At 2 years and 4 months, Dean was diagnosed with severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. In the beginning, Dean refused to make attempts to interact with others and rarely made eye contact even with his parents. He was mostly unresponsive to others being playful and his facial expressions remained flat. He is nonverbal and has no expressive language. This has stunted his progress in milestones greatly because he does not understand what is communicated to him nor does he know how to express himself in any way. He became reliant on his parents as a tool of necessary communication. As a nonverbal child, it is difficult to communicate and interact with anyone who does not have the patience to understand what he/she is trying to tell them. This is an every day struggle for Dean. Due to the communication barrier, he limited the number of people in his inner circle. He became more introverted and would rather play by himself rather than in a social setting. If he was forced to join a social setting, he becomes overwhelmed and will shut down. He either gets inside his own head or takes a nap and waits until the family is home where he is more comfortable. This prevents him from learning how to build relationships with other people and has stunted many other behavioral milestones. Without intervention, this can become a liability for further progression in his ABA therapy.
“Dean is a bright, fun-loving, and curious little three-year-old. He loves to swim, climb, and do obstacle courses. His favorite color is orange and loves to snack on Biscotti. He has been taking ABA therapy since he was two and has been progressing in most areas. However, he remained stagnant in his speech and language therapy. To this day, he can only say a handful of words and has not managed to say a full sentence. The speech and language barrier are preventing him from progressing in other social behavioral areas. For example, when we take him to a park and he wants to play and interact with the other kids, he does not know how to start that interaction. What he does is stand in front of them and stare hoping they understand that he wants to play too. Eventually, the kids run off and play somewhere else, leaving Dean alone and confused as to why they don’t understand what he wants to do. We believe that by getting Dean the right tools, he will be able to overcome this obstacle and help him build the confidence he needs to increase relationships with family and friends in social settings.”
Variety KC wants Dean to have the right tools as well. We know that through a communication device and apps, frustration can be reduced and engagement encouraged. Please help us to provide Dean with the resources he needs – and all the other kids just like Dean. Every child deserves to communicate in order to be active, be social, and belong! Donate today at varietykc.org/donate. Thank you!