Visit any sandbox at recess and shout outs of mine and give me are second nature for most 2-year-olds, especially when toys are around. Not so for 3-year-old Katia Soubra who struggled with understanding these simple commands until recently, thanks to an early intervention team and services at the Child Development and Autism Center.
 
Katia’s autistic features were discovered shortly after her 18-month check-up. Early diagnosis played a large role in getting her on the right track.
 
“She has an older brother, and I was comparing what he did at her age,” says Katia’s mom, 40-year-old Maria Soubra, a nursing coordinator at Overlook Medical Center.
 
Last December was Katia’s first visit to the center.
 
“It is an amazing place,” says Mrs. Soubra. “The ambience is very relaxing and much different than going to a doctor’s office.”
 
Working with speech and behavioral therapists, Katia focused on structured play, using toys as therapy tools. She quickly began understanding concepts of ownership.
 
“The speech therapist was able to get Katia to say a lot; she is truly heaven sent,” says Mrs. Soubra.
 
Katia has done so well at the center that her mom recently signed her up for full-day pre-kindergarten.
 
“She hasn’t cried yet at school, so I’m thinking she likes it,” says Mrs. Soubra. “And even though Katia is no longer at the center, I know it’s only a phone call away.”
 

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