Meet the Tillmans: David (dad), Lauren (mom), Nina (daughter), and Austin (son). Austin was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at 19 months of age. Lauren said, “At 19 months, Austin had no words and it seemed he did not understand what we were saying. He was non-responsive to his name and he did not identify even simple items.” At the time of his diagnosis, the Tillmans were living in San Antonio, Texas where Dad was stationed. Austin began receiving ABA services while they were living in San Antonio. When the family was notified they were to be transferred, Austin was able to say about 60 words. As part of the U.S. Army’s Exceptional Family Program, Lauren was able to search for a facility in their new location where they could continue to receive services for Austin. Lauren she sent out a few emails and located the Autism Education & Therapy Center (Autism ETC) in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Autism ETC’s Clinical Manager/BCBA replied to Lauren’s inquiry. Carissa told Lauren about the Day Therapy Program (DTP). The program seemed like the perfect fit for Austin. Lauren knew Austin needed the intensive therapy offered by this program. The transition into Autism ETC’s program was seamless and Austin began receiving services soon after they transferred to the Ft. Campbell Army Base
Austin participates in the DTP five days per week starting at 9:00 am and ending at 3:00 pm each day. Lauren noticed that Austin was making greater progress with his language development at Autism ETC than he was in speech therapy. Therefore, Lauren decided to concentrate solely on ABA therapy. Austin progressed quickly from using 3 word sentences to using 6 word sentences. He also became more socially aware and has become more understanding of other people’s feelings.
Lauren participates in the free Community Training Workshops offered by Autism ETC. She finds them to be very informative and educational.
The staff has worked with her to set goals for Austin. When Austin reaches a certain goal, they are ready with the next progressive step. They offer suggestions and identify goals Lauren had not even considered. Setting these new goals are compelling Austin to make great progress.
When asked what advice she would give to parents who have just received an ASD diagnosis, Lauren says, “Don’t hold back. Give your child every opportunity to get the services they need. Don’t resent the therapy and do not back away from it.” A developmental pediatrician told Lauren how lucky she was to have found these services for her son. Lauren said she feels bad forthose whose insurance does not cover ABA.
When thinking about the future, Lauren is optimistic for Austin. She is not worried because he is getting a good foundation and has strong supports in place.