2 young girls in classroom looking at ebook together

Client Success Stories: Learning and Growing with Autism

April is Autism Acceptance Month. Daryn Ofczarzak, BridgingApps Speech Language Pathologist, shares the stories of two youngsters meeting autism challenges with help from ESGH. 


teen girl looking down at ipad

Juliet is 13 years old and has cerebral palsy, autism, and visual impairments. When her mom contacted BridgingApps looking for help, Juliet hadn’t had access to an assistive communication system in six years. Also, the family lives in Baytown, and couldn’t find a local therapy clinic that met Juliet’s needs.

After talking to BridgingApps, Juliet’s mom decided to enroll her at the ESGH Children’s Therapy Clinic, with a focus on communication devices and family training. Juliet has been getting physical, occupation, and speech therapy at our clinic for almost six months now, and is making great progress. Through the Assistive Technology lab, Juliet has been able to try several different communication devices and access methods. We have now found a great device for Juliet, and are just waiting for insurance to approve the funding request.

Meanwhile, Juliet is practicing her social skills, and getting comfortable around new people, in our sensory gym. She is learning to get both her hands working together on tasks like pulling and getting herself dressed. She also has new leg braces, which enable her to walk longer distances, shift her weight while walking and getting dressed, and ride a bike (her favorite part of coming to therapy).

“We drive all the way from Baytown to Houston for therapy, once a week,” says Juliet’s mom. “It’s more than worth the trip. We have seen a major difference in Juliet since she has started at Easter Seals: she’s more vocal, more mobile, and eager to learn. Her personality has started to flourish, and we couldn’t be more thankful.

“We are so happy and proud of Juliet. Since birth she has faced unfair odds—and she has overcome every single one of them. She is truly our biggest inspiration to never give up.”


Josiah, now six years old, was diagnosed with autism almost three years ago. His journey began at ESGH’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program, where he received therapy for developmental delays. He soon transitioned into the Children’s Therapy Clinic for speech and occupational therapy; and he is currently waiting for a formal autism assessment from a developmental pediatrician.

Through his time with us, Josiah has steadily gained skills: his speech is now more easily understood, his sentences are longer and more complete, and he is better able to self-regulate in familiar settings. Practicing social skills at the clinic, with his peers, gave him confidence to use those skills at school and in the community. He has already graduated from both speech and occupational therapy.

However, maintaining executive-function skills outside of the home and clinic is still tough. Since starting school, Josiah has endured the anxiety of change several times:

  • His first teacher left the school, and he had to adjust to a new teacher.
  • He finished his first school year, and had to adjust to a summer routine.
  • After he had settled into the summer routine, school started again—with another new teacher, and a new class full of new peers.

Such major adjustments overwhelm Josiah’s ability to use the strategies he has learned in speech and occupational therapy. Sometimes, he is unable to speak clearly enough to tell teachers or caregivers that he needs a break, or is hungry, or needs to use the restroom.

His former speech therapist has now submitted an insurance request to get Josiah an assistive communication device, like the one he used during his last six months in speech therapy. With such assistive technology, hard days aren’t so hard because Josiah can use the device to answer questions, ask for help, and tell how he is feeling. He also says that when he uses the device, other people don’t “talk so much” or keep asking questions when he’s not ready to answer.

Until he gets his own device, Josiah has borrowed an iPad from the BridgingApps assistive technology lab; and he’s now doing much better in school, and having an easier time letting people know what he needs.

Josiah’s mom is a huge factor in his success. She’s followed every strategy agreed upon with the occupational and speech therapists, and has created a safe place at home to meet Josiah’s sensory needs.

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