Even in photos, 4-year-old Hobie lights up a room. His dad, Saul, describes him as “fun-loving, easy-going and charismatic.” Since beginning ChildServe’s Autism program, Hobie has made big strides in his communication skills, his ability to focus without frustration and his willingness to eat different foods – all areas that were major hurdles for him just a few years ago.
Hobie was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. Like many other families living in rural Iowa, his family quickly realized it would be a challenge to access all the care he needs.
“The hospital provided us with a list of providers in Iowa, and ChildServe was at the top of that list,” said Saul. “They also provided us with a list of recommended services, including speech therapy and applied behavior analysis (ABA), that would set Hobie up for success in the future.”
ABA is a science that seeks to understand how learning occurs. ChildServe ABA identifies the best approach to teach children new skills like communication, engaging with others, learning independently and other skills that help them be successful at home, school or in the community. At the time of Hobie’s diagnosis, the Autism program at ChildServe in Ames (the closest location to the family’s home) did not offer ABA. Wanting their son to have all of the care he needed, Hobie’s parents were faced with a challenging decision.
“We were considering trying to transport Hobie to ChildServe’s Johnston location – which is over an hour away from us,” said Saul. “We also considered trying to move him to another program that was closer but wasn’t our first choice of provider. Fortunately for us, ChildServe was able to bring ABA services to the Story County area, allowing our family to maintain our schedule while Hobie receives all of the care he needs.”
In 2020, ChildServe was able to secure the space and staff to begin providing ABA in Ames. By bringing ABA to Ames, ChildServe has been able to make comprehensive autism care available to more families in Iowa.
“The fact that we are able to get services locally as opposed to transporting Hobie an hour both ways, five days a week is incredibly helpful for our family,” said Saul. “The team at ChildServe maintains an open line of communication – not only with our family but with the staff at his preschool in northern Story County. Hobie has a whole team who are on the same page and are pulling in the same direction to help him achieve his goals.”
Thanks to his family, teachers and his team at ChildServe, Hobie has made big strides in his goals since beginning ChildServe’s Autism program in 2020.
“Hobie’s communication has improved, and he now regularly uses three-to-four-word phrases,” said Saul. “Recently, he sang an entire verse of a nursery rhyme, independently and without prompting. Up to that point, he had mostly been using singular words to communicate. Stringing together several words in a song was a significant mark of progress. We are excited for his growth, and relieved that he has overcome a barrier!”
As the family looks to the future, Hobie’s opportunities to grow will continue to expand as he builds on the skills he’s developed at ChildServe.
“As Hobie continues his education, we’re excited for him to demonstrate his progress in maintaining focus and early reading skills. ChildServe encompasses all the experience, safety, compassion and therapy necessary for a child like Hobie to have the opportunity to thrive.”
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of nearly 5,800 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.