This week, the Indiana ACT for Families coalition is proud to highlight Angie Schlueter, a mother from Marion, Indiana, who channeled her experience in raising a son with Autism into founding a local nonprofit, All Along the Spectrum to advocate for improved access to and state funding for ABA therapy.
Nine years ago, Angie learned that her son, who was four at the time, had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As a mom with two older sons that sit more moderately on the spectrum, she thought this would be similar to her previous experiences. Except, this time, given the severity of her son’s diagnosis, she didn’t know where to turn. “We were handed a packet of papers and then we were told that these were things that we needed to do for my child,” she said.
As a determined mom wanting nothing but the best for her child, Angie set out to find the help and care he needed. “I did my research,” she said. “I joined Facebook groups, I attended community events, and I educated myself the best that I could. This ultimately led me to discover ABA therapy.”
The Way of ABA
Her son started ABA around age 5, nearly a year after being diagnosed, and immediately started showing progress.
Prior to starting therapy, Angie’s son was nonverbal and not toilet trained. “Within a month, he was potty trained and within six months, my son was saying his first words,” she said. “’I love you’ was the first thing he said.”
“I never thought I would hear him say that.”
ABA therapy also helped build important life skills that will improve his life now and in the and future. “For the first time in a long time, we are actually talking about taking a family vacation this year because we think we can do it,” said Angie. He’s brushing his own teeth, taking independent showers, and learning how to cook his own food. “He’s just got such a personality now and I am so excited for him to continue to communicate, grow and excel in his future.”
Angie has expressed her utmost gratitude for the impact of ABA therapy. “There’s proof in the effectiveness of ABA therapy and that’s what people need to see,” she said.
“They Took Us Under Their Wing”
One thing remained consistent throughout therapy: The therapists that Angie and her family interacted with always had their best interests at heart. “My son’s therapists taught me so much on how to best help him and meet his needs,” she said. “Your kids are at ABA for so many hours of the day, but my son’s therapists ensured that I had the resources needed to take care of him at home – outside of ABA therapy.”
Making an Impact in Her Community
Angie witnessed firsthand the benefit of community groups and organizations who bring families together to share their stories, exchange tips and provide a sound board. In an effort to pay it forward to other parents trying to navigate the unique challenges of having a child with Autism, she founded a local nonprofit, All Along the Spectrum. Established in 2019, the organization’s goal is to offer various resources to families within the autism community.
“I just keep telling moms that we have to join together and that we can do this, and ABA therapy is something we should be fighting for.”
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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