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“Little Star is the only facility we know of where they put the child first…”

By Joanne Kehoe, Little Star Center mom to Anthony

What has been the biggest challenge in finding services for your child?  In the beginning, our biggest challenge was finding out what was possible for Anthony.  He was in First Steps, but he aged out when he was 3 years old. Then, he started at a developmental preschool at our local public school.  We found that, at the public school, there seemed to be very little knowledge about kids with autism, and we were extremely disheartened.  A family friend, a psychiatrist at Riley, mentioned Little Star to me.  We went to Little Star and liked it, and began the process of finding out how we could get insurance to cover it. Since my husband works for the federal government and their insurance plan is self-funded, they do not have to provide coverage for ABA therapy.  A mom at Little Star gave me contact information for her insurance (representative) and we were able to get Anthony his own policy so that he could get his ABA therapy covered.

How did you overcome that challenge?  We were lucky that so many people were willing to share information from their lives to help us move through ours.  If we left it up to the public schools or the state – people who are supposed to help us – we would still be struggling!

How has Little Star Center provided support to your family?  When Anthony started at Little Star, I remember very clearly when his program manager came to our house and asked us what we wanted for Anthony.  We wanted him to be able to attend church and communicate with us so we could help him.  I will never forget sitting at my kitchen table with the program manager and being amazed that these things were possible.

Anthony is the oldest of four children, and his younger sisters Maria and Veronica, ages 6 and 5, have been welcomed at Little Star for sibling play and they love it. It has gone a long way for them to see that Anthony is not the only person they know with autism.

During the last year, when we have been fighting with our insurance company, doctor and, seemingly, everyone about coverage for ABA therapy for Anthony, only the people at Little Star have been there to support us. They have offered financial support so that Anthony could still go to Little Star and not have his schedule disrupted.  The people at Little Star have gone above and beyond what I would expect anyone to do for Anthony and we can’t say how much we appreciate it.

You could have chosen other ABA facilities for your child. What makes Little Star Center stand out from other ABA facilities?  Little Star is the only facility we know of where they put the child first, give him what he needs, and not focus solely on making money and billing.

For what are you most grateful at Little Star Center? We are grateful to have people working with Anthony who not only know what they are doing, but who truly love and care about him.  We know that the (concern) they have for Anthony is at the basis of all of the care they give us and we are forever indebted to them.

 

 

 

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.

 

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 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.  

Great speakers, informative sessions at ASHA convention

By Kasey Philpott, MS, CCC-SLP

I recently attended the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) convention in Chicago.  With over 12,000 attendees, the ASHA convention provides a plethora of learning opportunities for speech language pathologists and audiologists alike covering a variety of topics, including speech sound disorders, autism, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), hearing loss, swallowing disorders, stroke and language science.

This year’s theme was The Magic of Teamwork: Science and Service Delivery, which offered several opportunities to hear from other professions including behavior analysts!

I had the pleasure of attending many sessions discussing autism treatment specific to AAC, social skills, feeding/swallowing and others. I also had the opportunity to see a few familiar faces, including Oliver Wendt, Ph.D, from Purdue University, who presented a case study on Experimental Evaluation of a Parent-Implemented AAC Intervention Protocol for Children with Severe Autism. Thomas Zane Ph.D., a Little Star Center advisory board member. He presented a poster session that looked at the evaluation of efficiency and preference for communication modalities.

Overall it was a great experience!  I’m looking forward to next year’s convention in Orlando, Fla.!

Kasey is a speech language pathologist & director of related services at Little Star Center.

 

Young student is a fan of Little Star Center

William, the 10 year-old son of Tim Courtney, research and training director at Little Star Center, wrote the following letter to his school to request a grant for Little Star Center. This is a great reminder that our learners  success is important to even our youngest citizens.

Did you know one out of every 88 kids has autism? It’s for that reason I think we should choose Little Star Center for one of our lollipop drop charities.

Little Star Center is right here in our community helping kids with autism. Little Star is 100 percent non-profit. With the money we raise for (the school), it would be able to purchase therapy supplies for the kids who go there. The supplies would help the kids in learning to communicate and be independent.

I think it’s important to help everyone as much as we can, and it’s a great feeling to be able to help kids in our very own community. My dad is one of the directors at Little Star Center. I know the work they do is changing kid’s lives, and I hope we can assist them in continuing to do that.

Meg DiMartino named Assistant Clinical Director

Carmel, Ind.—Nov. 26, 2013—Little Star Center, a non-profit therapeutic applied behavior analysis center serving children and young adults with autism, announces today it has promoted Meg DiMartino to assistant clinical director.

DiMartino has worked with the Little Star Center team since April 2013 as a program manager. With her promotion to assistant clinic director, she assumes responsibilities including oversight and supervision of Little Star Center learners and their therapists, respectively. She is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and earned her Master of Science degree in applied behavior analysis and developmental disabilities from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama under the supervision of Dr. James Carr and Dr. Linda LeBlanc. After graduate school, she worked as a school consultant for central and northern Alabama through The Learning Tree Inc. in Tallassee, Ala.

Proud to be Hoosier representing autism and our ABA facility

By Mary Rosswurm

The National Autism Speaks conference was held in Washington D.C. last week. I was humbled to be invited to this national event that brought together about 200 autism advocates from classrooms, boardrooms, small towns, big cities and in-between. This three-day event marked the launch of the 2014 policy agenda (a first-ever for autism advocates and legislation).

Tim Courtney and I met face to face with key Indiana legislators to discuss research funding and encourage their participation in committees. I truly appreciate the time every legislator and professional took in their day to listen, make notes and subsequently take action on the behalf of families and children affected by autism. It was an amazing experience. The experience demonstrated democracy at work.

To read more about the event read this blog written by Liz Fields, president of Autism Speaks.