As Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, we wanted to highlight the story of Matthew, a three-year-old little boy with the kind of personality that spreads happiness and joy to those lucky enough to meet him.
Before we share Matthew’s beautiful life, here is a little bit of information on autism. Autism is a developmental ailment that involves atypical development and function of the brain. It is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, decreased communication skills, and restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviors. Matthew has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism and he continues to reach for his full potential through hard work and dedication.
Weighing only 4 pounds and 11 ounces at birth, Matthew spent the first 30 days of his life in the NICU. But, he has proven to be a fighter! At ten months old, Matthew was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. About a year after that diagnosis, he lost language skills, but continued to progress in all other areas of development. He also began repetitive behaviors and lost eye contact and socialization. It was shortly after these changes that Matthew was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism.
According to Matthew’s mom, Kristen, “I was lost and without hope until we found out about UCP-OC, where Matthew has been fortunate enough to receive therapies, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy for over a year. During that time, he has flourished, regaining many skills that he lost, and has gained many more. For example, Matthew used to speak many more words before his autism diagnosis, then lost them for a long time, and regained them with the help of his wonderful speech therapist at UCP-OC”.
After many sessions of speech therapy, his speech therapist at UCP-OC enlisted the help of a physical therapist to help Matthew be as independent as possible. Because of this, Matthew now gets to borrow a walker from UCP-OC during his speech therapy and, according to Kristen, Matthew loves it! As Kristen explains, “He would have never had this important experience of trying out a walker that he loved if it were not for the therapists at UCP-OC”.
Since then, Kristen has ordered Matthew the exact same walker to help him get around without having to crawl or using a stroller or wheelchair.
“With Matthew’s complicated global delays and special needs, I have great comfort in knowing that he is receiving the best quality of care and attention I could ever dream of at UCP-OC”, Kristen.
We at UCP-OC are inspired and honored to have the chance to meet children like Matthew and their families. Thanks to your support of UCP-OC, we will be able to serve Matthew on his journey as he continues to reach his full potential!