August is Month of Miracles!  Here at RE/MAX INTEGRA, Midwest, we will feature miracle children from across our region throughout the month. The stories we share represent thousands of children whose lives have been impacted by our local CMN Hospitals and contributions from RE/MAX associates.

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Our first story, Joshua’s story, is from Riley Hospital in Indiana and was written by Joshua’s mother, Laurren:

JoshuasStoryCMNMy son, Joshua, received his diagnosis of autism at the tender age of 2 years old. In retrospect, my husband and I can look back and see that there were red flags present, even when Joshua was an infant. The first thing we noticed was that Joshua was never interested in eye contact or looking at people’s faces. It seemed that he was always looking past or through us. Neither my husband nor I said anything to each other at that point in time, but we couldn’t help but notice it and think about what it may have meant.

Over the months that followed, we slowly started to see the pieces of the puzzle come into focus. We were finally able to start putting the pieces together- bit by bit. Joshua had the benefit of beginning state early intervention services before his first birthday. Through the recommendations of our First Steps therapists and our pediatrician, we were able to get in to see Riley Pediatrician, Dr. Jordan Huskins at the Riley Autism hub.

Navigating through the evaluation and diagnostic system felt isolating and scary. It felt like uncharted waters, even though many had previously made their way through. Somehow we were hearing the statistics of how many children were affected by autism, but we also felt very alone. We are eternally grateful to our team at Riley, who has shown us compassion, empathy, and care. They have gone out of their way to be there for us, answer our questions, guide us to potential resources, and honestly help us in way we have needed. Having access to the early diagnostic and treatment available through Dr. Huskins and the Riley early diagnosis hub have empowered us to learn, research, move forward, and not feel so alone. It has allowed us to access financial, medical, and therapeutic resources for Joshua that we would not have otherwise known about.

Because of Joshua’s early diagnosis at Riley, he has been able to continue receiving medical care, treatment, and appropriate therapy, which has allowed him to blossom into an extraordinary child. He is smart, fun, verbal, and kind. My husband and I are blown away, amazed, and humbled by the progress that Joshua has made through the help of his therapists and medical team at Riley.

Early diagnosis is the first, and most crucial, step in improving the quality of life for children with autism. Children with a late diagnosis are losing out on valuable years of early intervention and treatment. These children may cope with stress and sensory overload in maladaptive ways, and they become more set in the rigidity of their thinking. Without early diagnosis and intervention, it is increasingly difficult to help teach them positive replacement behaviors.

As Riley Hospital works hard on lowering our state’s average age of diagnosis for children through its new early diagnosis hubs across Indiana, it is important to consider this pressing and urgent need, and how you can be a part of the solution. When you are considering what it means to improve the quality of life for children with autism, consider the smile on my son’s face. Take to heart the joy that my husband and I felt when we heard our 3-year-old say “I love you” for the first time. Think about the fierce protection that our daughter asserts over her brother because she wants him to be treated fairly and equally—as a human being. I am praying that by allowing you to have even a small glimpse into our private life, you can start to see what a difference early diagnosis and intervention makes in the lives of real children and families at Riley and across our state.

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