Kids with autism are amazing -- but their unique needs and behaviors offer real challenges for their families. All too often parents have feelings of guilt, grief, and inadequacy when it comes to caring for kids on the spectrum. Unfortunately, many families find it a struggle to bridge the gap between the benefits gained in a therapeutic setting and daily life in the home.
Support for these families is essential.
St. David's Center for Child & Family Development provides in-home support services for families with a child or children on the autism spectrum. Their family support practitioners and graduate-level interns spend time with parents and children at home, focusing on building skills. They work in collaboration with other St. David's Center staff to ensure that critical goals from the day treatment program transfer to the home setting.
You can help. Your caring contribution helps provide this exceptional support for a family living with autism.
Make your donation of $5 or more an ongoing gift by checking the "Make this a Monthly Gift" box and you will help provide in-home support for families impacted by Autism, each and every month.
Update from the Field
Donors like you helped 58 children and 231 additional family members benefit from therapeutic intervention and individualized care coordination over the past year. One of those children was Hans (pictured right). Hans' mother was worried. He was a happy, laughing two-year-old boy who would look you in the eye, but had no words. The doctor wasn't worried, yet in the back of her mind, his mother wondered. "It was so hard when he was crying and I didn't know what he wanted," she remembers. Hans was referred for a speech assessment. After multiple days of evaluation through his clinic, the diagnosis was autism. When hearing his diagnosis, Hans' mother was "Devastated. In my country (Peru), autism is out of this world." She was scared. But the clinic recommended St. David's Center autism day treatment program (ADT). St. David's Center helped Hans' mother understand his behaviors and find comfort in the available treatment options and support services. They told her she could seek individual treatment with ABA or ADT, group treatment.
At ADT, everything was new for Hans. Yet after only three days, his mother saw huge improvements. "Now he wakes up, jumps at the door and says 'Go to school!'" Hans is now 3 years old, and his practitioner expects that he will graduate from ADT at the end of summer and attend his school district's preschool in September. For the last two months, he has participated in the inclusion program. "Miss Karen gave me a story book that I read to him every night. It tells him what will happen," said his mother. "He wants to be with the big kids (ages 4 and 5) and laugh with them,â she said.âI love my son and see so much progress for him," his mom said as her voice broke. "His therapists are so patient, they love their jobs and they really love my child. Thank you!"
Joey and Cubby's Story - Told by their parents, Nicole and Joe:
Joey, age 10, loves electronics and Cubby, age 7, loves art. They may be brothers and fight and argue like brothers do, but other than that, they are so different.That's why when we found out both boys had autism, it was so surreal. Joey was first diagnosed when he was 3 years old. At that time, we really didn't know what autism was. He couldn't communicate and trying to understand what he needed was like a scavenger hunt.
Only a few months after we got him into St. David's Center's autism day treatment, we starting seeing progress. It was amazing! Joey was able to make a little more eye contact with us and he started having fewer tantrums. The support we got from St. David's Center was extraordinary, too. The staff taught us how to deal with situations we were having in parenting Joey. They would ask us how we thought we should respond, and then took us step-by-step through the method that would work best with our son.
So, when Cubby was diagnosed at age 3, we didn't feel overwhelmed because we knew we were in the right place. We got him right into the program. We did have to learn how to interact with Cubby differently because what we'd learned with Joey didn't apply. While Joey had some behavior issues and didn't make eye contact, Cubby was very social and wanted attention from other people. Early intervention is so crucial and both our boys are living proof. Both boys graduated from the autism day treatment program; Joey after three years and Cubby after just one year. When we first started at St. David's Center, Joey wasn't talking, and we didn't know if he ever would. Now we can have full-fledged conversations with him and he's interacting with us. The boys are learning to understand each other's feelings and perspectives and form a healthy brother relationship.
St. David's Center has given our family a foundation. It's made our family much stronger. Without it, I'm not sure where we would be right now.
Established in 1961, St. David's Center for Child & Family Development is dedicated to providing services that respond to emerging community needs. Their three core service areas include: early childhood education for children of all abilities; early intervention and treatment for children with developmental needs; and life-phase services for individuals with enduring special needs. Based in Minnetonka, MN, St. David's Center serves more than 2,000 children and their families throughout the Twin Cities Metro area each year.
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