BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Easterseals is celebrating a century of serving Central Illinois families and helping more kids feel included in their everyday lives. However, for a 9-year-old girl by the name of Avah Waldschmidt, feeling included has been a long journey.
“Avah is a Fourth Grader at Colene Hoose Elementary, and she has autism,” said Abby Bickers, Avah’s Mom.
Six years ago, Avah was diagnosed by Easterseals as being on the spectrum. Abby says for years it was hard for her to talk to her daughter.
“There just wasn’t a lot of communication, verbal and non-verbal,” said Abby.
Searching for a future where her daughter could feel included, Abby decided to seek help from Easterseals, but what she got was much more than she expected.
“She has done a complete 360,” said Abby. “She is a completely different child. Her first couple sessions she didn’t really want to interact with her therapist, but as she got more comfortable, she started meeting milestones.”
One of those milestones was being able to use utensils on her own.
Avah can now write, use scissors and an IPad (when necessary) to communicate. Beyond that Abby says her confidence has skyrocketed, which has given her the ability to spend some sweet time with her mom.
“It’s really exciting that we can go to ice cream places and get ice cream for the first time,” said Abby. “It’s nice to see her be able to use that spoon.”
Abby says she doesn’t know where Avah would be without all of the help from the people at Easterseals.
Easterseals is holding a gala later this year to celebrate its 100 years of service. It will be held at the Peoria Civic Center on November 1.