Finding his voice through Judson Center’s Autism Connections
The Mayberry home in Ypsilanti is a busy place, with four children all under six years of age. The boys’ father, Corderril, is taking college courses and their mother, Shatara, manages schedules and keeps the household together.
Jeremiah, the Mayberry’s oldest son, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age three. Shatara had a feeling since Jeremiah was seven months old that he was not developing appropriately, but his official diagnosis was still difficult to hear. At four years old Jeremiah was nonverbal and unable to be potty-trained. He struggled to play with other kids. He would have tantrums and hurt himself in the process, often slamming his head into the wall out of frustration.
Jeremiah was already receiving speech and occupational therapy through a school-based program, but clearly needed more intensive support. Shatara learned of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which is an evidence-based therapy for autism, and began looking for a provider. She eventually found Judson Center’s Autism Connections in Ann Arbor and started getting Jeremiah the help he needed.
Step by step, through ABA therapy, Jeremiah let his destructive behaviors go while learning to embrace new, healthy behaviors. He learned to use a picture board to point and ask for what he needed. Eventually, his points were replaced with simple words, and with practice those words were woven together to form sentences. As a result of his time at Judson Center, Jeremiah’s family saw his caring, loving and fun personality! Not only did he make significant strides with his language development, potty-training, social interactions and play skills, but he also went out of his way to play with his younger siblings, read to them, and serve as a role model for them.
Knowing how important language is in family bonding, the staff at Judson Center made it possible for Shatara to hear her son’s voice for the very first time. Jeremiah’s Behavior Technicians even helped him learn a special message for her and as she tucked him into bed one night he said softly, “Mommy, I love you.” This memory is just one of the many reasons Shatara is so grateful for the caring team of Autism Connections staff: “Judson Center is amazing. Without them I think a lot of kids would go without voices and without being heard. They give so many kids new life.”