Coming Full Circle With ACCESS: How One Mom's Intuition and experience Opened Doors for Her Son
Written By Sarah Bemberg
“I don’t have to listen!” my four-year-old Charles says to me with a big grin as he dashes away from me trying to hand him his shoes to put on one morning. While this would normally be a moment for discipline, I can’t help but try to stifle my smile. Even when they aren’t words I love hearing, a five-word sentence from this sweet, silly boy is something I will never take for granted. That sentence, and so many more, have been made possible by the Early Childhood program at ACCESS.
Our family has been big fans of ACCESS for years. I came to learn about ACCESS and the wonderful work of its mission as an employee when I worked on the Development Team from 2014 to 2016. While I was familiar, nothing prepares you for being a parent in need of services for your own child.
When our oldest son Charles was two years old, it started to become clear that he needed extra support. I was grateful that I knew exactly who to call. I will never forget ACCESS Early Childhood Assistant Director Suzanne Carter meeting me outside the front doors when we arrived for Charles’s first evaluation at ACCESS. As a parent, it was overwhelming and scary to realize our child had different needs, and we needed to figure out how to meet them. From day one at ACCESS, I have never doubted that we were in exactly the right place to meet all of Charles’s needs.
Charles had his first speech evaluation in March 2021 and started outpatient speech therapy the next month. We quickly started the process of other evaluations and putting together the pieces for how to best support him. By August 2021, he was enrolled in the Early Childhood program and received speech, occupational, and physical therapy each week. When we received his autism diagnosis from the ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center in October 2021, I was never more grateful that we already had Charles’s team and support system in place. The Early Childhood program is designed to integrate education, therapy, and a language-rich curriculum to create an immersive, early intervention environment.
The growth we have seen in Charles since he started at ACCESS is nothing short of phenomenal. He has gained independence from working on self-care skills in occupational therapy. Physical therapy continues to build his strength and balance. The gains he has made in his social skills, speech, and ability to communicate have changed his world, as well as ours.
Our one-year-old Maggie was born the month after Charles started full-time in the Early Childhood program at ACCESS. A few months later, she joined the ACCESS family in the infant room. We know the foundation that Charles and Maggie are both receiving at ACCESS is giving them the best start we could ask for.
Many different paths bring families to ACCESS. For us, we have come full circle. If your child isn’t meeting milestones, if they look differently or act differently or sound differently - know that ACCESS meets you where you are and helps you find the way forward. This team is filled with educators and therapists that are supporting kids, loving kids, and helping kids (and their families) grow every day. Charles’s journey at ACCESS is far from over, and we are so excited to see what his future holds.