April 13, 2023

A letter from the Maurer Family

After failing many hearing tests, we learned in April of 2019 that our son Luke was profoundly deaf. The news was gut wrenching. Luke had a difficult first year that included missed milestones, zero babbling, and many therapies. We were determined to help our son in any way we could. At just 13 months old, we made the decision to give Luke a chance of life with hearing with the help of bi-lateral cochlear implants.

After the implants, we noticed Luke was still not making progress. In September of 2021, Luke was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This was a double whammy for our kiddo. Autism spectrum disorder was not something our family was familiar with. We didn’t know much about it, where to turn, or who to talk to. There is no guidebook, and the hardest part is that every child has different challenges. Asking for advice can be difficult.

We were committed to giving Luke the support he needed to reach those critical early milestones. After countless phone calls to parents and agencies throughout Western New York, we realized The Summit Center would be the best fit. We prayed there would be a spot for him. Because of Summit’s success in serving individuals with autism, most of their programs have a long wait list. Luckily, a space was available in Luke’s age group. He was placed in Summit Academy’s preschool program.

Over the past year, Luke has learned to turn when we call his name and to communicate short phrases with his device. He is also working on self-help skills, things our daughters picked up instinctively. With Luke, sometimes these skills seem impossible. He needs constant routine to accomplish tasks like washing his hands and putting on his shoes. With repetition, we’ve seen great improvement in what Luke is capable of. Once Luke does master something, he is very confident and loves repeating it.

Having a child with autism is a full-time job. We’ve learned to anticipate Luke’s needs, always keeping watch to see if he needs help. He doesn’t have the ability to communicate things to us, like when he’s frustrated because he can’t find his favorite toy. Parenting a child with autism is different from parenting your other children. Luke has two sisters who adore him, but they don’t understand why he “gets all the attention.”

As hard as raising a special needs child may be, The Summit Center makes it much easier. We have hope in Luke’s continued progress, and we have a community of other families who share our challenges and triumphs. We’re so grateful for the teachers, aides, and administrators for making such a difference for our family.

-The Maurer Family