team and volunteers, were at the core of this festival in Coral Gables that lasted the entire weekend. This event highlights over 200 local artists, jewelers, clothing, live art, delicious cuisine, and children’s entertainment.
Local artist Vic Garcia showed his support by creating a Canvas for all the children that wished to participate. Thank you to Lydia Sanchez and the entire Kiwanis family for allowing us to continue to advocate for autism awareness and continue one of our goals of promoting autism acceptance through art.
Ausome Birthday (March 22nd, 2022)
Ausome Foundation received a nomination for our new feature, “Ausome Celebration.” This Ausome student, after commencing ABA Therapy, achieved many accomplishments and was named Student of the Month. Ausome Foundation hosted a special birthday celebration and activities at the Foundation’s Office. Congratulations!
If you know someone you’d like to nominate, contact us at [email protected].
Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition Sensory Room Visit (April 8th, 2022)
Kids Fest & Parent Seminar (April 16th, 2022)
Special thanks to Kristoffer Doura for providing special sports activities during this event in Cutler Bay, along with MG Home Care and its team of Behavioral Analysts for leading an interactive and insightful parent training, the Ausome Volunteer Team for their support throughout the event, Kiddz Sense for facilitating a creative and fun slime workshop, and Golden Horizon Academy for hosting this Ausome event created by Ausome Foundation.
The Art of Being Ausome (April 7, 2022)
Ausome Foundation kicked off the month of April in celebration of Autism Awareness Month at the Coral Gables Museum in Coral Gables. We would like to recognize and thank our partners who made this event unforgettable, Vic Garcia World, Love & Light for World Peace, and MG Merchant Services.
Thank you to our Ausome sponsors for making this celebration possible. Events by Bea, FPL, MG Home Care, New Edge Associates, Boy Scouts South Florida Council, BDI Construction, Doral Automotive Group, Outsource Link, PathWaves, Hotel St. Michel, Forcade Group, Councilwoman Erica G. Ávila, 305 Drinks.
Ausome Foundation and BlanX Sneaker collaborative Project
Thank you to the City of Cutler Bay for providing a grant for this art project that was possible through these funds. We would like to thank Ariel Becal, Co Founder and the team of BlanX, Saraí de la Cruz, Jacqueline Ruiz, Lele Gutierrez, Bernice Gomez, Adriano Fernandez, Golden Horizon Academy. Special thanks to our local CBS 4 News Reporter and anchor, Joseph Gorchow, and crew for featuring this Ausome Story.