A Lifespan of Autism ServicesThis week’s blog was written by Amanda Ledbetter, whose family is served by Project HOPE Foundation
Project HOPE FoundationProject HOPE Foundation is a local nonprofit organization, founded in 1997 by moms of children with autism, with the mission of providing a lifespan of autism services that include Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, education, adult programs, and community engagement.
Impacting the Lives of FamiliesHere is one mom’s story to help explain the impact of the autism services provided by Project HOPE Foundation:
The Autism DiagnosisFor as long as I can remember, I pictured having children. My dream came true with our daughter, Ellie. I couldn’t wait to have another baby. I pictured them playing, growing up, and raising their families together. When Ellie was 3, we had James. It was everything I had imagined. But we soon noticed that he wasn’t developing like his sister. He couldn’t talk. His attachment to routines and objects became obsessions. I asked our pediatrician if something could be wrong. “He’s just a late bloomer. Don’t worry, mom,” he said. But I did. I spent hours researching and told myself: He’s just shy. He’s going to start talking soon. But he didn’t. My heart knew the truth even though I wasn’t ready to admit it, so I continued to press his doctors. After months of appointments, assessments, and evaluations, James was diagnosed with autism. I walked out of the doctor’s office with my now nearly 3-year-old son and absolutely NO guarantees of what his future would look like: Will he ever learn to talk? Will he go to school? Will he have friends? Instantly, all my dreams went dark. I couldn’t picture his future.
Continued CareWe continued with an early interventionist and added occupational, speech, and play therapy, but the sessions were only 30-60 minutes once a week. James just wasn’t progressing. It was obvious that he needed something more. I didn’t know exactly how Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy worked, but I had done my research and knew Project HOPE was the BEST. But because of the demand for services, we just had to wait. The only thing harder than seeing your child struggle is waiting on services that you know he needs – and worrying that he may never get it. I checked in daily for months to check on our spot. They finally said, “Yes!” and it felt like winning the lottery. We began with 40 hours of ABA therapy a week! Our amazing ABA therapists gave us a window into James’ mind, showing us how to connect with him and to include him in our activities. By doing that, they helped restore our family. They were there for every low and every high.
A Success StoryNow, 4 years later, James is thriving. He continues 1:1 sessions at the Spartanburg clinic and is also able to spend time in a group setting there. He’s learning sight words and math! But most importantly, he leaps out of the car each day excited to see his therapists, teachers, and friends! He has FRIENDS!!! Before HOPE, James had never been invited to a friend’s birthday party; now he is a frequent guest. Ellie is volunteering with HOPE and aspires to be an ABA therapist. We still have tough days, but both of our children are blossoming before our eyes.
The future I pictured for James looks a lot different than it did before autism. But, you know what? I can see it, again. There is no more darkness. That’s all because of Project HOPE Foundation.For more information about Project HOPE Foundation, visit: https://www.projecthopesc.org/