Nina has attended Lighthouse Autism Center since 2014 and has made incredible progress in her time here. So much so, that the Lighthouse clinical team has recommended she transition back to school full-time in January.
When Nina first began at Lighthouse Autism Center, she would ask for preferred items with only one-word sentences, making it very difficult for unfamiliar people to decipher what she was saying. Now, Nina uses five to seven word sentences and has drastically improved her articulation, resulting in overall better communication and understanding by others.
Nina’s mother expressed great appreciation for what LAC has done for Nina, saying “She looks at me, she holds me, she communicates with me and tells me what she is need of. She’s playful and she’s so funny. She has the personality, and this from my heart – I’m so happy for Nina. She deserves to have a bright future. She deserves to be happy and I have you to thank for that. You have given her guidance to find her voice, to share her thoughts, to be her true self.”
Furthermore, we continue to see Nina’s problem behaviors consistently decrease, specifically, with adapting to change. Prior to Lighthouse, Nina would have huge meltdowns, sometime lasting upwards of two hours, when dealing with change or work she did not want to do. Now, Nina will try new things including wearing different types or clothing, new foods, hairstyles and shoes. She no longer feels the need to bring all of her toys to school each day, and will consistently try new thing in her daily life!
Finally, Nina’s academic skills have also improved greatly. Nina can work independently for up to twenty-five minutes without a therapist’s assistance. We are so proud of her and excited for her to transition back to school!
Zac started three years ago at our Warsaw location as a nonverbal child with many behaviors, and has grown drastically during his time here. He now attends our Plymouth center and has few behaviors and has learned to communicate using one and two word phrases. His family’s dedication to getting him the therapy he needed has allowed Zac to make great strides since first receiving an autism diagnosis in 2013. While he’s been one of the few kids to attend more than one of our centers, and it meant a lot of driving for his family, they know it’s been worth it.
“Lighthouse Autism Center has truly been a lifesaver,” said Racheal, Zac’s mom.
Racheal said when Zac started at Lighthouse he had no words, but he’s made a lot of progress since then. “I will never forget the day that he looked at me and said ‘ I love you , mommy!’ I had waited for him to say those words and without Lighthouse being there helping him find his voice, I would have never heard those words.”
Here are several examples of the progress Zac’s made.
Independence: Zac’s gone from wearing diapers to being fully potty trained and independent in the bathroom.
Communication: Initially, Zac could barely make a few sounds. Now he uses an iPad and has a vocabulary of over 400 words.
Flopping: Zac went from flopping almost 400 minutes per day and refusing to work to flopping an average of just 20 minutes per day.
“Thank you so much for everything you have given us,” said Racheal. ” I cannot put into words how thankful we are to have found Lighthouse Autism Center and for everything you’ve done for us and Zac.”
In the three years Aidan has spent at Lighthouse he has grown from a child who had difficulty with his diet, communicating, and academic work, to a student transitioning back to school who now dreams of a career as a zookeeper! “We believe he would make an excellent one, and we would like him to have the same opportunities to fulfill this dream as any other child,” said his mom, Michelle. “We know Aidan is a very intelligent boy, and Lighthouse Autism Center has been able to let him show it to the world!” Prior to transitioning back to school, Aidan mastered first, second, and third grade workbooks, and started working on a fourth grade level that includes reading/writing, math, social studies, and science. Aidan has accomplishments in several other areas in addition to his academic ones. These include:
Communication: Aidan is more confident
and open about his thoughts and feelings,
and is now able to hold a conversation with
family and friends.
Diet: At first, Aidan would only eat taco meat
for lunch and dinner. He now eats 23 other
food items regularly and also attempts to try
Counting: Once unable to count by
multiples, he’s now proficient at addition
with borrowing, subtraction with carrying,
two-digit multiplication, and long division.
Aidan’s parents are both very proud he’s
graduating and able to attend traditional
“We are so thankful for Aidan’s Program Managers, Therapists, and the Lighthouse staff,” said Michelle. “You have been a big part of our lives for almost three years and we will never forget the things you have done for our Aidan. Thank you so much for giving Aidan your time, patience, love, and support.”
Communicating with others is an ability most people take for granted. For those with autism and their families, it’s a different story. And in the case of Garrett, that story is a happy one.
” The biggest change I’ve seen in Garrett since he started at Lighthouse has definitely been his communication skills,” said his mom, Mehgan. “He’s able to initiate and carry on conversations now, order his own food at restaurants, and occasionally even strike up a conversation with someone besides immediate family members.”
Considering his future plans, talking should serve him well. “Right now he wants to grow up to be a teacher. He spends time teaching me things, teaching his brother things, and even teaching his teachers things!” said Mehgan.
Here are just a few of Garrett’s achievements since first coming to Lighthouse in July 2014:
Life Skills: Garrett’s gone from pull-ups and not urinating on the potty independently to wearing big-boy underwear, asking to use the bathroom, and using a pass to go all by himself!
Social Skills: Initially, Garrett wouldn’t even make eye contact with his peers. Now he can play five different board games with them, and can ask and answer a variety of questions with his friends!
Writing Skills: At first, he couldn’t hold a pencil correctly or barely scribble on paper. Today, he’s writing math problems and spelling words!
As Garrett heads of to kindergarten this fall, Mehgan is proud of how far he’s come. “He has excelled in so many ways. Sending Garrett to Lighthouse was probably the best decision we ever made.”
To read the latest edition of the Autism Beacon click here.
Imagine how alienating it would be if you found yourself unable to communicate with family, friends, colleagues, and staff – saddening and frustrating, not only for yourself, but for those around you. Such was the case with Adam. When he first came to Lighthouse Autism Center at the age of 12, Adam had no speech abilities and no potty training. He wasn’t troublesome, but appeared sullen and unengaged (likely because he had no way of communicating!).
“Today, two years later, Adam is a totally changed child,” said Executive Director, Gregg Maggioli. “Adam knows and uses sign language, allowing him to finally communicate. He is bright, happy, toilet trained and continuing to learn.”
Here’s a snapshot of just how far Adam has come:
Communication- When Adam came to Lighthouse Autism Center he had no way to tell his family or teachers what he wanted. Now Adam uses more than 293 signs regularly to tell his family and our staff what he wants.
Independence with Life Skills- Adam was very dependent on his parents to complete simply life skills. He wore a pullup and had no independence with dressing or using the bathroom. Adam is now fully toilet trained, tells people when he needs to use the restroom, and values his privacy!
Social Skills- When Adam came to Lighthouse Autism Center he did not engage with anyone but Mom and Dad. Nor did he laugh or play. Now, Adam is Mr. Social. He says hello to everyone when he walks in the door and plays board games with peers!
To read the entire October issue of The Autism Beacon click here.