Courtesy of
Courtesy of

The HSC Pediatric Center is a specialty hospital in Washington, D.C., that services children from infancy through age 21 with special needs, disabilities and complex medical conditions. Kyle and his mother were able to experience the care and services at HSC and agreed to share their story as we highlight National Health Center Week.

Kyle has autism. He struggled to communicate his basic wants and needs, eventually leading to more challenging behavior; his mother didn’t know what to do. Navigating health care services for a child with autism and other developmental disabilities can be a daunting task. It requires time, resources, and
can become overwhelming for both parent and child. Finding the right place for your unique child can make a difference in his or her quality of life.

Kyle’s mother contacted his primary care physician to ask for guidance with how to help her child. She was referred to The HSC Pediatric Center’s Psychology Department for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is a scientific, evidence-based practice which focuses on how behaviors change, or are affected by the environment, as well as how learning takes place. Skills related to communication, socialization and daily living are targeted in ABA therapy.

After coordinating with their insurance company, Kyle was evaluated by a Board-Certified Behavior
Analyst and deemed a candidate for ABA clinic services. He was enrolled in the Early Learner program, which offers early childhood services for children with autism and developmental delays, with a focus on growth, overcoming challenges, and increasing opportunities for success. Goals include managing challenging behaviors while teaching new skills such as communication, play, and self-help skills. Kyle received individualized instruction within a group setting, four days a week for several years. He made incredible strides with his communication skills and learned important coping skills.

Kyle’s mother was so impressed with his progress, that she became curious as to what else the HSC Pediatric Center could offer her now-teenage child. She discovered the Cultivating Independence for Transitioning Youth (CITY) Clinic; a specialized after-school program for teens with autism and developmental disabilities developed in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism. Programming is designed to promote independence and development of the skills necessary for young people to be active members of their community. Social-communication, adaptive living and pre-vocational skills, as well as community integration are key features of the program. Youth in the after-school program also participate in community outings for leisure and employment readiness purposes.

Kyle’s favorite part of CITY Clinic was Downtown Cookies – a group-run cookie business. Each month, he and his group-mates plan and execute a cookie sale at The HSC Pediatric Center. Some HSC staff have nicknamed him the “Cookie Man.”

Kyle and his mother were able to find the right services because of their early introduction to The HSC Pediatric Center. The HSC Pediatric Center has served D.C. families of children with disabilities, special needs, and complex medical issues for 136 years and is growing.

Visit to learn more about what HSC has to offer.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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