Wyatt and I are in this wonderful world together

 

By Brett Eastwick

Someone once said never underestimate what a parent is willing to do for his child. Parents of children with autism know this maxim all too well. It is not easy being a parent, even with unlimited resources, family members, and a supportive spouse. But bring into the fold a diagnosis of autism, and suddenly you feel as if the world has swallowed you up.

And any parent who has gone through this five years ago, 10 years, 20 years ago, it was even more difficult. Today, the level of awareness is high. It seems as if everybody knows someone that is on the spectrum. That has not always been the case, nor has it always been that people accept our children for who they are. We all have experienced “the look.” The look of confusion as to why our child is making odd sounds, why they are flapping their hands, why a sudden noise sends them into hysterics. We are at fault. They just need to behave. They need more discipline. We are coddling them. I have heard all of this before, as I am sure you have. It makes you want to cry. It makes you want to lash out. It makes you want to hide away from the world.

I have lived in the world of autism for 10 years. My son, Wyatt, brought me into it. He is why I left my previous career as a veterinary assistant and became an ABA therapist. He could not speak. Learning was aversive and almost impossible for him. He could not communicate with us. I refused to let him stay trapped in his own world by himself.

The methods of verbal behavior analysis did not take him out of that world, so much as it allowed me to enter into it with him. Wyatt has hundreds of signs, and knows how to compel those around him to engage him that way. After six years of continued therapy, he has learned so much. But this is where the rest of the world still lags behind. It is not over. He will not be “cured”, especially since he is not sick. He has autism. He will always have autism. I will always be a parent of a child with autism. I do not think about the magic day Wyatt will be like typically developing children, when I no longer work with children of autism. Wyatt and I are in this wonderful world together. We all are in this community of parents with autism. And I would not have it any other way.

Brett Eastwick is a therapist at Little Star Center. His son, Wyatt, has autism.

 

The awesomeness of riding a tricycle…or not!

 

By Siovhan Lawrence

In our family, April 2 is not just World Autism Awareness Day. It’s also the two-year anniversary of our son Bradley’s autism diagnosis. So far, we’ve learned many things on this journey. One lesson, in particular, we learned very early is setting realistic goals for Bradley while celebrating every single milestone – both big and small.

After a battery of tests with four-and five-letter acronyms and countless labs, we finally received an autism diagnosis for Bradley. The next step: Setting goals for our newly diagnosed son.  We were asked, “What are your specific goals for Bradley in the next six months?” How do you answer that?  We knew our son was delayed in every aspect and missed milestones. He was developing new interfering behaviors and was also showing regression. We answered with things we thought would be achievable. Roll a ball back and forth during play. Push a toy car around. Say the words “hi”, “bye”, “mommy”, “daddy” and “sissy.” We said we wanted him to wave, smile, respond to his name when called. Also added to our list were eye contact and an expanded food repertoire. WOW! Looking back now, we realize what a tall order that was.

In the following months we learned more about autism and the challenges Bradley would face.  Needless to say, during his next evaluation Bradley had not met any of our goals. Subsequently, we became less specific about our goals and focused more on understanding all of the intricate parts of each of those tasks.

After coming to Little Star Center (nearly 18 months after Bradley’s diagnosis), Brian, one of Bradley’s therapists, casually mentioned he was working on something with our son. He told us it would be a surprise.  At Christmastime, we were asked to come to LSC and receive our “gift.”  With all of the progress, setbacks, therapy and undeniable hard work, we had no idea what to expect. We walked into LSC and in came Bradley, riding around the corner on a tricycle. ALL BY HIMSELF! There he was pedaling, smiling and focusing. He lost a grip on the pedal, but he regained his footing. It was AMAZING! The best Christmas present ever!

As we celebrate Bradley’s progress over the last two years, we have learned to see the development of new skills and goals being met under a whole new light. Each and every moment of dedication from both the LSC staff and Bradley is monumental. Whether he is flashing one of his giant, infectious smiles or communicating one of his needs, we appreciate each moment and it fills our hearts with hope and pride.

Siovhan Lawrence is a mother of two. Her son, Bradley is a learner at Little Star Center.

 

 

 

 

Our son found a successful path at Little Star

By Julie Kilpatrick

When my precious little Henry was diagnosed on the autism spectrum just before his third birthday, I was somewhat relieved. Henry had been receiving speech therapy since he was 18 months old. He was making some strides, but still wasn’t where he needed to be at his age. Henry also seemed to be withdrawing from his peers in preschool and, being my first child, I figured he was just shy or would grow out of it.

My husband and I didn’t even want to entertain the idea of autism, but with the thoughtful counsel of his speech language pathologist and a few visits to various pediatric specialists, we received our diagnosis. While it was devastating at first, I finally felt an odd sense of relief because I could begin narrowing in on an action plan.

I found out about Little Star Center from a brochure at The Arc of Indiana.  I also met some of the center’s therapists at the Answers for Autism walk in September 2011. That following week, I called Mary Rosswurm and scheduled an appointment. Our prayers were answered when we met with Mary and toured Little Star. There were lots of happy little ones running around, jumping, verbalizing and even flapping next to their caring therapists. While I didn’t relish the thought of enrolling my precious child in a different childcare setting, I knew immediately that Little Star was the best place for Henry and the staff was more than capable of helping him to excel.

Henry thrived at Little Star, achieving milestone after milestone. His team of therapists provided the support, programming and constant documentation and communication to get Henry where he is today. My husband and I quickly felt comfortable and were respected as part of “Team Henry.”

While Henry has graduated and moved on from Little Star, he often talks about his friends and therapists at the center. We feel very fortunate to have had access to such a wonderful and well-respected facility to help both our little boy and our family thrive. Our sense of relief is ever present as we continue to celebrate each milestone, both great and small, that may not have been possible without Little Star.

Julie Kilpatrick is a mom to three children, including Henry, 5, who transitioned from Little Star Center and now attends a preschool in Carmel.

 

Learn more about Little Star’s enrollment process

By Victoria Blessing

 

It is my honor to welcome you to our Little Star Center’s Bloomington location. As your primary contact during your child’s enrollment process, I will be with you every step of the way, answering all of your questions, preparing you for your child’s assessment and, eventually, welcoming him or her to Little Star on the first day of learning.

As a mom of a child with autism, I know exactly what you are going through, and it is my goal to make the process comfortable, informative and stress-free.

The following information details our enrollment process. Please know the timeframe for this process is based on how quickly we receive insurance approval, but, in general, takes between four and six weeks. The process may seem lengthy, but I can assure your child’s therapist will be fully trained on the programs specific to your child on the first day he or she begins at Little Star:

Tour: I will set up a time that is convenient for you to visit Little Star. I will answer your questions and outline the enrollment process.  We will also review insurance coverage information. As you tour the center, you will see other learners in action and meet more of our staff and address any concerns or questions you may have.

Assessment: Upon your request, you will be provided an assessment packet. Once the completed assessment form is returned to me, I will schedule your child’s assessment with our clinical team. Once the assessment report is complete, it will be submitted to your insurance company for enrollment approval. When approval is granted, I will provide you with your child’s start date.

We are excited to welcome Bloomington-area learners and families to Little Star! I look forward to meeting you and your child and introducing you to our wonderful staff.

Victoria is the New Family Coordinator for Little Star Center. For enrollment questions or to schedule a tour of Little Star, email her at [email protected]

Looking back on a great 2013 for our Indiana autism center

 

By Mary Rosswurm

It has been an exciting time of growth and learning at Little Star Center, an Indiana autism center focused on in-home and center-based ABA therapy for children, teens and young adults. As we settle into the New Year, I wanted to share some of the outstanding accomplishments of 2013. Although there were many, many achievements by our learners and staff last year, we are highlighting 10 of the most memorable:

10) Oh the places we went. We were honored to have been invited to take part in the Council on Autism Services Conference, the Autism Speaks to Washington Rally and a week with Dr. Aubrey Daniels to learn about performance management.

 

9) Autism Awareness Month’s 30 facts over 30 days. We put this on Facebook and it was a lot of fun to see how many people a daily fact reached. We got over 14,000 views on our Facebook page in April!

8) Largest team at Answers for Autism Walk. Once again, Little Star had the largest team at the AAI walk. It was awesome to see over 100 people in LSC shirts at this annual event. Thank you to all of our participants and supporters.

7) Lots of anniversaries. Little Star Carmel celebrated its 11th year, Lafayette center celebrated its third anniversary, our Middle Star building saw its first birthday and our second staff member reached the five-year milestone.

6) ABA Daily on Twitter. We launched ABADaily on Twitter, which posts an ABA fact every day. Follow us.

4) New Bloomington center. We began the process of opening a new center in Bloomington after hearing about the needs in that area of the state. It will open this spring. We are hiring staff and evaluating leaners now.

5) The Melin Fundraiser was a hit. We partnered with the Melin family in honor of their late daughter and raised more than $9,000, which was used to purchase new IT technology to benefit all our centers.

3) Working with team members as they grow and take on more responsibility. Thank you to all our staff who advanced careers at Little Star Center.

2) The new Advisory Board. 2013 marked the formation of our Advisory Board, which brings together nationally known experts in the field of autism and applied behavior analysis. The Little Star Lecture Series also got off the ground. We hosted our second and third talks. The lectures were free and open to all.

Lafayette transition cerermony

1) The success of our learners. By far the most important achievement: watching 13 Little Star learners transition out of our program and go into school. It was priceless.

Thanks to our entire Little Star family for a great 2013.
We look forward to an even better 2014!

Mary Rosswurm is executive director at Little Star Center.

 

 

Photos (From top to bottom): Executive Director Mary Rosswurm, board member Michele Trivedi and Research and Training Director Tim Courtney meet with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana during the Autism Speaks to Washington event – LSC staff attend Michigan Autism Conference – Learners prepare for the LSC Fourth of July parade. – A Lafayette center learner at his transition ceremony.

We found our perfect match at Little Star

By Onya Jones

When Kaleigh was 3 years old, we searched for the perfect ABA facility to address her needs. At the time, she wasn’t ready for developmental preschool. She needed more one-on-one assistance.

I began searching for therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and came upon Little Star Center’s website. It was very informative and looked exactly like what Kaleigh needed.  After touring the center and meeting with staff, I knew this was where she needed to be.

Four years later, I remain convinced that Little Star is the best place for Kaleigh. The staff is devoted to Kaleigh’s progress. It’s evident that they want the kids to succeed in life. They work hard to make that happen. It’s clear they love every single one of those kids and, at the same time, provide great support to the parents.

We are truly grateful we found Little Star.

Onya Jones is mom to Kaleigh, a learner at Little Star Center.