Meet Olivia: One of Our First Swank Clients Who Found Her Words Through ABA


PLEASE NOTE: Names in this article have been changed to protect the identity of the client and her mother.

When Olivia was 6-years old, she spoke one word at a time. When she wanted something, she made noises.

“She knew what she wanted,” said Olivia’s mom, Amanda. “She just couldn’t verbalize her wants.”

Olivia was diagnosed with Apraxia, a neurological disorder affecting the brain’s motor pathways responsible for producing speech. With apraxia of speech, words get lost and verbal communication skills aren’t developed.

In addition to apraxia, Olivia was diagnosed as intellectually disabled and showed symptoms of autism.

Once Olivia Began ABA Therapy, One-Word Noises Turned into Four-Word Phrases

Oliva began kindergarten as a home-based student, going through her district’s cyber school. She had a desk and workspace set up at home and could work at her own pace. It also meant she could receive in-home care from Swank.

“Olivia worked with Cindy in the early days of Swank before the Early Skills Development Center opened,” Amanda said. “So, Olivia received in-home treatment. It wasn’t long after she started working with Cindy that I noticed her starting to really respond.”

At the start of her ABA therapy, Oliva spoke only in single-word sounds. Her apraxia created a major speech deficit that she had to work hard to fight through. The repetition and reinforcement work she did with Cindy – an integral part of ABA therapy – helped Olivia develop the communication skills necessary to reach new milestones in her speech development.

By working with Swank through intensive ABA interventions, Olivia went from speaking one word at a time to speaking up to four-word phrases.

“ABA was great for Olivia because she thrives on attention,” Amanda said. “The interventions Cindy created for Olivia were reinforced with her favorite forms of attention – she’d get to listen to music, receive high-fives, or eat snacks. She loved to work hard to get those little rewards.”

ABA Opened the Door to Olivia’s Words; Swank Helped Her Walk Through

After working with Swank through second grade, Amanda decided Olivia was ready for in-person, public school. With Cindy’s guidance, they learned that Olivia’s school offered ABA therapy as a part of its developmental disabilities support program. Cindy helped transition Olivia’s instruction from Swank to her public school teachers, making sure they were aware of the types of interventions she needed.

“Cindy made this connection for us and helped drive the decision to transition Olivia to public school,” Amanda said. “If she hadn’t helped to make it happen, I would never have mainstreamed Olivia.”

Today, Olivia is a 7th grader in her public school’s autism support program. Just like the approach taken by Cindy at Swank, Olivia’s public school support program is designed to address her unique needs, not impose a curriculum based solely on her diagnosis.

This is the same approach ABA takes to support children with developmental disabilities – it’s what turned a light on inside Olivia and gave her the tools to discover her words and begin to truly communicate her needs and wants.

“Had we not worked with Cindy, we would have never fully understood Olivia’s needs or her full potential,” Amanda said. “Swank helped my daughter find her words. Cindy made a significant impact on Olivia’s life and the lives of our entire family.”

Olivia is one of many Swank clients who has seen the life-changing benefits of ABA therapy. We welcome you to explore what an ABA intervention approach can bring to your child’s development. Contact us today.