A Goodbye Letter to Our ABA Center

My husband and I always talked about moving to the West Coast of Florida someday. But nestled in Central Florida, our autistic son Barclay was in a top-rated autism charter school and his amazing ABA center was just a few miles away. We thought it would be years before we could take him out of his comfort zone and move away from the support system we so desperately needed.

But things change. Through the persistence of his ABA center, Barclay gained skills quicker than we thought. Because of their hard work, Barclay excelled in school. Moving started to seem possible. So possible that as I write this post, Barclay and I are in a hotel room on the West Coast of Florida waiting for Daddy, and tomorrow we move into a rental while we build our dream home. Below is a letter I wrote to Barclay’s ABA Center. I wanted to share it with you so you know the power of ABA and how it can transform a family!

June 30, 2022

Dear Staff of Applied Behavior Center for Autism (or as Barclay calls it, ABC School),

It is with a heart full of wonderful memories that we say goodbye.

ABC has been a part of our family for more than four years. Since Barclay, now seven, was three years old, you’ve helped our family overcome many challenges. When I first walked into your clinic, I was a frazzled mess. Autism was a new scary and confusing world to our family.

When Barclay arrived on his first day at ABC School, he was preverbal, unable to use the toilet or brush his teeth. He couldn’t even feed himself. Skills that most children learn organically he’d not.

Barclay was unhappy, aggressive, had daily meltdowns, and as a family, we were barely surviving. But you taught him the skills he needed to function independently. That gift of independence transformed him from a frustrated toddler to one of the happiest kids. That gift gave us back our son.

When Barclay struggled in preschool, you went and helped until he didn’t need you. When he couldn’t tolerate haircuts, you came with us to the salon until he didn’t need you. When he struggled at the dentist, again, you came with us until he didn’t need you. Anywhere we needed you, you came until we were successful on our own.

You’ve been in our home more hours than anyone outside of our immediate family. And you became like family. Barclay looked forward to you coming. He’d plan to bake a red velvet cake with you. He’d pick out board games to play with you. And all the while, you were teaching him skills to one day not need you.

That day has come, and it’s today. As much as we will forever be grateful, I know your greatest joy is when you are no longer needed. As much as we always wanted to move to the West Coast of Florida, we didn’t think it would be possible for years to come. But because of you, today our family’s dream came true.

You will forever be embedded in Barclay’s, in our family’s, history. And although this is goodbye, we will keep in touch to share the wonderful things Barclay will accomplish in his future. A future he is now ready for because YOU prepared him for it.

With Sincere Appreciation,

Brent, Amy, and Barclay Nielsen

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Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.