Autism today affects many families and is becoming more prevalent as time goes by. There is still a mystery surrounding the cause of autism in our children but the effect is very clear; disruptive behavior, inability to focus, sensory sensitivities and social isolation. Many parents struggle to find help for their children. Some feel they did something wrong during pregnancy or when the child was first born. Some families are torn apart because of the stress that comes with trying to raise a child with autism.
Janet Lachowsky OTR/L, MIS, LBA is a gentle, loving woman who understands the stress many parents feel and who is doing something to help. Janet has been a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for the past 35 years and has had great success working with children who have sensory integration challenges.
In 1989 Janet opened Richmond Therapy Consultants, the first free standing Sensory Integration Clinic in Richmond, VA. Since then, Janet has been providing unique therapy for children with sensory and learning disorders using neuro-developmental methods. The clinic, located at 400 Coalfield Road in Midlothian, provides a loving, environmentally friendly, home-like atmosphere for children to have fun while learning.
In 1999 a young boy by the name of Matthew stole Janet’s heart. His infectious laugh always made her day. With Janet’s help, Matthew’s extreme hypersensitivity to sound and touch rapidly diminished but language and social interaction continued to be a challenge. Matthew was subsequently diagnosed with autism which led his Mom to investigate Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) based educational programs. Together, Janet and Matthew’s Mom incorporated ABA methods into Matthew’s therapeutic program. The success of this approach inspired Janet to pursue extensive training in ABA methods and in 2008 she became fully credentialed as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.
In 2002, after hearing of Janet’s great success in treating children with autism, the Virginia Department of Education approached her to open a school. As a result, Spiritos School was created. Today both Richmond Therapy Consultants, Inc. Janet’s sensory integration clinic and Spiritos School, her educational program for autism and developmental delay, reside under one roof. The school, which admits children between the ages of 2 and 12, is licensed to provide a full academic curriculum along with the various therapies specific to each child’s individual needs.
With Autism it’s important to find a way for the child to communicate with his or her family and with society. What society sees as disruptive behaviors are often representations of the frustration these children feel at not being able to make us understand their needs.
According to Janet, “When you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child with autism.” No two children are exactly alike and no therapy program will work exactly the same for two different children. Richmond Therapy Consultants/Spiritos School takes a holistic approach to treating the whole child - body, mind and spirit. Janet and her highly qualified staff treat each child as a unique individual. Specific individualized programming incorporating integrated therapies and one on one implementation yield highly effective results. Each child has their own team of therapists who work closely with one another to ensure proper planning and execution of the therapeutic program. Continuous training and education ensure the staff is always up to date on the latest techniques.
Janet’s children love to come to school and have fun. While they’re having fun, they’re also learning and conquering their challenges. Janet and her team are expert at helping each child break through the barriers that hold them back and to achieve their highest potential.
In 2011, Janet fought alongside the folks at Virginia Autism Project and Autism Speaks to obtain insurance coverage for parents in Virginia who were struggling to access needed help for their children. She spent many days at the Virginia Legislature talking to state officials to educate them on the effects of autism and the effectiveness of Applied Behavior Analysis. As a result of these combined efforts, Virginia now mandates insurance coverage for autism related therapies, specifically ABA Therapy. Self-insured companies are not part of the mandate and therefore are not required to comply with this legislation. The good news is that some forward-thinking self-insured companies provide more comprehensive coverage for children of their employees. Since the law was enacted, Richmond Therapy Consultants works with insurance companies such as Anthem, Tricare and others and is now able to help children who once were unable to access needed care.
As an adjunct to the children’s programming, Janet conducts workshops for parents to help them understand sensory integration and behavior therapy techniques they can use at home. She has contributed to Fort Lee’s efforts to educate parents and has held a training session for Emergency Room personnel at Bon Secour to help increase their understanding on how to recognize and work with children with Autism. Janet believes parent and community education is key in helping families cope and in helping children be successful both at home and in society.
To learn more about Richmond Therapy Consultants and Spiritos School, call us at 804-897-7440.
Specific individualized programming incorporating integrated therapies and one on one implementation yield highly effective results.
Janet and her team are expert at helping each child break through the barriers that hold them back and to achieve their highest potential.