Congratulations to 5-year-old Heath Campbell who graduated in June from CAHS’ ASCEND program and who will attend kindergarten this fall.
“Heath has truly grown under your care. I can never thank you enough for all of your amazing help with everything,” said Heath’s mom, Jennifer.
ASCEND (Accelerated Supports for a Child’s Evolving Neurodevelopment) is an intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program serving children with autism ages 2 to 7. The program prepares young children with autism for school and life by teaching them how to communicate, socialize, play, and learn academically.
Heath was two years old in 2020 when he came to ASCEND. His entry coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social distancing required at that time posed special challenges for Heath, an only child who had limited social opportunities with other children. He had difficulty sharing, taking turns, complying with tasks, tantrums, and he was not potty trained. He also had trouble making verbal requests, and his language was limited to labeling items.
But through the ASCEND program, Heath’s development was remarkable, as he learned deep breathing techniques to deal with frustration, became independent in his adaptive skills, and became fully potty trained. His vocabulary quickly expanded, and by the age of 3, he was reading.
In 2021, to further his socialization, Heath’s mother enrolled him in a small, pre-K class that he attended part time while continuing to attend ASCEND. By then, Heath was engaging with other children in social activities that included board games, verbal exchanges, and gross motor activities. He was able to master the important social skills of sharing, taking turns, and conversing with other children.
“As Heath entered pre-K, I collaborated with his teacher to recommend interventions that would help her address any challenging behaviors, as we had addressed them successfully,” said ASCEND Director Karen Sheridan, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA.
Dr. Sheridan says the dedication of Heath’s family, the collaboration with his pre-K, and his dual enrollment in ASCEND, combined to accelerate his progress that included friends, enjoying birthday parties, and participating in play dates with other kids on weekends.
ASCEND therapist Emma Frederic described Heath as a “sweet, playful child” with a love for vehicles, coloring, and drawing. Heath says his favorite color is “rainbow.” Frederic says Heath is fun to be around and makes the ASCEND staff laugh.
Heath’s last day at ASCEND was a winner for everyone, as he told Emma, “You are the winner! You get to work with me on my last day at Dr. Karen’s ASCEND.” But, we all know that the staff at ASCEND were the ultimate winners in this story, celebrating Heath’s happy and engaging future.
What’s next for Heath? School’s out! And like most kids, he will attend a fun camp this summer and will attend kindergarten this fall. Go get ‘em, Heath!