Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Here to Help

When BB was 22 years old she moved in to a residential home at the Autism Treatment Center.  Today BB is 52 years old and she still lives in a home at ATC. Her mom and dad, who are retired, live close by and BB frequently goes home for weekends and holidays. BB has a special room at her parent’s home with many items she loves to collect. She also has a special room at ATC with her treasures. BB recently got an iPad and loves using it for entertainment and learning new skills. On most visits home BB is calm, cooperative, and happy.

However, the holidays are a very stressful time for her. She will raise her voice and ask the same question over and over. With coaching she can usually reduce her anxiety to an acceptable level. This past Thanksgiving though her anxiety was so intense that she started to seriously harm herself. Her parents could not get her calmed down, so BB’s mom called the ATC nurse and Case Manager at 10:30pm Thanksgiving night. They, in turn, called the Residential Coordinator and House Manager of BB’s home. The Coordinator and Manager went to BB’s family home and worked with her until 1am.

They were able to help her calm down, go to bed, and finally go to sleep. The next day, BB’s mom came to the Center and stopped by my office to tell me how grateful she and BB’s dad are that “staff are willing to come and assist in the middle of the night and that they always seem to know just what to do.”

BB remained at home until Sunday evening when she returned to her ATC home without any additional problems. I am so proud to be the Executive Director of ATC for many reasons, but this situation illustrates “Community Services” at its pinnacle. The team at ATC is dedicated, passionate, skillful and has years of experience working with and teaching children and adults with autism.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Meet Daniel.

Daniel first arrived at the Autism Treatment Center a month past his third birthday. Daniel was diagnosed with autism and the symptoms of his autism were affecting his family's everyday life.

Leaving the house to run errands, going to appointments or family outings became very challenging due to his tantrums and anxiety when he had to leave his room. His social awareness of others was very minimal and he did not acknowledge other people nor did he want to interact with his sisters when they played. It was a challenge developing a strong sibling relationship. If other peers got too close to him he could become aggressive and hit them to keep them away. He did not show affection to his family and did not want to engage in family activities. Daniel's diagnosis of autism led his parents to ATC's Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) program and he was enrolled in a 20 hour/week program consisting of one on one Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA) and monthly parent training.

ATC's therapists began working with Daniel to increase his social skills, independence, and communication. Beginning by teaching Daniel to notice other people and peers, each session reinforced and increased his motivation to engage with others. His social skills began developing. He was taught to ask for toys and items he wanted from his peers and he learned how to play with toys, pretend play, and role play. Daniel learned how to ask his peers to play and his parents began to see these skills at home as he started to interact with his sisters. He wanted to be a part of their world!

Daniel learned skills to increase his independence as well. He became potty trained and he learned how to brush his teeth, wash his hands, and dress himself. During potty training he would actively seek out others approval running to therapists for hugs proudly yelling "I did it!" He would want to call his parents and tell them the good news. This was an ecstatic moment for everyone on Daniel's team. The boy who came to ATC wanting to sit by himself on the floor, avoiding contact with therapists and peers, and who cried and screamed during transitions became a distant memory.

Daniel now initiates conversations with his peers and helps the therapists teach other kids to interact. He will spontaneously sit down at snack time and ask the other kids what they are eating, ask if they like it, and tell them what he has that day. When a new student arrives he says hello and asks them their name.

Because of his accomplishments, Daniel has recently graduated from the Autism Treatment Center's DARS ABA program and is now attending a general education kindergarten class. His teacher was able to observe and be trained by the Autism Treatment Center's team through the DARS program. 

Daniel has made a smooth transition to the general education classroom. He plays with his sisters and wants to do everything they do and does not want to be left out of any family outing. His parents are thrilled with the progress he made and the foundational skills he developed with the help of the ATC/DARS ABA program.  They are now looking forward to his continued success!