Date of birth: October 25, 2004
James’ parents sought IBI for their son prior to having a psychological assessment as they had concerns for their son’s development.
April 2008 – Psychological Assessment indicated that “James’ cognitive skills fell at the 2nd percentile and his adaptive skills at the 1st. He presented behaviours consistent with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
March 2010 – Psychological Assessment states ” James has made significant gains in several areas of development. As James no longer meets diagnostic criteria for an Autism Spectrum Disorder, he does not meet eligibility criteria for IBI services from Autism Intervention Program – Eastern Ontario.”
The following is an excerpt from this assessment: “Cognitive Functioning: “Overall, James’ thinking and reasoning abilities fell in the Low Average range at the 16th percentile when compared to typically developing children his age. James’ nonverbal and verbal thinking and reasoning skills were generally consistency with his overall score. Within the verbal domain (e.g. verbal problem solving), James’ overall performance fell in the Average range at the 30th percentile. That it, compared to 100 children his age, 70 children obtained scores above his and 30 had scores below. Some variability across tasks was evidenced with all but one subset score falling in the average range. James demonstrated age appropriate skills in picture naming and providing word definitions, as well as age appropriate skills on a task on verbal reasoning that required him to describe relationships between characters in pictures and sort and classify objects in categories…. He also demonstrated age appropriate knowledge of quantitative concepts.”
James began IBI with The Portia Learning Centre Inc. in November 2007, below is a timeline of his sessions and progress.
ABLLS-R overview: shows acquired skills from November 2007 to August 2010)
Brief overview: When James began therapy he was 3 years old and he was non-verbal. His fine and gross motor skills were delayed and he had difficulty understanding instructions. He engaged in ritualistic, repetitive play and did not engage in any social interactions with peers. His self help skills were below average and he was not toilet trained. His diet was limited to cola and apricot baby food. His lack of liquid and food intake was a major concern. He was not able to chew solid food at 3 years of age.
At discharge, James enagaged in pretend imaginative play with peers, ate a variety of solid foods and drank water, juice and milk. He was toilet trained and his expressive and recepitve language was in the average range for children his age.
His therapy initially addressed the feeding and communication skills deficits. Within the first two years, James was speaking using one to two word utterances and eating solid food and could use the bathroom independently. His play and social skills were addressed in a group 1:1 setting with other children at Portia and a therapist attended a daycare with James 3 mornings per week to pratice social and play skills with neurotypical peers. James was then transitioned into a classroom model to prepare him for school where he learned to follow classroom routines and group instructions. James entered grade one without support in September 2010.
Dear Portia Learning Centre,
Our son, James, graduates today from The Portia Learning Centre and moves forward henceforth with a brighter hope for the future. Through the efforts of The Portia Learning Centre, and in particular those of all of the therapists who worked with James throughout his nearly three years of therapy, James is now ready to enter grade one, effective September 7, 2010.
James had just turned three years of age when he was first diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The news was devastating. He was socially withdrawn, non-verbal and susceptible to various stims. The future which we all envision for our children can shatter so easily when a medical diagnosis of this severity is first identified. Thankfully, and due in large part to the hard work and determined efforts of everyone at The Portia Learning Centre, James is now one of the most sociable children in our extended family, is a non stop talker, has overcome all of his stims and has accomplished so much more. Although James will no doubt continue to face daily challenges as he continues to grow into adulthood, there is no doubt in our minds that the therapy he received from The Portia Learning Centre has provided him with the essential tools and building blocks to help him form the foundation for all future achievements.
We would like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone at The Portia Learning Centre for providing our son, James, with the highest quality of ABA therapy available and for getting him ready to take on new challenges as he enters full time school.
Thank you all!!!!!
J & D
To: all those involved in Zoë’s therapy
We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for her and for our family. We were so anxious, nervous and didn’t know where to turn when Zoë first got her diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. We didn’t know what this meant for her and her future. Would she finish high school? Would she find a fulfilling career? Would she find love? Would she rely on us until we couldn’t take care of her any longer?
She loves going to Portia and loves spending time with all the staff there and of course has made friendships with some of the children there as well. I’m sure she will miss going to Portia and will miss all the people there as well.
We will be forever grateful for all you’ve done. The therapy you’ve provided to Zoë is life changing for her. She is progressing such that she may only have a few residual ASD traits to manage throughout her life.
Stay in touch and to anyone who wants to remain part of Zoë’s life and to get updates on her progress please send me an email and we’ll keep your contact info.
UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2014
Hi Kim, long time no speak – I’ve been wanting for quite some time now to give you an update on Zoë! We have continued to see progress in leaps and bounds since she finished therapy in late February this year. In April, the family took a desperately needed vacation in Jamaica. Prior to going, we told the kids that Jamaica was another country, far away from Canada, and that we would have warm weather and be on the beach and have a week to have fun as a family. Zoë thought about this, then asked “will there be lots of people in Jamaica?”. I answered that yes, I expected there would be a lot of people in Jamaica. She thought again and said “will there be lots of kids in Jamaica?”, to which I replied that I was sure there would be. I was so impressed that it seemed she really grasped what (at the time) would have been very abstract for her – what’s another country? What does far away from home really mean? What will the new place be like?
Her social skills have also grown in leaps and bounds. The school board recently had a specialist in to observe Zoë in the school yard and in the classroom – in the school yard, they observed that she held hands with another friend, took turns appropriately in turn taking games, and when the recess bell rang, she promptly followed the routine without any reminders or other supports. She regularly plays very appropriately with her little brother, his friends, and her own friends. She will also have imaginary play on her own, and has become quite a fan of dolls and My Little Pony!
Her conversational skills have also improved significantly – speaking with her senior kindergarten teacher at the end of last school year, she noted that Zoë was eager to participate in discussions in class, but didn’t always contribute information relevant to the discussion. This year, her Grade 1 teacher allows some time after each recess for the kids to discuss what happened on recess, and good behaviour they either did or observed. When the school board representatives were observing Zoë, they noted that she was the first one with her hand up, and her message was bang on to the subject of the discussion! We have also noticed at home that her comments are becoming more in context, we are starting to have meaningful discussions with her, and she is strongly expressing her opinions now 🙂
I have to admit, I was a little anxious when her therapy was done – she had made great advances, but I knew the advances came from the work Portia had done with her. I think I was concerned that her progress would stop, or at least slow down, despite having read research to the contrary. I am so pleased with her continued progress and SO PROUD of her.
It seems the main difficulty she has now is being a perfectionist, LOL. We are working to help her manage her expectations of herself, though, and the school board is 100% on board. From all other aspects, though, she really seems on par with her neurotypical peers. What a success story she is.
I was wondering if I could ask that Portia burn us a CD or DVD of all the video that was taken of Zoë while she was in therapy there? Not only would Paul and I like to see again all the progress she has made, but in fact we have interest from individuals at the board who would also like to see how Zoë progressed.
Could you please let me know if this is possible. Also, I would be happy if you would share the message above with the staff at Portia!
Zoë has certainly turned out to be quite the success story 🙂 To see her today, it is hard to remember just how much I feared for her future when she was diagnosed with autism three years ago. I am so glad we chose to work with the team at Portia, it has absolutely been life changing for her.
Note from the psychologist who has followed Zoë
Thank you so much to both of your for sharing the wonderful update on your daughter with Kim – and for forwarding it to me, Kim. I am so thrilled to hear how much she is continuing to blossom. She was such a joy to work with, and I know Kim and the staff at The Portia Learning Centre feel the same. She had wonderful therapists there. Mostly, she has amazing parents, and I wish your family all the very, very best.
I hope all is well with you and the staff at Portia.
I thought I would give you an update on how Nate is doing. He is actually doing great at school. His mid year report card came home a couple weeks ago, and he had all A’s and B’s, with only two C’s in French and Social Studies. These grades are not adjusted for any factors related to an IEP – they are what they are. I had the final meeting this morning with the ASD consultant from CHEO to formally transfer Nate’s file back to the school board. They are all thrilled with how he is doing. The Principal said she is amazed at how far Nate has come
since JK. In fact she said she has never had as successful a case as Nate.
Socially, he is really coming along. He is enrolled in the Extended Day Program (both mornings and afternoons) at the school so he is getting lots of time to play with his peers. As predicted, it has been so good for him to be placed with other children in the school environment. I see him playing and talking with other children all the time.
All the best,
Our son Benjamin (Benji) was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome – on the autism spectrum – in November 2011 when he was four years old. The CHEO psychologist advised us that Benji will always be affected by Asperger’s but that there were some things we could do to help him cope better with his condition. In particular, he suggested looking into ABA
therapy. That is how we came to know about The Portia Learning Centre.
During our first interview with Kim Moore (Clinical Director at Portia), we were very impressed with what she told us about the services we could expect from Portia. Benji started receiving his therapy in March 2012. At that time, Benji had a lot of difficulty playing with other children, dealing with change in his routine, eating different foods, adjusting to different people and places, as well as undeveloped gross and fine motor skills. Since Benji had started Junior Kindergarten in September 2011, these difficulties resulted in his teacher having a lot of
trouble keeping Benji engaged and “on track” through the day.
We are very pleased with the progress that Benji made during his time at Portia. Due to the intensive work by his therapist Natalia plus Senior Therapist Shannon and all her staff
over an 18-month period, Benji has come out of his comfort zone and can now function with confidence and self-assurance as he integrates into a full-day Grade One school program. Initially, Benji had various skills but they seemed to be all jumbled in his brain; the Portia staff helped him to fine-tune his skills and put them together in a way that made sense while, at the same time, helping him to relax and not be frustrated. Benji also learned new skills at Portia and now is not afraid to approach people or try new things. These changes have not only noticed by us, as parents, but also everyone else he comes in contact with: at school, church or outside in a playground setting. Benji can now take swimming lessons with a regular group of children whereas before he would prefer just playing on his own. At Portia, he learned to socialize with the other children there and now he craves to be playing with other children all the time.
As parents, we feel better able to cope with Benji and also to help him cope with the outside world.
We can truly say that the staff members at Portia are indeed hard-working, caring and highly-motivated professionals; they have succeeded even beyond our expectations in what we thought was possible for our son – we now are confident that Benji will be able to achieve his true potential and be successful in school and his future endeavours.
When Victoria started at Portia Learning Centre 7 months ago, she was a very frustrated and anxious little girl who was scared in new places and around new people. She wasn’t responding to people and wouldn’t follow even the simplest command. With Kim, Amanda,and Paula’s help, she is starting to become more comfortable in new places and less fearful of new people. 7 months ago we couldn’t have imagined Victoria being able to function at a preschool or school. Now she is comfortable in a preschool environment, and her behaviour has improved greatly thanks to everyone at the centre. The staff at Portia have also been great at training us to help Victoria. I was lucky enough to spend time with different members of the team at Portia training in simple ABA principles which make a huge difference in our everyday lives. We now have a better understanding of our daughter and how to help her. Thanks to everyone at Portia for helping our little girl.
Our daughter Hanna was diagnosed with Autism in 2008. Hanna had many behavioural issues when she started full-time IBI therapy at Portia Learning Centre in 2010. She was whining, crying, grabbing and not cooperative; no surprise for autistic children! The clinical supervisor and senior therapist implemented different strategies to manage her behaviours. After few months they managed to control her behaviours and get he cooperation.
Hanna learned many foundational skills at Portia; her behaviour, attention span have improved significantly! We have noticed major changes in her language and communication skills.
Hanna’s IBI therapy has been closely supervised by AIP-EO’s psychologists and they were very happy with her therapists and the programs developed by Portia.
We have been impressed by the high quality of the IBI therapy provided by Portia and also the professionalism of its staff. The management team, therapists and clinical supervisors all have been very helpful and cooperative. Colleen Cairn, Hanna’s clinical supervisor has tried hard to analyze Hanna’s behaviours and to implement effective strategies to manage her behaviours.
We are very grateful to Kristy Hunt, the senior therapist at Portia for her sincere cooperation and for developing and supervising Hanna’s IBI program. She is very knowledgeable, nice and caring.
We have been very satisfied with Portia’s IBI therapy and we highly recommend it to other parents who are looking for a good private IBI provider.
The Borenstein Family
The Portia Learning Centre gave our son a voice – literally. In September 2011, we started at Portia and our three year old son had few words, repetitive speech, fixations on cars, limited social play and the inability to sit still for more than a few seconds. Within six months, our son is speaking in full sentences, his fixations have lessened significantly, he is now extremely social, is being toilet-trained and can sit for extended periods of time. New milestones are reached weekly. Early intervention has enabled him to be more prepared and confident to be social with his peers, have techniques to manage sensory issues, and have the necessary language to have a conversation. Our experience has been so positive. The staff are enthusiastic and truly care about the outcome of every child. They do not treat their work like a job. They are innovative and will continue to find alternate solutions to finding the right recipe for what works for each child. Any request we have had, no matter how big or small, were attended to immediately. Our son loves it there so much he wants to spend his weekends there! The Portia Learning Centre has been the best gift we could have given our son.
The Borenstein Family
My daughter Nooshin was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of 2.5 years. A few months later, after only one meeting with Kim, I decided to send Nooshin to Portia. At that time Nooshin was non-verbal, with no other form of communication, and no eye contact. She didn’t interact with peers or adults, and couldn’t bear being touched or held.
At the beginning, Nooshin’s therapy session consisted of long tantrums with short breaks, during which the therapist would attempt to interact with Nooshin. Thanks to the hard work, patience and dedication of the Portia therapists who have worked with Nooshin over the years, she now loves therapy. She’s the happiest when learning and playing with her therapist, Shannon, and tries her best to do well and to impress Shannon. Nooshin is attending a regular kindergarten class with an aide this year. She loves to go to school to show off everything she has learned with Shannon. She likes reading books, and singing songs. Most importantly, she gives the best hugs and kisses!
In addition, I live in Quebec and that has meant a number of unique problems along the way. Portia has always welcomed collaboration with daycare, school, or other organizations when required. Nooshin’s therapy team has worked hard and provided advice to teachers, aides and other professionals involved in her education, always with Nooshin’s best interest in mind.
This has not been a smooth journey by any means; however, the truth is that Nooshin’s therapy team (Charlene and Shannon) have been my number one support system through all the ups and downs along the way. It cannot be put into words what all their hard work and support has meant both for Nooshin as well as for the rest of my family.
That’s why my advice to families with a recent diagnosis is: “Make therapy at Portia your first step and everything else will just fall into place.”
George entered the Portia Intensive Behavioural Therapy (IBI) program just a few months following his official diagnosis of autism. At the time of his diagnosis, he was assessed as having “extremely low” conceptual, social and practical skills (i.e., below the 1st percentile relative to his peers).
To our utter amazement, within just six months of IBI at Portia, we have noticed an enormous improvement in George’s overall skills. His speech has taken a great leap forward (he is now quite talkative), his demeanour has improved tremendously (he is calmer and more compliant; he says “thank you” and “please”), his eating habits are much better (he eats a wider assortment of foods) and is playing more and more with his younger sister.
Most importantly, according to a recent assessment conducted on George by outside professionals, George has achieved almost all of his occupational therapy goals and is now “average” compared to his 4-year old peers. He can count to 50; he knows his alphabet, colours, and shapes; he can hold a pencil and trace out letters/figures; he can use scissors to cut paper; he can button his shirt and zip-up his jacket; and, he can now complete puzzles with up to 70-80 pieces with relative ease. George is now fully potty-trained – an accomplishment that we thought was unachievable a year ago. It is unbelievable!
With the new skills that George has acquired at Portia, we feel that he will be ready to enter a regular kindergarten class (albeit with some initial assistance) in the coming school year.
The folks at Portia have done an incredible job. We are eternally indebted to Karen, Theresa, Jennifer, Amanda, Courtney and the entire Portia team for their hard work and dedication and, most of all, for their patience, compassion and understanding. They have made a tremendous difference in George’s life – and also in our lives.
Vlasios and Olympia
“Our son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and was considered high functioning and received very limited support from OCTC so we turned to Portia. We met with Karen and Kim and were impressed with their level of professionalism and how they took a genuine interest in our situation and wanted to support us anyway they could. They made it possible for our son to continue full time kindergarten and receive ABA therapy at the school. In the ten months Kieran has attended Portia the results have been outstanding. When he started he was unable to print his name, half way through the school year he was tested by the Ministry of Health and scored in the average category with all other five year olds! His eye contact and ability to carry on a fluid conversation has improved to the point where people who don’t know about his diagnosis just think he is a regular five year old boy. In fact we believe he will lose his diagnosis in the next couple of months and Portia played a key role in this remarkable achievement.
In addition their Courtwood centre is well organized, inviting, and has a positive energy. The therapists are very focused and motivated to ensure their clients get maximum value, I would highly recommend Portia to anyone who requires extra support to secure a solid foundation for the rest of their life.”
“Hayward had his appointment with the developmental pediatrician this morning. A year ago at 30 months he was assessed as moderately autistic and at the 12 month level. Now, he no longer meets full diagnostic criteria for autism and is more PDD-NOS. The pediatrician tells us he wouldn’t qualify for ABA funding anymore because he is “just too good”. He is developmentally on track with all of his milestones except speech and language which she says is only about 4 months behind for his age. What a difference! The pediatrician was absolutely blown away by the change in Hayward. She told us it is a real possibility that continuing with what we are doing now , he might not need any supports for grade 1. Time will tell of course, but she said given his progress in just a year, she fully believes it is possible and SO DO WE!
We are so thankful to Portia and his team for making this happen for him. Words will never be able to describe how grateful we are to the amazing team of therapists that have worked with him over the past 14 months. You have given us back our son. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.”
“Kim and her team at Portia are amazing!
In the four months that our son has been attending, he has shown unbelievable progress. He was initially non-verbal (at 2 ½ years) and spoke his first words within his first month at Portia. He is now communicating meaningfully using phrases and has completely let go of his PECS binder.
Our son also tended to avoid other children and organized activities. He has now become an active and willing participant of circle time and sings songs.
The best part is that our son LOVES going to Portia. They have managed to make this incredibly effective therapy a fun and positive experience for the children, and our son happily goes back for more each day.
Furthermore, Kim and her team keep close contact with the parent with regards to the kids’ progress and treatment goals. They are so approachable and always open to our questions and concerns.
I highly recommend The Portia Learning Centre!”
“Kim, 6.5 short months ago life seemed bleak, frustrations were high and we were barely coping. Then you, Charlene and Julia came into our lives what a world of difference you have made. I knew from our first meeting at the house that I wanted (our child) to be in your hands with your empathic, knowledgeable and unassuming ways. At that point (our child) was not listening at all, she was speaking in 2-3 words at best when prompted, was not affectionate and seemed to want to be entirely by herself. Now 6.5 months later she does not stop talking, she is using up to 6 word phrases, she wants to be with us all the time, she listens the majority of the time, she answers questions and wants/needs attention and affection. You have no idea the change we have seen in her and we are and will continue to be indebted to all of you. I just wanted to know how we were feeling and that all of your work does not go unnoticed. THANK-YOU!!!”
“The Portia Learning Centre is a very professional and highly organized centre for ABA. Staff members are very knowledgeable and are flexible and accommodating in meeting the needs of families. Within the first two months of ABA therapy, my autistic daughter has made major improvements in behavior, speech and social skills while attending the Portia Learning Centre.”
“Our son has been attending the Portia Learning Centre for over a year. During this time, he has made outstanding improvements in so many areas particular to kids with autism.
The management team has always been accessible, supportive, and creative in their programming in order to meet our son’s needs.
All of the staff I have encountered at Portia are well trained and supervised, responsive, and highly professional.
Daily verbal and written communication, plus regular progress meetings, has meant that we have been able to be involved in our son’s progress every step of the way.
Best of all – Portia makes their program fun for the children. I think the Portia Learning Centre really cares about their children! My son still looks forward going to Portia!”
“My son Christian has been attending the Portia Learning Centre since October 25, 2007. Since then, he’s shown remarkable progress in many ways, most notably in speech, social skills, and in becoming independent with toileting skills. Christian is now an outgoing, happy, social little boy who enjoys challenging and is very proud of his achievements. He has learned to deal with his challenges in a more constructive way then throwing tantrums or getting upset. Portia has also helped him develop a taste for new food items and to deal with his sensory difficulties with food. The staff is always courteous and available whenever there is a question or a concern. I would recommend the Portia Learning Centre to whomever would need their services.”
“The staff at Portia are wonderful, in particular Lukas’ team of therapists. Without their dedication and tireless efforts, he would not be where he is today. He absolutely loves going to Portia. His therapists are experienced and enthusiastic and he enjoys spending his time with them. He has made remarkable progress in all areas especially with language and play skills.
We are hopeful Lukas will continue to make progress to reach his full potential and we are so grateful to you and to everyone at Portia. Thank-you!”