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The Gift of Speech for Christmas

This guest blog post is by Allison Duhon Hill, a mother who is currently getting her Master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

I am a young mom of 3 children. My husband works hard to provide for our family and we are very happy. However, a year and a half after giving birth to my youngest son, Jacob, our lives were turned upside down in quite a scary way.

We noticed that Jacob was not looking at us or responding to facial gestures, he would not play in the mirror or sit up on his own. We were very scared. We took Jacob to specialists and he was diagnosed with severe autism, macrocephaly, and speech and language disorder. We knew there no cure for autism and the cause is still unknown. After lots of research and a few recommendations from friends who had already gone through this, we decided to look into Applied Behavior Analysis treatment for my son. It is the only treatment with empirical research proving its effectiveness in helping autism and it is no longer considered experimental.

After some time we decided to take him to Houston ABA, Inc. Mindy Day, the owner and Board Certified Behavior Analyst, started working with Jacob. He was completely non-verbal and unresponsive when she started. Even approaching 3 years old he could not really communicate his basic needs, such as wanting a drink or even calling me mommy.

But this Christmas our family has been given a priceless gift from Houston ABA, Inc. We have been given the gift of speech for our son. Over this past year they have worked hard with Jacob teaching him that communication has a meaning. Even though we did not have insurance coverage for his disability, Houston ABA, Inc. worked with us through in home therapy and tailored his treatment to what we could afford. 40 hours of in clinic ABA therapy is not an option for most, but part time in home therapy has proven to be successful for us. Jacob now knows over 200 nouns and verbs. He can ask for a drink or food and I have even heard him call me mommy several times!

While others are receiving jewelry, shoes or extravagant gifts, I cannot help but to think that I have received the most amazing gift of all…the gift of communicating with my son. Things looked hopeless and scary for a long time, but Houston ABA, Inc. has changed my son’s life and our family, forever! This Christmas, we will be celebrating the gift of speech, something so many take for granted. I highly recommend ABA therapy for anyone needing help with their autistic children.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.