Helping children with special needs and their families prepare for the challenges of the future.
Britain Development is an important outreach program of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, touching the lives of more than 4,000 children with special needs since 1972. Dedicated to serving children with special needs from birth through six years of age, Britain Development provides a unique program that involves family and friends in the process of therapeutic treatment and education.
Individualized programs are shaped for each child and family by a team of physical, occupational, and music therapists, speech language pathologists, early childhood special education teachers, behavior analysts, social workers, and paraprofessionals.
Programs & Services
- The Children in our Care
Children at Britain Development have a wide range of diagnosed and undiagnosed special needs such as:
- Down syndrome
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spina Bifida
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Seizure Disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Receptive and Expressive Language Disorders
- Articulation and Phonological Disorders
- Feeding Disorders
- General Developmental Delays
Britain Development serves children from infancy until the child transitions to their school district program at or near age 3 or to kindergarten at age 5 or 6. Some families in Kansas and Missouri receive Part C services from Infant Toddler Services/Tiny K or First Steps Services in conjunction with services they receive at Britain Development. At age three, families who opt to receive comprehensive, early childhood disability services from their local school districts are no longer eligible for the Britain Development program. It is also our practice not to duplicate services provided by another center based therapeutic program.
Our Pathways Autism Program operates in a different manner than our "traditional" Britain Development services and therefore decisions about additional services provided elsewhere are a team decision which includes input from the parents.
Most children in our program participate in both a "class" as well as individual therapy. We do not allow children to participate in "class" only. The child must also receive the necessary individual therapy. There are some cases where a child may receive therapy only and not the "class". This is also a team decision which includes input from the parents.
- Physical Therapy
At Britain Development, physical therapy focuses on challenging children to function and play as independently as possible in their classrooms, playgrounds, home, and community settings.
Children participate in activities ranging from learning to sit, crawl, stand, and walk, to riding a bike and climbing a jungle gym. Physical therapists incorporate strengthening, balance, coordination, developmental training, and much more into fun, everyday play activities.
- Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy supports children’s independence in every aspect of their lives.
Occupational therapists at Britain Development offer support in the areas of visual-perceptual, fine motor, sensory integration, self-help, and pre-writing skills. Therapists work with parents to identify goals for children, then offer age-appropriate strategies and activities that will help achieve the desired outcomes.
- Speech and Language Therapy
Speech-language therapists at Britain Development use a wide range of strategies to teach children the skills they need to communicate effectively with others.
This may include teaching kids to communicate through verbal, gestural, and non-verbal methods so they are able to participate in all facets of daily life. Speech-language therapists address oral motor skills, receptive language skills (comprehension of language), expressive language skills (communicating wants and needs), articulation (accurate production of speech sounds), social skills, feeding skills, assistive technology related to communication, and much more.
- Music Therapy
The purpose of music therapy is not to gain musical skills, but rather to use music therapeutically to address physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and communication goals in an intentional and developmentally appropriate manner.
Music therapy plays an integral role in the Britain Development program. Our music therapy program captures the children’s interest and makes them forget how hard they are working to achieve their goals.
- Feeding Therapy
Prematurity, cardiac conditions, sensory integration disorders, neurological disorders, and muscular weakness are just a few of the possible causes for feeding challenges.
Some children have difficulty sucking and chewing, while others are challenged by eating a variety of food textures. Still others tire before they are able to take in enough calories to remain healthy. At Britain Development, feeding therapy is designed to improve children's ability to breast feed, bottle feed,and/ or eat age-appropriate foods. Feeding therapy encourages success and feelings of safety while challenging children to progress toward age-appropriate feeding skills.
- Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy at Britain Development is conducted in our on-site therapy pool.
The therapeutic properties of water provide an effective and motivating setting to address motor control, coordination, flexibility, strength, sensory processing skills, and communication skills.
Aquatic therapy is part of our baby and toddler classes, Pathways Autism Program, and some children individually on a monthly or weekly basis.
- Baby Class
The primary goal of our baby class is to educate parents about child development and to offer strategies that parents can use at home during everyday routines.
Families also have the opportunity to connect with other families who are experiencing similar circumstances. The class which is held one time per week for 1 1/2 hours. Each week, the participants received education, training, and therapy from a physical or occupational therapist, speech language pathologist, and music therapist. Aquatic therapy is provided on a monthly basis. Parents also participate in a monthly support group.
- Toddler Class
Our toddler class begins as an extension of the baby class and transitions through the school year to resemble the format of a preschool class.
The goals of toddler class are to continue educating parents about development and to work towards greater independence so that children are prepared to begin preschool at age three. Toddler class typically lasts 2 to 2 1/2 hours one time per week and incorporates music, physical, speech-language, occupational and aquatic therapy groups.
- Preschool Class
Preschool classes are offered for children who are three years old and up.
Classes meet two times per week (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday) for 2 ½ hours. Younger children (three year olds) attend preschool in the mornings and the older children (4-5 year olds) attend preschool in the afternoon. Peer models (typically developing children) are also enrolled in the preschool classes. Children's individual needs are addressed by staff so that the child can participate in the classroom activities.
Parents and caregivers are required to sign up for “Special Days” – times they will remain in their child’s classroom for the duration of the morning or afternoon approximately one time per month.
Each week, children receive group intervention from an occupational, physical, and music therapist as well as a speech-language pathologist. Preschool classes are taught by teachers with degrees in Early Childhood Special Education.
Paraprofessionals also support the children and teachers in the classrooms. The classroom operates much like any other preschool and includes circle time, centers, playground time, snack, and music therapy group.
- Peer Model Program
At Britain Development, we offer preschool classes for children with disabilities as well as children who are typically developing. Our goal is to help children develop the skills necessary to prepare them for success in their next environment (Mother's Day Out, community preschool, kindergarten, etc.). Additionally, we believe it is our role to help parents learn how to teach their children and become advocates for them in the future.
At Britain Development, our set-up is similar in many ways to that of a community preschool. Typical components of preschool, such as circle time, centers, playground time, snack, music, etc. occur daily. We also use a variety of teaching strategies, therapy techniques, equipment, etc. to help children learn. About once per month, parents participate in their child's "Special Day," which involves volunteering in the classroom and bringing an appropriate snack for the children.
Our preschool program is not highly academic. Although children learn pre-academic skills during the course of the year, we focus on providing experiences to grow socially.
Peer Model Qualities
Enjoys being around other children in the school setting
- Has an easygoing manner
- Is willing to try new activities
- Actively engages in pretend play
- Has age-appropriate play skills (manipulative toys, sensory exploration)
- Works well with other children
- Follows directions both individually and when given in a group
- Can sit and attend to large group activities for an appropriate amount of time
- Has speech that is clear and easily understood by people who do not know the child
- Responds verbally when spoken to by adults or other children
- Can answer age-appropriate questions (what, who, where, why)
- Demonstrates age-appropriate gross and fine motor skills
- Is 3 (or will be during the fall semester) or 4 years old
In addition to the qualities listed above, we make our peer model determination based upon the ages of the children in the class and the need for a balance of both girl and boy peer models. We begin the peer model screening process in January; parents can contact us around that time to set up a visit and determine if the classroom will be a good match. Peer models then attend the preschool program from mid-August through the end of May. Attendance during the summer is optional. Typically, classes are offered Monday and Wednesday morning, Monday and Wednesday afternoon, Tuesday and Thursday morning, and Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The cost of the peer model program is $85 per month.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a visit, please email Shanan Lee or call her at Call 913-676-2253 .
- Pathways Autism Program
Young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have unique educational and therapeutic needs which we address in our Pathways classroom. This intensive, highly specialized program is for children ages 2 to 6 who have been diagnosed with ASD or display characteristics of ASD. Students attend the program 5 days per week for 3 hours.
Pathways Program staff include an early childhood special education teacher who is also a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and paraprofessionals with training in ASD and ABA as well as physical therapists and physical therapy assistants and music therapists. Typically developing peer models are also included in the program.
Children in the Pathways Program have individualized treatment plans that may include:
- ABA therapy
- speech language therapy
- occupational therapy
- aquatic therapy
- physical therapy
- music therapy
- feeding therapy
This highly specialized, intensive program is not covered by every insurance provider.
- Parent Support Groups
Providing emotional support has always been and will continue to be one of the most important aspects of the Britain Development program. Parents of children with special needs are often on an unexpected journey that can have many highs and lows. Our social worker provides support groups for parents as part of our baby, toddler, and preschool classes as well as specific topical groups. Parents also find great support naturally from other families whom they come in contact with at Britain Development as well as the therapists and teachers.
In addition, our social worker is available for consults to help families access community resources, answer questions they may have, as well as provide a listening ear.
For more information about our parent support groups contact Leigh Ann Zeller.
Ways to Get Involved
At Britain Development, volunteers are an important part of our program! Weekly volunteers assist in toddler and preschool classrooms 1-2 times per week for approximately three hours. If you are interested in becoming a regular volunteer, please contact Lori Moore to find out more.
Volunteers must commit to a minimum of 60 hours and need to apply and provide references through the AdventHealth Shawnee Mission Volunteer Office. Volunteers are required to attend orientation and must be up to date on all immunizations and have a negative TB test.
To learn more about Volunteering, click here.
- Tiny Tim Holiday Fantasy
Tiny Tim Holiday Fantasy is an annual dinner, live and silent auction gala that supports Britain Development at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission.
Adam and Nichole Eshelbrenner are the co-chairs for this year! Thanks to the Eshelbrenner family for their leadership!
We are currently working on obtaining live and silent auction items, sponsorships for the event and of course volunteers.
- Britain Development Advisory Board
The Britain Development Advisory Board is comprised of past and present Britain Development staff members, past and present Britain Development parents, physicians, community members and supporters of Britain Development.
Our current Advisory Board Members are:
- Janie Best
- Tim Deves
- Debbie Foster
- Janie Foltz
- Shannon Hauser
- Julie Kelly
- Dr. Sherri Martin
- John Melvin
- Amy Milroy
Our Mission Statement
The Britain Development Advisory Board was created for the purpose of preserving the ideals upon which Britain Development was founded and guiding it into the future.
The purpose of the Britain Development Advisory Board includes, but is not restricted to: development of new programs, marketing, fundraising, disbursement of family assistance funds, revising scholarship chart and making scholarship committee decisions, outreach for families, help with any issues as mediators, grant writing, selection of recipient of Fund for the Future, etc.