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A Mother’s Fear Turns to Hope

Anthony’s Remarkable Progress; To a casual observer, Anthony is just like any other child in his preschool classroom. He participates in circle time with the other children. He quietly stands in line and patiently waits his turn. But this hasn’t always been the case.

Now six years old, Anthony was diagnosed with autism at 26 months. His mom, Julie, vividly remembers, “The day Anthony was diagnosed I felt like I was punched in the stomach. I cried. I wondered what kind of future he would have. But I decided to stop panicking and focus on what was important, and that was getting Anthony the help he needed.”

When Anthony first came to Lifesteps preschool at age three, he was struggling with many challenges. “Anthony had difficulty communicating, connecting and understanding,” said Julie. “He couldn’t even say ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad,’ which was heartbreaking,” she explained. Some of Anthony’s other challenges included not being able to make transitions from one activity to another, not understanding appropriate social behavior, and having frequent meltdowns and tantrums.

But in just three years, Anthony has made remarkable progress. “The teachers are very in-tune with Anthony and they know how to encourage him to try new things without pushing too hard,” said Julie. “With their help, Anthony has overcome so many challenges. For example, he now cleans up, says ‘excuse me’ and shares with the other children,” she explained. In addition to regular classroom time, Anthony receives speech, occupational therapy and special education services at Lifesteps.

Anthony’s teachers have also provided Julie with the support she needs as a mother of an autistic child. “We believe in proactively communicating with parents,” said Kristi Maggi, Supervisor, Children’s Services in Beaver County. “This helps parents feel comfortable so that our efforts are coordinated,” she explained.

In addition to social and behavioral skills, Anthony is now learning typical preschool academic skills, such as the alphabet and numbers. In fact, Anthony has made so much progress in preschool that he will be attending Kindergarten in the fall.

“Lifesteps has given Anthony a wonderful foundation for his future,” said Julie. “Without tolerance, patience and understanding, Anthony would have fallen through the cracks and I wasn’t going to let that happen. Bringing him to Lifesteps, with caring and understanding people, has helped him to progress more than I ever thought would be possible.”

For more information on Lifesteps Early Education Services, click here.

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