In the year since its grand opening, Fraser’s Woodbury clinic location has been providing resources and peace of mind for children and adults with autism and other special needs—and their families. The clinic’s focus is helping to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to live healthy and happy lives.
We spoke with one Woodbury family who say Fraser has made a big difference in their lives. Molly Vandelogt is the mom of 3 1/2-year-old Slade, who has autism. At Fraser, he receives speech and occupational therapy, and since beginning his treatment with them a year ago, he’s made incredible progress. “I have seen my son make tremendous growth,” Vandelogt says. “Before, he could say about 20 words, and now he knows hundreds.”
Fraser is the largest clinic system in Minnesota providing outpatient autism and early childhood mental health services. They provide education and healthcare for clients of all ages, and they help adult clients with things like finding housing and employment. Their offerings include therapies—physical, speech, occupational, music, feeding, pediatric and mental health.
The staff at Fraser also focuses on the wellness of each client’s entire family—including offering sibling and parent support groups to help family members understand their loved one’s diagnoses and treatments, and to connect with a network of other families. Vandelogt says, “We have done family therapy, and Caitlin, who is our family therapist, has been awesome. They break down what they are doing in layman’s terms, instead of just talking about it like a psychologist.”
The staff is comprised of a team of mental health professionals, mental health practitioners, behavior professionals, and licensed psychologists and therapists. To become a client at Fraser, individuals first undergo an evaluation process in areas like autism, mental health, pediatrics and neuropsychology. After the medical staff runs a series of assessments, the families or caregivers meet with the clinicians to discuss the diagnoses and determine treatment plans.
“We get a new treatment plan every 90 days, which is awesome, and their main goal is to get these kiddos mainstreamed in school and set them up for success later in life,” Vandelogt says. She adds that she appreciates that Fraser’s therapists focus on each child’s unique plans and goals, and push them out of their comfort zones so they can progress. “They know how to read and cater to each kid, instead of handling everything in one broad sweep. Not everything works for every kid,” Vandelogt says.
Fraser helps adult clients find supportive housing, which allows them as much independence as possible with support when they need it. So far, they provide more than 200 people each year with housing, organized in three main categories: supervised, supportive and independent.
They also help connect adult clients with employment. Chris Bentley, director of career planning and employment services, networks with businesses and has conversations with each individual to find out what kinds of jobs they are interested in—and then puts those pieces together to find a match. Fraser also works with local businesses to create an interview environment that is more relaxed, informal and informational. “We certainly can do placement within local businesses; often the people we are working with are looking to work within their community,” Bentley says.
Fraser’s Woodbury space itself was designed to be sensory-friendly—in fact, it’s the first building like it in the country. The lighting and acoustics remove harmful distractions and stimuli, and keep the focus on patients and their treatments. Vandelogt says, “It’s a magical place.”