Imagine you had spent years planning a trip to Italy. You dreamed about Italy, looked forward to it every day. You'd read all the info, chosen you places to visit and stay, learned a bit of the language, even taken a few cooking classes to better appreciate the food. You get on the plane, enjoy a perfect, smooth flight, you couldn't be more excited--and then the plane lands and the flight attendant says "Welcome to Holland!" You're confused, you don't know anyone or any of the language or anywhere to stay. You're lost, at least for awhile.
That's a little bit of the feeling parents have when they are suddenly told that their happy new baby isn't what they'd expected, that their future is about to become something for which they had never planned.
Rhoni Golden tells this oft-repeated story in an attempt to explain what it was like when she and her husband were told that their 19-moth-old son, Gray, was autistic. The Golden's connection with the Callier Center had begun shortly before, when Gray had shown difficulty eating solid foods. That connection would prove to be invaluable for the family and Gray, who is now six.
"Early on, we met Jenny McGlothlin at the Center," Rhoni says, "and she was so passionate, so caring. Right then I decided I would only take Gray to clinicians who clearly display their passion for their specialists, and that describes everyone we've encountered through the Callier Center."
McGlothlin, a UT Dallas alumna and Callier Center speech language pathologist, has worked with Gray on understanding concepts and communicating around his speech disorder, most recently using an augmentative communication system that utilizes an iPad, which Gray uses to help get his ideas across.
"I have a wide-ranging opportunity to work with adults and children here," McGlothlin says, "and make a real impact by helping them with communication, which is such a powerful and central aspect of life. I think the Callier Center does an exceptional job of offering services across specialties, and applying those services along a continuity of care strategies."
Beyond all the knowledge and care available to her family, Rhoni Golden appreciates another great strength of the Callier Center: someone to trust.
"Parents of kids with autism or speech problems or learning disabilities spend their time going all over the place looking for information and care," she says. "It's very difficult to know who you can trust. The Callier Center is 100 percent trustworthy--their care and advice is research-based and up-to-date. They enable their clinicians to keep their passion for their specialties and really spend time with patients. When your life turns upside down, when you land in Holland instead of Italy, it's important to have a knowledgeable tour guide."