My daughter, Estella, graduates from Fraser this summer. It is a moment that is both exciting and nerve-racking. It is her years at Fraser that prepared her for this moment.
There was a time, two years ago, when I wasn’t sure if she would be ready for kindergarten. Estella had just received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit disorder. We went to Fraser, seeking help and waited while they did evaluations. We weren’t sure what she needed or how to help her, but we were very concerned about her language development.
While we were waiting for those appointments and results, I took advantage of Fraser Fundamentals, a program where families going through the evaluation process meet with Fraser therapists who share information and strategies to use at home.
It was through this program that I met Andrea Nelson, Senior Speech Language Pathologist. Meeting her was the first time I felt like someone besides us understood Estella. It felt amazing. She understood my daughter without having ever met her.
Estella started at Fraser School, Day Treatment and Learn Talk Play in the fall of 2014. For two years we have watched her progress in wonderful ways.
When Estella started Fraser Learn Talk Play ninety percent of her communication was scripted and repetitive. Two years later she has actual conversations. She’s able to express her needs and talk about her emotions. She has lots and lots and lots of words that she uses to connect with her peers.
She can talk to her friends now. I remember going to birthday parties, and I would be in tears watching her. The other kids tried to interact with her, and she just couldn’t.
Now, thanks to Fraser staff, she can. The therapists and staff in the program are great. They understand the kids. They get it. And they love the kids like they are their own.
I can’t say I’m at complete ease about Estella starting kindergarten. It will be a big transition, and transitions are hard for kids like Estella. But most of my fears and concerns are the same as families with typical kids, which speaks to how much Fraser has helped our family and how far they’ve brought Estella.
She’s able to take part in typical classroom interactions, like circle time, working in a group and following directions.
Fraser has been involved with Estella’s IEP and worked with the school district all along the way through regular check-ins with the school district team and giving us updates. Even though we are taking a break this fall from therapy at Fraser, they are making sure she has a smooth and successful transition into kindergarten. Sharing with her school team the tools that help her be part of the group, like her break board and timer. Fraser Learn Talk Play has been with us, right next to us, the whole way.
I don’t think that we can thank Fraser Learn Talk Play enough for everything they’ve done. It is immeasurable. There’s no question in my mind that Estella is where she is today because of the teachers and therapists at Fraser. No question. It’s amazing the impact they had. It’s a great program.