When my son was first suspected to have autism spectrum disorder, my family was in shock. I was committed to finding the very best early intervention program for my son and toured many places. I was so thankful that my caseworker recommended that I tour the Early Intervention Program at UCLA. I knew immediately that this program was for my family. It was so comprehensive and also provided an environment where parents were able to share their experiences and support each other.
I have to admit that when it was our first day I was so nervous. I did not know what to expect, and I was very emotional. The special needs world was so new to me, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. We were lucky enough to be assigned to Ms. Belinda's class. She is amazing and welcomed us with open arms. I transitioned my son into the classroom and headed to the observation room where I could watch the class. When I walked into the observation room, I was surrounded by many other loving and supportive parents. The amount of support they gave me during such a fragile time in my life was immeasurable. I keep in touch with the families that I met at this program. Every time I meet with one of these families, I am overwhelmed with emotion because we all shared such an emotional and vulnerable time together.
The program was very structured and encouraged parent participation. Ms. Belinda was an amazing teacher. I learned so much from her in the time my son attended this program. She was compassionate, knowledgeable, and consistent. She set the standard she expected from our kiddos and offered them the consistency they needed to adjust. She did this in the most compassionate way, I was so impressed with her talent. My son grew so much during this program, he learned to sit at a table and eat his food without roaming around. He learned how to sit and attend during circle time and participate when it was his turn. He learned so many wonderful things.
His day was filled with so much fun and structure. His class often went out into the community on walks and visited local stores in the area. He had so much fun in their outside playground and was allowed to run around and get fresh air. They had a PT program built into the class and he had the opportunity to engage in motor activities at school. He was exposed to age-appropriate sensory and academic interventions. I saw my son do things I thought were impossible for him to do. They even offered a swimming program during the day.
The UCLA Early Intervention Program is a very special place. Every family that graduates from the program is so grateful, but also so sad to leave such a warm and supportive environment. Everyone is so supportive and helpful. Dane the director is understanding and compassionate and I felt like I could talk to her about anything. The amount of dedication the staff puts into the program is immeasurable. I will be forever grateful that I choose this program. It has made a lasting impression on my life. I highly recommend it.