Daring to Dream
Sean Ebraemi seemed to be progressing normally at 18 months, reaching his developmental milestones. But by the time he was two, worrying signs began to emerge. Most alarmingly, he began to deliberately bang his head into things. When he was diagnosed with autism, his parents had to adjust their lives and expectations.
Even before Sean was diagnosed with autism, his parents Fawad and Fareshta were deeply concerned. “When he was a year and a half old, he was saying some words,” says his father. “Then after age two, he stopped.” His mother adds, “He lined up toy cars obsessively.”
After multiple assessments, Sean was diagnosed at 2½ and referred to ErinoakKids. Before starting autism services at ErinoakKids, life was stressful for the Ebraemi family. Fawad says, “He would run and bang his head into the wall. It was frustration – he wouldn’t know how to ask for things.”
At night, Sean would wake up crying. “We would finally put him in the car at two in the morning to drive him around until he fell asleep,” recalls Fawad. “We had two years of doing that pretty much every night.”
As they waited for service at ErinoakKids to start, they paid for private Applied Behaviour Analysis-based (ABA) therapy, which helps children with autism develop communication and social skills and address behaviours that interfere with functioning. Sean learned to point at things which caught his attention. But the high financial cost limited the amount of therapy Sean could receive.
In 2012, at age five, Sean began Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy at ErinoakKids. IBI uses intensive and comprehensive strategies based on ABA. Therapy is always done collaboratively with families, because we share the same dreams: to see their child meet goals and make progress. It didn’t take long for Sean to make progress.
“Before, he had no words. He was running around banging his head, crying for hours, and he wouldn’t wear clothes,” Fawad says. “Now, at age 7, here he is playing with his iPad, watching his videos, and creating things with Lego.”
Sean’s progress lets the Ebraemis dare to dream.
“I want him to be more verbal,” his mom says. “I want him to stand up for himself and fit in with society.”
As Sean interacts with his instructor therapist Anne Jordan, she asks which activity he wants next. He can choose to answer using a speaking app on his iPhone, but instead answers in his own voice: “Bubbles!”
That word is the sound of a parent’s dream realized – the first of many.