txpt-parentsAugust 5, 2017 – FARMERS BRANCH, TX – by Taylor Valentine – Farmers Branch Region Hosts Its 2nd Back to School Edition Parent Training Event at It’s A Sensory World.

Jumping into the school year with educational resources and fun-filled activities. Our Skill Sprout Texas’ location hosted its 2nd Parent Training event: Back to School Edition on Friday, August 5th at It’s a Sensory World. The event was very successful with over 15 parents and children in attendance, highlighting some of ABA’s (Applied Behavior Analysis) most-asked topics: Establishing Effective Routines, Navigating Behavior Intervention Plans, Increasing Requesting Skills, Community Outings, and Setting Priorities and Expectations. 

The purpose of these parent trainings are to provide those helpful resources & tips to our Autism families so they are able to effectively and proactively give their children the best support as possible. 

“Our team had a great time spending the afternoon with current client families and meeting new families too! I’ve already received positive feedback from several families wanting more information about Skill Sprout’s services and expressing interest in attending the next event. This event really showed how talented our team is and how valuable the services we provide are to families in our community!” said Carly Grimes, Social Skills Coordinator/Counselor. 

While our parents were participating during the parent training, the children were supervised by our licensed therapists, having fun in the gymnasium, interacting with superheroes (thanks to our Lead Line Therapist, Michael Finn & Heroic Inner Kids) and enjoying healthy snacks. In addition to the food and entertainment, we provided each of the children with back to school Skill Sprout themed bags filled with custom fidget spinners, coloring books & crayons, squishy balls, cups and much more. 

“I am super excited about the engagement from our families and cannot wait until we plan for another successful event in Texas, and throughout the other Illinois regions. So definitely be on the lookout!,” said Taylor Valentine, Lead Marketing Assistant- Texas. 

Skill Sprout will soon host parent training events in Illinois and will have another event in Texas during the winter season.



August 4, 2017 – CHAMPAIGN, IL – by Joy Henderson – End of Summer Event bringsInterest and Fun for Skill Sprout. Our Partnership with Choices CCS is expanding! The Champaign Leadership Team attended the Choices CCS (http://www.choicesccs.org/) ‘End of Summer Family Fun’ event on Friday, August 4th at the Urbana Civic Center. The event was well attended by other Choices Partners with the theme of providing a fun activity for the Choices Client families who attended. Our table featured balloons and the very popular squishy balls and fidget spinners. There were lots of smiles, and we made many new friends. Additionally, we gave out 50 Skill Sprout Services catalogs to other Choices Partners. This has already netted a phone call for request for a closer Partnership with providing ABA Therapy Services to another Partner in Champaign County! As we gear up for the opening of our new Clinic in Champaign, we will continue to attend and have fun at these events in the future.

robot-with-kidJune 28, 2017 – DALLAS, TX – Skill Sprout, LLC is proud to announce their collaboration Dr. Diana Sarko, Assistant Professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine to conduct a research study to help understand how typically developing children, and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), process visual and auditory stimuli (sights and sounds) together.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Skill Sprout in their continued mission to support children with autism spectrum disorders and their families. We hope that these research studies will help us to better understand the social and sensory worlds of these children so that we can work towards improving therapeutic outreach,” said Dr. Sarko, Assistant Professor of SIU.

The study is targeted towards children ages 12-17. It takes 2 hours or less, during which the participant will be asked to answer some questions and complete a series of computer “games” involving videos of people and robots. Skill Sprout will host the research study at their Farmers Branch location, in which Dr. Sarko will perform her research with participants recruited through Skill Sprout. There will also be a Skill Sprout staff member present during the scheduled appointment.

“We appreciate being able to support Dr. Sarko’s research in this area as social skills is a key area of deficits for children on the autism spectrum,” said Amy Shymansky, CEO of Skill Sprout.

There will also be a Skill Sprout staff member present during the scheduled appointment. All participants will receive $30 gift cards for their time and participation. For more information, please contact Taylor Valentine, Lead Marketing Assistant at 214-455-2368 or email tvalentine@skillsprout.com.

About Skill Sprout:

Skill Sprout provides premier educational, behavioral, and rehabilitation services and supports to children and young adults from birth to 25 years of age with a wide range of abilities and needs. We strive to provide an exceptional experience that centers on progressive best practices and an individualized, family-centered plan of care with the aim to improve the quality of life for every family we serve. We will be a beacon of progress, independence, and hope in the communities we serve.

About Southern Illinois University:

Southern Illinois University was founded in 1869 as the state’s second teachers college – with a dozen academic departments and an inaugural class of 143 – SIU Carbondale is the flagship campus of the Southern Illinois University System. It is a strong, diverse, student-centered research-intensive and comprehensive university that recently earned the prestigious 2015 community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

April 22, 2012 – WASHINGTON, IL – Skill Sprout LLC, a new and expanding Washington-based business that offers hope and a plan for families that deal daily with the challenges of autism, couldn’t have existed five years ago. It’s winning the fight to exist today.
Read More Here..

The Benefits of Modeling


Our Social Skills Groups were developed on the theory that children learn best by watching a skill being modeled, rather than simply being told how to perform it. We can probably all relate to this. Think back to the first day at a new job, learning a  hobby and our own school days. Generally we learned the necessary skills by watching others model those skills. We can certainly learn a new skill by listening to someone explain how to do it. However, it seems to “stick” better when we see someone demonstrate it for us. In part, this is because our sensory systems typically process information better when it comes in multiple forms. If we simply hear someone tell us how to perform a task, our sensory systems have to work a little harder to process the information because most of us then assign a visual representation to the auditory input. When the information comes to us through both the visual and auditory systems, our brain is able to process and retain the information more efficiently and effectively.

This process is especially important for our children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism often creates sensory processing deficits. Our social skills groups aim to teach children new skills by providing the information in ways that enhance their ability to process and retain it. In addition to hearing the group leader talk about new skills and how to perform them, a child is watching a peer model the skills throughout the session. For example, if a child is struggling to maintain two-way conversations, not only will the child be taught about conversation topics and how to use follow up questions, but the child will be interacting with a peer the entire session that has been trained on how to model those very skills. These interactions between the target student and a peer help to create genuine learning opportunities in a natural way. We thorough enjoy watching our students in the social skills program learn and practice social skills, develop confidence in their abilities and have fun interacting with peers!

Video Modeling

Video Self Modeling (VSM) is an intervention being introduced with our students in the Social Skills program. Research has proven VSM to be an effective intervention for children with autism. The goal of VSM is to capture a child displaying a skill correctly and receiving praise. The child then views the videos in preparation for completing the tasks or skills independently. These videos can be created and used in many different ways. Collaboration with the family to determine the child’s needs is essential when planning to create a video.

Video Self Modeling is based on the knowledge that children learn best from models most like themselves. Watching another child of the same age and gender modeling a skill is an effective intervention. A child watching themselves engage in a targeted behavior can be more effective. Video Self Modeling is also built upon a child’s need to be successful. A child watching him- or herself complete a task successfully and receive praise can build self-confidence and increase the desire to try new things!

To create the video, raw footage is collected, and often edited, to display the targeted skills or tasks. There are two ways to do this. The first method is intended to capture a skill that the child can typically demonstrate independently, but might not do so consistently or fluently. The child is recorded completing the task or skill on his or her own. The videos are then used to build self-assurance in the skill and increase fluency or consistency. This method is called Positive Self Review. The child is reviewing something positive that they can do.

The second method of creating a video is intended to display a skill that the child cannot yet demonstrate independently. The child is recorded completing the task or skill with prompting. Typically, a familiar adult (parent or therapist) provides verbal prompting, or step-by-step instructions, on how to complete the task or skill. Then, the verbal prompts are edited out and the final product is a video of the child completing the task independently. This is called Video Feed Forward.

Social Skills staff are excited to be using this research-based intervention with our clients and families!

For more information on Video Self Modeling, please see the following resources:

A power point on VSM by the Siskin Children’s Institute: http://www.siskin.org/downloads/vsm_scipresentation.pdf

An article by Dr. Tom Buggey and others on VSM and autism: http://foa.sagepub.com/content/26/1/25

~ Josey Jones, MSW