When Euan Campbell was 2-years-old, his parents, Chad and Elana, began to notice some red flags and delays with his development. They began early intervention services — speech therapy and occupational therapy for him — “but I constantly felt like there was something missing and that we weren’t doing everything that we could do,” Elana shares.
Then in 2015 the family moved from Chicago to Chad’s hometown of Phoenix. Euan was turning 5, which made him eligible for kindergarten.
“Once we got him into the school environment, we realized we needed more help,” Chad explains. “We were able to get by at home, but there were a lot of missing pieces that got amplified when we put him in a school environment.”
Euan had limited verbal skills, tended to be very rigid and was prone to tantrums. It not only impacted Euan, but the entire family, including the couple’s two daughters, Niamh, then 10, and Zara, then 7.
“Life was very restrictive because we didn’t go out,” Elana shares. “It wasn’t great for our girls, either. We’d get invited to people’s homes and we didn’t really go. If we did, it was tag-teaming because it was so emotionally draining for everyone around. Sometimes it would be a half an hour just to get him into the car.”
A Diagnosis and Some Help
Then, just a month after Euan was formally diagnosed with ASD in December 2015, Chad was invited to an event at SARRC.
“I showed up not knowing what I was going to,” he shares. “I just saw that it had something to do with autism and Euan had just been diagnosed with ASD.”
At the event Chad toured the facility, “and before I even got in my car to go home, I called Elana from the parking lot and said we have to learn more about this place.”
Elana reached out to SARRC, and after a phone conversation, Euan was added to the list for the Comprehensive Behavioral Program.
The family waited 11 months for the call that there was an opening in the program. It would be a fulltime commitment, and the family jumped in eagerly. SARRC’s Comprehensive Behavioral Program provides intensive, customized ABA intervention across environments (home, school, community) to meet the needs of children with ASD and their families. The first step for all clients is a full assessment to determine the child’s needs, and to then be able to develop a treatment plan utilizing Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) and ABA therapy to address those needs. “It’s one-on-one therapy at home, at school and in the community to address whatever the needs are of that particular child very subjectively.
For Euan’s case, he has as about an intense of a program as it comes,” Chad explains, sharing that Euan has a therapist with him all day at school, and then three evenings a week a therapist is with him or with the family.
With SARRC therapists then in the picture almost day-in and day-out, Elana says she had to learn how to balance everything.
She was nervous at first, wondering how to juggle errands that she’d normally do after work—like a run to the grocery store — since the therapists would be at her home. Instead, she quickly learned that those types of trips were welcomed, and therapists and her son could join her. “It was great because I was able to apply what I learned in those parent trainings and say to my therapist who came in that evening, ‘Hey, I have to pop to the supermarket. Can you come along and we can make it a community outing?’”
The trip would then become a learning and training tool for both Euan and his parents and sisters, who were able to watch how to work with Euan in various situations — skills they can then apply when the therapists aren’t with them.
Now, not only are they able to do outings, but Euan’s sisters have also embraced the therapy program and have become some of his biggest champions, helping him however and whenever they can.
“They’re learning how to play with Euan, and the therapists joke that they’re mini SARRC therapists!” Elana says. “They’re constantly modeling with him, and it’s become almost second nature to them. They’re both very much invested in the process.”
Although the Campbells are still very much in the midst of the program, they’ve already seen big changes in Euan.
“Flexibility is one,” they share. “If you break from routine he doesn’t melt down anymore. He’s more adaptable to new environments.”
This was especially true when the family moved to a new home and Euan changed schools. The transition went smoothly, and the therapists were there to help him adjust to his new school during the day.
“He’s also made leaps and bounds in terms of communication,” Elana says. “It’s given him the tools he needed. It’s also improved his confidence.”
Additionally, the behavioral changes in school helped his academic ability shine through instead of masking it.
“Overarchingly, we’re just very hopeful,” says Elana. “We just keep on doing what we think is best. I’ll always trust my gut, and I knew when I was in Chicago that I thought something was missing. It wasn’t until we came to Phoenix and found SARRC that I realized what was missing. As soon as we found it, it clicked and I knew this is what we needed. It’s so life changing.”
She adds, “At the root of it all, our goal is to provide Euan with the best opportunities that we can possibly give him, to allow him to be as independent and successful as he possibly can.