Advanced Neurological
Therapies for Autism

Lauren

's Story

What are some things that stand out to you about Lauren’s early childhood?

"When she was about 18 months old, I started to notice that she still hadn’t met a lot of her milestones. She was not speaking and not making much eye contact, and the normal things like pointing and communicating with us and initiating it, as well responding to us, were not happening. One of her preschool instructors pulled me aside and she recommended that I have her be evaluated. 

It took a while because there was a huge waitlist at the time which was frustrating. We had to wait several months before she could even be evaluated which was a shock. So, the time period there was roughly about 3-6 months of waiting – of waiting and not knowing. And the diagnosis happened shortly after that – six months after that. When I found out, I was thrown. All of a sudden you’re thrown into a world of a diagnosis and you go online – you Google everything you can about it – and at the same time you’re learning but you’re also feeling isolated. I had so many questions. There was no clarity whatsoever, so I was constantly searching.  The information was overwhelming."

What were things like before you came to Cortica?

"Back then, Lauren required 24/7 shadowing. Somebody had to be with her around the clock because she would unpredictably go from one place to the next with no sense of danger.  So, she could grab a match, she could turn on the stove, she could walk into the street, she could open up a window. Just merely turning your head in a different direction, and the next thing you know you’re chasing her because she’s spilling something on the ground and while you were cleaning up the spill she’s off to the next adventure. And that’s where the exhaustion came. We could never feel that we were achieving anything because we were following her around. It was very unproductive. "

What’s changed?

"When we started working with the team at Cortica, Lauren had just turned 6 years old. I read the book Spectacular Bond by Dr. Goh and I decided, okay, I think I really want to try this. We were at a point where we were ready.  We didn’t have anything to lose.  What was so amazing to me was how quickly Lauren responded to it.  It took a lot for us to even begin to do it. We had to really change a lot of the things that we were doing.  What was great about the program was it very simply pointed out the things that we could change in order to enable us to create this bond with Lauren that we didn’t really realize was missing. 

I remember my husband saying she’s done more in six weeks than she’s done in six years. I remember wondering if I should be concerned that the way things were handled at school was quite different from what we were doing at home with the Cortica ABA team. I was advised that I didn’t need to say anything to the school, and that Lauren would be able to make the changes at school on her own – that her new skills would transfer over.  Within a couple of weeks one of the teachers came up to me and said, what are you doing?  Just on her own.  Unprompted. Without any discussion from my part. I had not even mentioned a thing to her, and she was amazed and saw a real change in Lauren that she had never seen before. That just added more to the affirmation that we were on the right path - for the first time. "

How would you describe Lauren now?

"I think the beauty of this is Lauren is still herself in many ways. She’s still stubborn. She’s still crafty and smart. And what’s great is at Cortica they’re using her skills and her talent and her personality to make the most of what she can do. I think in a way it’s a beautiful thing, because Lauren can be who she is and in a way it’s freeing. She doesn’t have to not be herself but she can be a better version of herself. Isn’t that what we all want to be? 

I’m amazed and grateful for the fact that she can be who she is. She can express herself. We’re just giving her the tools to control what’s bothering her. What’s so great about the music therapy and the occupational therapy is that, from what I understand, Lauren is feeling things and struggles to get comfortable to be able to control her movements. She’s fighting these feelings in her body that are stopping her from being able to just be comfortable, to listen, to relax, to follow instructions.  So, imagine fighting that and not being able to scratch the itch, if you will, and just having this irritating feeling inside of you but not having the tools. But at Cortica they give us the language. We’re learning how to speak to her in a way that she can relate to. We can see that she really understands. "

What’s different about Cortica compared to other places you’ve been?

"What I love about this place is that you have all the different types of support that someone trying to navigate the world of autism would need. It’s this one stop shop - one place that Lauren can go to get all the help she needs.  Whether it’s music, speech, occupational therapy, medical help, supportive help for her nutrition. It’s all integrated. Behind all of this is a phenomenal group of people who love what they do, who enjoy working with your children, and who are there to support you as the caregiver. They understand all the elements of what you’re going through at home and at the clinic. That’s just priceless. To be able to have all of it be in one place, and one space, and be able to interact with everybody who, behind the scenes, are interacting with each other.  Everyone knows your story, Lauren’s story, as well as I do, and it’s priceless."