Children's Day Program at Lourdes Counseling Center - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Children's Day Program at Lourdes Counseling Center

Posted: Updated:

RICHLAND, Wash.-- One family is raving about a summer program they say helped their son who's been diagnosed with autism. They say the Children's Day Program at Lourdes Counseling Center in Richland gave their son skills that he'll use when he goes back to school on Wednesday.

There are two different sessions of the Children's Day Program, an 8 week summer session and the school year program. Dr. Benjamin Pe, Child Psychiatrist, says, "The Children's Day Program essentially was set up to help kids. So if they're not successful in the public school system, it gives them another option." During the school year, school districts have to refer students to the CDP, and pay for them. In the summer, however, the program is funded through grants and other support. Dr. Pe says often the children who attend the CDP are developmentally disabled, emotionally disturbed, sometimes aggressive, violent, depressed, withdrawn, anxious, or have other diagnoses.

Melanie and Bill Adams' son, Andrew, 11, attended the summer session. The parents say, "I wish it was longer." Andrew has been diagnosed with autism and started having problems in school last year. They couldn't get him in the school year program, but say the summer program was great. "He met a lot of friends, felt like he belonged here, felt like people understood," Melanie Adams explains.

Dr. Pe says the program combines education with fun activities and the result is therapeutic. He explains, "This is like school, although it could be more fun because it's a smaller group of kids. They get more individual instruction. There's a feeling of being accepted and understood."

Bill Adams says, "They feel loved and wanted here. It really makes a difference."

The CDP hopes that difference will carry over. Dr. Pe explains, "Our primary focus really is for them to be well-integrated with their families and their school."

The Adams hope Andrew has learned enough skills during the summer that he'll be able to keep up the positive attitude during the school year. However, the family says they're still trying to work with their school district to get Andrew in the school year program.