MORGANTOWN — Doctors and administrators gathered at WVU Medicine Children’s newest facility – a Neurodevelopmental Center on Baker’s Ridge Road – to celebrate its opening Thursday.
“It’s unbelievable,” Dr. Jodi Lindsey, center director, said of the 9,000 square foot space on Baker’s Ridge Road.
Lindsey said there’s always been a need for this type of service in West Virginia and her dream, even before medical school, was to build a center like this.
The center brings all levels of child neurodevelopmental disability treatment under one roof including diagnosis and evaluation, medical workup and treatment and therapy services she said.
Albert Wright, president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, said the center was designed for a very specific purpose – helping pediatric patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Those disabilities include Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, and Tourette Syndrome.
The best treatment is “intensive and early behavioral intervention,” Nikki Shriver, an applied behavior analyst (ABA), said.
There are 10 individual rooms where ABA’s can work with their patients one-on-one and help build skills. Shriver said helping improve communication skills is a big focus because the ability to ask for what one wants and needs is important.
The early part of “intensive and early” refers to the age patients start treatment. Shriver said the best time to work with kids is between the ages of 2 and 6 when their minds are still growing. She said anyone can learn, but the younger treatment starts the better.
Intensive refers to the amount of time patients spend at the center. Some patients spend the equivalent of a school day in treatment – five days a week, Joseph Shane, ABA, said.
The goal of treatment is to prepare patients for the next environment they will be in and for most that means getting them ready for school he said.
The center also has a large play area where kids can work on group skills such as sharing and taking turns, Shane said. Kids will also eat lunch in the play area during their treatment and lunch is another opportunity to work on skills.
If treating patients is the primary goal, one that’s almost as important is training the next generation of care providers.
There are two assessment rooms used by pediatric psychologists connected by an observation room. Jenna Wallace, pediatric psychologist, said the observation space is about double the size of the previous space.
Lindsey said she hopes that this center becomes a model used across the state where a team based approach is used in treatment.