The Padillas – Autism ETC’s October Family of the Month

Imagine the bewildering disbelief of receiving an autism diagnosis for your first child. Now, imagine learning that your second child also has autism. This is what happened in the lives of the Padilla Family, Autism ETC’s family of the month. Parents Stephanie and Oscar have two children–Mason (age 5) and Evee (age 3). Both of their children have been diagnosed with ASD.

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The Padilla’s story began in Washington where Oscar was stationed with the U.S. Army. “When Mason was two years of age,” Stephanie begins, “he was not very verbal. He would not respond to his name, and he had other issues that made me concerned. Because of these delays, Mason received early intervention services including speech and occupational therapies. However, he was making limited progress.”

Stephanie told us that the addition of younger Evee to the family only seemed to add to Mason’s difficulties. At this point, Mason was sent for a diagnostic evaluation for autism.

“The psychologist who evaluated him scheduled five or six appointments in order to observe him at various times in the day; especially before and after his therapy sessions. The evaluation ultimately resulted in his autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.”

Adding to the family’s uncertainty at this time, they were in the process of being transferred to Fort Campbell. “After we arrived, we began services with another provider. Mason was still not making progress. I began an internet search for ABA providers, and that is how I discovered Autism ETC.”

Stephanie contacted Carissa Coker, Autism ETC’s clinical director. She assisted the Padilla
family in enrolling Mason.

“Mason began the Day Therapy Program and received services from 9am to 3pm, five days per week. By the time we began services, Mason’s behavioral issues had worsened. He was unable to communicate his wants and needs to us. In addition, he struggled to cope in places with loud sounds and bright lights. Simple shopping trips turned into meltdowns.”

In the first few months of Mason’s Treatment, Stephanie started noticing major progress: “He is a new kid,” she said. “He communicates when he wants or needs something, he recognizes emotions, and he copes with new environments. He has become a more flexible individual. Before, going to the store would cause meltdowns. Now, he can use his coping skills to tolerate over-stimulating environments. Our lives are easier.”

Unfortunately, this is only part of the Padilla Family’s story. Stephanie continued, “When Evee was about fifteen months old, we noticed that she did not respond to her name and said very few words. At times, you could tell she did not like to be touched, hugged, or carried. Evee received early intervention services, like Mason, and she too made little progress. After arriving at Fort Campbell, Evee saw a developmental pediatrician. The doctor believed that Evee was on the autism spectrum, like her older brother. ABA therapy was recommended.”

Within her first week of services at Autism ETC, Evee began to respond to her name. “It was
almost magical! In the past, she had few words, but now, she communicates with us. She is
walking, jumping, and making progress.”

Autism ETC’s community workshop program has also made a big impact in the Padillas’ life:
“The training workshops have been very helpful. The various topics have helped me to better
understand and to better parent my children. The staff has taught me how to apply therapy
techniques in daily situations. They have helped me be more patient with my children.”

Stephanie would advise parents: “You need to be patient. It will take time, and you have to gain understanding of your child. You have to step into your child’s world to better understand them. Once you do that, you will learn how they see things and know what causes their reactions.”

We appreciate Stephanie candidly sharing her family’s story. The Padilla Family serves as a
testimony of hope for children and families affected by autism.

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