People migrate to the United States for a variety of reasons; job relocation, being closer to family, or searching for better opportunities. Some families decide to move in order to receive better therapy for their child with autism. According to Emily Sohn from Spectrum Behavior & Society, an average of 1 in 4 children in the United States have immigrant parents. While it is unclear as to exactly how many immigrant children have autism, studies show that 1 in 68 children in the United States have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The diagnosis is becoming more prevalent worldwide as increased awareness is brought to the topic. Once diagnosed, families search for the best treatment options available to help their child, which leads some to pack their bags and make their way to the USA.
Each family has their own unique story of beginning Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy after immigrating to the US. Autism Speaks describes ABA as a proven learning technique that brings out positive and meaningful changes in behavior; it is widely recognized as an effective treatment for autism. This form of therapy has been shown to improve communication, self care, social relationships, and play. Children benefit the most when started on an intensive program, between 25-40 hours per week, at a young age for 1 to 3 years. For this reason, immigrating to the United States to receive ABA therapy when a child is still very young can be extremely beneficial.
Several immigrant families with children with autism have shared their stories with us. Over the next month, we will share their experiences with you and how they immigrated to the United States in hopes of improved therapy for their children.
The first family we will hear from moved to the USA from Mumbai, India. They have a 5 year old boy named Arnav who is on the Autism Spectrum. When he was 30 months old, Arnav began 40 hours of ABA therapy per week and his parents immediately started to see improvements, such as finally being able to respond to his name and say “mom” and “dad”. He is still continuing therapy today and making progress towards the ultimate goal of one day being able to socialize with peers and clearly communicate his thoughts.
Look for more of this family’s incredible story as well as others coming this February.
Meet Anjali from India and Irum from Pakistan.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). (2012, July 24). Retrieved January 23, 2018, from https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/applied-behavior-analysis-aba
Sohn, E. (2017, December 07). Why Autism Seems to Cluster in Some Immigrant Groups. Retrieved January 23, 2018, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-autism-seems-to-cluster-in-some-immigrant-groups/