At eighteen months old, Andrew was removed from his mother’s house due to neglect and placed in the temporary care of his grandmother. By the age of 2, Andrew lived in a foster home with six other children, including his biological sister, when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and intensive learning disabilities. His verbal skills were quite limited, and he had difficulty communicating his basic needs. Andrew displayed aggressive and harmful behavior. He was self-injurious and often a danger to others. From head banging and flinging himself on the floor to biting, pushing, and hitting others, Andrew needed constant supervision to keep himself and others out of harm’s way.
Andrew has aspirations to someday have his own career that will allow him to help others. His wide interests from culinary services to automobiles give him plenty of inspiration and creative ideas for when he grows up.
Because of these intense and serious behaviors, Andrew came to live full-time at the Autism Treatment Center at the age of 5. At the time of enrollment at ATC, he was wearing a full cast below the waist for a broken leg suffered at the foster home. He was frightened by many normal things in his environment. In the beginning, he spent most of his time hitting, kicking, spitting, and biting others. If he was told “no”, he became extremely verbally aggressive by yelling, screaming, and cussing at staff. His tantrums lasted for hours. For his own safety and the safety of his class/housemates, he required one-on-one staff around the clock.
In addition to the Educational and Residential programs, Andrew began receiving Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy at ATC’s Dallas Clinic. The three therapies sought to improve behavior, display appropriate social behavior, and improve balance and basic physical skills from his broken leg.
Also, he began receiving behavioral services to motivate him to complete his academic work. While he still could not read or write at his grade-level, he learned to tell time, perform basic math, read simple words, and write short sentences.
Andrew is now 14 years old. While he has made great strides in behavior, he continues to need staff support to stay on task and complete assignments. Therapy sessions are goal-oriented and work on replacement behaviors to circumvent aggressive and self-injurious behaviors.
In 2011, Andrew was selected to participate in ATC’s Transitional Program. Activities include the Tiger Café, an in-house culinary training program working under the supervision of professional chefs, group-outings to sporting activities, museums, and other community events, and equine therapy at a local recreational therapy program. Andrew enjoys participating in field trips and other outings within the community that allow him to interact in social situations.
In August 2013, Andrew enrolled in a Dallas County public school, and attends daily classes in a group setting with other students with developmental disorders. Andrew's teacher has stated that he is making new friends and thriving in his studies. Andrew is enrolled in art class and a computer lab for math skills. He has completed his first level of his math program and passed with 100% accuracy.
Andrew has undergone remarkable change from the time he enrolled in ATC’s programs to the present. Had Andrew remained in the foster home, it is very unlikely that he would have made the progress he has achieved today. With no motivation to modify his behavior, he would have likely continued his aggressive and self-injurious behaviors. Through individualized, goal-oriented service plans, Andrew has improved his social, educational, communication, and behavioral skills.