At an early age, Mike and Christine Gaffney noticed something was different about their son Max; he was not acting the same as other children his age. His parents began to research Autism and completed an online questionnaire that led them to seek a diagnosis.
“As a parent, you have a lot of hopes and dreams for your children, but once we got the autism diagnosis, everything changed,” said Christine. Max was not answering to his name, making eye contact, or expressing any social communication. When Max was three, he was enrolled into the pilot program at the Providence Boyden Autism Center. Initially, he would walk in to the Center, pick a toy and stay isolated in his own world. However, by the end of the 12-week program Max had made social connections and was initiating invitations for other children to play.
Now, four years later, Max continues to make huge strides. After years of early intervention he is verbal, making new friends, attending school, and playing team sports, all of which were questionable goals a few years back.
“His time at the Autism Center really impacted his life and ours,” shared Christine. “The integrated training for parents was especially helpful.” Therapists equipped both the family and Max with tools they needed to create a foundation from which Max could grow. Another unique asset the program provided was the opportunity for Christine and Mike to interact with other parents and exchange stories, struggles, and build a network of support through shared experiences.
“As a family, we feel strongly that the Autism Center has helped develop a solid foundation for Max,” Christine said. “Max continues to surprise us with his accomplishments and that makes us very proud.”
The active seven-year-old is now a very social little boy who is doing well in school and enjoys learning. His progress is most prominent in his athletic pursuits. “He is very competitive and always knows exactly what the score is,” explained Mike. Max’s ability to actively contribute and connect to a team shows huge progress in his development.
The life-changing work by the Providence Boyden Autism Center would not be possible without the generosity of donors. To date, the Center has received more than $3 million to help sustain the operations of the Center. Since the Autism Center opened its doors in 2014 they have provided early intervention hundreds of children and their families.
“The Autism Center provides the entire family with the vital life skills needed to help our children succeed,” said Christine. “Our family is so grateful for the Center and the donors who have helped make the program a reality for families in our community.”