Tag Archive for: families and autism

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.

How my cousin directed my career path to Little Star Center

From a Little Star Center employee

There are 17 grandchildren on my dad’s side of the family. Sixteen of us live without autism, but there is one who does. My 9-year-old cousin, Q, lives on the spectrum.  All of my cousins have affected my life in various ways, but the only one who has dramatically changed the course of my life is Q.

He was 5 years old when I accepted the official title of his “personal babysitter”. I needed a summer job between my freshman and sophomore years at Indiana University, and my aunt needed an extra set of eyes to watch him. It seemed like a win-win for all parties involved, which it undoubtedly was. From day one, Q had an eye for adventure, and a penchant for the mischievous. Since he was non-verbal at the time, there were a lot of communication barriers to work past. However, I quickly learned that McDonald’s French fries were his favorite foods, and swinging at the park was his favorite activity.

Over those few summer months, my bond with Q blossomed. Although we spent hours running around the house playing, there were also many moments of extreme frustration and sadness.  Nevertheless, it’s the joyous times that I remember the most vividly. By babysitting my little cousin, I learned the value of patience and compassion.

Working with my cousin helped me discover my passion for supporting those with disabilities.  I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with kids with autism at Little Star Center, and I’m forever grateful to my cousin Q for leading me to this point.​