Today, the Indiana ACT for Families coalition’s Family Friday spotlight is India Allen, a mother of a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from Anderson, Indiana.
India is a full-time caregiver for her 14-year-old son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Ever since her son was diagnosed with ASD, around the age of four, she has been by his side, able to witness the growth and progress that her son has experienced since starting Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Her mom has also been helpful in her son’s autism therapy journey, helping out wherever she can.
Before he was able to be enrolled in ABA therapy, India’s son attended public school where he was required to follow state specific curriculum. India didn’t feel like the school was equipped to meet the specific challenges her son was facing. “I didn’t feel like he was learning. And being autistic, sometimes the schools don’t understand those needs,” said India. “I didn’t feel like he was getting the help he needed.”
The Impact of Access
India experienced firsthand the frustration that many families feel when they are unable to access ABA therapy. Studies have shown that early intervention is important to spur the best possible long-term outcomes for children with autism. Once families learn about the benefits of ABA therapy and decide it’s the best route for their child, lack of access shouldn’t stand in the way of the care they need. However, that was exactly what India and her family experienced.
For many years, the town of Anderson did not have an ABA therapy clinic. India, and other parents in the Anderson community, were left with limited options to support their children with ASD. For India, her son had to wait nearly four years to have access to these autism therapy services. Once they became readily available, India jumped on the opportunity. “When the clinic opened in the area, I immediately filled out an application for it,” said India. “By November, he was in the school.”
Once her son was able to access to ABA, India almost immediately saw positive behavioral changes in her son. “The more he learned, the more it helps at home,” said India. “I do see a change for the better and it’s very impactful. I am grateful for ABA.”
“They Always Communicated with Me”
When India was finally able to enroll her son in ABA therapy, she saw improvements within the first two weeks of his attendance. “He was putting on his socks, learning to put on his shoes, getting toilet trained and learning to eat with silverware,” said India. “He was learning everyday routines.”
India also explained how dedicated the ABA therapists were to develop a relationship with her and her son. “When I went to pick him up, they would show me what he had learned and what they were working with him on,” said India. “They always communicated with me.” Even though her son has since graduated from ABA therapy, India says her son’s therapists still help her and answer any and all questions that she may have at any given time.
Indiana ACT for Families is a broad coalition of Hoosier families, ABA therapists, ABA therapy providers, and stakeholders, including The Arc of Indiana and other advocacy groups, working to advocate in support of promoting access to high quality ABA therapy services in Indiana. For more information, please visit www.IndianaACT4Families.com.
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