by Lyn Waldeck
Over the last few years, I have really been pleased to have families that we worked with in the past reconnect and provide updates. This week I received a very special call from a family that I worked very closely with for many years—the Giroux family. All three of their children were on the NACD program. It started with Celeste. Celeste had a diagnosis of Autism when she came to me. Beverly, Celeste’s mom sends me updates from time to time on how the children are doing. Sometimes we meet for lunch and sometimes I just get a note. But, this week’s call was phenomenal! The phone rang as I was getting into my hotel room after a very long day of evaluations. I almost, just almost, didn’t answer my phone, because I did not recognize the number. The minute I heard Beverly’s familiar voice, I was so glad and instantly energized. Immediately following my hello was “I love you. I love NACD. I love Bob Doman.” Following that, I got an outstanding update. Celeste, now a beautiful young adult, finished her GED and earned her esthetician license. Celeste is working full time at an upscale makeup counter at the Dallas Fort-Worth Airport. She is happy, productive, and has developed into a really awesome adult. She found her passion and turned it into something she now contributes to the world. I cannot express how wonderful it was to pick up that phone and hear this young lady’s successes. This is why we at NACD do what we do—we empower parents to propel their children toward their full potential.
At Celeste’s initial evaluation, she had very limited language skills. It was limited to a handful of wants and needs and a bit of echolalia. As her mother and I covered her history and I gathered information, Celeste spent much of her time sitting in the floor, flipping the hair on her My Little Pony back and forth, and back and forth again. Her level of engagement was low and she spent her time locked within her head and stimulating her broken sensory channels. Over the first year, Celeste made big improvements. By giving her sensory channels the specific input that was needed, the world that used to torment her became a world to notice, to interact with and to enjoy. By working on her processing abilities her language and complexity of thought exploded. Academically she really took off and socially, she was much more in tune and engaged. While big gains were made, there were still stages of work as Celeste progressed through the various stages of her development. I can vividly remember a bit of a tough patch when things were not so pleasant due to Celeste’s meltdowns and outbursts of emotionality. Beverly had to spend much of the day directing and redirecting Celeste to activities that were “good for her brain” rather than activities that were debilitating. We worked closely with Beverly as we built logic and executive function so that Celeste was not “held hostage” by her emotionality. A lot of pieces had to come together, but Celeste continued to develop, to improve and later to excel.
Celeste was blessed with a family that believed in her unlimited potential. I am humbled to have been a part of Celeste’s journey. We are so proud of you!