Advance for Kids provides opportunities for families and students

Madeline Fox, Reporter

Rachel Hartdegen, Editor

Advance for Kids, an outpatient rehabilitation center for children that specializes in neurodevelopmental issues, offers involvement opportunities for Berry students through shadowing and internships.

Advance for Kids has served the Northwest Georgia area for over 15 years. The center started in conjunction with Advance Rehabilitation in Calhoun in 2003. The center then moved to private ownership under occupational therapist Mai Lee Payne in 2005 and expanded to open a Rome location in 2010.

Advance for Kids serves children from infancy to adolescence. Patients with a wide variety of diagnoses and functions are treated, as the center offers physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy. Children are treated in one on one sessions with any of the numerous therapists on staff.

Located on West 3rd St. across from Barron Stadium, the Advance for Kids office is equipped with a gym used for both therapy and play time for the patients. Each therapist has a personal office complete with teaching materials, games and toys. Treatments and therapy sessions are individualized to meet each patient’s need.

For Shawna Crawford and her son Tyler, Advance for Kids was life-changing. Tyler, a six-year-old with autism spectrum disorder, has visited Advance for Kids since he was three years old. When Tyler started at Advance for Kids, he could not speak or do everyday tasks such as dress himself. Today, Tyler changes his own clothes and speaks on a three-year-old level.

“They brought out the voice in him,” Crawford said. “Before it was always unknown. You didn’t even know if he could talk. It was very difficult. But they came along and pulled his voice box out in a way.”

Since he started at the center, Tyler has visited once a week for an hour and a half to receive occupational and speech therapy. His therapists have worked with him during his appointments and then sent work home so that his parents can continue the exercises. Crawford said that this implementation of therapeutic exercises and activities at home largely contributed to Tyler’s success.

Advance for Kids is not only beneficial to the children treated, but also to their parents. Stephanie Barlow, an occupational therapist and the student coordinator at Advance for Kids, said that the center is helpful to parents as they learn to handle their children’s disabilities.

“Advance for Kids provides a place for parents to bring their children who are struggling with any multitude of problems,” Barlow said, “(it) allows them to seek counseling, guidance, and provides opportunities for their children to develop and thrive with professional therapeutic support.”

Parents like Crawford can rest knowing that their child is in professional hands at Advance for Kids. Crawford said that she looks forward to relaxing dinners with her husband while Tyler is in therapy, knowing that she can trust his therapists.

Berry students have opportunities to be involved at Advance for Kids in the form of internships. Barlow said that the center has hosted students involved in occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy programs. There are opportunities available for shadowing, as well as level one and two fieldwork.

Junior exercise science major Sydney Partlow has been an intern at Advance for Kids since January. She was interested in the internship because of her need to complete an academic internship but has since fallen in love with her position. She has experienced firsthand interaction with children while shadowing therapists.

“I really just distract the kids, because I’m not a physical therapist,” Partlow said. “I do the exercises with them. If they’re ever stretching and it’s painful, we try to play a game to distract them from the pain.”

Partlow’s heart for the patients was representative of the rest of the staff at Advance for Kids as well. She said that one of her favorite things to watch was how the therapists interacted with the patients and their parents. She was inspired by their passion as she pursues her own career in physical therapy.

“Advance for Kids is more than just a building, an office and a clinic,” Barlow said. “It is a place that, through the hard work and dedication that its staff, clients and parents put forth, miracles of the mind, body and spirit happen. Whether it be that a child learns to tie their shoes, take their first steps, or say their first words these types of accomplishments can be witnessed daily at Advance for Kids.”

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