Written by Ashley Findley
I will never forget Walkers 12-month checkup. His pediatrician started the appointment by asking about Walker’s milestones. She asked if he pointed, clapped, or waved, and my answer to each was no. It was at that moment that I knew that something was wrong. The pediatrician sent us to Early Child Intervention (ECI). ECI said that Walker was fine and that they would send us a questionnaire to check up on him in a few months.
When we went back for our 15- month checkup, the pediatrician asked me about Walker’s language imitation. He was not even saying “Mama” or “Dada.” Around the same time, we received the ECI questionnaire. After filling it out, Walker received a 0 in almost every category except for motor skills.
By this time my husband and I had researched Autism Spectrum Disorder enough to understand that Walker needed to be evaluated by a developmental pediatrician as soon as possible. After finding a pediatrician in Coppell, TX, who diagnosed Walker with autism, we were referred to a few organizations including the Brent Woodall Foundation for Exceptional Children.
We were living in East Texas at the time we received referrals to therapeutic centers. We were about three and a half hours away from the Brent Woodall Foundation (BWF). Wanting the best for Walker, we decided to make an appointment to meet with the BWF staff. We would figure out how to make it work. After our Family FIRST meeting, we knew the BWF was the right place for Walker to help him reach his greatest potential.
Until my husband’s work contract was up, every week for six months, Walker and I drove from East Texas to Irving for Walker to receive Applied Behavior Analysis therapy at the BWF. We stayed with family in Fort Worth and only saw Walker’s dad on weekends. This was the best decision we could have ever made for Walker’s future. When my husband was able to transfer to Fort Worth, we were able to be a family again and Walker continued with four days a week at the BW. In November 2012, Walker started saying “Mama” and “Dada.” He continued to gain a few single words until May 2013. All of a sudden Walker started talking and communicating with everyone and by his third birthday, he was using sentences.
I give all of the credit for this to Walker and the BWF. Without them I would not have the amazing, bright, talkative little boy that I have now. Walker is completely verbal and can communicate with the world around him just like any typical child. Every time I look at him and hear him speak, I think about how far he has come and I want to shout from the roof tops that Tracy and her team at the BWF did this! They have changed Walker’s life forever by finding a way to open his mind and get him to start reaching his potential.
I want to thank Tracy for dedicating her life to helping children with autism every day. Many people say they want to change the world and make a difference in the lives of others, but Tracy is one of the few people who actually does it every day.