Julie Cobos knew something wasn’t right with her son, Eli. At 18 months he was exhibiting behaviors that were very different from anything she had seen with his two older siblings. He repeated actions over and over again, once knocking a bottle over and setting it back up repeatedly, and sorted his toys by color, type or size rather than simply playing with them.
A trip to the pediatrician revealed that the 10 words Eli had mastered at this point were well below the 50 word guideline for a child his age and Julie was referred to her local Regional Center for assistance. After a formal diagnosis of a developmental delay, he was assigned a home-based therapist.
Just before Eli turned two, his neurologist insisted that he needed to be with other children his age so he could work on his social interactions. While Eli was in a loving in-home day care, he was the only full-time child in attendance. His home-based therapist recommended Easter Seals.
Julie was only vaguely aware of Easter Seals from fundraising campaigns she had seen at the supermarket, but once she walked inside the classroom at the Upland Child Development Center and met the Early Head Start staff, she knew she had found the place for Eli. “They have been so incredibly caring and helpful, they all feel like family,” says Julie. “They have even allowed the therapist to work with Eli onsite, which has been immensely helpful since my husband and I both work during the day.”
At 27 months, Eli was given a diagnosis of autism, and Easter Seals followed the behavioral protocols established by his applied behavioral analysis therapy team. As time passed, and Eli transitioned from the Early Head Start to Head Start programs, the improvements were noticeable.
“When Eli first started with us, he would play quietly by himself and not participate in circle time or socialize with the other children, said Elizabeth Mulligan, the San Bernardino County area director for Easter Seals Child Development Centers. “As time went on, Eli started connecting with his classmates and joining in the classroom activities. Today, he fully participates with the class and carries back and forth conversations with his teachers and classmates.”
Now almost five years old, Eli has made remarkable progress and will be heading into Kindergarten in August. He and his family will miss their second family at Easter Seals, but will never forget how the service helped make them feel better about the future.
Learn more about the services Easter Seals provides for children here.