At the age of three, Diego, a “strong, healthy, happy little kid” according to his father Jorge, started to change. “He was speaking fluently,” recalls Jorge, “and then all of a sudden, he went quiet.” Diego’s increasing struggles with speech, social skills, and food selectivity prompted his pediatrician to recommend an assessment for autism, which ultimately led to his diagnosis at age four. Jorge and his wife, Lulu, found St. David’s Center’s speech, occupational and feeding therapies, autism treatment, and a low-ratio classroom – all tailored to Diego’s needs and coordinated for the best possible outcome. And for Diego, now a kindergartner, the progress has been transformational. Lulu remembers how she used to ask Diego’s therapist Kaitlin, “Do you think my son is going to speak one day?” Today, not only does Diego speak, he now engages with his family and peers without prompting. “For us,” affirms Jorge, “St. David’s Center has been a life changer.”
When Asher turned two, parents Joel and Shannon noticed he wasn’t reaching typical milestones, observing that “what he could process was not even close to the rest of the kids around his age or even younger.” They began in-home services through their school district, which led to Asher’s autism diagnosis, as well as a referral to St. David’s Center where he enrolled in outpatient therapy and autism day treatment. Just as Asher has built many skills that enable him to be successful, Joel and Shannon also found themselves on the receiving end of an “unbelievable source of knowledge and resources.” Now six, Asher’s weekly schedule incorporates his distance learning kindergarten class, as well as our autism day treatment program and telehealth feeding therapy. His parents can’t imagine a better fit for their “silly, sweet, affectionate” son. At St. David’s Center, says Shannon, “there is a rare focus on the kids as humans who deserve empathy and respect. We feel so blessed to have St. David’s in our life.”
Chad enrolled in our therapeutic recreation program 20 years ago at the age of eight. He is diagnosed with Autism and Down Syndrome and needs support to socialize with peers, to safely be in the community and go to activities he enjoys, and to try new things. Now more than ever, Chad’s mom Marsha is grateful for St. David’s Center, sharing “St. David’s once again saved our day! We participate in Home Adventure two times a week. I have to put aside the vanity of not having a clean house because as a single parent, I can’t do it all. Chad is so excited when he knows Abby is coming. He will giggle for hours the night before she comes. While she is here, they play games, do artwork, and I hear lots of communication. I am grateful for this program and for St. David’s always finding a way to help our kids!”
Because we kept our Early Childhood Education program open and prioritized care for essential workers, the Kim family has been able to continue to work and ensure their children get the highest quality early education. “St. David’s Center has provided my children with a safe environment to learn, grow, and be socially and emotionally connected to others. I am eternally grateful for all the hard work being done by teachers and staff. Having a happy, involved, curious, social daughter come home with bright smiles and stories of her school day is all that I could ask and hope for,” says Jessica Kim.