“Explore the Spectrum” with Keri Cuadros from First Step Therapy

Each week on Explore the Spectrum, our host Jeanetta Bryant discusses the latest news and developments related to autism, as well as providing expert insights and advice to our audience. Be ready for anything by listening to what these insiders have to say. This week, Jeanetta speaks with Keri Cuadros from First Step Therapy.

Short company description:

First Step Therapy provides occupational, speech, physical, and feeding therapies to children ages 0-21 years old in a variety of settings. We have 7 clinic locations and service 9 counties in the Central Florida area. We also provide early intervention services through the Early Steps program.

What Is Your Why (Why Are You In Business)?

This company was founded by therapists and a special needs parent that recognized a need for quality services in this area. We have strived to provide those services for more than 10 years in this community.

How did you get started in your field or work?

My son was diagnosed with Autism (Asperger’s Syndrome), ADHD, and Tourette Syndrome at 7 years old. I watched how he struggled with the small things that many people take for granted. I learned about occupational therapy through him, and I fell in love with the profession. I decided that I wanted to help other children the way that his OT practitioner helped him.

What’s one thing we should know that makes your company unique?

We are one of the few pediatric companies in Central Florida that offers feeding therapy as well as intensive therapies utilizing the Therasuit.

What are your biggest goals in the next 6 to 12 Months for your business?

We realize that two of the major hurdles for families in this area are lack of daycare facilities able to accommodate the needs of their children and lack of services available after turning 21 years old. We are in the process of opening up an inclusive daycare that serves the neurodiverse population as well as neurotypical children. Next Steps Academy should be fully open before the summer. We would also like to bring the services that we provide to an older population and are actively working towards that goal at this time as well.

Who do you know that is impacted by Autism and how has that impacted you?

My 20 year old son was diagnosed with ASD (Asperger’s Syndrome) at 7 years old. I felt lost in the process of finding him services. We were handed referrals and no guidance on finding the services. I have been very active in the Autism and special needs communities because I hope to ease that overwhelming feeling for other parents. I offer to walk them through the process of setting up services and try to be a point of contact for when they have questions.