Hannah’s success in overcoming autism’s effects is due in great part to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Meade County School District. We are forever grateful!
Hannah is about to graduate from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College with her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and has been on the Dean’s list every semester. She has been accepted to Campbellsville University to finish her Bachelor’s Degree. She has her driver’s license and drives better than most typical people.
I am one proud mama!
Hannah continues to work on social interaction and communication. She loves to be with and help people. So, she volunteers as a leader for the youth group at College Heights United Methodist Church, participates in their puppet ministry, and volunteers in the summer as a counselor at Faith Christian Camp near London, KY.
Hannah, you bring hope and inspiration to us all!
Hannah’s future did not always look so bright. Between 18-24 months of age, she lost all her language skills – verbal and nonverbal. She transformed from a happy toddler to experiencing meltdowns that would last for hours, began hitting herself and pulling her hair out, and suffered digestive issues that caused us to be in and out of the E.R. so many times, we were on a first name basis with the doctors and nurses.
The week of her second birthday, the head pediatrician of a reputable hospital told us to “strongly consider your entire family, because children like this eat families alive.” We “strongly” disagreed with his implication.
Shortly thereafter, Hannah received the diagnoses of autism and a seizure disorder.
Thankfully, we were in the right place at the right time (New York) to learn about ABA. We started her in the program immediately.
Now, I want you to know there is hope, but I don’t want to misrepresent anything. ABA takes an incredible amount of work. ABA therapists worked with Hannah 20 hours per week. When they weren’t working with her, we were. So, she literally had someone doing ABA with her all day…every day.
Progress came slowly. Many times, it felt like we were taking two steps forward and one back. I made graphs from the data the therapists took to know for certain if Hannah was making progress. The graphs showed she was, our hope was renewed and we continued on.
At the end of Hannah’s third-grade year, a team of school professionals told me that she would never be able to keep up in a regular classroom. At first, I thanked them for their honesty in something that had to be difficult to say to parents. But then I thought again…and I disagreed. I took Hannah out of public school and home schooled her for the next 2 ½ years.
When Hannah asked to go back to school, we were living here in Meade County. I met with the director of special education and then with teachers at Flaherty Elementary. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with them and how much they cared and genuinely wanted to help.
Once again, we were at the right place at the right time. The administration and teachers at Flaherty Elementary, Stuart Pepper Middle School, and Meade County High School were there for Hannah. They took time to listen to her, calm her, explain how to handle certain social situations, and even taught her how to do the “chicken dance!”
Meade County School District is amazing. They mean it when they say, “We Care.” A great example is that our Meade County Autism Support Group was started – not by parents – but by teachers and a principal who generously give of themselves and their time because they simply want to help.
Again, much of Hannah’s success in overcoming so many of autism’s effects is due to them. They have our undying gratitude.