There is a lot to celebrate in the month of April. The weather forecast showcases increasingly warmer days (with the occasional Chicago snow setback), trees begin to sport fresh buds, and sunlight stretches further and further into the evening. April also reminds us to reflect on Autism- more specifically, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)- and all of the amazing individuals with autism who share their talents, joy and love with those around them every day.

This is not to make light of a disorder that is increasingly prevalent. According to Autism Speaks, the CDC determined in 2018 that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). An ASD diagnosis isn’t something to take lightly- children and adults with ASD struggle with a wide range of difficulties that are associated with this diagnosis, including but not limited to:


Those with ASD often struggle to communicate their wants, needs and feelings in a way that others conventionally understand. This can lead to significant levels of frustration and even self-injurious behaviors.

Social interactions

Social situations can be a source of curiosity and delight, fear and anxiety, or apathy and detachment. No matter the feelings that social interactions conjure, understanding the unwritten rules of social interaction and how to navigate communicative exchanges with others can be very difficult for those with ASD. Cues such as facial expressions, body language and tone of voice are social implications that need to be explicitly taught. Thus, individuals with ASD often misunderstand and are misunderstood when it comes to communicating with others.

Sensory challenges

While every single person with ASD is unique in their own right, it can be stated with near certainty that each person experiences some degree of sensory-related difficulty. Difficulties can include being hyper-sensitive to outward sights, sounds, textures and tastes and/or hypo-sensitive to certain stimuli as well, which can lead to self-stimulatory behaviors.

Fact vs. Fiction – Dispelling Myths about ASD

You may have heard it before, but it is absolutely worth repeating: One child with autism is one child with autism. Meaning, every single individual with a diagnosis of ASD – child and adult alike – is unique in their own right. Their diagnosis does not define them. There are a range of diagnoses in this world, and in few others do people make drastic group assumptions, with comments or thoughts about those with ASD such as:

  • They make little to no eye contact
  • They do not show signs of affection
  • They are not interested in making friends
  • They will never function in the “real world”

In reality, these statements are often far from the truth. While it may be difficult for some to join in a group seamlessly, those with ASD want to be loved and accepted as much as anyone else. If their eye contact is limited, it does not mean that they don’t care about others or are incapable of expressing sentiment in their own way. Family meals at public restaurants and grocery shopping trips may be limited to avoid meltdowns and subsequent stares from strangers, but it does not mean that a child will never be able to tolerate these situations, especially with the help of therapy.

Stereotypical beliefs such as these plague society’s perceptions of those with ASD and create a fear-based, knee-jerk reaction to a diagnosis that does not have one-size-fits-all characteristics. They also distort people’s understanding of this condition, and in some instances, can make a parent second guess their gut feelings about their child’s challenges. For instance, a parent may notice that their child highly prefers self-play and often seems “in their own world,” but may think to themselves, “But my child gives me hugs and looks in my eyes- he/she can’t be autistic.” These misperceptions can prevent parents from seeking a diagnosis and from the therapeutic assist that improves their lives and the lives of their children.

There are many myths about ASD that deserve to be expelled. While there is an array of signs and symptoms that help professionals confirm or rule out ASD, no one is defined by a diagnosis.

Every single human being is unique in their own right, and in this newsletter, we would like to feature three special kiddos that help make CTC a better and brighter place. Addie, Joey and Sean all live with ASD and are all vibrant, bright and full of life! Below, their parents comment on what makes them so special. We thank them so much for sharing!


In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we’d like to tell you about our smart, beautiful little girl,
Addie. Unlike her parents, she is a gifted artist and loves to draw, sing and listen to music. Just
like her peers, she is active and enjoys biking, swimming and playing at the park. While she has
her challenges, she takes great pride in overcoming the hurdles that come her way. We are so
proud of her.
Kyle and Dana


Joey is the kindest, sweetest, most imaginative little boy you will ever meet! He loves to make people laugh, and be the center of the attention. He comes up with the silliest phrases. When his foot gets a cramp, he will tell me, “Mommy, my foot is crinkly”; or if something is too hot to eat, “It makes my mouth a volcano”.

When we drive a certain way home, he says that we are driving through the tiger forest. He will tell me that the tigers and lions are chasing us, and I have to speed up! Thankfully, we have made it through the tiger forest safe and sound each time. Joey loved “Jack and the beanstalk”, and for a summer, he would always try and give us our dog, and have us pretend to give him 5 magic beans. He would be so excited when we would give him little rocks in exchange.

At bedtime, he will snuggle up to me on his side, put his head on me, and look at me with his beautiful green eyes, and in the sweetest voice will say, “Mommy I love you”. Whenever I ask him how I look, he always says, “You look beautiful mommy”. He is always so excited when a family member comes home, and will run up to us and give hugs and kisses, and say he missed us.

Joey works so hard each and every day, and makes us so proud. He has an amazing memory, and is able to pick up on certain concepts very quickly. 3 years ago, Joey would exercise extreme caution in stepping down from a curb. Joey now will climb rock walls and other similar things at the park, and get to the top all on his own! He grows and learns more each and every day. We could not have had asked for a better tour guide for this journey. Jeannine G. – Joey’s Mommy


Hello, My name is John Hobin. My 8 year-old son, Sean, who is diagnosed with ASD and ADHD has been at CTC for about 1.5 years now. In the time that Sean has spent here, he has made outstanding progress with his speech and social interaction. I would say these are his strengths currently.

Between Megan and Erin with Speech and OT, Courtney, Amanda and the ABA crew, their dedication to Sean has enabled him to get to this point on his journey.

He now communicates in full sentences more often than not with proper grammar. As far as his social interaction with peers, I could not be more proud of him! He approaches and engages in conversation and play with other kids every opportunity he gets. Just two years ago, Sean would be in a room full of kids and it was like the room was empty and he was alone, which was heartbreaking. This made me often wonder what the future would hold for Sean. Fast forward two years and the future is looking bright for my boy due to his hard work and the tools he is being given to navigate his word on a daily basis! I look forward to see the progress Sean will make in the next two years and every year after. For special kids like ours, the work is never complete. It’s a work in progress. Sean is the hardest working kid I know!

April is also…
Occupational Therapy Month!

To all of our OTs at CTC and beyond, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for your knowledge about sensory disorders and for taking the time to explain them to fellow therapists and parents. Thank you for your patience and diligence. Thank you for making a well constructed and research-based therapy session look like play, Thank you for making therapy FUN!

For a quick feature on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and the work that OTs do, read What You Need to Know About Sensory Processing Disorder and reach out to us at CTC with any questions, comments or concerns. We are always here for you!