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Success Stories

Real autism success stories from the families we serve & the team members who serve them.

My three-year-old client was nonverbal when we started, and today she said three short sentences in a row. She said:

“I need Mom.”

“I am cold.”

“Mom, come downstairs please!”

Sierra M.

Care Team Member, AHSS

Today I was playing on our center playground set when I accidentally bumped my head. I said “owww” loudly and immediately my kiddo climbed up the stairs and asked if I was okay and patted my head. He showed sympathy for me when he knew I really felt pain. That was the sweetest thing he’s ever done!!

Marie W.

Care Team Member, AHSS

Feedback from a CTM supporting a child in the community who has some challenges with social skills and emotional regulation: He was the best behaved youngster in the camp setting! Even without the structure that he typically needs, he handled the unruly behavior of the other campers without engaging in negative behavior.

Tera W.

BCBA, AHSS

My one kiddo is learning how to eat independently. The other day, after we faded prompts within session, he picked up the spoon, got some yogurt and ate it by himself! All this progress in 20 minutes!

Katie N.

BCBA, AHSS

My three-year-old client is always excited when I arrive. He will try to show me his favorite toy of the moment or pull me into the room to play a game with him, but he does not say hi, make eye contact, or follow prompts to vocally greet me. Last week we role-played greeting someone at the door by saying “Hi,” which he thought was fun. Yesterday when I arrived for an overlap he yelled “Hi!” and wrapped his arms around me as soon as the door was opened!

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

I have a non-vocal client who uses Nova Chat as her primary method of communication and makes little to no eye contact. She made eye contact with me and vocalized “oh no” when her break ended and it was time to put away a preferred item.

CTM II, AHSS

One of my kiddos began engaging in severe aggression all of a sudden. Through hard work, functional analysis, and teamwork, we changed our approach and started using more natural-environment teaching coupled with an increase in choice/control for the child. She is now doing so well (has near zero episodes of aggression) that we never needed to implement a formal behavior plan! Her school teacher even contacted me to say what a difference she has noticed in this child.

Katie N.

BCBA, AHSS

One of my students just started having sessions at Y Care. When I observed him in baseline he played catch with one of the staff on the sidelines the entire time the group was playing structured games together. The first day the CTM went with him, he joined the group for Duck Duck Goose and played for 20 minutes! The next day he stayed with the group almost the entire time, only taking two breaks!

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

I have been on a team with Joanna S (BCBA) and Alex I (PL) since June of 2016. They are amazing, and I love my team! This family is wonderful, and my client is great. It has been amazing to watch him grow and learn. Transitions for him and myself were a bit hard, as I took over for 2 CTMs. However, he and I quickly paired nicely and have a great relationship. He is doing awesome in so many areas, and watching him flourish as he is is exactly why I do what I do.  What an amazing and rewarding job!

Stacie G.

Care Team Member, AHSS

My six year old who has community outings programming went to the Dollar Store with me and his family. He walked the entire time, picked out only the number of items he was allowed to, and even reminded his sisters of the rules.

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

Since starting the toileting program with my clients, who are three-year-old twins, both clients are consistently going potty in the toilet each day. The clients stay seated on the toilet for approximately 5 minutes (with a 10-minute limit to avoid resistance to sitting). Both kiddos are maintaining dry diapers on a more regular basis. There have also been several occasions when one will approach the baby gate and independently/spontaneously request to go to the bathroom using gestures – and he will actually sit down and go potty when he does request to go! Both twins also will go through the toileting program with their parents, and the parents are seeing the same result that we therapists see. So they’re both going potty in the toilet for mom and dad when AHSS staff are not in the home.

In order for the skill to be truly mastered we need to know that it can happen across multiple settings and with various people and that is what we’re starting to see now. One of the twins started the program in early April and the other started towards the end of April — both are approaching mastery criteria for going potty in the toilet each day!

Ashley M.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

The child has been with the company since she was two and half, and she is now turning five in a couple of weeks. She is going to be one of the recovery stories! Her language and academic skills are age appropriate, and she is just working on some minor problem behaviors and social skills currently. This was all possible because she started therapy at such a young age!
Thank you for all the great work, team!

Cheryl H.

BCBA, AHSS

When I first began working with my client he didn’t say much, and he would often engage in challenging behavior. His parents wanted him to be able to share things about his day at school and what’s going on around him. Now, he is able to use appropriate and functional communication to communicate his needs, wants, and nonpreferred. He is also able to recall events and has greatly expanded his vocabulary.

Eboni R.

Care Team Member, AHSS

Starting with the teachers and continuing with all the therapist (speech, occupational, and ABA ) I believe that we had made progress. S is a different child and I believe that this is just the beginning. Even now writing this email, tears are coming down because I am really happy to see that I made the best decision at this time.

I believe the program will open a lot of doors for more kids.

Thank you so much for all your help and support. I believe that persons like you is what make other parents stronger.

Former Client, Mother of 3 and a half year old girl (Unsolicited)

developing verbal capabilities, motor skills, social interactions, toiletting, North Chicago

Last night was his awards show for their bible school called Awanas and my client walked on stage to get his ribbon with minimal help from me. I just held his hand. He normally bounces on a ball everywhere he goes and has a chewy in his mouth, but I didn’t take the ball or chewy with us and he did awesome!!

Brooke B.

AHSS

I sneezed during an overlap and my three-year-old client got up from the table, walked over to the tissue box, grabbed one and handed it to me, then went back to the table and continued working.

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

For two years I have worked with a client, and she has never once spontaneously initiated a greeting. She would always respond to the greeting by repeating the exact phrase, including her own name instead of the other person’s name. She struggled a lot with attending to her environment and noticing nonverbal cues. This week as I was getting ready to leave for the last time before transitioning the team to another BCBA, I picked up my jacket and keys and she turned to me. Completely on her own, she jumped up, said “Bye Jen,” and gave me a big hug. This was a completely new and untaught skill. Dad and I were both in shock and it was the best possible goodbye I could have gotten.

Jen R.

BCBA, AHSS

A huge joy of mine is not only the expansion of our center services, but also the collaboration that is happening between ABA and SLP therapies at our centers. Coordination of care has happened via consultative emails, incidental “overlaps” while clients are being served, and during team meetings when approaches are explained to parents in a positive and constructive manner. I am so thankful to work in an environment that is so client-centered where professionals can come together to best meet the needs of our families. It takes effort, communication, and ego-check to openly and honestly discuss how best to approach one particular case from sometimes differing points of view. I’m so proud of AHSS for being this environment. Yay Team!

Tracy C.

Manager of Center-based Clinical Operations, AHSS

I have a kiddo who is showing his family, teachers, and AHSS staff some of his newly-discovered vocal skills that includes saying simple things like “Hi” and “Bye” at appropriate times.

Marie W.

Care Team Member, AHSS

The power of a social story priming, forewarning, preparing: We began reviewing a social story with toileting expectations with a client, one week before intense potty training. Previously this client was not willing to sit on the toilet. Day one, intense toilet training, he engaged in play so nicely we were nervous to interrupt the play with the demand to go to the toilet — so the CTM asked him to read his social story to me. He read the title page aloud, stood up, and went straight to the toilet… with no issues sitting on the toilet. This was so great to see!

BCBA, AHSS

With another client of mine, we’ve been working on labeling places in the community and one of our targets was “grocery store.” Well, one day at home with mom, he was upset and she couldn’t figure out what he wanted. Finally he said “grocery store” and went to get his shoes! He wanted to go to the grocery store to get cookies!

Taragene M.

BCBA, AHSS

One child who is being taught interaction skills and is working on asking questions was engaging with the CTM talking about camping and rafting. The child asked the CTM if the rocks were “really sharp” with no prompts!

Tera W.

BCBA, AHSS

We are C’s teachers and we wanted you to know how excited we are to be working with your therapists. Today we saw an immediate connection between C and [another student] J! C joined our circle willingly as he sat with J. We could see that he was paying attention more to what was going on during this large group time. C did not cry or scream when J made suggestions during free play. Transitions were a little smoother. It was amazing to us that J was able to reach C so easily having never even met him. We are really looking forward to the coming weeks and learning more how to best meet C’s needs.

Pauline S.

Client Service Coordinator, AHSS

I started with a client months ago who had deficits in all domains. He literally rocked back and forth (looking away from me) on all fours and made a crying noise the entire assessment. Due to an intense ABA schedule, skilled CTMs, and an intelligent and determined BCBA in Ashley Davis, he is now feeding himself, walking, and communicating using a picture exchange communication system. ABA has opened the world for this child. This is why I love my job and will be working in this field forever. I’m grateful to be on his team!

JenMarie B.

AHSS

I’ve been working with a client for some time now and the mom is very pleased with the progress he has made. He still struggles verbally but with time and hard work, we will make progress in this area as well. While mom is concerned about his verbal communication skills, they have found a way to say “I love you” to each other. She and my client point at their eye, then cross their hearts, and then point at each other. He even says, “Ooooo,” to say, “you!” It melts my heart to see the interaction between the two of them and reaffirms my confidence in him and his abilities! I think I see his mom tear up when this happens as well.

Bethany M.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

Just read this in the session note for my kiddo at Y Care. “During snack when the CTM began conversations with the kids around him E slowly began to enter the conversations. One kid asked E if they could be friends and E said yes! The two of them talked and played at the table for the remaining five minutes of snack!”  I could almost cry! 

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

The Open Doors Ministry strives to make Grace United Methodist Church, Naperville, Illinois, a more accommodating and accepting congregation for children and youth with special needs, as well as their families.

A primary focus of our ministry is to provide “buddies” to accompany special-needs children in Sunday School and youth activities. AHSS provided training to buddies at our church and helped to develop individualized accommodation plans for several students. The AHSS services were excellent. AHSS provided Jessie Carson, a gifted therapist, to work with our buddies, and, in order to better understand our needs and those of other churches, several AHSS staff members attended an educational program sponsored by Grace Church for the surrounding community.

A special thanks to Laura McKee and Kenn Miller who helped to make this arrangement with AHSS possible. We are blessed to know that AHSS is a resource to us as we continue in this important ministry.

Mark and Laurel Fleming (Unsolicited)

Co-Chairs - Open Doors Ministry, Former collaborators

Tonight we had the pleasure of helping out with E while she got a haircut. The stylist came to the house. E was able to sit at the table and tolerated (even seemed to enjoy) her haircut. Not only that but E sat at the table and interacted with me for the better part of her two-hour session. When we started with E she could barely sit and attend for a few minutes. This is a tremendous amount of improvement and I know that it is because of the hard work and dedication of her team and family.

Keep up the fabulous work team! Nights like tonight are why we do what we do!

Kira R.

lead CTM , AHSS

My six year old has done so well in the general education classroom this year, they are discontinuing his behavior plan at his next IEP!

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

Mom was previously unable to take her 7-year-old son for walks due to elopement, lying on the ground, and general noncompliance. About 3 weeks ago we started working on staying together while walking. This past Thursday, mom went for a 1-hour walk with her son during the session and he stayed with her the entire time, remained calm, and followed directions to stop when she told him to stop. Mom reported that she is now able to go for walks with her son on her own, which she is very happy about!!

Theresa M.

Care Team Member, AHSS

I have been with one of my clients for over three years now. When I started working with her, she had an extremely limited food repertoire (goldfish and apple sauce). She would engage in problem behaviors any time a non-preferred food was presented. She is now trying almost everything presented to her at school during snack and lunch…even foods that are non-preferred! Yesterday she ate blueberry yogurt for a snack! She has increased her food repertoire drastically, and we have also been able to generalize this in-home with mom and dad!

Bridgette H.

Program Lead, AHSS

We have a newer kiddo (just started services this year) who’s 4 years old. He sometimes likes to engage in headbutting or rough play without realizing that he might be hurting others. We have been working on having him check in with others to make sure they’re ok and to ask before starting to wrestle. On Memorial Day his parents got a bounce house – such an event would usually result in many meltdowns and physical altercations but not this time! He was in there for HOURS with no issues!!!

Taragene M.

BCBA, AHSS

2/22 – My three year old has successfully used the toilet three times in the past two sessions!  Fingers crossed this continues!

3/30 – He has not mastered potty training yet, but he has used the toilet four more times since then. Prior to that he had only gone twice in the six months we’ve worked with him, so his rate of success has definitely increased!

4/17 – He continues to make slow but steady progress with toileting. However, we are taking a casual approach since he is having some progress without an intensive procedure and the bulk of his hours are at his grandparents’ house. They were not comfortable letting him go without pullups until just this week, and his family has noted that he goes on the toilet a lot more at home where he just wears underwear than when he is in pullups (which makes sense). He is now in underwear-only during therapy hours!

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

We’ve been working on social skills & labeling boy/girl (separately) with a client of mine and so now, at the park, he is walking up to new kids and saying “hi boy! hi girl!” He’s also appropriately playing with kids at the park.

Taragene M.

BCBA, AHSS

I had a new client, age 14, who needed to work on social skills and how to make or maintain friendships. He now independently walks over to friends’ houses and asks them to hang out. He recently got a new iPhone and parents report that he is texting appropriately and using sarcasm with his friends. He even had his first ever group sleepover the other day and stayed up until 2am!

Katie N.

BCBA, AHSS

I have been working with [my client] on appropriate conversation skills. The other day, I had a back-and-forth conversation with him with very little prompting. His conversation skills were right on key, as well as his expressions as to what he was saying and what I was telling him. This was so amazing to see as we have been working so hard on this!

Stacie G.

Care Team Member, AHSS

One client used to have significant meltdowns at the store, so I have been doing parent trainings in Target. Last night I hid in the aisles so the child wouldn’t see me. I observed mom, dad, brother, and client navigate Target with zero issues! She earned a new Lego movie for doing so well in the store and parents were able to purchase what they needed within 30 minutes.

Katie N.

BCBA, AHSS

I have a client with a history of engaging in inappropriate attention-seeking behaviors when he wants to be chased. He will grab something he’s not supposed to have and run away with it while looking over his shoulder, for example. I haven’t formally written a program for this but have been taking the opportunity to teach a more appropriate initiation when it comes up. Two sessions ago he took my letter magnets and threw them all over the house and it took approximately five minutes before he returned them to me and followed my prompt to ask to play tag. The next session he kept bringing his popsicle into the living room so we would chase him and take it away and again took several prompts before he put his popsicle down and requested tag.

Last session he independently told me “I want to play tag!” then ran up to me, touched me, and yelled “Tag, you’re it!”.  He ran away and I immediately chased after him.  This is the first time I have seen him initiate the game verbally and without any inappropriate behavior first!

Aislin B.

Post Supervision Intern, AHSS

I have a 17-year-old client who is learning to become more independent. We have been teaching him how to take the Pace bus to certain locations in the community which includes looking up bus times and routes on the internet, walking to and from the bus stop, getting on the bus and handing the bus driver his card, signaling to the driver to stop at the correct bus stop and looking again when the bus will return to pick him up to go home. We started with the CTM providing prompts to look up bus routes/times and riding the bus with him. He has improved to riding the bus to one or two locations while we follow behind the bus. He is very proud of himself for taking the bus and is making great progress toward his independence!!

Dustin H.

BCBA, AHSS

We had a kiddo that we started with at age three. He wasn’t talking much, had difficulties following directions, and would react emotionally due to communication issues. He has been in the same preschool last year and this year. When he started in the fall this year, the teacher let mom know that he was like a different kiddo! He was advocating for himself in class, using full sentences, and following directions like a pro! We are so proud of all the progress he’s made!

Taragene M.

BCBA, AHSS

A few weeks ago, I observed E in his church group as they visited a nursing home to sing for the residents. When I started working with E two years ago, he struggled to make eye contact, use appropriate social language, and tolerate stimulating environments.

What a difference two years of ABA and parent commitment make! E was leading the group in song and dance, attending to the teacher during the performance, and then went on to individually greet and converse with most of the residents! He has made significant improvements over the past two years and I am eager to see what the next two years brings.


UPDATED Jan 2017: E graduated last June and I recently emailed the parents to check on him. Parents reported that E was doing well in school and continues to amaze them each day. They are very happy with what ABA did for their son and how it helped them grow as parents.

Katie N.

BCBA, AHSS

When I took the job as a Family Support Coordinator, I hoped it would be a way for me to “pay back” all of those who had supported me during the early years after Drew’s diagnosis…

  • I wanted to see progress in this boy so that his dad, tired from a long day of work, didn’t have to drive over an hour to avoid a tantrum.
  • I wanted the lives of parents of children with Autism to be a little easier.
  • I wanted to help kids sleep in their own beds so that mom and dad could get a good night’s sleep.
  • I wanted to see a child participate in a family birthday party so that mom and dad didn’t have to miss it as well.

It’s these little things in our lives that can give us hope.

I am so lucky that over 5 years at Autism Home Support Services, I have seen many, many of these small victories for children and most especially their parents. That’s why I do what I do.

Maryanne Nugent on living & working with autism

Autism Community Consultant, AHSS

DISCLAIMER: In accordance with the BACB’s code of ethics, AHSS does not publish testimonials from current clients. Feedback from AHSS staff is based on their experiences with their clients. Success of individual clients depends on many variables.

**These statements (solicited from AHSS staff) represent a quick snapshot of a moment in time. Each child with autism is unique and on their own journey. Your child’s journey will be different than any other child’s, including those depicted here. If you would like more information on the progress possible for your child, please call 844-AHSS-ABA.

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