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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.

 

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.  

My “ah-ha” moment with my son

By Mary Rosswurm

When my son, Brad, was in middle school I would ask him every day who he ate lunch with and every day, it was the same, he had eaten lunch alone. This just broke my heart!

In elementary school, he was unable to tolerate the loud noise and all the activity in the cafeteria, so he would eat in the classroom. The teachers made sure he had one or two typical peers eating with him. It was seen as a privilege to eat with Brad in the classroom. But middle school was different. I would often call the teacher or write her a note and ask if she could arrange for some kids to eat with him, to which she always agreed to try to put something together. While I know he had made progress being able to eat in the cafeteria, it made me so sad to think of him sitting alone each day eating his lunch.

One day, I asked Brad who he had eaten lunch with and, as usual, he said he ate alone. I asked him if it made him sad to eat alone, to which he replied, “No, I like eating alone.” I was shocked. Who likes to eat alone? I know people who would rather eat nothing than go to a restaurant or even a movie by themselves. I just didn’t understand how he could like to eat alone. So, I asked him why. Why did he like to eat alone? Brad simply said that he enjoyed watching the other kids but not having to think about talking while he was eating was better. He had to talk a lot during the day, but at lunch time, he could sit alone and not have to talk.

This was an “ah-ha” moment for me, like a big light bulb went off in my head. Eating with people and talking with others during lunch was MY social need, not his. I realized that while it would feel odd to me to sit alone and eat, it felt perfectly fine for him.

I began to become more aware of my needs and gauge of normalcy compared to his needs and his gauge of normalcy. I realized that eating alone was OK for him and that no matter how hard I tried he was never going to be the social butterfly that I was. And that’s OK. He’s OK.

Mary Rosswurm is the executive director of Little Star Center and serves on the Indiana Commission for Autism. Her son,  Brad, has autism.

Emma is autistic. And Emma is awesome.

 

By Kerry Blankenship

I knew before the diagnosis came in. Someone gently suggested having Emma evaluated for autism, and I started researching. I knew when I read the list of common characteristics that I was reading about my 3-year-old daughter.

When the diagnosis confirmed what I knew, I thought, in those first days, that everything had changed. That “autistic” meant strictly defined limitations and endless struggles, that one word could tell me what her future would (or wouldn’t) be. I was scared of what I imagined to be a long, lonely road, and I wondered whether I’d be “mom enough” to shepherd her down it.

I know better now.

Emma is as she always was. She loves penguins and quesadillas, she seeks thrills and she brings sunshine to everyone that knows her. And she is autistic.

It’s not a word I’m afraid of anymore. She processes the world in a way that I can’t—and her perspective is beautiful. Sure, there are challenges, but there are also amazing milestones and a whole lot of joy.

Emma has taught me to rejoice in the little things, like the voice from the backseat piping up with a request for “donut!” every time we drive past Target. That she can tell me what she wants is always cause for celebration.

The diagnosis gave us resources and a community. It didn’t change my daughter or her potential.

Emma is autistic. And Emma is awesome.

Kerry Blankenship is a mom of one beautiful girl. Her daughter, Emma, is a learner at Little Star Center.