This is Dallin ... my sunshine, and the youngest of my five children. He loves sharks and marine animals. He has an amazing sense of humor. And, he has autism.

Dallin was diagnosed at three. He spent a year in a special day class through the County Special Education Department, which required an hour-plus bus ride to and from school each day. Eventually, my husband and I realized that the wording of the school's six goals was incomprehensible to us, and that Dallin was not able to do anything other than function in his own world. The school’s lack of focus and appropriate methodology were simply not appropriate for him.
Helping children with autism to learn.
Dallin’s siblings stopped trying to play with him as he would scream when they tried to engage him in games or conversation. It was not fun to be with him, although most of the time he was in the corner looking at shark figures through the corners of his eyes. As a family, we stopped attending large events.

After a year of denial with no clear cut answers from the “experts,” we realized that our family desperately needed help.

I met Dr. Partington at the 2008 Autism One Conference in Chicago, and we arranged to visit his offices. Dallin’s Learner Profile was three days long, five hours each day. The skilled efforts of Dr. Partington and Melissa Brown opened a new world for Dallin, and for me.

In those three days, Dallin learned:

  • That if you pay attention to others you can learn new, exciting things.
  • That it was better to hold his mom's hand than run away into the street, even if, in the beginning, it was only to be rewarded with M&M's.
  • To say “Hi” and “Goodbye.”
  • That he could match items, label things, and climb playground equipment.
  • That he loved puzzles.

And, in those three days, I learned:

  • That although his condition was absolutely not my fault, he and I had both become accustomed to responding in a way that allowed him to withdraw.
  • That when I ask him to do something, I have to be prepared to follow through.
  • That too much talking is just too much noise for him. I needed to simplify my requests.
  • How to ask questions and make requests, and to wait for answers and eye contact.
  • How to organize his toys and use motivators to help him learn.
  • That I needed to slow down, take every small victory as a large victory, be a cheerleader, a short term candy giver (if needed), and patient but firm.

It was hard. Dallin tested our patience many times. We worried and wondered if we would be able to keep him from slipping back into a “lost boy.” Could we do it on our own?

A year has passed since that first visit to Partington Behavior Analysts. Thanks to Dr. Partington and his staff, Dallin is on track for a typical kindergarten class, probably with an aide. In this year, we’ve battled the school district, changed methodologies, schools, and aides, and have written countless letters. Today, Dallin is an entirely different child. With the tools available to us through Partington Behavior Analysts, we have been blessed with glimpses of the real person inside.

Dr. Partington and Melissa have become part of our family. The knowledge they have shared is invaluable, and the skills we have learned are indispensable.

The Stewart Family