These are the pained words of Mary Ellen Abramek as she recounted the
day her 18 month-old son Quin was diagnosed with autism.
As Quin grew older, his behavior became increasingly aggressive. Other
parents wouldn’t let their children play with Quin. He would push them
and take their toys. Simple joys like an outing to the playground became
impossible. The toll it was taking on the family was enormous.
Ultimately, the Abrameks were referred to Bradley Hospital’s Intensive
Behavioral Treatment Program.
At Bradley it’s called IBT for short. For the children and families who
have been in the program, it is called life-changing.
At first Quin didn’t cooperate at all. But the therapists at Bradley
knew they would eventually get through to him. The IBT program treats
children 2-5 years of age in their own homes for up to three years - on
a consistent, almost daily basis. The overall goal of the program is to
help the child function naturally in the environment with as little
dependence as possible.
Ashley Dodd, one of Quin’s talented therapists, described the method
used to help Quin as a reinforcement system to teach and reward good
behavior. “Every time Quin does something well, we praise him and give
him a sense of accomplishment so that he wants to continue to do the
thing well. Because we do the therapy in the home, the child feels safe
and that comfort level helps us move the process forward. The parents
are there, involved, learning how to use the methods we use, “Ashley
Quin's mother observed that as the home therapy progressed and Quin
started to make more and more progress, he’d be excited about it and
enjoyed the praise and encouragement so much that he couldn’t wait for
more. “It just started clicking for him,” she recalled.
Virtually all the children participating in IBT make progress that is
lasting. That’s because Bradley specialists literally change the way the
brains of these children function while they are still growing. Indeed,
the program has done a remarkable job in reducing the number of kids who
require out of home placement – from 14% down to 1%!
Early in our journey with the Abramek family, Mary Ellen shared their
fear they would never be able to function normally as a family. But
recently, Mary Ellen said they feel such a huge change in their lives
because of Bradley and the IBT program. She thanked us for providing
them with the tools and skills to help Quin be a part of their family.
“We’ve been able to do family things together now. It’s just an
incredible feeling. We recently went to Disney World in Florida and Quin
sat on the airplane the whole time. He said ‘I wuv you, mom.’ I didn’t
think I would ever hear that…” concluded the happy mother.
Hospital is not only a beacon of hope for treating children with autism
but it is also one of the leading research centers that is currently
doing groundbreaking work in the prevention of the disease.
Bradley Hospital truly is changing lives and helping to make families whole.