Finding Her Voice: Sofia’s Story
When Sofia’s communication deficits left her frustrated & isolated from the world around her, the Bancroft Early Education Program helped her find her voice – and gave her family hope they never thought possible.
Glorimar Erwin knew something was wrong when her 18-month-old daughter, Sofia, stopped talking, seemingly overnight. There were other signs, in hindsight. But when Sofia stopped saying the few words she had developed, Glorimar knew it was time to have her evaluated for autism.
Suddenly, the toddler “was in her own little world” – non-communicative and withdrawn from everyone except her mother. The little bit of communicating she tried to do didn’t come easily, leading to frustration and an increase in both self-injurious and aggressive behaviors, often yelling, hitting and biting herself and others.
When it came time to enroll in school, there was no question: Sofia would need specialized services to give her the best shot at realizing her potential.
“When Sofia first started school, I couldn’t have goals for her. I didn’t think she was capable of progress,”
The family turned to Bancroft, attracted by the low staff-to-student ratio and focus on ABA therapy, and Sofia enrolled in the Early Education Program the day after her third birthday.
It took about a year, but slowly, the milestones started to build – including one moment Glorimar will never forget.
“Sofia was about 5 – and I don’t remember what we were doing, where we were or how it came up, but she called me Mommy for the first time. I almost cried. Those are the simple things you take for granted with other children.”
The stress of having a child with intensive special needs took its toll on the family – compounded by the fact that her dad, Tim, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 thyroid cancer around the same time as Sofia’s diagnosis.
“Our family had already been so much – so I was initially surprised, and very emotional,” Tim Erwin said. “I felt like I needed to do a ton of research, but we still needed more support. Even if you know what autism is, you don’t really understand until you’re around it.”
Sofia’s progress has helped her become a member of their family again. She finally began to bond with her dad, is able to spend time with her grandparents and siblings – an older sister and a brother who also has autism. She’s grown very close to the family’s two dogs.
“One of my favorite moments, for sure – she was in the yard, talking to our dog, playing with his tail, and she said ‘Hi, dog, hi!’ She had never said anything like that before; it was really sweet,” Tim said.
Today, Sofia is a ball of energy, always on the move, and eager to share when she wants something – sometimes using words, and sometimes using the iPad she uses for assistive communication. (“She navigates it better than we do,” her dad jokes.)
For Sofia, Bancroft’s Early Education “has unlocked her ability to learn; her ability to do.”
“Today, I have goals and expectations because Bancroft has helped me to see everything she’s capable of,” Glorimar said.
Her dad agrees: “Her participation at Bancroft has been everything to us. I’m looking forward to where her journey will take us.”