A new service to help children with autism develop their skills has been added recently at Empowering Kids in Perham.

"It’s an addition to what we’re already providing in our skills services,” Empowering Kids Director Tiffany Tobkin said.

The new Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) Program will be led by coordinator Revel Weber, who holds a master in social work and a graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of North Dakota. Weber has prior experience working in the EIDBI program with the White Earth Nation.

EIDBI is a service that uses different modalities to help children with autism develop their skills, Weber said. The modality that Empower Kids is using in their EIDBI program is the Floortime modality, using play and daily interactions to help build the child’s skills in social communication, learning, language and different types of play skills, Weber said.

“We can do Floortime anywhere,” Weber said. “We can do Floortime in a restaurant, we can do Floortime in the grocery store. We can do Floortime in a clinic and in the home. It’s really about helping the child build where they’re at and helping them learn in their natural environment.”

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Revel Weber is the new EIDBI Program Coordinator at Empowering Kids. (Submitted photo)
Revel Weber is the new EIDBI Program Coordinator at Empowering Kids. (Submitted photo)

Helping the child learn these skills in their natural environment is important as it can be hard for some children to use the skills they learned in the clinic outside of that setting, Weber said.

When a child comes into Empowering Kids, staff member Kieler Skaro works with the child on their Floortime, Weber said. While the child is receiving Floortime services, their caregiver is learning how to do Floortime with the child outside of the clinic, Weber said. Other caregivers who work with the child, such as teachers and paraprofessionals, also receive training to work on the child’s Floortime skills outside of the clinic, according to Weber.

Children in the EIDBI program receive a minimum of 10 hours a week, Weber said. Children younger than 7 can receive up to 40 hours of services a week, and children older than 7 can receive a maximum of 20 hours a week, Weber said.

The EIDBI program is able to take Medicaid, and Empowering Kids is working to be able to take other insurances for the program. Because the program can take Medicaid, a treatment plan is required by the insurance. The treatment plan is made with the caregiver and reviewed as the child receives services from Empowering Kids’ EIDBI program, Weber said.

“The treatment plan is essentially a layout of what are the goals that we want this child to meet and when do we want them to meet them,” Weber said. “ Or when do we hope that they’ll meet them. Then how we’ll go about helping them get there.”

Empowering Kids receives Bremer Trust grant

Empowering Kids has received a $40,000 grant from Otto Bremer Trust, a bank holding company and private charitable trust based in St. Paul, according to a news release. The funds will be used to continue offering and expanding current programs and adding new services to include early intensive intervention services and mental health therapy.