Aurora - From Non-Verbal to Counting to Ten
September 07, 2018
September 07, 2018
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once I caught a fish alive. 1, 2, buckle my shoe; 3, 4, knock at the door! 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and banged his head!
As a parent of young kids, you might be sick of hearing counting songs like these over and over – in the car, on the way home from school, or just humming about in your head all day. For one Hopebridge mama, Arianna, these numbers are music to her ears.
That’s because her daughter, Aurora, met a huge milestone this month – counting out loud to 10! As a young girl with autism, this was a significant moment for her and her family.
“Aurora will soon be 8 years old and it was difficult to see her frustrated and unable to verbally communicate her needs for so long,” said Arianna. “We’ve been working on counting for almost a month and this is the first time it was really clear. I’m so proud to watch her accomplish this goal and excited we could capture it on camera for others to witness too. It was especially fun to see her enthusiasm during ‘8, 9, 10!'”
While Aurora picked up this skill after focusing on it for only a few weeks, she and her family have been on a path to get to this point for a while.
Aurora did not walk until she was around 15 months old. Her parents noticed the delay, but the pediatrician did not seem to think it was serious at first. She was eventually diagnosed with a developmental delay and engaged in First Steps from 18 months to 3 years old. At that age, then came a global developmental delay, but still no mention of autism.
Her parents knew it was more than that and continued to press her doctor, mentioning specific diagnoses and requesting additional testing. After frustrations of feeling like they were the only ones searching for an answer, they finally switched doctors. They found a specialist in Indianapolis who diagnosed Aurora with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a speech delay in 2015.
“Some parents are scared to get an evaluation or hear the results, but personally, once we received the autism diagnosis, I felt so much relief because we were finally able to get the help she needed,” said Arianna.
Aurora went to preschool, but the elementary school wanted to move her to another location. Not only would there be a 45-minute bus ride, but the new school didn’t seem like a good match for her to grow and the previous school no longer had the resources to help her.
Her parents, Arianna and Christopher, told us that they had already tried a few therapy options that didn’t seem to work for her, so they weren’t sure where to turn. That is when they learned about Hopebridge and interviewed the team at the Jeffersonville center.
“From the moment we interviewed, we knew Hopebridge was exactly what we needed. We were in tears! It’s such a benefit to have ABA, speech and occupational therapy all in one place, plus we love that they encourage parents to join in the therapy so we can mirror what they’re doing at home,” said Arianna.
“When we first brought Aurora to Hopebridge, she was nonverbal. Now her communication skills are stronger and she is able to share more about what she needs and wants,” said her stepfather, Christopher. “It helps that everyone is so welcoming there, almost like a family outside of our own.”
In addition to counting, this kiddo is full speed ahead on other goals. Hopebridge speech therapist, Becca, diagnosed her with childhood apraxia of speech. This means her brain couldn’t properly connect with her mouth, so even though she knows what she wants to say and how to say it, it doesn’t always come out correctly. Now that they have a diagnosis, Becca and the team switched up how they’re teaching her and she is speaking more clearly. She’s currently working on colors and making a ton of progress!
According to her parents, Aurora is full of life, incredibly social and enjoys interacting with her peers and therapists at Hopebridge. They look forward to watching her grow up and hope her future enables her to experience a family, work and a connection with others without barriers.
“She’s such a happy girl and always wants to make other people happy alongside her. She gets so excited about everything, to the point where we often have to calm her down. But if we had the same energy she had, we’d all be able to get a lot more done in life!” said Christopher.
To them, autism means hope. It didn’t used to be that way, but because of more awareness and understanding around the disorder, along with proper therapy, they are confident Aurora and many of her friends will be able to overcome their communication and sensory processing challenges to go farther in life.
“Autism doesn’t have to be scary. It’s natural that we parents go through a lot of emotions in the beginning, but it’s important to remember that our children have abilities that many others may not have,” said Ariana, who hopes to share this advice with other parents who may be struggling with the diagnosis.
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