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Family of the Month: “Palacio’s Story”

This month, our spotlight story focuses on the Palacio family, who attends our Glendale Arizona location. The family includes dad, Joseph, and mom, Leslie, as well as sons Nathaniel, Benjamin, and Ezekiel. All three sons have been diagnosed with the autism spectrum disorder. Leslie shares their story:

“Our oldest son, Nathaniel, has a cousin very close to him in age. We would have family get-togethers and noticed Nathaniel was not reaching the same developmental milestones as his cousin. He exhibited a lot of repetitive behaviors and didn’t make eye contact. I decided to talk with his pediatrician, who referred us out for various testing and studies.” In November 2020, Nathanial was diagnosed with a developmental delay and autism.

Leslie says she was shocked and overwhelmed with emotion when Nathaniel was diagnosed, but that it inspired her to do some research to find out what she could do to help him.

“I checked into services with other ABA providers but then I learned about Autism ETC, who was opening a new center in Glendale. We were able to start services with Nathaniel in March 2021.”

By the time Nathaniel started services, the Palacios’ second child, Benjamin, was starting to show signs and symptoms of being on the autism spectrum. He was already in an early intervention program.

“Some people thought Benjamin was just copying his brother. However, I knew it was something more. I kept pushing for him to be tested. Benjamin was also diagnosed with autism.”

Benjamin had just started services at AETC when Leslie found out she was pregnant with their third son.

“Due to my pregnancy and the number of doctor appointments I had to attend, we had to stop services at Autism ETC. I was concerned that the boys would regress before they could go back to the center.”

In January 2022, Ezekiel was born, and during birth, he experienced a traumatic brain injury.

“We wanted to be on top of this since he had the brain injury, and both of his brothers are on the
spectrum,” said Leslie. “While I was in the hospital after Ezekiel’s birth, I began working on
getting Nathaniel and Benjamin back in for services. Of course, I was concerned that Ezekiel would also be on the spectrum.”

Fortunately, Nathaniel and Benjamin were able to start services again in March 2022.

“We continued to watch Ezekiel and he too was diagnosed with autism. He began services at Autism ETC in December 2023. Nathaniel and Benjamin attend the day therapy program on a full-time basis and Ezekiel attends part-time.”
Before coming to AETC, Leslie says both Nathaniel and Benjamin had very aggressive behaviors, including hitting, kicking, and biting.

“This has all changed now that they can use their words to express themselves. Nathaniel still has some struggles with communication. He has learned to use communication apps with his tablet, and we are in the process of obtaining a communication device for him. Benjamin talks all the time and Ezekiel is working on learning how to talk. All of this is huge for them.”

Leslie commented about the parent training she has received at Autism ETC: “It has been amazing and a tremendous help. Without it, we would not be where we are today. The staff has helped me understand my sons and know how to work with them. They have helped me learn to have patience. It is not easy, but it is 100% worth the effort.”

Leslie offers this advice to other families, “Don’t be discouraged. When you get the diagnosis, you may feel like your world is over. But there are resources and help for your children. From what I have learned, I have been able to help other families who have children on the spectrum.

Instead of allowing your child to be put in a corner due to their diagnosis, they need to be pushed forward so they can get the help they need to reach their potential. People thought I could not make it with three children on the spectrum, but I have people who support me. If it wasn’t for Autism ETC lifting me up, I would not be where I am right now.”