Neurodevelopment commences in utero and progresses second by second, moment by moment.
Countless stimuli influence the way brain patterns develop and neurological structures form. Neurodevelopmental delays or disabilities appear when this pattern deviates from neurotypical development. These delays may manifest in varying competency levels in social skills, executive functioning and emotional regulation.
Spark Academy uses a caregiver system that is fully cognizant of these developmental differences. Our program aligns those differences with the unique accommodations necessary to ensure that treatment is meaningful and individually relevant for each student.
The basis of the Spark Academy program is the Attachment, Regulation and Competency Framework model.
This paradigm provides a solid framework within which we understand our roles and standards as caregivers for our students who have experienced challenging life circumstances and trauma.
Our students have heightened sensory awareness and often become overwhelmed or anxious as they attempt to manage these sensations. If you were highly sensitized to feeling threatened or inundated with sensory input, how would you perceive your past experiences? Most of our students have experienced trauma, but in a distinctly different way than we ordinarily perceive it. Thus far, life for them has been distressing and chaotic. An overwhelming world in constant flux can make them feel like life is spiraling out of control, rendering them desperate to seek safety.
The Spark Academy excels in providing much-needed security while safeguarding the student’s freedom to grow.
The ARC Framework helps students build healthy attachments with our consistent and empathetic caregivers, each keenly attuned to the needs of their students. Through this healthy relationship, we can successfully impart regulation skills. Once implemented and mastered, these skills awaken feelings of competency and success within each student, allowing them to progress from surviving to thriving and confidently managing life.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) uses a proven and effective approach for cultivating skills in mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance.
DBT skills help bridge the gaps within students’ often-rigid, black-and-white thinking, helping them discover a healthier way to meet their needs. The treatment team collaborates with each student in the Spark Program to identify which skills they need to acquire and practice, customizing this uniquely effective process of self-discovery through encouraged student initiative. This tailored approach ensures that we deeply integrate individual differences throughout treatment.
Spark Academy uses the evidence-based PEERS Social Skills program developed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), to assist. students in the development of more beneficial social interactions. The program allows them to advance their awareness of social cues and develop productive responses for building and sustaining healthier relationships. Spark Academy also assists students in the development of appropriate interactions with students of the opposite gender.
Everyone experiences sensations, stimuli and feelings differently, and this uniqueness is a critical aspect of our humanity. Students with neurodevelopmental differences have an overly developed limbic system, which creates a heightened sensory experience. We expand our students’ narrow sensory threshold window by actively engaging them in our state-of-the-art Sensory Center. Here, students learn to identify various combinations of techniques and tools that are most effective for them in supporting self-regulation in challenging environments.