My ESA Story: The Gooden Family

Spartanburg, SC

“My son, Jaylen Murray, began the Hope Reach program in Woodruff, South Carolina with the Project Hope Foundation in October of 2013 before his 2nd birthday in November when he was first diagnosed with severe autism and delayed speech. Jaylen was only saying about 10 words, drooling and unable to control his salvia at times, very quiet, staring at ceiling fans for long periods of time, not playing with other children, had tantrums and meltdowns at times, and not making eye contact with people when he began at Hope Reach.

“Hope Reach embraced Jaylen diligently, supportively, and whole-heartedly by providing competent, comprehensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy Services to Jaylen in our home with a team approach consisting of a supervisor, team leader, and primary ABA therapist along with providing my mother and myself with parent training. Hope Reach implemented several programs that targeted his behaviors throughout the years that he was at Hope Reach in Woodruff.

“Over the course of his preschool and kindergarten years, the programs that Hope Reach implemented helped Jaylen to stop drooling, control his saliva, increase his vocabulary, improve his speech, make direct eye contact with people, participate in peer play and imaginative play with other children, and significantly decrease his tantrums and meltdowns. Jaylen began to progress so well that Hope Reach was later able to incorporate some clinic days along with home days in his program until Jaylen was able to manage/handle being at the Woodruff clinic for all 5 days on Monday thru Friday.

“Additionally, Hope Reach assisted Jaylen by implementing a transition bag that encompassed toys, items of interests, and comfort to facilitate Jaylen during periods of breaks in routine and transitions such as new therapists being added to his team or changes in the days and times of ABA therapy sessions throughout the years. When Jaylen was about 6 years old, he was diagnosed with ADHD. And Hope immediately implemented programs and teaching strategies that helped him to better learn and cope with his ADHD as well as his autism symptoms and behaviors.

“Once the Spartanburg Bridging the Gap (BTG) clinic of the Project Hope Foundation opened up about 2 and a half years ago, Hope Reach assisted Jaylen with smoothly transitioning into the BTG program with more of an academic focus that is similar to what you receive in a regular public school setting while still meeting the needs of its clients with autism with small class sizes and well-trained ABA therapists. Hope Reach ensured that Jaylen continued to receive all of the encouragement and ABA therapy support that he needed to progress and flourish at his new school. Jaylen began to add numbers, write out sight words, spell his full name, and read and listen to books with the implementation of this new academic program with ABA therapy services.

“When all schools statewide emergently transitioned to virtual/e-learning online this past March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I thought that Jaylen would experience regression. However, this did not occur. With the altruistic, patient, and competent skills, knowledge, and capabilities of the teachers, administration, and staff of Hope Reach, my son has been experiencing an abundance of progression in his reading skills, sight word recognition, spelling/grammar, word spacing, sentence writing, addition, subtraction, identifying and counting coins, long and short concepts, and ordinal numbers.

“Hope Reach ensured that Jaylen was able to have competent, safe, and supportive in-home ABA services consistently each week with one ABA therapist who always wears a protective mask throughout this pandemic. Jaylen’s ABA therapist, diligently works with Jaylen since the beginning of this pandemic, and she has nicely and efficiently incorporated science experiments, arts and crafts, and coloring activities into his ABA therapy sessions which has continued to brighten Jaylen’s days throughout this pandemic.

“To add to that, I have enjoyed having daily virtual meetings via Google Meets on Mondays thru Fridays with Jaylen’s teacher as she thoroughly assists me by answering my questions, providing me with strategies/methods of how to more efficiently teach Jaylen his virtual/e-learning assignments, and gives me feedback and suggestions about various teaching strategies/methods to better facilitate Jaylen’s learning process. Jaylen’s teacher and I were able to figure out a new way to aid Jaylen with learning new sight words by grouping the sight words into categories of interest with pictures as visual aids that are individually tailored to meet Jaylen’s needs each week.

“Since this discovery in April of 2020, my son has learned how to recognize, read, and spell the days of the week, the months of the year, family member titles (mother, father, sister, brother, etc.), numbers 0 thru 13, and several commonly used verbs (color, cut, play, drink, cook, sing, etc). This progression in Jaylen’s life could not have been made possible without the superb collaboration, diligence, and teamwork that his teacher and I shared over the past few months with an overall goal for further advancement and enhancement of Jaylen’s knowledge, education, reading skills, and spelling skills.

“I am so thankful that Hope Reach is willing and able to work with Jaylen and me during this pandemic so that Jaylen can still continue to receive his ABA therapy services and advance in his academic curriculum. It means so much to me to still continue to see my son smile, laugh, and learn during these uncertain, unprecedented times that we are living in currently.

“Hope Reach has continued to hold virtual monthly parent training meetings with me via Google Meets as Jaylen’s team supervisor continues to teach me more about autism, daily schedules, reinforcements, behaviors, consequences, reward systems, prevention strategies, and methods of dealing with problem behaviors. Also, Jaylen is progressing so well in his ABA therapy services at Hope that Jaylen is constantly mastering out several programs and targets in just a matter of days sometimes as he is learning life skills!

“And Jaylen’s supervisor is continually on top of loading and implementing new programs, encouraging, and providing support to Jaylen and Jaylen’s therapist as Jaylen works on various new programs and targets each week during their virtual telehealth sessions throughout the week. Amanda has been so supportive with ensuring that Jaylen continues to progress and advance that she has had several token boards of interest (ex. Paw Patrol, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Chuck E Cheese, Magic School Bus) to Jaylen created per Jaylen’s request and personally delivered to our home as a reward system for Jaylen back in April when this pandemic started.

“I feel that communication is key in all aspects of life, and Hope Reach has done a phenomenal job throughout these past 8 years with keeping me updated, educating Jaylen, my mother, and myself, offering me a variety of options for continued ABA Therapy services & school services, and providing me with strategies to assist Jaylen with his autism and ADHD. There have been so many supervisors, lead therapists, teachers, administrators, and ABA therapists who have made a huge and positive impact on Jaylen’s life throughout the past 7 years that it would take me several pages to name them all.

“Jaylen, my family, and I are forever grateful for each and every one of them and their contributions of support, encouragement, education, and ABA therapy to Jaylen. I am so thankful and blessed to have Hope Reach, BTG, and the entire Project Hope Foundation in our lives consistently, diligently, competently, effectively, altruistically, and supportively teaching, educating, collaborating, communicating, and aiding Jaylen with his advancement and progression of his mental, emotional, educational, and overall life development.

“I look forward to what the future holds for Jaylen, and a huge contribution of his success story is because of the Project Hope Foundation. The ESA would be a huge help and blessing with assisting us financially with continuing to finance his tuition and education.”

Updated 03/19/2021