The very first time…

Maura Buckley

An autism diagnosis can be devastating, but you can help change the trajectory.

As the mother of two children with autism, I know how confusing and heart-wrenching an autism diagnosis can be. You hear unfamiliar terms like high functioning and low functioning, pervasive developmental disorder, on a spectrum, etc. Yet all you can understand is that you know something is wrong, and you want to do everything you can to make things better for your child.

The very first time I heard the diagnosis was the most terrifying moment of my life. One moment I had a normal, talkative child — and then at age 18 months, his vocabulary disappeared, he stopped making eye contact, and his behavior began to change. He was diagnosed with regressive autism, a type of autism that begins to show signs at around 12-30 months of age. Shortly after when my second son was born, they knew immediately that something wasn’t right. Before long, we had two sons on the autism spectrum.

As a parent, you are faced with never-ending challenges. For me, the worst were tantrums, aggression, and their inability to communicate effectively. On top of that are the constant visits to doctors, emergency rooms, and behavioral professionals — and sometimes, it feels like nothing is helping or will help. And I needed help.

I decided to begin by educating myself, so that I could learn to help my children and better cope with the challenges. I learned about applied behavior analysis (ABA), the importance of positive reinforcement, the educational rights for children, and how I can work with schools and professionals to provide the most appropriate interventions.

Learning about ABA gave me the tools that I needed to teach my children by breaking each task into small steps. And best of all, ABA changed the behavioral trajectory of my children. They made incredible progress, and still are!

Later on, I was fortunate enough to contribute my real-life experiences to help write and develop an online-learning program for parents called Discovering Behavioral Intervention (DBI). I worked with child development experts at UMass Medical School’s Shriver Center to give a parent voice to the essential ABA tools and resources within the program. I know that parents will begin to feel more confident in helping their children once ABA becomes more natural to them, and they will be empowered to advocate for the most appropriate and effective services.

I am honored to help spread the word that DBI is now available for parents. If you are a parent of a child or children with autism, don’t delay! Early and intensive intervention with ABA is key. View a free preview, learn about our access options, and become a DBI family.

Maura Buckley, former Product Manager