“In the beginning, we didn’t want to say autism. We just said J.P. was developmentally delayed. We never said autism. Not to our friends. Not to our family. Not even to ourselves.”
J.P.’s parents struggled to accept their son’s autism diagnosis for quite some time. They didn’t want to limit their son. They didn’t want to give up on him. But then J.P.’s parents found out about ABA therapy, and their perspective on autism began to shift.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA therapy) is the most effective proven treatment for children with autism and developmental disabilities. ABA therapists help individuals gain skills and reduce negative behaviors through positive reinforcement. ABA can produce amazing changes in children’s lives, and for J.P. and his family, ABA therapy brought hope.
But the therapy took a little getting used to. “The home visits were quite intrusive at first,” J.P.’s mom, Camille, admits. “We had never had strangers in our home like that before. But we got to know J.P.’s therapists. And we saw J.P. getting better. Pretty soon, the therapists didn’t feel like strangers anymore. They felt like family.”
J.P.’s registered behavior technicians and board certified behavior analyst helped him do things that his family had thought were impossible. J.P. regained and improved his speech. He learned how to serve himself at family cook-outs and how to cope with last-minute changes without melt-downs. Of course, J.P. had setbacks as well. But no matter what, he had his Aveanna team. “J.P. succeeded because his therapists really believed in him,” Camille asserts. “Even when we as parents felt hopeless, they always kept high expectations for him.”
J.P. completed ABA therapy over two years ago. When Camille recalls the despair she felt at J.P.’s diagnosis, she wishes she could show the young mom she was then where her son would be sixteen years later. J.P. is working towards going to college, getting a job, and living independently. His behavior and speech have improved beyond even his therapists’ high expectations.
Camille wants other parents dealing with an autism diagnosis to be aware of the possibilities for their children. “Autism can seem frightening,” she acknowledges. “But it doesn’t have to be. There are so many success stories out there, if you look for them. These kids can have amazing, full, productive lives. We just need to have faith in them.”
Your child’s autism diagnosis might feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to face it alone. Aveanna’s ABA teams are here to help you and your child with autism. We’re here to help you find hope.
The above is an unpaid but solicited statement from J.P.'s mother, Camille. J.P. is not currently obtaining services from Aveanna and has been out of service for over two years. Jillian Sheehan (pictured) is J.P.'s former ABA therapist.