Posts

“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.

 

 

 

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 son and his best friend Lulu

 

By Mary Rosswurm, executive director Little Star Center

We have always had dogs and have six currently. When our son Brad was born, we had a small terrier mix mutt named Barney. Growing up, Brad was never afraid of the dogs, but not very engaged with them, either.

This changed in 2008, when Lulu, our yorkie poo, figured out how to get up onto Brad’s very high bed by using an ottoman as a step. After this, something clicked and Brad became a full-on dog lover. He and Lulu are inseparable and he often refers to her as his “best friend”. Brad has said that he will be very sad when Lulu “passes” as she is his “beloved doggy friend.” Brad has become much more aware of our dogs and will get them fresh water, which includes ice cubes, refill their food bowl when empty and share his own food with them. We can often hear him talking to Lulu when he is in his bedroom. They have become wonderful friends and I am so happy that he has been able to make that connection with her.

A few years back, Brad asked if we could go see the movie, Marley and Me. In general, he only likes animated movies or live action comedies. I think he thought the movie was going to be more of a comedy because Owen Wilson was starring in it. At the end of the movie, the dog, Marley, grows old and eventually dies. I had that painful lump in my throat and my eyes were burning as I tried to hold back the tears. I could hear others in the theater sniffling and noses being blown. Out of the corner of my eye, I kept looking to see if Brad was having any type of visceral reaction to the movie, to which it seemed he was not. Once the movie was over, I could see that he was not experiencing any of the emotional reactions that I and so many others were experiencing.

As we walked to the car after the movie, I asked him, “Didn’t you think the movie was sad?” He replied, “Yeah.” I asked, “Didn’t it want to make you cry?” He simply said, “No, it’s not my dog.”

As often happens during everyday life with Brad, I am often puzzled and surprised at how he looks at the world differently than most do. Not wrong, just different.

Mary is executive director at Little Star Center. Her son, Brad, has autism. 

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.