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You + Imua = Changing Children’s Lives – Yes, this is our Annual Appeal

An Imua Autism Success Story

Stephanie, Mother of Ethan (5 years old) shares her story:

I always wanted to be a parent – this was my prayer. Ethan started out doing everything, walking, talking, sounding out words, then all of a sudden that stopped, I mean nothing! I told doctor about that and she said,
“Let’s get him evaluated,” and that is how it all started.

Ethan stopped making eye contact, he stopped giving any signs of affection, it was a complete change because he had all of that as a baby, all this started to change around 18 months.  Then we learned, after lots of tests and evaluations that Ethan has Autism. When Ethan first started recieving Autism Services at Imua, he was in his own world, no interaction with anyone and no vocabulary at all.  He was completely withdrawn, no one could touch him, hold him or anything.  Ethan would also not eat anything at all.  In the beginning, all we could get him to eat was baby food even though he was not a baby anymore.  Now he will eat noodles, brown rice, milk and cheerios.

Since coming to Imua and working with the therapists, he has made such progress; some of the biggest are with his vocabulary and social skills.  The first big change we saw was him making eye contact again, being able to look at us and touch our hands.  Being able to let someone hug him – this was huge and it meant so much to me.

Now his vocabulary is huge!  Maria (his Registered Behavior Technician) really helped to unlock his vocabulary.  Now he knows words and he knows what they are associated with.  We went from nothing to now we get at least 5 minutes with him when he becomes engaged.  Now he wants to sit on your lap and wants to have contact with you.  These are things I never thought would be possible again.  It’s a huge breakthrough!  I know this sounds small, but now he can sit down and write his name.

As far as I’m concerned, Ethan is a blessing, but it is very hard being a single parent with a special needs child – super hard.  Because of Imua, Tracy, Goldean, Janelle (Board Certified Behavior Analysts) and Maria – the team who works with my child, I am able to do it. They really make sure that I can take care of him, but also take care of myself too.  They go above and beyond with that, you know – they do not have to be concerned with me, they are there to focus on Ethan – but they care about me and how I am managing to care for him fully.  They are awesome!

What we are preparing him for is to be the best he can be – and I believe it now.  If it wasn’t for Imua, we would never be at this stage.  Before everything was getting worse, each day, now everything gets better, bit by bit, each day.  I have hope again.  At the end of the day, some days are are so hard, some nights I cry, but when I look at him sleeping, it’s all worth it.

He is worth it!


Some Information About Imua Autism Services

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder present from early childhood, which impairs the ability to communicate and form relationships with other people. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely and no two children with Autism will have the exact same challenges or respond to educational, behavioral and family therapies the same. ASD is usually detectable by age two and is a complex, challenging and lifelong condition with no known cure.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of Autism in U.S. children increased from 1 in 150 in the year 2000 to 1 in 68 in the year 2010.  Additionally, Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability, but very little is known about what causes it.  Based on the national prevalence of ASD and Maui County’s population (U.S. Census), there are an estimated 540 children under age 18 potentially affected by the disorder. ASD affects all types of people – it does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, income or sex (although the percentage of boys is slightly higher than with girls). It was this increase in the number of affected children which prompted Imua to begin the Imua Autism Program to serve the needs of Maui’s Autism population.

Our Autism staff in Maui County utilize Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and work with children as young as 18 months.  ABA is a well-developed, scientific discipline that utilizes trained professionals in the treatment of ASD. In addition, Imua provides access to supportive services from other Imua Family Services staff, such as: Occupational Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, Care Coordinators and Sensory Specialists working collaboratively with their medical and educational professionals.

Imua operates as a hub for comprehensive resources and support addressing ancillary concerns that are closely related to ASD, all in one location – creating more consistency and convenience for clients and families. Imua believes the long-term positive effect of this program and service delivery model will result in more positive outcomes and could also be replicated and applied elsewhere for the overall benefit of children and families affected by ASD.

In the past six months due to demand and referrals, our Autism Services Program increased from one Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), to two full-time and one part-time BCBA and from three Registered Behavior
Technicians (RBT), to six RBTs and several undergoing training for certification.


A Love Letter to Imua Family Services

October 1, 2017

Dear Imua,

It is important for me and my ‘ohana to express our gratitude and admiration to Imua Family Services and most especially my therapists.

Stacy, Christina and Sarah have been with me from the beginning and I could not have asked for more loving and knowledgeable therapists.

Each week they gave me their best, taught my parents, sister and grandparents how to continue with the various exercises to help me overcome my difficulties.  Later more therapists joined my team including Ryan, Christy, Ro and Christa, rotated into our family with Haley, Robyn and Brian overseeing the process.

Words cannot express how we all feel and how truly lucky I am to have had such a great group of professionals working with me. I will work hard to reach and exceed all things expected of me.

I love and thank all my Imua aunties and uncles!

Isaiah (3 years old) & Family

A What will Imua begin to do today for the children of Maui County with your support? 

Imua’s West Maui Family Center is critical for our staff and the increasing number of clients and families utilizing Imua’s many services. Thanks to support from the Makana Aloha Foundation and Walter Hester and Maui Jim Sunglasses, we opened a beautiful center in Lahaina at 930 Waine`e Street in the former Kaiser Facility.  The center is busy with ongoing therapy visits, play groups, direct client Autism services, intakes and evaluations.

Imua Autism Services Program  — There is a distinct need for individualized medical treatment for children who are diagnosed with ASD in Maui County.  Imua Autism Services was created to fill this critical gap to ensure that the developmental challenges associated with Autism are treated to help those families and children reach their full potential in life.  Imua Autism Services is unique because it is the only Applied Behavior Analytic (ABA) service provider in Maui County specializing in early intensive behavioral intervention, working with children as young as 18 months.

Health Provider Partnerships — Imua Family Services is increasing its valuable partnerships with our Healthcare Providers such as Kaiser Permanente, HMSA, Aloha Care and UHA. Imua facilities are Kaiser Credentialed Facilities. We are here to fill in the gaps when pediatric services and therapies are needed for Maui County families.

More Doctors — Imua hopes to employ a Pediatric Clinical Psychologist and/or a Pediatrician with behavioral specialties. We continue to need more Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and other pediatric specialists.

Imua Family Resource Center — A creative workspace and therapy center that puts children back in touch with nature based play, play therapy, animal therapy and family-centered training.


A Message from  the Executive Director

Investing in a successful future for Maui’s children begins with Imua Family Services. With your help and support, Imua will continue to strengthen island families each year by giving them critical development services and the resources they need to reach their full potential.  We hope you will consider supporting Imua Family Services with a donation and invest in the important services that we provide to our community.

Mahalo nui loa for your generosity!

Dean Wong

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