Tommy Finds the Support He Needs at OPAC


When I first brought my son, Tommy, to Easterseals Washington’s Olympic Peninsula Autism Center (OPAC), I was feeling overwhelmed and at a loss for how to best support him. Tommy was born with Down Syndrome, and he was diagnosed with ADHD and autism at age 5. Tommy’s conditions made it challenging for him to communicate his needs and establish coping mechanisms in stressful situations. As a result, he would have frequent outbursts and behave violently. I needed help figuring out how to address Tommy’s behavioral challenges and in creating strategies that would work for our family. 

When I spoke with Allison, the Board-Certified Behavioral Analyst, I told her that I work full time and needed help. On the day of the evaluation, Allison and the rest of the staff were very warm and welcoming. As we were walking out the door, Tommy had an outburst, throwing himself to the ground refusing to leave. I was afraid that this incident would affect the team’s desire to serve him, and I was surprised and relieved when Tommy was accepted as a learner into OPAC’s program without hesitation. OPAC was amazing in developing a plan to address Tommy’s behavioral needs and improve his communication skills.

Since becoming an OPAC learner, Tommy’s vocabulary has grown tremendously. He now uses complete sentences and is able to articulate what he is feeling. When Tommy is distressed, he now shares that with me, and he uses the coping methods that he learned in therapy to calm himself down and communicate his emotions. 

The staff is beyond awesome! From the start, I loved how open and communicative everyone was. The therapists would show me what they were doing, how it related to the skills they were working with Tommy to develop, and how we could use these tools at home. Hannah, a therapist that he immediately bonded with, always communicated about their strategies and how to practice them at home to continue to fit Tommy’s evolving needs. 

Tommy has thrived in this environment and absolutely adores his weekly visits. OPAC has been the most helpful thing for Tommy over the years. We have had such a great experience overall that I wish we could stay with the program forever! 

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