When their son Jack was 16 months old, Kelly and Greg noticed that his behavior was changing. He seemed to be less alert, and less aware of what was going on around him; among other things, his father’s arrival home from work—once the cause of great excitement—stopped registering. He wasn’t pointing any more, and his capacity to play had become limited. He was eventually diagnosed with autism.
The family immediately began working with Southwest Human Development’s Early Intervention program to help Jack grow and learn: they wanted to do everything they could to help Jack reach his full potential. Now approaching three, Jack participates in speech and occupational therapy, and he’s part of the agency’s Side By Side program—a playgroup for children with autism and their parents. The playgroups have helped Jack with his ability to socialize, engage with others and focus on specific activities.
Today, although Jack is unable to communicate verbally, he is communicating effectively with sign language and is able to get his messages across. Not every day is a good one, but his parents can see great progress. Kelly says that Jack has begun to reemerge as the child he once was. Jack is now comfortable being close to other children and has started playing new games like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
The experience of working with the therapists at Southwest has educated Kelly and Greg about Jack’s diagnosis and given them the ability as parents to provide Jack with the care and services he needs now, and helped them understand what those may be in the future. Additionally, the Side By Side program introduced the couple to an entirely new group of families with similar situations, enabling them to build a strong support network.
Kelly and Greg are in the process of determining the next steps for Jack. When Jack starts school, they would love to see him participate in a typical classroom setting. Kelly shared that she is grateful for the Side By Side program because it helped her son learn to play again.