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Publish Date: 2/20/2005

Sara Lawrence holds her son, Christopher.Photo special to the Times-Call

Connecting with Christopher
Tiny Tim Center helps children, families with special needs

 Our 3-year-old son, Christopher, was diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) a little more than a year ago.

Having a younger brother with autism, I was familiar with the type of disorder and was devastated to learn that my son also had it. We began to suspect something might have been slowing Christopherís development when he was still not speaking much by 21/2 years old.

After his evaluation, Child Find helped us arrange schooling to meet Christopherís developmental needs.

Child Find gave us a list of local special-needs preschools in our area to look into, but it highly recommended Tiny Tim for Christopher.

I asked around, and most everyone I spoke with knew of Tiny Tim and had nothing but great things to say about it. We decided to set up a visit to see what the school was all about.

Teedee Keister, Tiny Timís director, was very helpful, answered all our questions and made us feel at ease at an otherwise scary time in our lives.

After we decided to enroll Christopher in the school, his new teacher came to our home to visit with him in order to make his first day at school less traumatic. I thought this was a wonderful extra step.

When the first day of school came, I was very nervous. I have been blessed with the option to be a stay-at-home mom and to be with my son all the time. I had never really trusted anyone to care for him. That first day was a big step for both Christopher and I, and I cried a lot more than he did. It took only about a week for Christopher to get used to his new routine; after only a few more weeks, we started to notice a difference in him at home.

His sudden outbursts were fewer; he was making new sounds and even making more of an effort to learn new words. His speech and occupational therapists have been making good progress with him and keep us up to date with any changes in his daily activities. Christopher is genuinely happy to go to school, and that is such an exciting thing for us to see. Though Christopher does not talk to communicate, he is more patient when he needs us to do something for him.

Since attending Tiny Tim, he no longer pushes or pulls me while screaming to get something he wants; he now quietly guides me while holding my hand. One of our biggest thrills is that he now makes more frequent eye contact with us.

This really makes me feel like we are connecting more with him. I love that Christopher goes to a school with so many different types of children: some with special needs and some without. I feel he learns from all of the other children, and they learn things about him as well. I think the children without special needs will leave Tiny Tim with a better understanding that we are all different in some ways, yet the same.

I canít say enough good things about Tiny Tim and everything the staff has done for our family. Everyone at the school has been a tremendous comfort to us through a very hard time.

Thanks to Tiny Tim, we continue to hold out hope that Christopherís communication and physical development will keep progressing.

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