Nearly a dozen years ago, Jason Newman was so concerned about his 16-month-old son not talking that he had the toddler undergo a complete medical evaluation.
The results revealed that an undetected ear infection led to hearing issues that prevented the boy from learning to speak. The child underwent speech therapy that "totally changed his life," Newman said.
When Newman went through a divorce and moved, he found it difficult to match his son with a therapist and still retain his work schedule. He wondered why a therapist couldn't see his son at his school.
Newman worked for a company at the time that involved employees that did mobile work, sending staff out in the field. He thought about how health care workers and nurses are sent to homes to care for the sick and wondered why such a service was not offered for speech therapy.
That's what led Newman to start Mobile Therapy Centers of America in Libertyville 11 years ago.
The firm offers speech, occupation and behavioral therapies for children at private schools and day care centers. It also offers family counseling in the home, where they tackle various topics, including loss, grief and divorce.
He has expanded over the years and now runs offices in Schaumburg as well as Kenosha, Pleasant Prairie and Racine, Wisconsin. They are considering more office sites in Wisconsin, Michigan and Texas.
While Newman handles the business side of the firm, his business partner Nicole Brachfeld, a practicing speech language pathologist, is the director of operations. Brachfeld and about 40 therapists work with young children through their teen years.
"We help families be effective in their work without the worry about getting their child to therapy," Brachfeld said. "That can really tax families. So allowing children to get their therapy during the day at school is helpful."
Sessions can be one-on-one and allow the therapist to see how the child acts in a familiar environment, like school.
For example, a therapist watched a child every day during lunch at school as he had a melt down, like clockwork. While family and teachers were at a loss of what was happening, the therapist determined it was the peanut butter. The child wasn't allergic to the sandwich, but had problems with the texture that sent him over the edge. Once that was removed from his lunch, the child behaved differently.
"We focus on those gray areas, like when a child falls a little behind, or if something impacts their lives," Newman said. "It could be something where early intervention is good and can help or it even fixes it. But we also help when there's something that isn't quite right and you cannot identify what's going on with the child."