LOXAHATCHEE, Fla - After a parent hears their child has been diagnosed with autism, the first question they often ask is: what do we do now?
One place they can turn to is the Early Steps program.
That's where Loxahatchee resident Shannon Reilly turned when her two-year-old daughter, Dominique, was diagnosed with the disorder.
Unlike most children her age, Dominique hasn't developed a vocabulary.
"Children with autism have a speech delay but also have social delays," said Erin Brophy, a toddler development therapist who's been working with her while teaching Shannon about autism.
"Dominique prefers to play on her own. She prefers to do things on her own repetitively so we're trying to break her of those habits," she said.
The therapy is part of Early Steps, a federal and state program that's often the first place parents turn to after learning of the autism diagnosis.
It's the program that's been helping Shannon Reilly, for the last nine months.
"She would never come up to me or my husband looking for attention. Since then she knows who we are, she looks for us, she uses eye contact," she said. "She's changed quite a bit."
Early Steps teaches parents about autism while providing therapy for the children.
"Her attention, her eye contact is better. She loves going outside. She has so many strengths," said her mother.
You can contact the Early Steps program in Palm Beach County at 561-882-6426. On the Treasure Coast at 772-380-9972.