Adam is the second son born to Scott and Amy. As a toddler he grew gorgeous curly blonde locks of hair and an incredible vocabulary. Amy and Scott had Adam in a local day care facility when he was 2 years old. One day Amy went to pick Adam up and a staff member told her, “My son has autism too.” Amy was shocked, what did this lady mean, “too”? Amy went home and began to research the internet for any and all information she could get on autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Scott and Amy made an appointment with a developmental pediatrician and while waiting for this appointment, Amy describes overwhelming feelings. She had read information about autism and knew deep inside there was something there. Feelings of trying to balance life while having a positive attitude and being hopeful, all the while being scared of the outcome of the visit. After careful consideration and observation, Adam did eventually receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s.
His diagnosis lead Amy to seek resources and education for Adam. As other parents have found, these resources and services can be hard to find. Scott and Amy leaned on their courage and faith to surround themselves, and Adam, with good people. Even though, at times, it was intimidating, Scott and Amy continued to look for assistance.
One of those resources was outpatient speech therapy through Heartspring Pediatric Services. Rhonda Witherspoon, speech-language pathologist, evaluated and treated Adam for 2 ½ years. As a 4-year old, Adam had a great base vocabulary. He was able to recite scripts from TV and movies, and had good language comprehension skills. Rhonda saw great potential in Adam and the skills he already had. Her job was to teach Adam how to use the words he had appropriately. Therapy started with teaching compliance, tolerating therapy activities and not avoiding or escaping tasks. Rhonda first strategized to overcome these issues. When Adam was able to attend to sessions for longer periods of time, skills such as understanding language concepts, and using language concepts were introduced. The goal was to teach Adam concepts based on familiar terms he would hear in the school environment, and be able to demonstrate an understanding of these concepts. Rhonda gives kudos to Scott and Amy and the passion they showed for their son. They followed through with homework, asked questions and did not let Adam slide. Scott and Amy had expectations for Adam, and they got direct results from him. Adam also had difficulty with his sensory neural system. He didn’t like different textures and surfaces, he had difficulty maintaining eye contact and lacked in his social skills. Adam worked on these skills in therapy sessions with Rhonda in early intervention and with private occupational therapy. Adam successfully completed outpatient therapy sessions, meeting all of his objectives. The only thing left for him was to apply what he had learned at school and in other social settings.
Adam has made significant progress through the years. He started in the public school system with maximum support to be successful, and is now being mainstreamed in the fourth grade with his peers! Scott and Amy live each day feeling as though they have one chance with Adam. They give him love, support and guidance to live his life to the fullest. Scott, Amy and their two boys love to go on vacations, to the grocery store, and outings in town. Adam has always been expected to do everything his family does. Amy recalls times when it was not easy, but feels these expectations have proven worthy in Adam’s ability to progress with his social and language skills. Adam is a happy, healthy, adventurous 10 year old boy. He has a great sense of humor, loves animals, water activities and “punking” his brother!
Scott, Amy and Adam took part in the inaugural CARE Walk on the Heartspring Campus April 12, 2008. Amy feels very strongly in promoting autism awareness in the community, state and nation. “Let’s help families and children earlier,” Amy said. Through events and agencies like Heartspring, we can promote awareness of the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder and make resources more widely available and easy to find."