Many parents look forward to the moment that their child will say their first words – usually anticipating it will be the words mommy or daddy. For the parents of children with autism and other developmental disabilities, these moments may sometimes never come.
Kuhn Bean, 10, has been at Tomorrow’s Voices since the age of two. Kuhn was born with a cyst on his brain that led to infantile spasms and caused him to have seizures from birth, according to his mother Kim Rhoda-Bean.
“The seizures were eventually controlled with medication,” explained Ms Rhoda-Bean. “At age four Kuhn was diagnosed with Moyamoya; which is a blockage in his cartoid artery on the right side of his brain. Because the blockage was on the same side as the cyst, the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital fixed them both in one surgery. From the age of two he was diagnosed as developmentally delayed, but in 2014 he was officially given the diagnosis of being autistic. He doesn’t have a diagnosis for the future because his doctors in Bermuda and Boston have not experienced a child like him before (one that has suffered through infantile spasms, Moyamoya and autism).”
Communication was a major challenge for Kuhn but with the help from Tomorrow’s Voices, his ability to speak and ask for what he needs has improved.
“The staff at Tomorrow’s Voices have helped to bring Kuhn’s words out,” said Ms Rhoda-Bean. “They encourage him to use sentences instead of one word responses. And my daughter and I use the same techniques learned from Tomorrow’s Voices at home and talking to Kuhn has gotten better.
“Kuhn now can do many things I didn’t think he would ever do. Mentally he is younger than his 10 years, but to see him you would think that he is at least 12. Tomorrow’s Voices has helped Kuhn to grow mentally by pushing him to the next level. Kuhn is not allowed to be lazy and he is always being pushed.”
Manielle Fox’s son Aaron, 4, started at Tomorrow’s Voices last year but in just six months his parents have seen improvements.
“Before he was very standoffish but now he will come to us and has become more affectionate. We see huge progress with Aaron and his communication skills have helped him to open up,” explained Mrs Fox.
Aaron was diagnosed with autism at the age of two after a family friend pointed out that he displayed some symptoms that might be typical of a child with autism. After a visit to Nemours Hospital for Children in Delaware, the family received the diagnosis of autism. During their visit they also received a reference guide all about autism that recommended ABA (applied behavioral analysis) therapy for Aaron. The Fox family searched out Tomorrow’s Voices, which is one of the only places on the island using ABA therapies for autism and other developmental disabilities, and have had Aaron in therapy at the Centre three mornings a week.
His teachers from Heritage Nursery School have also played a big role in helping to support Aaron through his diagnosis. Tomorrow’s Voices has an open-door policy regarding their therapy, which allows teachers and parents to remain on the same page in terms of effective ways to work with their clients.
“Before he couldn’t tell us what he wanted. Before he couldn’t say our names but now he knows that he can take us to the phone and point and he can say daddy. He can open the fridge and point to what he wants,” said Mrs Fox. “Tomorrow’s Voices has opened up our eyes to understand his differences and to have patience with him and to recognize that it takes him longer to be able to do things that we can do more quickly.”
It has been a challenging road for the Fox family but the support from Tomorrow’s Voices, as well as family and friends, has been incredibly helpful, added Mrs Fox.
“It’s taken a while but we feel comfortable to share our story with Aaron having autism and what we deal with on a day-to-day basis with him,” she said.
Mrs Fox speaks more about Aaron’s progress at Tomorrow’s Voices and how important it has been to have the support in the video.