Employees Community Fund of Boeing grant supports children with autism

The Employees Community Fund of Boeing has awarded United Services for Children $4,756 to finance training and technology that will help children with autism learn to better communicate with family and teachers.

The grant will allow United Services for Children to purchase “bug in the ear” technology for Pivotal Response Training (PRT). PRT is an evidence-based, behavioral strategy that targets pivotal areas of a child’s development, such as social motivation, communication, self-management and initiations of social interactions. The agency will provide the training to families of children ages 24 months through 36 months, as well as staff members.

“This grant will give us the opportunity to give parents a way to work with their children, who are having difficulty connecting,” said Ann Neuner, United Services director of educational services. “Social motivation and engagement can be difficult for children on the autism spectrum. This will help them engage with people and build social interaction.”

During a PRT session, a teacher or parent works one-on-one with the child while a coach watches. The coach communicates with the parents or teacher via a headset transmitter and earbud receiver, or “bug in the ear” device. The coach is able to advise the parents or teacher throughout the session without the child being aware.

United Services will use part of the grant money to train two therapists in PRT. Once they are certified, these two will train other staff and parents. Approximately 10 staff members and eight families are expected to be trained within the first year.

United Services for Children is a St. Peters-based nonprofit agency that offers pediatric therapy, early intervention and family support services to children with disabilities and their families.   Since its inception 42 years ago, the agency has transformed the lives of thousands of children. United Services is a leader in preparing children of all abilities to reach their full potential.