For many parents of children with special healthcare needs, the hardest times can be the ones before the diagnosis. This was the case for Mindi and her daughter, Chloe. Chloe was an overly active child. She couldn’t relate to other children at daycare, had trouble falling asleep at bedtime and naptime and couldn’t follow rules. Constantly handling Chloe’s active behaviors left Mindi worn out and at a loss for what to do.
“I remember being so physically exhausted,” says Mindi. “There was not one night for the first 10 years of Chloe’s life that I didn’t have to lay down with her at bedtime, sometimes hugging her tightly just to get her to relax and be able to fall asleep.”
Mindi took Chloe to psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and primary physicians and tried many different medication combinations, but it still seemed like there was something missing. Chloe developed friendship issues at school that required immediate attention and Mindi was struggling to figure out what to do next when a friend from work suggested she contact ChildServe.
Chloe was evaluated by one of ChildServe’s clinical child psychologists to find an appropriate diagnosis for Chloe. The evaluation determined that Chloe had Asperger’s, a developmental disorder on the higher-functioning end of the Autism spectrum. For Mindi, the diagnosis helped explain many aspects of Chloe’s behavior – her limited ability to establish relationships, her literal understanding of things and her intense absorption in certain subjects such as dragons and drawing horses. After years of searching for an answer, ChildServe helped Mindi find one.
“I finally had the missing piece. It finally helped all of this make sense,” says Mindi.
Chloe started speech and occupational therapy at ChildServe, where she and Mindi befriended therapists Leslie and Emily. They began working with Chloe on expressing her feelings and understanding relationships. Chloe continues to learn how to make and maintain friendships and consider others’ feelings and actions – things that were impossible for her before therapy.
“Chloe has made the most progress being successful at home and at school. She’s gotten better at expressing her emotions, which is hard for her if she doesn’t really understand them,” said Leslie Rogers, Chloe’s speech therapist of three years. “We’ve come a long way there.”
Chloe, now 13, still receives regular speech therapy from ChildServe. She has improved her skills interacting with others and continues to learn how to process her own emotions. She participates in volleyball and basketball at her school and is a member of the 4-H club. Chloe’s love for horses has never faded. In fact, she now owns her own yearling and belongs to a program that allows her to interact with peers who share her love for horses. The program allows Chloe to ride and care for her own horse.
“I cannot express how ChildServe has changed our lives,” says Mindi. “Chloe hasn’t had a meltdown in I can’t tell you how long. She still has her unique interests, but that’s what makes her beautiful.”
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of more than 4,600 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, acquired injuries, and other special healthcare needs.