Today, the Indiana ACT for Families coalition’s Family Friday spotlight is Shaunna Thompson, a mother from Mishawaka, Indiana, who has a 2-year-old daughter with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
When Shaunna’s daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of two years old, she knew she had to find a way to help her. “She was never meeting any of her development milestones,” said Shaunna. “I knew I needed to do some research to see which ABA center was going to be the best fit for her.”
After waiting for months on long waitlists, Shaunna was able to enroll her daughter at Journey’s Autism Center. Shaunna has already seen a huge improvement. “Seeing my daughter at almost three years old not being able to navigate the stairs was discouraging to me as a mom,” said Shaunna. “Now, after just two weeks of ABA therapy, she’s grabbing my hand and walking down the stairs with me. It’s phenomenal and truly life changing.”
Shaunna also described how ABA therapy takes a different approach to help her daughter and how it has touched her heart to witness. “I’ve seen that ABA therapy is not just sitting her at a table and telling her what to do,” said Shaunna. “It’s incorporating a play mechanism with her and teaching her to follow directions and communicate through new and fun real-life scenarios.”
ABA’S Impact on Families
ABA hasn’t just helped Shaunna’s daughter – it has helped her too. Shaunna has found an incredible support network in her child’s therapy team. “They send home papers every day that tell me what my daughter did that day,” said Shaunna. “Her therapists have been so supportive and it’s really encouraging to know you’re not alone and that they are there for whatever you need.” Shaunna’s experience reflects what many families who have children with autism experience. It can be very daunting and isolating to learn your child has ASD. When families are able to start their children with ABA therapy, they suddenly have a support system of experts who they can trust completely to help their child, as well as themselves, to learn new skills for a happier life.
“Cuts Would Eliminate Care”
Shaunna doesn’t know how to help her daughter if the Holcomb administration decides to cut Medicaid funding for ABA therapy. “Knowing that the funding could go away or be decreased is frustrating and scary,” said Shaunna. “It would take away the care that is needed for children with autism or special needs, like my daughter.”
Shaunna has urged state lawmakers to protect ABA therapy – an essential healthcare service – from unnecessary, life altering cuts. “I recently wrote a letter to my representatives explaining the importance of ABA therapy to my daughter,” said Shaunna. “I hope that Senator Mishler, Representative Bauer, and Governor Holcomb take the time to read my words and stand up to support my family.”
The Holcomb administration should not be considering cuts for an essential healthcare service like ABA therapy that so many Hoosier families, like Shaunna and her family, rely on. A cut to this therapy would likely force ABA therapy centers to close suddenly, eliminating care that families depend on. Families like Shaunna’s cannot afford life altering disruptions to their therapy.
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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