Born with the rare genetic disease tuberous sclerosis, Bowen Brant had benign tumors growing on his heart, brain and other vital organs. Brain tumors took the biggest toll, sparking epilepsy around age 1. The Indianapolis boy underwent five brain surgeries in two years and was eventually diagnosed with autism.
“It’s taken a huge toll on his development,” says his mother, Kim. “After we got the seizures under control, we needed to pursue a new way for him to learn.”
Kim and her husband, Jay, found Access in Indianapolis thanks to a Facebook group geared toward special needs. In October, they enrolled Bowen in full-time therapy and are thrilled with his remarkable progress. “Access has turned a dark situation into one of promise,” Jay says.
Access specializes in Applied Behavior Analysis, a widely recognized and effective treatment for autism and other diagnoses. “We knew ABA therapy was an option, but didn’t know much about it,” Kim says. “We’d toured other facilities, but when we left Access, we were very confident this was the best place for our family. They’d help Bowen meet his potential. Meeting Alysia and touring Access provided us with hope, and we could tell they were passionate.”
Access President Alysia Fuhrmann, a board-certified Behavior Analyst, oversees Bowen’s care. “Our goal is to help the family reach their goals, so they can enjoy quality of life,” Fuhrmann says. “We can teach in any environment and cater to each family’s needs.”
Jay says they felt a massive sense of relief after visiting Access. “It just felt right. That’s a huge understatement,” he says. “For us, the other places didn’t feel personal or comfortable. We feel really good leaving our son, who’s never been out of our watch, to spend the day with this group of wonderful people. They offer to work with our extended family, babysitters — they address the whole family.”
Bowen, who just turned 3, spends three full and two partial days learning at the clinic. “Before, he wasn’t talking, his motor skills weren’t great — he was behind on just about everything,” Kim says. “Recently, he’s started mimicking sounds, which is a great first step.”
Fuhrmann says Bowen’s limited communication skills frustrated the toddler, so his therapists first taught Bowen more sign language. They’re also working on his vocal language, and addressing his repetitive behaviors by teaching Bowen how to properly play. “He’s making progress very quickly,” Fuhrmann says.
Jay says it’s important to understand it’s a process that’s not going to happen overnight. “They get so excited at Access about Bowen’s achievements, no matter how small,” Jay says. “That gives us perspective.”
Bowen recently made a new sound when Kim asked one morning if he was ready to go to school at Access. “He started making the ‘shh’ sound,” Kim says proudly. “They throw him a party at Access every time he accomplishes something. He truly loves it there.”
Now, it’s Kim’s turn to throw a party. While Bowen still attends horseback therapy and his First Step therapy sessions, the Brants say his time at Access has been the most beneficial, despite initial doubts the therapists could achieve the six-month goals they set. “We looked at the timeline and I kind of laughed,” Kim says. “I told them I’d throw a party if they achieved those goals. I guess I better get planning!