My husband and I were foster parents when we received Mathew from UC Davis. He was 18 months old with traumatic brain injury with partial paralysis on his left side. He wore a helmet for a year because he was missing part of his skull. At that time he could say just a couple of words, was extremely hyperactive, and very destructive. Since he couldn’t communicate he had terrible tantrums.
Those first couple of years were extremely hard. We chose to have no other children because we felt he was a danger.
The schools were no help. They didn’t know how to deal with a child like Mathew. We had to fight for physical therapy and even that was hit or miss. He went to 4 different schools during those first 4 years.
Finally, when Mathew was 5, Genesis Behavior Center (the parent company of FirstPath Autism) came into our lives; not originally to help Mathew, but to teach me. Luckily, someone saw his great needs, and through that person we got an advocate who helped us get Genesis’s services for Mathew. That is when our lives finally started to improve.
Through FirstPath we learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Through ABA techniques, we taught Mathew to eat with utensils. He started learning how to speak. He finally became potty trained at 10. We never thought that would happen.
Mathew is now 14. Because of his severe brain damage, Doctors didn’t think Mathew could say more than a few words; however, he’s now reading 2nd grade level and starting to learn to write. You can even have a full conversation with him.
Most children with his diagnosis don’t survive, but he did. Very few people have ever dealt with a child like Mathew, but FirstPath never gave up on him or us. They worked to find a solution to his problem, brain stormed, and went out of their way to figure it out. They have never given up on him or us; and neither will we.
Mathew still has a long way to go
We have no idea what his potential is, but we have never limited him and neither has FirstPath. They have been with us for every new hurdle and will continue to be part of our lives. We could not have done this without them or their ABA treatment and I thank God for bringing FirstPath into our lives.