Today, Amber Hendrix shares a story about a toddler who was diagnosed with ASD, and the team that was developed to support her needs. The names of the case have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.
During my years as a social worker and mental health counselor with Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services, a 13 month old named Betsy came into State’s Custody. Betsy was placed with the Ross family and assigned to me. While at my first visit with Betsy and the Ross family, Mrs. Ross shared concerns about Betsy’s development. She explained that Betsy showed a lack of responsiveness and had a difficult time communicating. Mrs. Ross also said that she would not hold eye contact with them or their children. Lastly, she was concerned that Betsy was not interested in playing with the other children. The team decided to have her evaluated to see if there were any developmental delays or disabilities.
Betsy was evaluated by an agency called DDI Vantage and had regular checkups with her pediatrician. DDI Vantage is an agency that has an “Early Intervention Home” program which evaluates and provides services for children under the age of three. Betsy was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder, on the Autism Spectrum. The team, including the foster-parents, DDI Vantage, pediatrician, and other specialists, developed a plan that focused on meeting Betsy’s specific needs. Professionals worked in the home with her, twice a week. The professionals taught her and the Ross family sign language and a series of social cues to help her interact with others, communicate her needs, and successfully navigate her daily routines.
The Ross family adopted Betsy and the case was closed.
Jump ahead 8 years. One day, while I was at a soccer game with my family, I ran into the Ross family. Mr. and Mrs. Ross introduced me to Betsy, again. She shook my hand and said, “Nice to meet you,” and then walked off with her siblings. Her parents expressed how grateful they are for the early intervention Betsy had. They stated that the early diagnosis and support from professionals, inside and outside of the home, made all of the difference for Betsy. They also shared that it gave their family necessary tools that resulted in successful communications and interactions between Betsy, her siblings and parents.
Two young men, Hayden Mears and Danny Raede, both diagnosed with Asperger’s, have designed the website, “Asperger Experts”. Their mission is to help people diagnosed with Asperger’s to make the most out of their lives. They have a series of videos to help individuals with Asperger’s, and their families and friends, to help them more effectively support people with ASD.
The following video is entitled, “What is Asperger’s?”. It discusses the difference between the clinical definition of Asperger’s, and the real-life sensory experiences of a child with Asperger’s.