Two years ago when Michelle Ward called Children’s Village on the encouragement of a school counselor at her son’s school, she had no idea what journey she, her husband or her son Thad were about to embark on.
“I remember feeling really alone,” Michelle said. “It was just so hard.”
After meeting with Developmental Pediatrician Dr. Diane Libee and completing an extensive assessment and diagnostic process, Thad was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, specifically with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
The Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Diagnostic Clinic at Children’s Village is a multidisciplinary clinic that evaluates children and adolescents when there is a question of an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.
The team is staffed by a Clinic Coordinator, a Family Resource Coordinator, a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician and by a combination of: occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, behavioral therapists and a clinical psychologist. Families meet with the team to discuss results and recommendations.
Thad was referred for behavior and speech therapy at Children’s Village. “The neat thing about the therapy is that it is mostly play,” Michelle said. “The therapists help Thad recognize and regulate his emotions and how to get his body in sync with how he his feeling. They would talk about ‘engine levels’ which really helped Thad and it’s something we still use today.”
Now in second grade, Thad is in a mainstream classroom and goes to speech therapy once a week to work on social speaking and pragmatics. “We take what is happening at school and apply it to what he’s working on in speech therapy,” Michelle said.
It’s not just therapy Thad and his family receives at Children’s Village. Michelle and her husband Mike got involved with Parent to Parent groups, joining “Hollands,” a support group for parents with a child newly diagnosed with special needs and the Autism Support Group.
“Children’s Village has been an amazing support system,” she said. “Just being with other moms and dads who are going through the same thing as us has been so helpful. The saying goes that you need the sun and the rain to make a rainbow. We’ve certainly had our rainy days, but it’s also opened our eyes to all the amazing colors in this world. And for that we are grateful.”