When Claire and Brian Kelley’s third child was born, they were concerned that he might have delays or be on the autism spectrum.
Their oldest, now 6, had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), though the middle one, now 4, doesn’t yet have a diagnosis.
“You always worry, you always have it in the back of your mind,” Claire shares.
The family had heard about the free Milestones Program from Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), which offers services for parents of infants ages 6 to 18 months. The program, which is open to first-time parents as well as those with older children and those with children on the spectrum, provides information on developmental milestones and parenting practices that encourage play and interaction, along with information about autism.
“We started at 6 months and did the classes,” Claire shares. “They have a classroom setting and you learn about what to expect the next few months. You fill out questionnaires each month that go over your expectations and how your child is developing. It helped me keep tabs [on my child] and see what I should be looking for.”
Through the program, the Kelleys were able to identify some delayed speech. Because of that, they were then moved into the second part of the Milestones Program, where interventions were put in place and additional evaluations were performed.
“It built confidence in myself and what I was seeing,” Claire shares, explaining that it helped them know how to help their son, as well as validated their concerns. “And, it helped us increase his speech back to baseline.”
Now 19-months-old, the Kelleys’ son finished the program and is doing well. An evaluation at 18 months showed no to little risk of ASD, though the family now knows what milestones to look for in the future and will head to the pediatrician or developmental pediatrician for an evaluation if any future concerns develop.
“This program just helps you feel more comfortable and relaxes you a little better. Having those evaluations and working with [the children] at a young age is important just because you know how important it is for early detection and early intervention. This program does that. It helps you identify and work on issues as they’re developing and before they’re a big issue.”