Writer / Beth J
Photography / Applied Behavior Center for Autism
Isn’t that what the basic ideology behind applied behavior analysis really is — little things, when put together add up to very big things? For nearly three years, the amazing team at Applied Behavior Center for Autism has been working on each small step in my daughter Kennedy’s progress — her little things.
Kennedy was diagnosed with autism shortly before her third birthday. After trial and error, we decided to give ABA a try in hopes that it would be what we were looking for to open doors that had once appeared to be locked tight.
I still remember her enrollment meeting like it was yesterday. I was anxious and wondered how she would handle working eight hours a day five days a week. It was a big leap of faith to trust that she could do it and that these were the right people to help her. It didn’t take long, however, to start seeing positive changes in my little girl. I can honestly say that it was the best decision I ever made.
When she first started, her language was limited to only labeling things and a few basic commands. She didn’t socialize with other kids and, while she was loving, there was disconnect between her and the rest of the world, including me. Over the years, she has blossomed into a smart, funny and caring young lady, and I am so proud of her and how far she has come.
Now, Kennedy never stops talking! She talks about her favorite movies and which characters she likes. She tells me what she did at school and who her friends are. She tells me it makes her sad when her brother pulls her hair and that spiders scare her. She loves to play with kids at the playground and often asks to play with me as well. These are things that to most parents wouldn’t seem like much at all, but to me, these little things are very big things!
The next big thing is coming quicker than I can blink. This summer was truly bittersweet because Kennedy started kindergarten in August, which means that our time at ABC has come to an end. I am so excited to see what the next chapter holds for her, and I’m sure she will do amazing. However, I am a little saddened that she will no longer be working with her therapists or seeing her friends that she has grown to love at ABC. They have become family.
There is nothing I could say to express how grateful I am to have these wonderful people in our lives. The world is waiting for my sweet girl, and they have made her ready.
There was a time when I was terrified at the thought of enrolling her in school. It seemed like such an unobtainable goal. There isn’t an ounce of that fear left. I have complete confidence that she will love school and learn new things and make new friends quickly. She will thrive. So, to ABC: thank you. You have made the world of difference for Kennedy. My hat is off to all of you, and every small thing that you do. It really does add up. And to my sweet Kennedy: in the words of the great Dr. Suess, “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!”