Kiddo Spotlight: ABA Therapy Helps Adam Find his Voice
February 13, 2020
February 13, 2020
Searching for the TV remote is a problem every dad experiences at least a few times in life…it is practically a rite of passage into fatherhood. Less common, however, is the especially clever and crafty kid who keeps his dad looking for that remote for nearly a week!
This is how Hopebridge kiddo, Adam, keeps his father, Tarique, on his toes. This sharp young boy has fun hiding objects around the house, but takes it to a new level. Knowing his dad will call his phone if he can’t find it – which makes the “game” too easy – Adam learned to remove the battery prior to stashing it, so it sometimes takes a few days to discover its hiding spot.
As much as this 7-year-old enjoys testing his father, they have an unbreakable bond. Adam has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has led to many challenges in his life, but it has not stopped the two from connecting on a deep level.
“There is nothing better than raising and loving my son. He is the most important person in my life,” said Tarique. “He is so beautiful. Wherever he goes, people love him, and he loves to show it back through hugs and kisses.”
Adam’s Autism Journey
As a parent to three other children in addition to Adam, Tarique knew every child reaches developmental milestones at different stages, so he did not think it was an issue when his son did not speak at 3 years of age, especially because he was a very happy kid. Tarique was not yet familiar with ASD and was not directed to screen for the signs of autism.
Things began to change around age 4. Adam’s behaviors started to become more atypical of others his age. He often became angry for seemingly no reason and Tarique was scared he would hurt himself, so he sought help.
Tarique placed Adam in a school for children with special needs, where he was diagnosed with autism. He tried to get him more assistance, but due to long wait lists, he instead enrolled Adam within a special education program at a public elementary school at age 5. Each of the classroom’s teachers cared for approximately four children at a time. Adam’s behaviors were tough to handle without one-on-one care, so he was only able to attend one hour per day, which was not enough for his needs.
During this time, Adam’s mother took her children with her to visit her former home in Palestine, when she suddenly decided to not to come back to the United States. Although Tarique fought to bring Adam home, they remained apart for nearly a year. After 10 months without schooling or therapy, Adam’s mother called Tarique to come get their son, so he immediately flew across the world to be reunited with his boy and bring him home.
“I was so worried about Adam. He is attached to me and I am to him, so it was a tough year,” said Tarique. “I love him so much and am trying to do everything I can for him. I am hopeful I can bring his siblings back to be with him soon too. I show him photos of his brother and sisters and I know he misses them.”
A Bright New Future through ABA Therapy
While continuing to research autism support options, Tarique heard good things about Hopebridge. Two months after bringing Adam back to the United States, he started him in applied behavior analysis (ABA therapy) at the South Bend, Indiana center.
When the father and son first visited the center as part of the intake process, Hopebridge Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Lori Larson remembers Adam running around the clinic nonstop for two hours – the RBT fellow on her team logged more than 10,000 steps on her Fitbit!
He continued to run around the center when he officially began his program the following week. Adam did not make eye contact, use functional language nor follow instructions. He did not tolerate shoes, brush his teeth nor would sit to each lunch. His father remembers Adam preferred playing with a stick outside or running in circles to playing with kids or giving others attention.
Though he had his share of challenges, this affectionate, energetic kid surprised the people around him on a daily basis, both at home and at Hopebridge. In the year since he began ABA therapy at Hopebridge, his independence has improved significantly and he continues to grow his skills each day.
“Adam’s progress is great and I am so happy with Hopebridge. He loves to put on his backpack and get ready to go to the center,” said Tarique. “His eye contact is perfect now. He is starting to talk by repeating phrases he hears and has done so well that I hope he will be able to have conversations within the next year. I really did not imagine his improvement would happen this quickly.”
To date, his BCBA, Lori, tells us Adam is functionally vocal, follows all instructions, is toilet-trained, can label more than 50 items, answers questions and participates in group sessions. He now sits in the lunchroom with his peers, wears his shoes throughout the entire day and is learning his letters.
“This special kiddo is truly proof how ABA works,” Lori told us. “His dad’s care for his son plays a big role in his progress. Tarique comes in for parent training every chance he gets and Adam is rarely absent, which has helped lead him to the point he is today.”
Adam has already come so far and is aiming toward new goals. He continues to work on his vocal skills but is now able to express his wants and needs. His dad looks forward to starting him in speech therapy at Hopebridge soon, believing it will help ease even more of his challenges. Tarique also lovingly tells us Adam is hard-headed and still working on his patience, but that it takes practice from both of them to overcome this.
“He is in control over me. He knows I can’t stand to see him cry, so I often let him have what he wants. This is part of my weakness,” said Tarique. “Adam still needs a lot of help so he can take care of himself in the future and I am trying to learn as much as I can. He’s my son! I have to do it for him.”
Tarique told us the Arabic word for “autism” translates to “lonely,” but he no longer feels that accurately describes his son. While he previously preferred to be alone, he now likes to surround himself with people. He loves spending time with his cousins and even extends his hide-and-seek game to them…he takes off their shoes and hides them when he does not want them to leave!
“Adam taught me true love. I know he loves me more than anyone on Earth, but I know I love him even more,” Tarique says about his son.
Does your child need help finding his or her voice like Adam? Our Hopebridge heroes can assist in building communication between you and your child. Reach out to our team to find a center close to home.
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