Eleven years ago, Nadia and her twin brother, Malcolm, came into this world nine weeks early. At age one, Nadia wasn’t yet walking, so she was referred to St. Francis Children’s Center (SFCC) while being evaluated for Milwaukee County’s Birth to Three Program. After she was determined to be eligible for services, she started physical therapy and additional early intervention services with her SFCC team to help shape her development.

As Nadia turned three and began the transition out of the Birth to Three Program, she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She received services and support through her school and, with the right support and guidance, Nadia’s parents were able to get her started on Milwaukee County’s Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) Waiver Program at SFCC. CLTS is a home and community-based service Waiver that provides Medicaid funding for children who have substantial limitations in their daily activities and need support to remain in their home or community. Eventually, Nadia began ABA therapy, which is explained by Autism Speaks as “the use of techniques and principles” such as positive reinforcement, “to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.” Although she has always been a friendly girl, before therapy, Nadia wouldn’t make eye contact with those around her and had very limited verbal communication. Today, her language has taken off! She speaks in complete sentences, initiates and maintains conversations with others, responds to her name and can answer basic safety questions. Plus, her eye contact has improved tremendously. She’s in school and doing a phenomenal job! Nadia’s twin, Malcolm, is also on the autism spectrum. However, his needs aren’t as significant as Nadia’s, so he has always been able to do many things on his own. After receiving speech and language services at SFCC through the Milwaukee County Birth to Three program, Malcolm’s mother jokes that, “He won’t stop talking!” Like his sister, Malcolm is interested in music and the arts and tells others that he is going to be a rock star when he grows up.

Nadia and Malcolm’s mother has many great things to say about the services they received from St. Francis Children’s Center, but she is especially happy to see how much Nadia has improved over the years. Not only did she learn to walk and talk, but now, like her brother, Nadia is able to do things more independently.Eleven years ago, the future was very unclear for these
two preemies. But today, their parents feel that the sky’s the limit for Nadia and Malcolm. Like all parents, they are hopeful that their children will be able to achieve whatever they set their minds to…including receiving high school diplomas, living on their own, maintaining jobs, being a part of the community, and yes, perhaps even becoming rock stars!

Written by Kendra Carter, published in 2017. 

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