Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

Specialty Services

We offer unique, advanced, and innovative services. Groups, clinics and programs often compliment traditional services. More advanced and highly skilled evaluation services are designed to address specific concerns.

Other services we offer

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy

ABA is an evidence-based intervention that focuses on teaching communication, social skills, and self-care as well as addressing challenging behavior in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ABA services are part of a comprehensive early intervention program. Research shows that early diagnosis of ASD and intensive early intervention can have major long-term positive effects on child development. In this period, a young child’s brain is still forming, meaning it is more “plastic” or changeable than at older ages. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) works with children and families to develop individualized treatment plans to address skill deficits, communication needs, and challenging behavior. Caregiver training is an integral part of ABA service, in which parents and other individuals are involved in therapy. ABA is delivered using the principles of Functional Communication Training, Functional Behavior Assessment, and Natural Environment Teaching. ABA services will be offer in the home, clinic, and community setting.

Admissions Testing

We provide administration of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence- Fourth Edition and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fifth Edition (WISC-V) conducted by licensed psychologists. This is designed to meet criteria for admissions testing for private or charter schools in North Carolina. Additionally, this service can provide add-on administration to include both aptitude and achievement measures for requirements for early admissions to kindergarten in Charlotte Mecklenburg schools or to meet Talent Development requirements for placement. Parents should discuss their specific admissions requirements needs with the clinician at the beginning of the appointment to determine additional needs. This service is for educational purposes and is not billable to insurance. No diagnosis is available as this is not a comprehensive psychological evaluation.


This supplemental service is provided for a short-term and intensive duration to take advantage of treatment strategies that are exclusive to water. These include, but are not limited to, AquaStretch, ambulation training, partial weight bearing activities, buoyancy supported manual techniques, breath control, pain relief and sensory integration. To comply with professional practice standards, clinic-based sessions are required periodically to determine baseline status and measure progress towards functional goals. This also allows therapy providers to determine the ongoing benefit of therapy in the aquatic medium. Short-term intensive sessions are shown to maximize therapeutic benefit and facilitate a return to land-based activities/services. Most patients, without contraindications, can benefit from and participate in the aquatic medium as a supplement to land-based therapy. Pool-based appointments occur at the James J. Harris Family Branch YMCA. The pool has many great features that are accessible during treatment sessions, such as heated water, a variety of entry methods (stairs, ladder, graduated or zero tide entry), a vortex/whirlpool to allow movement with the flow of water for assistance and against the flow of water for resistance and a water wheelchair for transitions in and out of the water.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Evaluations

A typical battery of psychological tests assesses cognitive domains (e.g., attention, language, memory, visual processing, reasoning ability, speed, and fine-motor skills), and social/emotional functioning. The ADOS2 is a semi-structured, standardized assessment of communication, social interaction, play, and restricted and repetitive behaviors. By observing and coding these behaviors, our psychologists with expertise in the diagnosis of ASD obtain information that informs diagnosis, intervention, treatment planning, and educational placement. The parents are given a selection of behavioral questionnaires at the time of intake which they and the primary teacher complete and return to the psychologist. These measures assess social and behavioral functioning and gather information about the child’s performance in multiple environments on a daily basis.

Behavior Consultation

Behavior Consultations are available to families who struggle with addressing their child’s challenging behavior. Caregivers may find that traditional methods of discipline have been unsuccessful in preventing occurrences of tantrums, aggression, non-compliance, or any number of disruptive, age-inappropriate behaviors. Consultations may be appropriate for children of any age with a variety of diagnoses, whose behavior impacts their independent participation at home, school, or community settings. Families may benefit from a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) in which the function, or “why,” of a behavior is analyzed using a series of structured interviews and direct observation. Following an FBA, a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is created, which includes strategies to prevent the behavior and how to best mitigate the behavior based on function. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) will conduct the assessments and train caregivers on best practices in preventing and addressing challenging behavior.

Feeding Clinic

Our multidisciplinary diagnostic team includes psychologists and counselors, speech-language therapists and occupational therapists. These experts offer evaluation and treatment services for children with feeding disorders and extreme picky eating habits, ages 4-16 years. This service is also appropriate for children or adolescents who have been formally diagnosed with Avoidance/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). The evaluation includes an examination of the structures and movements in the mouth, observation of feeding behaviors, observations of the influences of respiration and posture, and informal assessment of nutrition. Food and drink trials are often included in an assessment. The medical history form and other records shared prior to the first appointment are reviewed. Standardized behavioral questionnaires are provided for parents and teaching/daycare staff to gain information on skills in the home/school settings and to identify any psychological symptoms which warrant specific treatment (e.g., anxiety). The Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) model helps to expand a person’s food repertoire, improve oral motor skills and develop socially acceptable feeding behaviors.  It is designed to help increase a child’s comfort with eating both in the home and community.  The focus of treatment will be on food exploration in a comfortable and sensory supportive environment and includes a parent education component.  Treatment strategies include work on oral sensory awareness, motor execution and motor planning tasks, social modeling, structured meal and snack times, positive reinforcement and home programming. These services are designed to provide parents with the training they need to target their child’s eating strategies outside of the clinic and produce positive outcomes.


Clinical Neuropsychology is a specialty in professional psychology that applies principles of assessment and intervention based upon the scientific study of human behavior as it relates to normal and abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. The specialty is dedicated to enhancing the understanding of
brain‐behavior relationships and the application of such knowledge to human problems. Clinical neuropsychologists address neurobehavioral problems related to acquired or developmental disorders of the nervous system. The types of problems are extremely varied and include such conditions as dementia, vascular disorders, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders, learning disabilities, neuropsychiatric disorders, infectious disease affecting the CNS, neurodevelopmental disorders, metabolic disease and neurological effects of medical disorders or treatment. Pediatric neuropsychologists provide clinical services to children and adolescents (and their families). Patients are typically referred by neurologists for evaluation services.

Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation groups

Mindfulness emphasizes spending the majority of the time in the present moment although it does allow for a focus on the past or the future. Participants will learn a variety of mindfulness strategies and allow time to practice skills to gain comfort and confidence. Emotions are a part of life and this section will help adolescents learn about their emotions, achieve deeper understanding of their emotional life, and develop more resiliency when dealing with emotions. Curriculum focuses on teaching sequential skills using a combination of discussion, role play, and homework practice.

Multidisciplinary Developmental Evaluations (24-48 months)

Our diagnostic evaluation will assess domains for language and communication skills, early cognitive development, adaptive functioning, play skills, and symptoms associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Review of medical history form and other records, shared prior to first appointment. Questionnaires provided for parents and other caregivers (e.g., daycare staff, teacher) to gain information about skills in the home/school settings, such as the ASRS, BASC3, Vineland-3, and additional measures, as appropriate.

Pain Clinic

Pain in children is a complex situation. Due to nervous systems and musculoskeletal systems that are still developing, children’s and teens’ perception of pain is much different from that of adults. They are unable to differentiate types of pain – sharp, dull, and intensity. This makes treating pain very challenging in children. While some types of pain are straight forward, post-injury for example, there are many other types of pain that require a “little more digging” from the therapist. These include pain resultant from migraines, pain after a virus, pain after surgery, amplified musculoskeletal pain syndromes (AMPS) such as fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), RSD, RND, neuropathic pain and myofascial pain. Treatment strategies require multidisciplinary expertise and involve a combined approach of physical therapy and psychology to address all aspects of pain and the need for family education and support.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Gail Fennimore, PT PCS is one of the most experienced and tenured physical therapists at Child & Family Development. In addition to her pediatric clinical specialist (PCS) certification, Gail has specialized training in pelvic floor dysfunction training and offers evaluation and treatment for related conditions. There are specific treatment protocols for children with urinary and fecal incontinence with conditions including: daytime wetting, nighttime wetting, urinary frequency, incomplete emptying, withholding urine, constipation, and fecal incontinence. Gail collaborates with physicians, to offer a unique family centered approach to intervention that includes: comprehensive evaluations, 1-hour individual appointments on a regular or consultative basis, play-based exercise programming, toileting sessions, customized patient and caregiver training, available consultations at the physician offices. In addition, other members of our multidisciplinary clinical team, including psychologists and occupational therapists, may be available for case coordination and patient care.

Social Skills Group

Social skills are the tools that enable people to communicate, learn, ask for help, get needs met in appropriate ways, get along with others, make friends, develop healthy relationships, and protect themselves. Typical social skill deficits include: initiating interactions, responding to the initiations of others, maintaining eye contact, sharing enjoyment, reading the non-verbal cues of others, and taking another person’s perspective. Social skills groups are recommended for children with a variety of presenting concerns and diagnostic conditions. ASD, ADHD, and anxiety are common diagnostic formulations in which social skills deficits are present. Children or adolescents who have difficulty forming age-appropriate friendships, demonstrate avoidance of social situations, or impulsive or aggressive behaviors that interfere with successful social functioning may benefit from participation. Curriculum-based materials will be utilized to improve social, emotional, and self-regulatory strategies and skills. Sessions will include a short lesson and opportunities for practice (e.g., role-playing, activities and games). Acquisition of skills can lead to reduced stress and anxiety, improved school performance, healthier peer relationships, and better management of emotions and reactions.

In their own words

Aquatic therapy has increased my son’s overall strength and ability to expand his skills within the confines of his disability. The therapists at Child & Family Development clearly care about my son and are invested in his success! I would highly recommend aquatic therapy as part of treatment for anyone suffering from pain and limitations within their own body.

Nikki M.

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