The Bredestege Family is your typical family. Kate is a stay-at-home mom. Her husband Chuck works at GE. They lived in the suburbs and have three lovable cats and a dog. They also have 3 boys. Vincent, 13, is your typical teen who enjoys track, football and skating. Then, there is Oliver, 4, and Malcolm, 2.5.
They are your typical busy, little boys...with one slight catch; both Oliver and Malcolm have been diagnosed with autism but the progress they’re making is extraordinary.
Thousands of families are impacted by this diagnosis. The Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center’s website states that “in clinical terms, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological, developmental disorder that can cause social, communication and behavioral challenges. Autism is a spectrum that can touch each child differently.” According to the CDC, the rate of children with ASD is 1 in 59. It is also about 4 times more common in boys than girls.
Autism is not always easy to see. Kate and Chuck noticed some signs in Oliver when he was around 18 months and they took him to a pediatrician that referred them to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “He was not meeting goals, not talking much, he learned some words but then stopped saying them and he wouldn’t pay attention when we called his name,” said Kate.
Testing for autism can take months to determine a formal diagnosis and afterwards, the Bredestege Family pursued additional tests to determine what Oliver’s capabilities were. They began speech therapy as well as occupational therapy and soon they entered an intensive therapy program where they saw a substantial breakthrough.
At Hopebridge, the Diagnostics Team, along with Care and Benefits Coordinators, work together to get families answers about an autism diagnosis faster than other providers – some of which can take up to a year on a waiting list.
When they received their diagnosis and transferred from Children’s to the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Fall 2018, the Bredestege’s saw even more progress in Oliver. “We saw changes in the first week. He was a completely different kid. He went from not being able to speak, screaming, hitting and fighting to ‘I want’ statements. He’s almost potty trained, which at 4 is pretty rare,” said Kate. “He’s a smart kid, uses words, sings songs, says what he wants. We’re hoping that he’ll attend regular school eventually.”
Kim Strunk, Hopebridge’s Chief Clinical Officer, elaborated on their methods and approach to autism therapy. “At Hopebridge, we understand children with special challenges require extraordinary care, and we know it puts a lot of pressure on families. Our extensive team offers a wide range of pediatric outpatient services – all under one roof – to relieve some of the stress and spark optimism. Our centers’ interdisciplinary Hopebridge360™ model covers applied behavior analysis (ABA), occupational, speech and feeding therapies, plus diagnostic services, insurance support and everything in between,” said Strunk, “We design a custom treatment plan for each child and guidance for families that together serve as a road map for a future filled with possibility. Hopebridge is a preferred provider for most major insurance companies and accept Medicaid.”
Hopebridge, which has four locations in Mason, Milford, Edgewood and Forest Park, is celebrating its one year anniversary of serving families in Cincinnati this Thursday. The center has been a great option for the Bredestege Family. “Hopebridge has been incredible and so understanding,” said Kate. “They help Oliver so he can succeed. They’ve been wonderful to our family and a wonderful resource for him. They continue to help him improve.”
The CDC states that siblings have a 2 to 18 percent chance of also developing a form of autism. With Oliver’s little brother, Malcolm, the signs were similar. “He was close to two years old and started playing and doing similar things to Oliver. He was completely nonverbal,” said Kate. Their new pediatrician caught it quickly so Malcolm was referred to a hospital promptly and diagnosed in Nov. 2018. Shortly after his diagnosis, Malcolm was also able to begin therapy at Hopebridge in January.
In such a relatively short amount of time, both Oliver and Malcolm have improved tremendously. “People misunderstand autism as a whole. The whole concept is wrong. Some look at it as debilitating, like they’ll never have friends but they do have social relationships. This process has changed how we interact with them now. Before we didn’t know how to help Oliver because he wanted to communicate but couldn’t. Now, we have the ability to communicate with him,” said Kate.
Kate also mentioned that early intervention is important. Her advice? “It can be overwhelming. You may ask yourself ‘where do I start?’ Start with a family doctor that looks at your concerns seriously. They can help you with referrals. Just put one foot in front of the other. Once you have an actual diagnosis, there are a lot of therapy and services available.”
Interested in learning more? The Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Mason will be hosting a FREE One Year Anniversary party on Thursday, Mar. 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy sensory friendly activities, free tours, drinks, snacks and a chance to learn more about Hopebridge’s therapies and collaborative treatment model. Guests are required to RSVP by calling 513-402-1711.