KenCrest’s Early Intervention Services Help Local PA Resident
Gabe was diagnosed with autism at 18-months-old and received early intervention treatment that helped him learn to speak.
By Sydney Kerelo
At 18-months old, Pennsylvania resident Tracey’ son Gabe was diagnosed with autism. In addition to being on the autism spectrum, Gabe had a sensory processing disorder that prevented him from developing his speech.
His mother, Tracey, with no idea what autism was or how to help her child, turned to KenCrest for early intervention services. Beth Pogach— currently a Home and Community Based Services Supervisor at KenCrest—helped Tracey understand Gabe’s diagnosis. She worked through different occupational and speech therapies to help her son.
“He didn’t have any words, he’d maybe say car, but that was it,” says Tracey. “I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t have any help from family, and I learned so much through KenCrest. They would show me how to bounce him on a ball and get the input he was seeking, which I didn’t even understand he needed. So, once I understood that and helped him get the help he needed, he was able to calm down and focus more, and that’s when the speech came in.”
With the support he received through KenCrest’s early intervention services, Gabe learned how to communicate. He went from only saying car to studying sports therapy at Bryn Athyn and playing on the ice hockey team.
“He still has some learning difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia and receives extra time on exams, but he is just like a regular 19-year-old kid now,” says Tracey.
Gabe has come a long way from his days of having a very singular vocabulary. Tracey laughs as she recalls how they incorporated Gabe’s love of the word car into their daughter’s name.
When Tracey was pregnant with her daughter, they tried to come up with a name for her by asking Gabe. And, “all he would say was car, car, car, so we were like okay then and named her Carleigh,” laughs Tracey.
Carleigh received intermediate unit (IU) services from KenCrest in her preschool classrooms when she was younger. She had a lot of delays and sensory issues going on but was never diagnosed with autism or a sensory processing disorder.
“I am so thankful for all the support I received when my children were younger because I remember being scared and unsure of what was going on or what their future would look like,” says Tracey.
While the Interventionists assisted Carleigh, they also helped Tracey understand her son Gabe’s diagnosis. Tracey recalls Beth accompanying her to Target or the dentist and helping her teach Gabe how to walk down the aisles calmly or hold her hand in the parking lot without running away.
According to Tracey, knowing how to help a child overstimulated by the noises at Walmart or ACME is one of the best things. It sparked Tracey’s desire to join KenCrest herself. Now that her children are grown up, Tracey is a special instructor helping other families whose children have autism.
Check out our birth-to-5 webpage to learn more about our early intervention services. Plus, take a look at how KenCrest is helping the people we support through therapy for autistic toddlers like Gabe.