COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For most families, a child happily coloring is no miracle.
But, for Ezra Fletcher’s teachers and parents, his colorful artwork is a sign of incredible progress four years after the boy and his younger brother were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
“It was a time of darkness for our family because we didn’t know what to expect going forward or the quality of life for our children and how it would affect them,” Dallas Fletcher, Ezra’s father, said.
Ezra was nonverbal and out of control, Fletcher said.
“He had a really bad habit of running out of doors trying to escape the house, you know, we had a lot of bathroom incidents at that time they were still in diapers and we couldn’t get them trained to use the commode,” Fletcher said.
To seek greater support for their son, Ezra’s family went to I Am Boundless, an organization for those with developmental disabilities that specializes in applied behavior analysis for autism.
The 45-acre campus in Worthington supports about 200 students — and their hopeful parents — with four different autism spectrum disorder programs for kids at different ages and skill levels.
Good behaviors are reinforced positively throughout the day, according to Kristen Messer, clinical director at I Am Boundless.
“Ezra likes to come over and play musical instruments with me and so he will work for so many minutes to get so many minutes of Ezra time,” Messer said.
Ezra works hard at I Am Boundless because he knows he can earn “store money” to spend on things like free time in the sensory room, Messer said.
Attending I Am Boundless changed Ezra’s life, Messer said, and his ability to communicate his thoughts and behaviors to other people has tremendously improve.
“Now you can have conversations with him about his behavior and sort of talk him off the ledge,” Messer said.
For the future, Fletcher said he only hopes that his children are happy.
“We pray every day to God that when they grow up that as they grow older, that we have seen already a lot of the effects that they are suffering, that they suffered originally with autism — they kind of get more minimal and more minimal,” he said. “And we want to see them live a normal life and live happily and have good careers and get married and have kids of their own.”