At sixteen months old, Maya Gordon gradually stopped speaking and suddenly wasn’t responding to her name being called. Concerned, her parents sought early intervention and Maya was diagnosed with autism. To supplement the early intervention that her township provided, the Gordons also immediately enrolled Maya into a children’s rehabilitation hospital program for autistic children.
“We definitely see some improvement in Maya,” says her mother Lakisha. “I see the benefit in the therapy. “The more, the better, so contracting the rehab hospital in addition to early intervention has helped Maya,” Gordon insists.
That therapy includes two hour-long visits each week, one for speech and the second for occupational therapy. The hospital also provides physical therapy to children who need it.
Children with autism are treated with therapeutic listening, sensory integration therapy and a play-based approach. All three are designed to improve the child’s engagement, interactions with others, play skills, self-help skills and fine motor development.
Maya enjoys her visits to the rehabilitation hospital, which include a lot of swinging, climbing and jumping. Through these activities she is learning to increase eye contact and engagement, and she has further developed her fine motor skills.
“It’s like play to her, so I don’t feel that I’m subjecting her to anything too grueling,” Lakisha adds. “I love their staff. I feel very fortunate in the people who Maya is working with. I like the therapy she’s getting and also the support from the other parents who are bringing their children there. My husband calls it my support group.”
For the Gordons, the hospital has helped the entire family. In addition to the therapies provided at the hospital, the staff creates a complimentary program for families to follow at home.
“It’s also educational for me,” points out Lakisha. “I didn’t know much about autism before Maya was diagnosed. She’s home with me most of the time, so they’ve taught me ways that I can help her at home while she’s still young. There’s a greater chance of success when you start when they’re young.”
No parent wants to believe their children has a disability, yet, when they acknowledge the possibility and seek early intervention, they are giving their child the help he or she needs.