His parents didn’t understand why, but the spirited toddler who always appeared content and expressive began to change.
After several months of doctor appointments and testing, the heart-breaking conclusion would force Logan Mehic’s family to confront their new reality: seeking the best treatment for their beloved son’s severe case of autism.
“When we originally got this diagnosis, it was almost like somebody handed you a terminal disease,” recalled the child’s father, Adi Mehic. “You’re told that your son is going to be non-communicative, might need assisted living the rest of his life.”
Logan’s condition, according to his mother, Samantha, grew more unmanageable when he started behaving aggressively toward others.
“The moment I realized Logan needed extra help that we couldn’t give him as parents was when he went from a kid who threw no fits to a kid who would bite and hit,” she said. “We wanted to give him the best chance we could, so we reached out for help.”
The helping hand that reached back came from the dedicated staff at Achievement Centers for Children, a United Way-funded partner that has been treating clients with disabilities for nearly eight decades.
Samantha recounted the stress of their first visit to have Logan evaluated.
“It really was a difficult one. No parent wants to hear that their child doesn’t meet standards. But they really made us feel comfortable that even though he didn’t meet these, he was going to in the future.”
That spirit of hope is reflected in the agency’s mission statement, which pledges to “empower children and adults with disabilities, and their families, to achieve their greatest potential.” In the case of Logan, Achievement Centers designed a comprehensive treatment plan that has led to significant progress over the past two years.
“His growth in the past two years at the Achievement Centers is something like I’ve never seen and I feel like we have changed all those pre-conceived notions about what autism was.” – Adi Mehic, Logan’s father
He’s a little fish
Logan’s treatment plan incorporates physical, speech and occupational therapy, which all have proven highly beneficial.
His favorite form of therapy, however, is one that allows this 5-year-old to spend time in the pool.
“He loves to swim. He’s a little fish,” said Samantha, with a mother’s pride. “We got him to aquatic therapy about a year ago and we were really excited because Logan has always loved the water.”
Logan has been working with an adapted aquatics instructor, Holly Osborne, and the two have grown close. These sessions have produced measurable results in terms of improved temperament and language skills.
“When he started he didn’t speak—no words. And now he repeats, he can request, which I think is fabulous,” explained Holly. “We have also worked on patience, which doesn’t seem like it would be an aquatics type of lesson, but it is because he is now able to wait when I say ‘one, two, three, go.’”
Logan’s parents note that aquatics therapy just makes their son feel good, which alone is a blessing they celebrate each time they see him laughing and splashing in the water.
“Swimming really helps turn his day around,” said Adi. “Even when we’re going through a really frustrating day where he’s had too much on his plate or he’s been pushed a little too far, swimming is his outlet where he goes to feel like Logan again. It’s a release for him, physically and mentally, and elevates his mood, or frankly, poops him out.”
Making an impact in more ways than one
United Way-funding helps make it possible for Achievement Centers for Children to help families like Logan’s.
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimates 1 in 59 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); and last year, Achievement Centers served more than 600 clients with ASD.
Data and evidence are important to Logan’s parents. Equally important, though, are the “everyday life” moments that demonstrate their child is indeed progressing.
“I remember the first day he walked up and he handed me a cup—and he goes ‘Dad, I want water.’ That’s one of those moments that people with a typically developed child really take for granted. And it’s not something you see every day and, it’s … it’ll make a big man cry, I’ll tell you that much.”
Adi and Samantha credit Achievement Centers with helping their entire family cope, grow closer and learn how to play a vital role in Logan’s therapy. They also believe Logan is on his way to reaching his full potential.
“People donating to United Way should ask themselves one question,” added Adi. “Do you really want to make a difference in this child’s life? And do you really want to affect the families of children who have autism and special needs?”
Watch Logan’s Story