Michele is an author, entrepreneur and the mother of two bright, unique children both diagnosed with autism. Her son is non-verbal and uses devices to communicate: her daughter is verbal and has echolalia. Pre-pandemic, her family’s days were filled with appointments, therapies and long-stretches in the car to arrive at all on time.
When suddenly everything came to a stop in the spring, her family found themselves at home with none of the resources they had been accessing and the full days suddenly had nothing scheduled. Another change, their home, which had always welcomed a “revolving door” of therapists and in a way never felt fully like their home, was quiet, with just the four of them. Emerging from the month-long stay-at-home order Michele said she was thankful for that time as a family.
Once the stay-at-home order was lifted, the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) creatively implemented a one-to-one model, resulting in just one provider visiting each of her children in her home, instead of the variety of different therapists. Each therapist brings not only their own particular therapy, but also style and relationship with each child. Michele saw with the concentrated, single relationship, both her children have made huge gains during the pandemic. Her son’s teacher shared she was “blown away” with the progress he has made.
Additionally, for additional therapies, some of the providers have instituted teletherapy, essentially preserving the important interaction while eliminating hours in the car back and forth. The benefits to her family have been so substantial, Michele is in frequent conversation with SARRC about preserving this one-on-one model even once the pandemic has passed.
Finding the opportunity in the challenge, Michele continues to advocate for her children and for other families.
To learn more about Michele’s organization D.A.M.E.S, visit https://damesusa.com/about-us/