“Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?”

“I see two friends reading about me.”

Seeing a child fall in love with reading is an amazing thing. For children on the Autism Spectrum, the excitement of new milestones rates on a whole new level. It’s hard to imagine a child at the age of three or four who can’t tell you, “I love you” or “I want a cup of juice,” but this is a reality for many families with children on the autism spectrum.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), sometimes referred to simply as autism, is a complex developmental disorder that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The disorder is often characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and/or repetitive behaviors observed in a particular child.

James was referred to Canopy’s early intervention autism program after being diagnosed in 2015 with autism spectrum disorder at the age of two. He was a loving and social child who showed affection, but was completely non-verbal. Not being able to communicate his needs was extremely frustrating to James and his family. He couldn’t verbalize single word phrases like “cup” or communicate with hand motions to indicate his needs. James began intensive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy through Canopy and his family was amazed at the improvements they saw within a few short months.

brown-bearIn March 2017, James and Michael, a friend from the clinic, sat together reading Eric Carle’s book Brown Bear Brown Bear. Not only were the boys reading, but they were working cooperatively with one another to complete the book. One of James’ therapists captured the interaction on video to share with the parents.

That evening, James came home and told his mom and dad about his “play date” at the clinic. His mom just looked in admiration at the transformation that had happened before her eyes thanks to the dedication of his therapists. In that moment, just as in many moments before, her heart was filled with gratitude and hope.

That night, when James’ mom laid down to go to sleep, she cried happy tears to the sound of Brown Bear Brown Bear playing through her head.

Today 1 in 68 children, and 1 in 42 boys, are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. James’ story does well to remind us that autism does not define a child, but merely gives them greater triumph with each milestone.

Canopy Children’s Solutions is Mississippi’s most comprehensive provider of children’s behavioral health, educational and social service solutions. Canopy is a premier provider of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General as the most effective form of therapy to help children on the autism spectrum gain cognitive and developmental skills including speech, fine and gross motor skills, social skills and sensory coping skills.

Click here to learn more about Autism Solutions through Canopy Children’s Solutions.