Damar offering free autism screenings this weekend in Avon

AVON, Ind- To recognize Autism Awareness Month, Damar is offering free autism screenings at their new location in Avon.

For one mother, an early screening made a huge difference in the lives of her children.

As a child develops, parents pay close attention to every inch of progress.Wwhen things weren’t going as planned for twins Trae and KJ, their mother Beth Wilson noticed.

“We knew that there was something different, although we didn’t want to believe that,” Wilson said.

Around their first birthday, Wilson saw both boys regress in their language and behavior. Instead of talking, there was screaming and tantrums. She soon learned her boys had autism.

“Honestly it was kind of sad for us," Wilson said. "Whenever you have kids you think 'oh my kids are going to be…' you know, you have aspirations for your kids.”

Wilson didn’t want those aspirations to disappear, so she brought them in for applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy at Damar.

“Once we came here, it didn't take long to notice the difference,” Wilson said.

“The sooner treatment can begin, the less challenge that child is going to have throughout their lifespan,” said Kristin McCoy, the Director of ABA Services at Damar.

She sees children as young as two, and as old as 17.

“If a child has some behavior problems, if we’re able to address that before it becomes a habit and before it becomes a pattern, it’s going to be a lot easier for a child to change that unwanted behavior,” McCoy said.

For parents, any development is huge and McCoy is there to experience it all.

“To be able to witness a mom hearing their child say 'I love you' for the first time… I can never talk about it without getting teary eyed, because it’s just so special,” McCoy said.

As Trae searches for his brother in a game of hide and seek, his improvement shows the importance of an early diagnosis.

“If they’re diagnosed with autism today, that's not a terrible thing," McCoy said.  "It just means they’re going to need some extra love and extra care throughout their lifespan.”

This Saturday, Damar will be holding a free autism screening at their new location in Avon from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. A screening does not provide a full diagnosis, just a recommendation on what steps to take next.

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