By Kathleen Stengel, M.S., BCBA, LBA
About eight years ago, I got a call from a mom whose two-year-old son had just been diagnosed with autism. I’ll never forget her first words: “No one will help me.”
Doctors had told this mom that her son would probably never speak and that he needed intensive ABA therapy. Suddenly, her whole world had come crashing down. “I don’t even know what the word autism means,” she told me. “They say we need ABA, and I don’t even understand what that is.” She felt desperate and alone.
“Can you help?” she asked me.
I said yes without hesitation. I knew what ABA therapy could do.
I explained “autism” and “ABA,” words that aren’t so scary when you understand what they mean. I told her about the science behind the treatment we could provide and the team of professionals that could support her and her family. I let her know she was not alone.
This two-year-old boy had no verbal language skills. He communicated instead with his behavior – specifically with punches, kicks, and tantrums. On my first visit to their home, I watched him hanging from the living room curtain, scratching anyone who came near. I looked in his parents’ eyes and said, “It’s okay. This is normal right now. But we’re going to create a new normal.” And we got to work.
In ABA, we involve everyone in the child’s life in the treatment. I worked with this child’s family, extended family, church, and school. I trained everyone in his community on how to respond to his tantrums and how to help him learn to communicate in better ways. Eight years later, his mom still calls me her “quarterback” because of the care I coordinated for her son.
In ABA treatment, we come alongside you after your child’s diagnosis. We work with your entire community to find and reach the potential of each individual child. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village, town, and city to raise a child with autism. And you have that when you have ABA.
Life with a child with autism can be a difficult journey at times. But it can also be a journey that is full of life and love and fun. And it's a journey you don't have to take alone. We’re in this together. When your child's diagnosis seems daunting, we'll help you understand it. When you're at your wit's end, we'll show you another way. When the resources are overwhelming, we’ll help you navigate.
My advice to anyone wondering how they can find help for their child with autism is to never, ever lose hope. ABA presents a path to success, and there are those who will help you get there. Every step of the way, we've got your back.