It is said autism affects the entire family, not just the child that is diagnosed. This is true with the Reed family. The Reed family includes Russell and Shanell Reed and their two sons, Preston and Peyton. Preston was diagnosed with Autism when he turned four. Preston’s behaviors in public were good; however, when he came home from appointments, errands, or school, it was a different story. Preston would cry and would not be comforted. Like any parent, Shanell went through the list of things that would cause Preston to be upset. When Preston was upset, he became non-verbal. There were constant fights with his younger brother, Peyton. Arguments over sharing toys led mom to buy two of the same toy, but that did not end the conflict.
Fortunately for the Reeds, when Preston was diagnosed, they had a pediatrician who referred Preston to AutismETC in Clarksville. When Preston began services Shanell was a bit apprehensive since she was unfamiliar with ABA therapy. She liked the idea of the center having a more “social feel to it” rather than just a strict therapeutic setting. She felt the center was more like a pre-school. Though Preston attended a public pre-school, that program had not been helpful to him.
Preston participated in the Day Therapy Program and came to the center 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. Shanell began attending the sessions 1 day each week and brought Peyton. Shanell said, “I learned by watching the therapists work with Preston and that helped me become more consistent with him.” This also allowed Shanell to develop an important relationship with the therapists. During the time Preston attended Autism ETC, his communication skills improved dramatically. He went from saying 2 or 3 word sentences to saying 6 word sentences. Preston’s crying episodes decreased due to his increased communication skills. Sharing and social skills have greatly improved. This led to a more peaceful home life. Mom now sets a timer so Preston knows when an activity he enjoys such as going to the park will end. Preston’s meltdowns are now a thing of the past. When Preston began attending AutismETC in September 2016, Preston had a Level II, Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Upon re-evaluation, Preston has improved to a Level I diagnosis.
Preston’s dad is in the army and in April, 2018, the Reed family was transferred to Texas. They said they miss being part of the AutismETC family. When Shanell was asked how she views her son’s future she said, “I feel like Preston will be able to live a somewhat normal life. Hopefully he will be going to kindergarten without being secluded from general education. I did not expect that to happen.” Shanell’s advice to parents who have just learned their child has autism: “Get intervention as early as possible, as much as possible. That way your child has a chance to grow and reach their potential.”