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How it all began...
In 2008, Amber and I were blessed with our daughter, Juliet. We knew she was special, but we had no idea just how special. At 4 months of age, Juliet was diagnosed with a very rare medical condition known as Vein of Galen Malformation. She was born with an abnormal vein in her brain, which if left untreated, could result in death. Over the next 2 years, Juliet required brain surgery every 6 weeks and physical therapy at home.
My wife, Amber is a Physician Assistant and her collaboration with Juliet’s doctors and treatment was critical. After lengthy research, Amber identified a new surgical approach that might finally resolve Juliet’s medical condition. We traveled to UCLA and met Dr. Fernando Vinuela, who was one of very few doctors capable of performing this surgery. After 2 more surgical procedures, Dr. Vinuela succeeded in curing Juliet of her medical condition. We were elated to know that Juliet was stabilized and her medical challenges were over. What we did not know was that her journey was just beginning, and that our personal and professional lives would be so closely tied.
In 2011, We enrolled Juliet in the Preschool Disability Program through the Public School System. She was 3-years-old, did not have any language, and she was prescribed a variety of therapies, including speech, occupational, vision, and physical. After 6 months of enrollment in the program, Juliet made little to no discernable progress. During an IEP meeting, we were told that an annual goal of Juliet learning 10 words was “too lofty.” Soon thereafter, we pulled her out of public school and began full-time 1:1 ABA therapy at Reaching Milestones. A few months later, Juliet said her first words.
In 2013, Juliet was diagnosed with autism. We knew she had significant developmental delays, but the diagnosis was confirmation. As parents, accepting the autism diagnosis was very difficult; but we had to focus on the positive. Additional funding and support would be available for Juliet, given her new diagnosis. Our continued inspiration comes from watching Juliet and her friends ascend to new levels of learning, progress, and success. Listening to parents share their children’s success stories is a driving force for growing our centers. Every child should have a learning environment like Reaching Milestones, where they can reach for the stars.