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Meet The Brays –
AutismETC’s December Family of the Month

The month’s highlighted family is the Bray family: Crystal (mom), Todd (dad), and their 3 ½ year old son, Ryman.  Ryman was diagnosed with autism in April, 2017 when he was 2 years old.  Immediately upon receiving the diagnosis, Crystal started investigating therapies to help her son.  He started receiving services part-time through a special needs program focused primarily on speech therapy. Crystal also enrolled him in a mother’s day out program to give Ryman an opportunity to interact with typical peers.  The teachers enjoyed working with Ryman and he responded well to the program.  However, when he transitioned to the next age group, behavioral issues quickly appeared.  Ryman was not happy and started exhibiting self-injurious behaviors such as head banging. The behaviors increased. Unfortunately, no one could offer solutions to help Ryman.  Eventually, Crystal withdrew Ryman from the Mother’s Day Out program.

“When Ryman was at the Mother’s Day Out, I never knew how he was going to look or how he would feel when I picked him up.  Many times, he had hurt himself through his self-injurious behaviors and he would be upset. I knew something had to give.”

Looking for other options, Crystal turned to Facebook and connected with moms of children with special needs.  One mom’s child had started receiving services at AutismETC. Crystal contacted AutismETC’s Nashville Clinical Manager, Mallorie Caradine.

During the initial assessment, Mallorie discovered Ryman had almost no receptive language skills. “We finally understood why he was making slow progress with occupational, speech and other therapies,” exclaimed Crystal.

Mallorie submitted Ryman’s Treatment plan to the insurance company to obtain authorization to provide services. That’s when they encountered a major hurdle: the family’s insurance coverage. The Bray’s insurance company was only authorizing 1 hour of service per week. “But Mallorie wasn’t going to give up”, explains Crystal. “After she spent countless hours on the phone going through an extensive appeal process, the insurance company authorized Ryman to receive 25 hours of services per week.” In March, Ryman started participating in the Day Therapy Program (DTP) at AutismETC.

Crystal explains how things have changed since they started receiving services: “At AutismETC, everyone ‘gets it’ and understands children with autism. Ryman has a one-on-one therapist each day. There has been an immediate reduction in the amount and severity of Ryman’s self-injurious behaviors and he continues to make progress. His speech and language skills have exploded.  He is now able to follow simple directions like, ‘Go brush your teeth’; He understands when we talk to him; He is now able to participate in simple games with his peers; We are now able to attend church.  I have learned that therapists who are behavior-based are able to help Ryman learn and do things he had not been able to do.”

The Autism ETC staff has also helped Crystal by giving her information and suggestions on new ways to help Ryman at home.  She has shared these ideas with his other therapists, creating consistency across the team of providers.

Crystal has seen Ryman make great progress since he started nine months ago.

When asked what advice she would give other parents, Crystal said, “I am an advocate for AutismETC.  I have seen my child blossom since he started attending the DTP.  I have also seen similar results with other families who are receiving services.  I advise families to learn more about ABA therapy. It will enhance the other therapies your child is receiving.”  Crystal goes on, “Because of Ryman’s ABA therapy, he has made great progress with his other therapies.  We had originally stopped speech therapy due to his lack of receptive language skills. With the improvements made through ABA, we have re-introduced speech therapy and he is now making progress. He is able to use ‘yes’ and ‘no’ properly with a calm body.”

Crystal has nothing but positive feelings about Ryman’s future. She believes he will now be able to successfully attend a blended classroom.  Crystal notices Ryman is happy when they leave for AutismETC and he is happy when she picks him up. “Having the support and the resource of AutismETC makes all the difference.”