The Children's Institute Blog

Celebrating National OT Month: Luke's Story

Posted: Apr 24, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Luke Laskowski already was doing early intervention and seeing an occupational therapist when doctors diagnosed him with autism three weeks before his third birthday in 2015.

“He was doing some ear-covering and was delayed in his milestones – He didn’t walk on his own ‘til 15 months and he didn’t have a lot of words,” said Bethany, mother of Luke and his older sister, Sophia, 7.

“I always say there’s a reason God gave me Luke and God gave me Sophia,” she said. “Sophia is so understanding that Luke is a little bit different child.”

Shortly after the diagnosis, Luke saw occupational therapist Carolyn Dzialakiewicz and, later, certified occupational therapy assistant Chad Bender, known affectionately to the preschooler as “Mr. Chad.”

“He still thinks Mr. Chad is just his friend and, given that relationship, he’s pushed Luke and gotten results out of Luke that have shocked us,” Bethany said. “Mr. Chad is relentless in trying to reach this kid and I am so grateful for that – I can’t even begin to tell you.”

When Luke started therapy at The Children’s Institute’s Norwin Hills satellite, he would run around the room uncontrollably, screaming. Now, after running through an obstacle course and getting exercise, he’ll sit and do typical preschool work and activities, or trace his finger over his signature.

“On the days he goes to the gym now, Luke gets so excited,” his mom said. “There’s no more parallel play. They’re actually racing each other.”
Mr. Chad even has made progress with feeding by making the process of eating and getting nourishment more fun and interactive.

“We’ve painted with pudding; we’ve painted with apple sauce,” Mr. Chad said. “He’s painted me with pudding. Sometimes, I’m as much of a canvas as the paper.”

Mr. Chad said a big reason Luke is progressing well is the support he gets from his family.

“They take what you say and they run with it, and that’s one of the best parts of treating Luke,” Mr. Chad said. “Luke’s mom takes in everything. She’s a very good collaborator.”

Bethany says the praise belongs elsewhere.

“I can’t say enough about Chad, enough about Carolyn, enough about everyone at The Children’s Institute in Norwin Hills. I knew this would be a really good place for Luke but I never knew it would be such a good place for me,” Bethany said. “They just somehow pick you up and keep you going. I am just forever grateful for what they do, for their patience, for their empathy.

“I would never choose this for Luke but all of these people have come into his life who wouldn’t have otherwise,” she added. “They’re all literally amazing people.”

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