When Allyson Perreault’s son received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at age 4, she remembers being completely overwhelmed.
“I didn’t know where to begin,” recalls Allyson of her son, Myles. “He had been in a developmental preschool and was testing behind on everything.”
The developmental pediatrician who diagnosed him gave Allyson and her husband, Michael, a packet of information and resources. One of the resources included SARRC and its JumpStart® program, a parent empowerment program for families/caregivers with a recently diagnosed child.
The Perreaults were living near SARRC at the time in Arizona, and so they attended JumpStart in person shortly after Myles was diagnosed.
“Going through JumpStart empowers parents to learn how to work with your child,” Allyson explains. “I think it would have been really difficult to navigate everything without going through a program like that. Getting off on the right foot in understanding evidence-based practices was extremely beneficial, and it was really helpful to get SARRC’s perspective on what evidence-based was. Plus, being there with other parents, being led by a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) during a time when there was so much fear and anxiety for us was pretty incredible.”
The Perreaults pursued ABA therapy for Myles, although they soon needed to relocate to Boise, Idaho. They quickly found that the available services—including ABA providers—were more difficult to find in Idaho than Arizona.
“I think it took 12 months into living there to find an ABA provider, so the JumpStart materials were really beneficial for me to do parent training with my son during that time,” Allyson says.
After 18 months of ABA therapy, Myles tested neurotypical and is making amazing strides, Perreault says. Currently in second grade, he is now mainstreamed, has close friendships, loves math, and is reading at a fifth-grade level.
And for the Perreaults, JumpStart impacted just more than Myles. Allyson had been working in IT for 15 years, but seeing the impact ABA had on her son, she decided to change careers.
“ABA was so impactful to our lives that I decided to quit my IT career and pursue my master’s in ABA,” she shares. “I am currently in my last semester at Ball State University. Seeing how I could help others and be impactful was a big motivating factor for me.” For the Perreault family, the program was a lifechanging experience for their entire family. “JumpStart helped us start our ASD journey on the right foot, and for that my family and I are truly grateful.”