Meet the Hipp Family

The Hipp Family. Photo: Stacie Maddox Photography

The Hipp Family. Photo: Stacie Maddox Photography

When my son Christian was diagnosed with Autism in 2007, a whirlwind of emotions ran through my head. I remember that day like it was yesterday. “Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.” Those were the words Christian’s therapist used when she explained his diagnosis to us when he was just two-years-old.

“WHAT? What does that mean? Autism? How could this be? He was fine. How did this happen? Why?” These where the first thoughts that ran through my head when we found out Christian had Autism.

After his appointment, I immediately went home, set him up with a couple of trains and a table, and went to work researching Autism on the internet. By the end of the day, I could tell you in my sleep what it meant. Still, as I lay in bed that night, I could only toss and turn. My husband Kevin and I didn’t know what to do.

Shortly after Christian’s diagnosis, we set up an appointment with Vermont Family Network’s Children’s Integrated Services-Early Intervention Program (formerly the Family Infant Toddler Program). Once we had our first meeting, many of our questions were answered. Christian qualified for two hours of therapy each day. I didn’t understand what they hoped to achieve, but I was willing to try anything. So, every morning the staff from Children’s Integrated Services-Early Intervention (CIS-EI) would come and attempt to play with Christian. At first it was mostly screaming but eventually I saw improvement and the lines of communication began to open up.

Through working with Vermont Family Network (VFN), we have learned to continue looking for things that work; if one thing doesn’t work, try another. When repetitive behavior gets out of control, step in and distract. Be strong and hold your ground. Though Christian didn’t talk for a long time, I have now seen the life come back into his eyes. Thanks to VFN’s help, we are once again able to enjoy doing the things that we used to do together as a family. The progress that we’ve achieved over the past two years has made me want to work even harder to see more improvements.

Today, Christian is four years old. He and our two other children, Xavier, who is seven and Faith, who is ten, are a handful and they keep us on our toes. Without VFN, I doubt we’d be where we are today. I don’t know what I would have done without VFN’s services or support. Sometimes the staff even filled in as a therapist for me, just listening and offering advice. They taught me how to be strong for my son and how to be an advocate for him which has turned out to be one of the greatest gifts a family could ask for.

~Brenda Hipp

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