Owen’s Story


Anna was concerned. Her son Owen, who was nearly one year old, was spending a lot of time rocking back and forth, not pulling to stand, and not responding when she called his name.

“I didn’t understand what was wrong with my son,” she said.  

Although a doctor encouraged her to “wait and see,” Anna knew she needed to get help for her son and made a referral to get him evaluated on her own. Owen qualified for early support services and was enrolled in CTC’s Early Supports for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program at 13 months of age. He began receiving support for motor, feeding, regulation, cognition, and communication. At 16 months he was evaluated for autism and was diagnosed with a global developmental delay.  

“The doctor was not in a rush to label him, which I appreciated. He wanted to give it time and see how Owen progressed for a few months. I didn’t know much at all about autism then, and I was worried how being different would affect him and how others might treat him.” 

It wasn’t until Owen was closer to two years old that he was re-evaluated and the autism diagnosis was confirmed.  

“Owen’s feeding therapist, Christina, and his special education teacher, Shama, came with us to the evaluation. It was so comforting to know I wasn’t alone!” says Anna.   

Owen continued receiving therapy at home and was enrolled in CTC’s specialized playgroup program. With continuous support from providers and a family willing to accept and encourage their child, Owen began to thrive and excel at his goals. 

“Owen is an amazing kid and he’s very smart,” says Shama. “He can count to 30 and knows his colors and shapes. He also has a special interest in cars, trucks, and buses and gives them his full attention whenever he sees one! He has learned to have conversations and to share how he is feeling. He has a great personality!”   

Owen was initially reluctant to participate in his CTC playgroup, but he gradually became more accustomed to the routine and began leading some of the activities. One time, when participation was challenging for him, he was given a toy tractor to ride while the other kids marched around the room. “This was such an easy accommodation to make for a child, and the tractor made all the difference for Owen. He was able to participate in the group in a way that was most comfortable for him. Lately he has even started initiating play with other children in his group. I think he’s more comfortable because we’re learning ways to modify the classroom expectations to meet his needs.”  

Transitioning from one activity to another is another challenge for Owen, but it’s made easier with the help of transition objects. When moving from one room to another at playgroup, for example, he’s given a coin that he can put in a piggy bank once he arrives at the new location. He is always excited to find “Mr. Piggy,” allowing for a smooth transition. Anna has used the same strategy at home, giving Owen a toy car to help ease the transition from meal time to bed time.   

Understanding what helps Owen has been crucial for Anna.   

Autism education has been so important for me. Without it, I would have tried to stop Owen from rocking back and forth instead of accepting that it is a comforting action for him, just like swinging is. When he’s upset, he needs to rock and swing. I would not have known or understood any of this without education.”  

“There is so much we are all learning about autism,” Shama says, “and it’s important to share that information so that everyone better understands and respects neurodiversity.”   

Owen has made so much progress and he’s ready to start developmental preschool. “He’s going to do great,” says Anna. “My only worry is that he’ll enjoy the school bus so much we won’t want to get off!”