How did you discover that your child had special needs?
At the age of two Abram wasn’t using any words. The family was mainly concerned about this after being around friends’ children who could have full conversations at this point. They knew there was something wrong at the time but felt certain it was only a language issue. After having Early Intervention for a few months, the Early Intervention Supervisor mentioned the potential concern of autism along with the screenings that could be done to confirm or deny. Abram’s Mom, Cherish, admits this immediately threw her for a loop. She never once thought autism was a possibility. For several months, screenings were offered to the family but both parents declined, stating they weren’t ready to face the possibility. The Early Interventionist remained a support for the family as they struggled with these decisions.
Slowly, Cherish started noticing the things her Early Interventionist would bring to her attention. Abram would fixate on wheels and play entirely solo, never allowing anyone to join him. He was antisocial, lacked eye contact, and had continued difficulty developing language. After some time, Cherish began researching and came to the realization it was best for her to accept everything and get Abram the help he needed. In December of 2015, just after his 3rd birthday, Abram was diagnosed with Autism.
Cherish says, “Friends and family around us said he was ‘all boy’ and that boys just develop slower. They said we had nothing to worry about. The hardest thing was to overcome that stigma of him being ‘just a boy’ and actually get him the help he needed.”
How did you learn about Easter Seals Early Intervention?
“We learned about Easterseals by going through the Babynet office. Initially Abram’s doctor referred the family to Babynet at his 2 year old checkup due to his lack of language.” The family chose Easterseals when given the list of providers.
How do you feel your child is doing now in comparison to when they first started their early Intervention journey?
Cherish states, “Oh my goodness … he has made leaps and bounds.” After a year and a half of services, Abram is now talking, making commands, using two-three word phrases, making eye contact, wants to play with other kids and is the one to initiate the play. Cherish and Chad feel they have a stronger relationship with him now that they understand his diagnosis, along with how he thinks and processes. Abram is beginning to ask one-word questions with inflection. He says ‘I love you Mommy’, something Cherish has waited 3 years to hear.
Abram also uses his words to say what he is upset about or wants. He says, “Ouch, Doctor!” when he gets hurts, seeks attention of peers and initiates hugs. Abram does a lot of pretend play now as well without prompting from an adult. Cherish states he has always been a good kid. He’s smart, loving, and easy going.
What kinds of support have been most helpful to you and why?
Cherish states Abram’s early interventionist helped her so much with coming to terms with his diagnosis and assisting through the process. The EI also assisted the family in applying for TEFRA Medicaid which was accepted and is now helping cover the expenses of his therapies. Abram receives speech and occupational therapy. He is scheduled to begin ABA at Hope Academy with Hope Reach this month.
In addition, Cherish found a lot of support in a work friend who also has a child diagnosed with autism. Together they were able to share stories, suggestions, advice, and tips for raising such a special child.
Cherish and Chad have worked hard over the last three years to do what is best for Abram. It has been a pleasure to watch their journey of Early Intervention grow into a strong and faith-based family willing to accommodate all of Abram’s needs.