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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.

 

 

 

 

Updates about the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

By Michele Trivedi, MHA

Citizens who need health coverage to start on Jan. 1 have more time to apply. The federal government has extended the deadline to Dec. 23.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides navigators to assist those who have questions or need help signing up for a plan. To find a local navigator, call 1-800-318-2596 or go to www.healthcare.gov.  Help can also be found at Covering Kids and Families of Indiana.

For more information about how ACA covers autism and developmental disabilities, visit the following websites: The Arc of IndianaAutism Society of Indiana,  and Autism Speaks.

Michele Trivedi is The Arc Insurance Project Manager and a member of the Board of Directors at Little Star Center. She is available to answer your questions regarding ACA coverage for individuals with autism. She can be reached at 317-977-2375.

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. 

Life Lessons – What we here at Little Star have learned from the kids we work with

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, the staff at Little Star Center would like to take this opportunity to thank the many children and young adults that we have had the privilege to work with over the years. We would like to share a few things that we have learned from our time together:

  • Celebrate the little things
  • A little pee never hurt anybody
  • Children with autism work harder each day than most adults
  • We call them “special interests” not obsessions
  • Everybody is smart in their own way
  • Don’t always be in such a hurry
  • Bad times may be bad, but they make the good times even better
  • He’s just saying what everybody else is thinking
  • One person’s gross is another person’s amazing
  • The most ordinary, everyday objects can still be extraordinary
  • Potential cannot be predicted
  • Success should be measured in small steps

What have you learned from children on the spectrum? Feel free to add your “life lessons” in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you!

autism indiana

For Immediate Release, Little Star Center Lafayette to open March 15th – Official Press Release here.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:         Amanda Ryan

Community Outreach & Marketing Director

317.249.2242

[email protected]

Little Star Center Announces Opening of New Lafayette Location

Non-profit autism center will be the first of its kind in the Lafayette Area

CARMEL, IN, February 15, 2011 – Little Star Center, a non-profit center for children with autism, is pleased to announce the opening of a new center in Lafayette, IN. The center will open its doors on March 15, 2011. Their location in Carmel was the first in the state, opening in 2002. This stand alone center – located at 3922 Mezzanine Drive, can be quickly accessed from IN-26, making it an easy to reach location for all Lafayette area commuters.

Little Star Center chose the Lafayette area for its new location due to the need for autism services. “After holding multiple community interest meetings, attending local autism events and support group meetings, the choice was easy. The need for services is great in the area and we are excited to get up there and help with that need,” says Mary Rosswurm, Executive Director of Little Star Center.

Based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Little Star provides an atmosphere where children, therapists and families can interact, support each other and receive on-going training so that each child can reach their full potential at home and in a variety of settings outside of therapy. After decades of research, the United States Surgeon General has endorsed intensive behavioral intervention for individuals with autism as the treatment of choice. Over 40 years of research documents the efficacy of ABA in reducing inappropriate behavior and increasing communication and learning.

About Little Star Center

We believe we are a truly unique and special place for children and families. Little Star allows families to have the best of both worlds – the intense one-on-one personalized therapy that you used to only be able to find in a home program and the community feel of a center based program that gives your child access to peers, materials and a beautiful facility. Families are an integral part of their child’s programming along with our staff of professionals. Little Star prides itself on having a “family first” philosophy. For more information please call 317.249.2242 or visit us on the web at www.littlestarcenter.org.

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autism indiana

The Latest News Regarding the Issue of Vaccines and Autism – Dr. Wakefield’s Research

As you know, there has been a media frenzy lately regarding Dr. Wakefield’s 1998 research paper that linked the childhood measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to the onset of autism.  Recently, Dr. Wakefield’s paper and research have been discredited since follow up studies could not replicate the findings casting doubt on its conclusions.

NPR’s, The Diane Rehm Show, has done a great job of discussing this issue and has had some experts come on and speak about it. Check out the latest edition – Vaccines and Autism: A Story of Medicine, Science and Fear.  Click listen to this hear this discussion.