In April 2011, Alisha was over the moon to finally meet her twin baby boys, Royal and Xander. They arrived one minute apart and were perfect babies. As the boys got older, Alisha began to notice the boys were not meeting milestones at the same age her two older children had. She noticed they were not laughing, smiling, or feeding correctly and immediately knew something was not right. When the boys were four, Alisha reached out to their pediatrician at CHRISTUS Children’s, and inquired about having them tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Alisha explained all of the signs that she, as a mother, noticed behind closed doors with the twins’ behavior. Without hesitation, their pediatrician referred the boys to the Autism Clinic at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
“It meant the world to me to be heard. As a mother, you want the best for your children and the staff at CHRISTUS Children’s ensured me my kids were going to get the best care,” Alisha said.
At the time of the testing, Royal and Xander were four years old and were both non-verbal and exhibiting behavior that Alisha could not ignore. As Alisha waited for the results that would be delivered the same day, she couldn’t help but think of all the extra love and care her sons would need, but she was ready to be the biggest supporter for her sons.
After completing rounds of necessary testing and evaluations, the twins were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Each child had his place across the spectrum that is ASD. They each had special gifts, weaknesses, and strengths that needed to be addressed individually through their own Autism specialist at the clinic. Alisha remembered a million thoughts running through her mind, most of which were calmed by the doctors and therapists caring for her twins.
Alisha recalled, “I want them to succeed and be able to fly as high as they can possibly go. They were receiving top notch therapy and I knew I would be able to be the strength they needed me to be.”
From that moment forward, Alisha has been Royal and Xander’s biggest advocate. So, when Dr. Andrew Martinez, Autism program director at CHRISTUS Children’s suggested applied behavioral analysis (ABA) therapy, Alisha knew it would be beneficial. ABA therapy is a type of therapy that can improve social, communication, and learning skills through reinforcement strategies. Through ABA, Royal and Xander were to receive a specialized one-on-one treatment plan carefully created to meet their own individual needs. On top of ABA, Royal and Xander would also receive speech and occupational therapy.
Within a few months, Royal and Xander began to show improvement in their own ways. Alisha watched as her twin boys blossomed right before her eyes.
“My wish is that more children on the spectrum have access to ABA therapy. To me, this is the gold standard of care for children who have been diagnosed with Autism. It’s been incredible to watch them grow more confident with each day that passes,” said Alisha.
When Xander suffered from an acute kidney injury, he was having trouble communicating with his doctors just what he was feeling. Dr. Oluwadamilola Ejike, pediatric nephrologist at CHRISTUS Children’s, ensured Alisha she would have her son feeling better in no time. Soon enough, Xander was back to continue ABA therapy and has been improving ever since.
Shortly after Xander’s kidney scare, Royal began having seizures and was quickly diagnosed with epilepsy. Royal was suffering from absence seizures, which can be described as a brief and sudden lapse in attention. Yet again, Alisha entrusted Royal’s physician, Dr. Melissa Svoboda, medical director of CHRISTUS Children’s’s Autism Clinic and pediatric neurologist, as she and her team of specialists constructed a treatment plan to help her son with his seizures. Continuing with their ABA treatment plan, Royal and Xander’s demeanors shifted as they became more confident in their own skin and were learning new ways to express their wants and needs. Eventually, they both began speaking, something Alisha wasn’t sure she would ever be able to witness. Today, the twins are both doing extremely well. They are currently completing their seventh year of treatment at CHRISTUS Children’s Autism Clinic and both Xander’s kidney issues and Royal’s epilepsy are under control.
“I can’t imagine a more loving facility filled with the hardest working Associates around,” Alisha added. “Every hand that has helped heal my children has made a difference that will last a lifetime and we could not be more thankful.”