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Families with autistic children get help adjusting to 'new normal' through local agency

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Posted at 7:23 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 13:18:20-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — For many families who have loved ones with autism, adjusting to the isolation orders has been a challenge. Nicole Taylor's grandson, Bubba, has autism. Taylor said he was nonverbal for several years.

"In my heart I was fearful that he wouldn't have a chance," Taylor explained. "When he started home therapy, he went from being nonverbal and now this kid will talk your ear off."

Taylor came across a nonprofit called Firefly Autism, an agency that connects kids like Bubba to learning treatment programs. Taylor said after two weeks she noticed an improvement, and two years later her grandson was talking.

"We work with over 120 children and families in the state of Colorado," said Executive Director Jesse Ogas.

When Bubba does "talk your ear off," Taylor said he's usually asking when he can go back to school. Bubba is finding it hard to adjust to life in doors.

"It just was so foreign to him, he doesn't like it," Taylor explained. "He just misses that interaction. "

Chief Clinical Officer Ken Winn said every child needs structure. For kids with autism, structure is more about predictability.

"Structure is about knowing first comes 'A' and 'B' comes next, followed by 'C,'" Winn explained. "We know that 'C' can follow 'B', but in a different way, and sometimes those with autism have a difficulty making those connections."

Firefly Autism is helping families provide structure while still embracing flexibility. It's also encouraging families to take on a little change at a time.

"It's been really great coming up with visual schedules for each individual client, so that they can kind of see their day and know what's coming next," said Mandy Rades, chief clinical director of the Firefly Autism South Branch.

"We now have to individualize all of the Telehealth models," Ogas said. "It is unique, it's challenging, and it's rewarding."