The Callier Center: Summer 2019

We don’t really know how we got the phone call, but we did. When Juan received the message that Jacob’s name had come up and there was a spot for him to attend pre-verbal speech classes this summer, we jumped at the opportunity. The Callier Center was our rebound after the heartbreak of ABA Therapy.

The Callier Center is operated by the University of Texas at Dallas system. The Center offers various programs for people of all ages, ranging from 2 year-olds to senior citizens. However, their focus is the same: graduate students are learning their craft under the watchful eye of experienced professors. Their services aren’t free, but they offer reasonable rates which insurance plans can typically cover.

So every Monday through Thursday morning for the last 6 weeks, we made the trek to Inwood Rd. and Interstate Highway-35. It’s in the heart of the medical district. As you approach the Center, you’re met with eclectic groups of people walking on the street or entering medical buildings. Doctors. Surgeons. Families. Students. Homeless people. You see people waiting for public transportation. You see people asking for money. It’s such a different landscape than our suburban neighborhood. It’s become familiar and I think I’ll miss it.

The majority of our time here, I used the 2.5 hours to work on my laptop. I replied to emails families sent me over summer. I scoured Pinterest for recipes to cook at home for dinner. I played on Facebook and got to see everyone’s vacation pictures. I blogged. I talked to other moms who share the highs and lows of parenting children on the spectrum. We gripe about insurance. We share recommendations for doctors and other therapy services. We gripe more about insurance.

The last two weeks have been vastly different because I’ve had to entertain older brother. The waiting room is a little larger than your typical doctor’s office. We bring the i-Pad and I load up on snacks to keep big brother happy. No matter how much I try to convince him that we can’t really play hide-and-seek in here, he still asks. And he still hides. He goes and checks on his brother in the hallway about 12,493 times a morning. I tell him every time not to knock on the glass, he smirks and says ok. We’ve canvassed the building for all the emergency shelter locations because he’s oddly infatuated with all things weather related. He’s used the waiting room to exercise, read, write and ask me a million questions.

The irony of this is that I’d do anything to get my youngest one to speak a word, but I plead for less words sometimes from my middle who talks non-stop.

We had Jacob’s end of semester parent conference yesterday with his clinician and her professor. Jacob mastered 3 out of his 4 goals that were set in our initial conference at the beginning of our program. They raved about his progress and the behaviors they saw that they didn’t expect from a toddler who has had very little structure and therapy intervention. Staying at home with grandma is quite the luxury, and Jacob has benefitted from having his own schedule in his own home on his own time. We joke that he’s like the Sultan of Carrollton because we come home from work and grandma is feeding him grapes on the sofa. Grandma’s do all the things with love.

We have no idea what the fall semester will look like for Jacob. We’d love for him to continue at The Callier Center, but we have to make the logistics work. We’re also launching our oldest to college and helping our middle adjust to a new school in a new school district. All the changes at the same time, it’s our life theme these days. I laugh at how hard we worked at “family planning”. Have the kids 4 years apart — everything will be perfect. And then God said, “just kidding.”

As this comes to an end, we are hopeful for what is on the horizon. We’ve partnered up with a program through Baylor University, Juan and I are attending an Autism conference at UNT later this month, we’re still in line to receive services through a different program at UTD later on in the Fall. We have some in-home parent consultations scheduled for speech and play therapy. We’re also on the waitlist for Easter Seals of North Texas and UNT’s Kristin Farmer Autism Center. We are making plans to go back for an annual visit to see Dr. Jerry Kartzinel in Orlando and are on the waitlist to see Dr. Anju Usman in Chicago.

Thank you to the clinicians at the Callier Center who helped us have such a great experience this summer. We are indebted to you forever.

Signed with love, Kat.

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