Aramis and Brandon are two gentle, sweet brothers who enjoy activities like other typical “tween” boys – playing outside, watching television, or playing video games. But that wasn’t always the case. Behavioral and developmental differences in the boys had parents Rosalva and Apolinar trying to seek assistance and navigate a social services system speaking very little English. They were referred to Boone County Family Resources in 2006 and haven’t looked back.
Aramis, now 11-years-old, first received services through the First Steps program until age three. He was next approved for BCFR’s Early Intensive Behavior Intervention (EIBI) supports to improve attention, social skills, language and communication skills. To address his on-going support needs, Aramis was then referred to the Missouri Autism Waiver program which helped connect him with Easter Seals Midwest for additional behavioral training and in-home personal assistant services from ACT.
“The difference in his behavior is very noticeable,” says Rosalva. “There was a time when he acted out and would hit or throw things. Now, with behavior training, he is a different boy.” Through support from his therapists and personal assistant, he has developed into a more outgoing and friendly boy. Rosalva shares a story about how Aramis, who loves to draw, created hand-made invitations to a birthday party he had planned for himself. He handed them out to the other kids in his classroom unbeknownst to his parents. “We were surprised that he had planned this party without telling us! I had to tell the teacher that we were not really having the party. Instead we had a bar-be-que to celebrate.”
Aramis is in a specialized classroom setting at Rock Bridge Elementary School which, according to his parents, has been a good fit for him. “He likes school,” says Rosalva. He also loves to draw and has participated in the adapted drawing class at Access Arts. “He drew a beautiful picture for the Thompson Center Art for Autism auction, but when he found out he had to give away his art for the cause, he refused to part with his drawing,” says Emily Adams, Aramis and Brandon’s support coordinator at BCFR. “He often draws pictures for me, which I proudly have on display in my office.”
Brandon, now 12-years-old, was referred to BCFR from Parents As Teachers with a learning disorder diagnosis. He receives Home-Based Support Services and has worked with the same caregiver, Frank, for about five years now. “We are grateful for Frank’s relationship with Brandon,” says Rosalva. “They have a special bond. There’s trust there.” Frank and Brandon play several musical instruments together and enjoy doing other activities such as going to movies.
“I love working with this family,” says Emily. “They are very supportive of their sons with their individual service plans and, like most parents, simply want the best for their children.” Emily also provides case coordination for both boys – assisting with coordinating transportation, doctor appointments, etc., which can be challenging for Rosalva due to the language barrier. “Emily is very helpful to our family,” she says.
Other services the boys have received or participated in include therapeutic recreation such as adapted swimming classes, horseback riding at Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center and adapted gymnastics.
Although the support needs are different for each boy, Rosalva and Apolinar agree that their sons have shown positive progress and they are happy with the services the boys receive. At one point in time, Rosalva and Apolinar moved back to their native country, Mexico, but the boys did not have access to the same types of services and supports, so they returned to Columbia. “We are glad to be connected to BCFR and all the opportunities available here,” says Rosalva.