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Never Underestimate Individuals with Autism

The Changing Landscape of Autism

In 1995 the rate of autism was about 1 in 500 individuals. However, in 2021 that number changed to 1 in 44* individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. ABA therapy was not a readily available treatment for autism back in 1995 in Michigan. But it is considered the “gold standard” today for improving language, play and social skills, while reducing negative behaviors in individuals with autism.

Our founder Jamie McGillivary was studying psychology at Eastern Michigan University in 1995. One of her professors saw something in Jamie and encouraged her to work with children with special needs. Shortly after that Jamie met Katie, a bubbly 3-year-old girl in Saline, Michigan. Katie’s mother hired Jamie to work with her daughter to support her communication, play and social skill development.

ABA therapy was not a common course of study back in 1995. However, as soon as Jamie met Katie, she knew the direction she wanted to take her career. They developed a very special bond in those early years that has continued to today. For example, Katie was in Jamie’s wedding 18 years ago, went on vacations with them and is like a member of the family.

Having High Expectations

After living in four other states over the past decade, Katie moved back to Michigan. She worked as an Office Assistant here at Healing Haven from 2019 to 2020. When she was 3 years old, Katie worked so hard to learn to put words together, but now she loves to talk! Katie received a certificate in Office Administration from Nashville State Community College. As a result, she is proficient in Microsoft Excel. She was a whiz at organizing the mountains of files we have here at Healing Haven. Katie was eager to help in any way around the clinics and is also a natural with children.

After years of hard work and support from her mom, Jamie and others, Katie is motivated to share her story to encourage parents of individuals with autism, or any disability. Because she speaks from experience, her words are so meaningful.

“Do not underestimate your child with autism. It’s important to know your child can do anything they can put their mind to,” Katie said. “People should give kids with disabilities a chance. They have a future ahead of them,” she added.

Katie’s Inspiring Message

Katie joined the staff of Healing Haven as an Administrative Assistant in January 2019. One of her dreams is to become a public speaker. She had her debut at the Open House we held in 2019, inspiring guests with her confidence!

To learn more about ABA therapy and how it supports the development of children and teens with autism, visit our What is ABA Therapy page.

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*The original post from 2019 has been updated with 2022 figures