Success stories offer insight into the lives of children and adults receiving treatment for a myriad of challenges that may be encountered across the life span in Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

These stories from our Staff have had all client names changed for privacy purposes.


Bryan is a four-year-old male referred for Occupational Therapy due to his parents’ concerns with delayed self-care skills, fine motor and sensory motor skills.  Primary concerns consisted of Bryan demonstrating sensory seeking behaviors as he was always “on the go”, had difficulty maintaining focus in tabletop tasks.  He sometimes engaged in behaviors that compromised personal safety due to “no fear” including jumping and crashing behaviors.  He also demonstrated difficulty performing self-care tasks including simple dressing and adjusting of clothing needing much assistance and often waiting for his mother to perform tasks.  He was clumsy with feeding self with poor grasp of utensils, often messy during mealtimes, and demonstrated getting upset when food or drink on clothing or hands.

Upon initial evaluation, it was determined that Bryan’s fine-motor and sensory-motor processing delays were significantly impacting his play skills and ability to interact effectively with his environment. Many of the sensory seeking behaviors were indicative of avoiding non-preferred tasks as well as his inability to “tune out” distracting background stimuli.  Occupational Therapy was recommended 2xs a week in conjunction with other therapies consisting of speech therapy and ABA therapy.  In addition to weekly therapies, a sensory diet was provided to his mother and providers to carryout throughout his day to assist with keeping his regulation or “ability to stay calm and focused in an active environment”.

He has since improved his independence with self-skills improving in 19 skills area and approaching within normal limits. With collaboration by all departments following his prescribed sensory diet, he demonstrated increase ease of transitions and improved focus in classroom, individualized therapy sessions and home setting.  He is now able to sit at tabletop and attend to an activity for greater than 15-20 minutes.  His grasp and performance of fine-motor skills have demonstrated significant improvement. Bryan is continuing to improve in his play skills and increased safe interaction on family outings.


For the first time, 5-year-old Lucas is enjoying meals with his family. He can sit with his mom and dad at the table and enjoy his mother’s cooking.

Just six months ago, this seemingly simple activity was fraught with tears, gagging, refusal to eat, inability to sit still and frustration. What Lucas experienced was not the “picky eating” phase most toddlers go through. As a baby, he transitioned easily from breast feeding to solid foods, but he suddenly stopped eating around age two. Lucas would only eat a limited selection of preferred foods, cheez its, Cheerios, Wendy’s French fries, Doritos, milk, water and Capri Sun juice boxes. Any attempts his parents made to expand his diet was met with tantrums. His Mom knew something had to change, so she reached out for help.  During her first appointment an extensive feeding history was obtained and a plan for Lucas was made. 

With Feeding Therapy, there is no cookie cutter approach, it is very specific to the needs of each child in the program. In the last six months, Lucas has been able to make huge strides during his treatment.  Not only is he staying seated during meals, he has begun using utensils, where previously he would eat with his fingers and he no longer gags and cries during meals. He also has started drinking from an open cup instead of relying on a sippy cup and he is exploring new tastes and textures including pasta with meat sauce, beans, chicken, vegetables, rice, sandwiches and fruit. Lucas is also requesting new foods, something his mother thought he would never do!  Lucas will continue to work on additional feeding goals, but where he is now is so far from where he started and his family couldn’t be happier. 


John was brought to us by his parents to Mandala when he was 10 years old because he was having trouble focusing and concentrating at home and at school. He was struggling with grades at school, and his teacher was sending home frequent reports of behavioral difficulties.  Completing homework was a nightmare; he would only complete it if his mother sat with him throughout and continuously redirected him back to the homework. John’s ability to stay on-task was less than 50% during the afternoon. He also had a lot of problems going to sleep at night. It often took him one to two hours to fall asleep after his mother first sent him to bed, leading to sleepiness in the morning and during the day. John also had daytime toileting accidents, often multiple times per day. 

We gave John a comprehensive psychoeducational assessment, which confirmed a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Combined Presentation. John and his mother attended weekly individual therapy sessions over the course of six months. Sessions focused on establishing homework routines and bedtime routines, teaching John self-monitoring strategies and his mother strategies for managing off-task behaviors, and developing a toileting protocol for John. The therapist also helped John get academic supports in the form of a 504 Plan at school. 

As John began to improve, we set new goals of focusing on broadening improvements to additional areas and increasing John’s independence. As John began to achieve his treatment goals, we reduced the number of sessions to every other week and then once a month. 

By the time he was discharged from our services, John’s grades had significantly improved, with no more reports being sent home of behavioral difficulties. Homework was no longer the nightmare it once was; John’s mother could be in the other room cooking dinner and doing other things, only checking in with John periodically. John’s ability to stay on-task was well over 80 percent. John no longer had problems falling asleep, often falling asleep within 15 minutes of being sent to bed. And, only one toileting accident had been reported over the previous three months.


Emily was brought to us by her parents to Mandala when she was two. She had been given a provisional diagnosis of autism. She didn’t speak or produce sounds and didn’t use her tongue and lips effectively. 

Mandala’s collaborative approach worked well for Emily, by providing her with occupational therapy, speech, and ABA (applied behavior analysis) services. After one year of treatment, Emily had an expressive vocabulary of about 25 words and was able to express her wants and needs more effectively, which resulted in decreased tantrums.


Ryan is a 6-year-old boy diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Ryan was struggling academically in traditional schools, so his parents turned to the Palm Valley Child Co-op School Program for an alternative school placement. When Ryan first started at Mandala, he had daily tantrums and avoided school work.

Ryan’s treatment team developed a comprehensive plan focused on improving the functional communication that has increased his ability to tolerate anxiety-provoking events and helped him gain many prerequisite skills necessary for him to be successful in a traditional classroom setting. After just six months, Ryan’s problem behavior had decreased significantly and he had established a repertoire of skills that allowed him to transition successfully into a private school classroom. Due to the progress made through treatment, Ryan is finally finding success in a traditional classroom setting. He is able to socialize with peers and handle the learning curriculum more independently and in a less restrictive setting.


Jonathan is a 15-year-old male whose parents sought services in order to address frequent and significant anxiety and panic attacks. Jonathan reported that he experienced anxiety and panic on a near daily basis and that it was creating substantial barriers to his ability to function in social and academic settings. 

Through weekly individual therapy focused on Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness Meditation, Guided Visualizations, and Exposure and Response Prevention, Jonathan has learned and honed skills that have helped him to manage and in some cases stop panic attacks and anxiety as they occur. Jonathan and his parents have reported that his symptoms have reduced considerably over the past few months and that he is happier and more relaxed. 

Additionally, Jonathan has reported that the reduction in his anxiety has allowed him to have the courage to join an extracurricular club at his high school, something he could not have imagined six months ago. Jonathan is continuing to progress each week and expects that he will have a very good handle on his anxiety within a matter of months.