The Story of Why We Established Magnify Autism

As Told by Johanna Escobar 

How It All Began

Our son was on his way to reaching all his physical milestones on time. Amazon would alert me as to which achievements I should be seeing and when, but as he got closer to turning one, I noticed that the social milestones were not being met.

I didn’t see the joint attention, finger pointing, or waving goodbye, so I began to panic. Late at night, I would take online quizzes on Autism Speaks and my son would score at the 90% risk of having the disorder. I would cry at night, not sharing the news with my husband because I didn’t want it to be real.

I googled everything there was to know about autism and a lot of what I found scared me. When speaking to my pediatrician, he would tell me not to worry and give it time. According to him, milestones are sometimes met a little later, which is usually the case for boys.

I listened to him and prayed every week that my son would begin to speak, point at something, wave goodbye, or have joint attention with me. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

Searching for a Remedy

Prior to my son’s 18th-month checkup, his pediatrician sent two questioners to fill out. One of them was Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT), the toddler pre-screening for autism. I answered no to all except one question, and I lost it.

I called my pediatrician and told him that I was worried, that I needed to do something. He then gave me a phone number for our area’s local Early Intervention program. I called them right away and began the process of having my son evaluated.

Two therapists came to the house to evaluate him. As they worked, my husband and I held our breaths. They told us he had a developmental delay but didn’t think he had autism so we shouldn’t worry. At that moment, we were relieved.

They also suggested speech, occupational therapy, and special instruction, each at two times per week. It was the job of our case manager to make sure these services were in place within 30 days.

Our Bad Experience

The 30 days came and went, and we were finally able to get a special educator. Speech therapists were hard to find, but a lady did come to give my son occupational therapy. However, she only sat on the floor, barely moved, and called him buddy the whole time—which was not my son’s name.

The special educator rescheduled a million times and always canceled last minute. When I complained about this, her boss told me special educators were allowed to have 10 sick days in a year. In 60 days, the educator-only saw my son a total of 5 times when he was supposed to see him 6 times a week. Unbelievable!

My husband and I weren’t happy with neither the provided services nor its quality. We also began to notice that our son was playing in repetitive patterns. He would take long objects and watch them disappear around corners and do this for hours.

We contacted a place called the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB). They work with children with autism and can diagnosis your kid. After having my son evaluated, we were told that he was on the spectrum. They also said they did work with Early Intervention but had no slot for him until the upcoming weeks. However, we were now able to get Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy from the state at no cost.

Again, we were provided with therapists that would cancel, show up late, or not do much when they go to the house. My husband and I were also desperate for a speech therapist since our son wasn’t speaking but still didn’t 90 days later.

Luckily, he began a toddler development group where he was given speech therapy. While there, I discovered that there were private speech therapists that worked with prompting children with speech delays. We looked into it and shortly began paying for private speech therapy sessions.

A couple of weeks later, my son’s ABA therapists still weren’t showing up on time, calling last minute, and doing nothing when they were at the house. We found a private group of therapists that provided ABA therapy and OT.

As a result, we quickly began paying for private therapy and eliminated all of everything that was provided by Early Intervention. We came to this choice because we could no longer count on the state-funded program where the employees were extremely unreliable. Paying for private therapy proved to be worth the money and our son now continues to make progress every week.