Anna’s mother knew that since her daughter was born a month early, she had a greater chance of some developmental delays than babies born at full term. When Anna wasn’t walking at 17 months, she contacted Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program. Her physical therapist, Steve, worked with Anna and suggested some activities her parents could do with her. Well, a week later she was walking!
While Anna’s mom wasn’t aware of the signs of autism, luckily a friend of hers was. At 2 years and 2 months, at the park one day, someone pointed out that she may want to check out autism. Her friend had noticed that Anna’s tantrums, spinning in circles, flapping her arms, lack of speech and walking on her tip toes were causes for concern.
Anna’s mom said, “I knew I needed to call Steve. The very next day he came over. Right away, he could see the stemming.” He scheduled a speech therapy session for the following week, and later occupational therapy.
Each week, they would do different activities. They quickly realized that Anna responded well to using pictures to communicate. They had a routine and used a schedule with pictures. “Just having that visual aid helped her express her wants,” said her mom.
Therapy sessions may have only been once a week, but Anna’s mom continued the progress. She said, “I’m with her every day. Everything they showed me, I tried to implement it into our play activities.”
After a year, Anna has made significant progress and her mom is thrilled about it. Anna isn’t afraid of people; she’s making eye contact and greeting other people. Her mom knows it’s a struggle for Anna. “At the playground, she wants so badly to communicate with others. She will come up to other kids and say ‘hi’. It’s not something natural to her, she had to learn it. When I see her do that, I sit back and I’m just so thankful,” she said.
In the fall, Anna will be attending a preschool with typically developing children. She will still receive assistance through the public school system, but she will have the opportunity to learn from other children.
The huge gains Anna has made in the past year are not lost on her mom. “Without the therapies I would be lost. People always say that if you catch it early, therapy does wonders. We are the prime example of that because as soon as we saw the signs of autism we contacted Babies Can’t Wait. They have given me wonderful tips on how to help her and I have watched her develop at a faster pace than before. I just want to hug the therapists. I know she will live a fulfilled life because of the things she’s learned.”