I will never forget what it was like to receive Sam’s diagnosis. It was just a few weeks after his second birthday. We met with the specialist. He evaluated Sam and then he said the words. He said “I really believe your son has autism.”
Right then my mind went blank. I had a tingling sensation all over me. I was hot and cold at the same time. I was numb and shocked and tremendously afraid. These feelings kept happening over and over again, not just in that moment. I remember wondering how I could be devastated when I’m with my beautiful son who exudes constant joy and makes me so happy–and yet both the joy and the devastation were very real in those moments.
At that time, Sam did not imitate sounds. He didn’t say any words. He did not imitate gestures. He did not follow any directions. He really preferred to spend the entire day by himself and I was so frightened by that. As a mother, my heart would ache looking at the children at the playground thinking “I just want him to have fun. I want him to go down a slide or swing on the swings,” but in that moment I knew I had to face the truth.
I knew so little about autism and I felt completely helpless so I began to research. I knew in my heart that he needed intensive therapy. I wanted him to be at a place with a proven research model which is what ABA therapy provides.
The first reason I chose ABC was the feeling that I had walking through the door. It was just a few months after the diagnosis so I was still very raw but the atmosphere was so warm and caring. The way that the staff explained the ABA process made me believe. I believed in something that I did not know well but we beginning to learn.
I also loved the accountability structure that is in place at ABC. From the therapists and how they are trained to the program coordinators who help support them and are constantly evaluating Sam’s progress, I knew that my Sam would see progress here.
About 7 weeks after starting therapy, my boy began imitating sounds. It was one of the most glorious moments of my life. Then, within two weeks he was imitating every single sound! I was overjoyed because that gave me hope.
Today, there are so many directions that he follows in detail. It has been an incredible progression to see. What excites me the most is that Sam gets so excited about his own progress. At four years old, he started wanting to play on the playground and he loves it now! That was something that I thought I would never get to see.
I will never forget the day when Sam’s therapist came out to the car at dismissal and she said “I need to show you something.” I followed her into the building and they sat me down across from Sammy. His therapist looked at him and said “mmm.” Sam said “mmm.” She said “k.” Sam said “k.” She said “milk.” …and he said it! My Sammy said a word. I was overjoyed!
I looked over at the therapist who had been working so hard with Sam every day. She was looking at him and in that moment she had a tear of joy rolling down her cheek. There was so much pride in her eyes as she watched that progress and it was just another snapshot that confirmed for me that this is the right place.
To inquire about services, contact us at Sheiletha@appliedbehaviorcenter.org or 317-849-KIDS.