After a local mother learned how to provide therapy for her autistic son, her love and attention didn’t stop there. Now children all over the region benefit from her selflessness.
Kendra McDonald has worked with children with developmental delays at the Aurora Behavior Clinic in Leesburg, Virginia, for a decade. She was introduced to applied behavior analysis therapy when her son Cannon was diagnosed with autism at 8 years old.
“So when they said 40 hours a week at about $100 an hour, that’s a lot of money, so I signed up for one of the hours and said, ‘Show me what you’re doing,’ and I did the same thing,” McDonald said.
She became caretaker and therapist for Cannon and loved the work so much, she decided to make it her fulltime job. She went to school and got certified while taking care of her family and Cannon.
In 10 years, she’s helped hundreds of kids.
Some children learn quickly, McDonald said, while others take years, but McDonald never gives up on a child.
Two-year-old Wyatt has autism and is learning to become more verbal.
“He’s actually showing us some of the things he wants, whereas before he couldn’t communicate as much,” said his mother, Catherine Jones. “And it’s only been a month since he’s been coming here, and already I’m seeing the changes in him.”
McDonald also helps train other moms how to care for their autistic children.
“They’re teaching me different techniques every day,” Jones said. “We were very lucky that Kendra spoke with us and was very helpful to getting our son Wyatt services as quickly as possible.”
McDonald said her experience as a mom with an autistic son makes her a better therapist.
“I’m so blessed with my son and how far he’s come, and the time that we get to spend together is so precious I want other families to have that with their kids even if they have developmental delays or autism,” she said.
McDonald has developed her own curriculum she uses with more than 35 students at the Aurora Behavior Clinic.
This summer, that curriculum will be the basis for a social skills camp to teach children with developmental delays how to interact with one another.