This article was contributed by Whitney Luffman, MA LPA, BCBA, Lead Clinical LPA for the Triangle region.
When we first met, I was unsure of John’s* language abilities, because he remained mostly silent. But I could see him watching others speak and could tell that he was receptively listening and taking in everything around him. Over time, we got to know John and his likes and dislikes. We found items, activities, and topics that motivated him as we served him under our LifeLong Interventions program.
Eventually, we heard John’s voice – a tiny whisper at first, which grew more and more audible and functional. Over time, he learned the power of his words through direct teaching and natural environment learning. Now, we are never in doubt of what he wants and needs, because he makes his wishes known loud and clear. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Recently, we’ve begun to work on social conversation and reciprocity, and it’s amazing to watch as his social world expands. As a result of his increased engagement with his environment, we’ve seen the time he spends isolated and engaged in self-talk and physical stimming decrease drastically. He’s allowing his staff, his family, and his peers to become an increased part of his world, and we’re so happy to be part of that, because he has so much to share.
John’s story is just one among many as I reflect on the first year of ASNC’s LifeLong Interventions program. We began our program by serving only two adult clients and four children, all under the age of 6. Each had unique, individual needs, were from eclectic backgrounds, communicated their wants and needs in different ways, and had distinctive histories and stories of their own. But all of the individuals and families shared a common goal in seeking treatment: increasing their ability to be successful in their own environment and to ultimately improve their overall quality of life and general happiness and well-being. We were more than happy join them in working toward that goal. Today, we serve 22 individuals and their families, ranging in age from 2 to 26 years old. And we continue to grow!
We are so excited to be able to continue offering this program to individuals with autism and their families in our area and are looking forward to serving even more parts of the state as we continue to grow.
Tags: ASNC, Asperger Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, autism, autism north carolina, autism society of NC, Autism Society of North Carolina, Autism spectrum