Mother presses for help for special kids

State legislators adopted House Bill 766, but Destrehan’s Kim Basile is determined to be one of the people who makes it work the best way possible for St. Charles Parish’s children with developmental delays.

The bill, adopted last year and now called Act 696, allows children to be treated by private counselors during school, while the school system decides the amount of time allowed for it. Basile approached the parish School Board determined to ensure they got the most time possible because she knew firsthand what it meant to her 11-year-old daughter, Caroline, who was diagnosed with autism.

Behavioral health services are provided when a psychological evaluation determines a child has a psychiatric disorder and the behavior interferes with the child’s ability to learn in a classroom. The act allows the parents of these children to use outside behavioral health experts for treating students rather than just using school counselors.

Board President Al Suffrin said Basile, accompanied by behavioral therapist Mary Ronde, were invited to advise a school committee on the act.

“Kim and Mary are encouraging the board to amend the policy that is being proposed,” Suffrin said. “We appreciate the feedback received from them and will consider their views before finalizing the policy in November.”

[pullquote]‘I just want what’s best for the kids who need more just to be equal.’ – Kim Basile[/pullquote]Basile said they welcomed the offer to join its committee in helping to interpret and implement the act.

“I just want what’s best for the kids who need more just to be equal,” she said.

What she appreciatively found was a School Board open and willing to address the act.

It’s a critical matter to Basile, whose daughter Caroline would possibly be among the children to benefit from this assistance.

Although 11 years old, she functions on a lower level or as a child, prone to what Basile calls “sit down strikes,” where she sits down and refuses to move. Behavioral therapy is helping Caroline work through this response.

“For example, if at a trampoline park and she asks to leave, she will still just sit down screaming and crying,” said her mother. “She can’t make herself get up and leave, and that can last 30 minutes or longer. This can happen anywhere, but therapists are teaching her to cope with these feelings and do what she needs to do and get rewarded. Hopefully, she’ll learn this isn’t needed and can get to the point of leaving without being overwhelmed by emotion.”

When a teacher advised her early on that these behaviors needed to be addressed young, Basile took the advice seriously.

It’s why she became more proactive about early intervention with her daughter, as well as passing on the advice she got to others.

“I’m an open book with Love (Caroline),” she said.

From birth, Basile saw physical issues with her third child, unlike her first two children.

“I knew she was never typical from the beginning,” she said. “She was blind for nine months, but the doctors did not know why.”

By two to three years old, Caroline was diagnosed “in the spectrum of autism,” she said. “It was the end of the world.”

This felt especially true when it became known that she suffered from unrecoverable delays and would not catch up. But then Basile decided she’d just go to work on finding whatever help she could for her daughter, including use of LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning) or a therapeutic approach to communicating with people who are nonverbal or with limited verbal abilities. And she has since included aiding any effort to implement Act 696 toward getting her more help.

After seven years of therapy with Caroline, Basile said the therapy has made a difference for her and her mother.

“It’s made me a better person,” Basile said. “I think I’m calmer. I just have to roll with the punches. My friends have been wonderful. She’s a superstar in St. Charles Parish. Everyone knows her and talks to her. It wasn’t the end of the world.”



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