Charlie's Gift Autism Center offers services for entire family

September 20, 2012 (DOWNERS GROVE, Ill.)

When a child is diagnosed with a disability, it often has a profound impact on the family, especially their siblings.

At Charlie's Gift Autism Center, all programs are tailored to the individuals needs in an engaging environment.

Located in Downers Grove, Charlie's Gift has been providing services for almost six years.

Renee Pinto is the clinical director.

"We have children here mainly with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, Sensory Processing Dysfunction," said Pinto. "We also give services to the siblings of those children and the parents as well."

They have a staff of eight therapists serving 65 families.

"We offer clinical psychology here," said Pinto, "and that's where all of our support groups, our parents support group, sibling support groups and numerous social groups...we have speech language pathologists here who do speech and feeding therapy. Then we have occupational therapists here as well."

Denise Bergh has two boys, 5-year-old Max and 3-year-old Rocky. Rocky has Autism Spectrum Disorder.

"Around 14 months old, Rocky stopped making all babbling sounds and started withdrawing from us and stopped making eye contact," Bergh said.

Bergh found Charlie's Gift on the Internet and has been coming since November 2010.

"We have speech services, and I've had some social work services with myself, my older son and Rocky all working together trying to have positive interaction with the three of us," said Bergh.

"They come in with very heavy hearts, and when they leave here and their child goes and meets them after therapy, and their child is smiling, that mother and father leave feeling relieved, and you can just see the smile on their face," said Pinto.

"We've made lot of progress as a family, Rocky individually and as a family," said Bergh said. "I think we've come a long way in being able to interact with each other in a positive way."

Charlie's Gift is a not-for-profit agency, but there are fees for services. They are looking to grow.

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