Posts

Little Star Center family shares their journey to Indiana ABA center in documentary

“We are proud to share our story”

 

By Siovhan Lawrence

In February 2012, upon much research and many discoveries about ABA therapy and insurance mandates, I came across an article about Ryan’s Law, also known as the South Carolina Autism Insurance Reform Law. The law requires insurance companies to cover treatments for autism.

In researching the law, I began to read about the bill’s author, Lorri Unumb, a former law professor and mother of a son with autism. Although she could afford care, she realized others could not, unless something changed. After it became very clear we needed to move from North Carolina to get adequate services for our son, Bradley, I reached out to Lorri on her Facebook page. I basically begged for her guidance, as we were so lost on what to do. I didn’t chat with her or hear from her again until much later when she messaged me about a documentary filmmaker looking to interview families who were moving to other states due to lack of insurance coverage where they lived. About a month or so before our move, we were contacted by the filmmaker, John Block. John and his film crew visited our home in July 2013 as we were packing to move to Indiana.

Nearly six months later, “Sounding the Alarm” which features our family and several others discussing autism issues, debuted in Massachusetts. After several screenings across the country, “Sounding the Alarm” was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in April in New York City. We were invited to attend and were greeted by John and other families who participated in the documentary. We also met Bob and Suzanne Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks. Many people asked us questions and said how touched they were by our story. As we left the screening, we chatted briefly with actor Robert De Niro, a founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, who has a son diagnosed with autism. He asked how Indiana was treating us. We spoke for a moment about our children and future plans.

It was a unique experience.  We hope that, in some way, our story helps others to realize (until insurance companies, lawmakers, and the health care system do) that you do have options and there is hope.

The Lawrence family moved to Indiana in 2013 to receive ABA therapy for their son, Bradley, now a learner at Little Star Center. They are 12 families chronicled in the documentary “Sounding the Alarm,” which examines the challenges and opportunities of individuals diagnosed with autism. The film will be available in July on iTunes, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Click here for a preview.

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]

We are forever grateful to Little Star Center

By Siovhan Lawrence

 

Upon our son Bradley’s formal autism diagnosis, we did everything we could to get him the best services.  In doing so, we enrolled him part-time in a structured ABA school in North Carolina, where we lived at the time. Staff at the school let us know that the three hours per day Bradley was receiving was not enough. We were told he would excel with the recommended eight hours per day of behavioral intervention. It didn’t take much more than a glance and a shrug exchanged between my husband and me to make a big decision: We would move from North Carolina to Indiana, which is a well-oiled machine when it comes to autism mandates and facilities.

Once we decided to move to Indiana, my husband got a job and we began our search for ABA centers. We were excited about one particular facility, and purchased private insurance (recommended by the center), and rented the first home we could find. En route, moving van and all, we received a call from our selected center, where Bradley was set to begin school in four days, saying our insurance was not in  network and he would be unable to attend. What now? We were overwhelmed with worry and discontent.

We called our insurance agent and he mentioned Little Star Center. I called, set up a meeting and met Mary and Victoria. We never felt more comfortable in our quest for helping Bradley in the two years we’d experienced trying to find him the best support possible! I think when you meet other mothers of special needs kids, you have an immediate, unspoken camaraderie. We felt that with Mary. From the point we walked into the center to the first day we dropped Bradley off (and in the nearly four months he has been with Little Star) our hearts have become so full. In such a time of distress and worry, we were made to feel safe and secure and, most importantly, hopeful. As any parent of a child on the spectrum knows, without hope, there is nothing. We are forever grateful.

 Siovhan Lawrence is a mom of two, including Bradley, a learner at Little Star Center.