Mom Says Son Is A More Independent Person Thanks to Easterseals Autism Therapy Services

Photo of Autism Services Participant Adan playing guitar

When Adan was just a baby, his mom, Mayra, noticed he was developing differently. By the time he was three, Adan was still not talking, his eye contact was limited, and he had trouble communicating his wants and needs.

Mayra got her son evaluated, and Adan was diagnosed with Autism. Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) was assigned to work with the family, specifically Autism Services Clinical Supervisor Stephanie Judson and Program Manager Vanessa Valencia.

“I remember Stephanie came to the house, and I was a hot mess. I was grieving. It was a grieving process," Mayra said between tears.  Her main worry was that Adan's life would not progress as she was expecting.

"All I wanted, and still want, is for Adan to be independent and self-sufficient. I just want to know that, when I'm gone, he's going to be okay."

Before the pandemic, Stephanie and other ESSC behavioral interventionists (BIs) worked with Adan in person, five days a week. When they first started, Adan had no vocal language and his communication was not easily understood by others.

“Early on the clinical team introduced sign language and pictures to help Adan communicate his wants and needs," Stephanie said.

"Adan slowly started making more sounds, and requesting items using any vocalization that seemed similar to the item he wanted. Over time, Adan’s sounds became more intelligible and clearly communicated."

Stephanie and ESSC also implemented a parent training program, so Mayra and her husband could continue to support Adan at home themselves. At first, Mayra was skeptical of the program. She felt she could understand Adan and get his needs met, and that it would be easier for her to help him, then teaching Adan how to do the skill on his own. Later, she realized how important it would be for Adan to be independent, because she could not always be there to help him.

"Even though we were receptive [to his ABA program], a part of me was like, 'No, I'm his mom; you don't know what you're doing, but then I realized that I didn't have the right tools.'"

That acknowledgment was only solidified during the pandemic, when the COVID-19 shelter-at-home requirement prevented in-person sessions. For the virtual sessions, Mayra worked with Adan in person, with Stephanie and the BIs providing remote support.  

"Before the pandemic, the BIs would come to our home and take over and I would hover, watch, and observe. But during the pandemic, it was just my husband and me," Mayra said. BI’s would work 1:1 with Adan and the pandemic helped expand on person-centered planning by more actively involving the whole family.

Adan, who is nine now, worked with ESSC Autism Services for five years. Mayra received her last parent training in March of 2022. Mayra said she doesn’t know where her family would be without ESSC. 

Mayra described Adan as a more independent child, and added, “I really think it was because of ABA therapy and Easterseals’ support for my family."

Learn more about Easterseals Autism Therapy Services and the upcoming activities around Autism Acceptance Month.

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