Life-Changing Clinic is Growing
August 1, 2019 | by stephanie hobby | photos by jana graham photography
From the moment you step into the welcoming, brightly lit lobby, the patient-centered nature of the Pediatric Therapy Clinic, Inc. is clear. The Clinic has been offering valuable services including physical, occupational, speech, and behavioral therapy to children and their families in Billings and around Montana since 2006.
In its inception, the Clinic contracted with Scottish Rite to offer speech therapy services. The partnership has changed a bit since then, but Scottish Rite continues to work with the Clinic and other area providers to offer scholarships to help cover the costs of speech therapy for children who need it.
Since those early days, the Pediatric Therapy Clinic has been continuously growing to keep up with demand. In 2012, they moved from their first location in the Lamplighter Annex to Poly Drive, which allowed them to expand their services to include more speech, physical, and occupational therapists and to reach more children.
In 2013, with the increasing need for services for children with an autism spectrum disorder, they added full Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, services, becoming one of the first places in the state of Montana to do so. Their services reach across Montana, providing specialized care for children with autism and other needs and their families in Anaconda, Butte, Bozeman, Helena, and Jordan, in addition to Billings. Today, the Clinic employs about 60 specialists between all of its locations.
Having a variety of specialists under each roof is critical to children's success; a cohesive, caring team that works together to meet the needs of each individual child dramatically enhances the likelihood of the best possible outcome.
“The reason this has grown to what it is, and the reason people continue to come here, is the people who work here,” said Director Traci Sell. “It’s an amazing group who cares about the kids and their families. That’s what makes this place great, and makes it so that people want to come, and the doctors want to refer, because of everybody’s dedication. Without such good people who work here, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
And what they do is impressive. Earlier this year, the Clinic moved into its current new facility at 708 Broadwater, which has plenty of room for continued growth. The new space includes private rooms for speech, occupational, and physical therapy, where kids and their specialists work together for 45 minutes at a time. There is a gym and a room full of swings, and ABA children have their own dedicated space that is best suited for their needs.
“We can have more kids, hire a few more therapists, and do more parent training now, which has been great,” Sell said. The Clinic now has about 300 children a week who come for therapy, and 22 full-time ABA children, who are there for seven hours a day, five days a week.
Supporting parents and families of children with special needs is another vital component of what the Clinic does. The increased space in the new facility is making it easier to support parents who are navigating the journey, with compassion and understanding.
“Sometimes these parents just don’t know where to turn, and if you’ve never had a child with special needs, you don’t necessarily know what to do, so these people become their friends and confidants," Sell said. "We're providing services for the kids, but we're also providing parents with support, just to know they're not alone in this, and that somebody else understands and cares about what they're going through."
If you suspect your child needs specialized care:
The best first step, according to Sell, is to work with your child’s pediatrician if you sense something isn’t quite right with your child. The vast majority of the Clinic’s referrals come from physicians, although schools and others can suggest therapy. But your greatest ally is your child’s doctor, who can help you sort out what’s normal and what’s not for their age. Your pediatrician can direct you to important resources and help make referrals when they think it’s needed.
The Internet is also a good starting point for parents who want to know what milestones are expected for children of various ages. The following websites offer general guidance, but be sure to check with your child's doctor for more information.
If you suspect that your child could benefit from therapy, early intervention is ideal for giving your child the best start in life. Not only will it help your child, but as parents, you can find tremendous benefit in having access to resources and support.