Stories of Impact
Hippopotamus. It is a mouthful to say for any seven-year-old, but it is simply amazing for Blaze, who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Several years ago, Blaze’s autism symptoms seemed to start overnight. “One day he disappeared into his own little world,” describes his mom, Sheila. “He just stopped talking.” But with the help of the therapists at Curative, he found his voice again, and many other skills he needs to be a first-grader in a general education class.
Now, as a participant in Curative’s Long-Term Support program, Blaze and his family are part of the Children’s Community Options Program (CCOP), which provides Blaze the opportunity to engage in his community with access to the Milwaukee County Zoo, Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World and The Sensory Club. The passes have been a blessing to the family. “One of the few times I have seen pure joy on Blaze’s face was riding the train at the zoo,” Sheila says. “Another was Superhero Day at Discovery World when Blaze came face-to-face with Spiderman.” The passes also have given Blaze the opportunity to get out of the house and explore his community. It is helping him learn to connect with other children.
“We never saw him relate to others; now at the zoo he will approach another child and give a statistic like ‘The hippopotamus is the second largest land animal on earth," shares Sheila.
Another service they utilize through the CCOP program is AngelSense. “Many kids like Blaze don’t have a sense of concern for their own personal safety,” explains Sheila. “AngelSense is a GPS device that we can program and get alerts if he deviates from his normal routine.” Sheila can follow Blaze on her phone and know he hasn’t wandered away.
Sheila also appreciates how Blaze’s service coordinator makes recommendations she sees working for other families. “The exchange between parents and the coordinator helps you fine-tune what your kiddo needs,” Sheila adds, which is such a blessing considering this is uncharted territory for Blaze’s family, as well as many other families that have children with special needs.