Tonya, Luke's mom, began suspecting an autism diagnosis for her youngest son, Luke, when he was around 18 months old. He had already started speech therapy at age one but being a nurse and having a medical background, she knew something else was just off. He still wasn't meeting his milestones like his two older, neurotypical brothers had.
But, as most parents don't, you don't want to believe something is "wrong" with your child.
He had been kicked out of one preschool and they had started a new Mother's Day Out program when Luke's teacher, who had a daughter with autism, sat Luke's parents down and told them what they didn't want to hear (but needed to), "I think you need to look into an autism diagnosis for Luke."
And, after a visit with a developmental psychiatrist, the diagnosis that Tonya and Jason had suspected for a while was confirmed.
Upon receiving the diagnosis, Tonya quickly realized that east Texas, where they were currently living, lacked the services that Luke needed. And so as many mama bears would do, she fixed the situation. They sold their house and moved to Fort Worth where the resources were much more abundant.
Tonya was referred to us upon the recommendation of a mom she had befriended whose child was receiving therapy here. They had seen incredible results with their son and encouraged Tonya to come and visit. One of the many benefits they mentioned to Tonya was that their child was able to receive both speech and occupational therapy in one location, a huge benefit for many of our families whose children require both.
As with all the children that we treat, Luke's needs were unique. He has an autism diagnosis and struggles with self-regulation, compliance and expressive language. In order to give Luke the best possible chance for improvement, we needed to see him twice a week for occupational and speech therapy.
In the beginning, we struggled, partly due to Luke's difficulty with the transition between speech and OT.
"It hurt my heart to hear Luke back there just screaming and crying," Tonya explained. "But the therapist's dedication to finding a solution was incredible. They are just so encouraging and loving."
And so, we worked to come up with a creative solution, we decided to do our therapy sessions in the same room in order to cut down on the difficulty between transition time.
"The fact that we can come to one place for both therapies has been a life saver," Tonya said. "The improvements we've seen with Luke, since starting here at Cowtown, have been incredible. They've taught him how to self-regulate and given him the ability to communicate."
We're thrilled that Luke is doing so well today that he is enrolled in a pre-school program for this upcoming Fall.
"The therapists at Cowtown have been our guiding light," Tonya explains. "We feel like we're part of a family. They care not only about the day to day progress but the long-term prognosis for Luke as he grows up."
It's stories like Luke's that are the reason why we do what we do. We're honored to be a part of Luke's "family" and can't wait to see why lies ahead for him as he continues to make progress.