A family’s trip to a better life for autistic son

An Arcanum family works to make a better life for their autistic son. (WDTN Photo)

ARCANUM, Ohio (WDTN) – A Darke County community is rallying around a family that hopes a new form of therapy will help their autistic son.

It would mean expensive trips to Massachusetts to learn the therapy technique that could help Callum Watt.

Callum, 4, has good days and bad.

“He has problems with socially engaging with us and with his brother. He just only nominally relates to us,” said Rana Watt, Callum’s mother.

Callum was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

His parents, Rana and Ethan, say they knew something was wrong very early on.

“Around 15 to 18 months, he just kind of was in his own world and we would try to say his name and he we just couldn’t snap him out of it.”

The diagnosis came after a trip to Children’s Hospital and it marked a dark time for the family.

“It’s not just something that you can fix. It’s very overwhelming to have a special needs child. It really is because there’s the constant worry of not doing enough. I guess that’s our biggest worry.”

That worry is funneled into determination to bring Callum out of his shell.

The Watts say they found long waiting lists for local therapies and ended up driving to Centerville from Arcanum five times a week for help.

Now, a therapist comes to their home nearly every day. They focus on his daily behaviors, his special diet and his school-like therapy called ABA.

The Watts want to add another opportunity for Callum to grow. It’s called Sunrise Therapy and it is more play based.

To implement it, the Watts would have to make trips to Massachusetts to learn how to do it themselves.

“Sunrise, of course, was a little cost prohibitive for us in the past because we didn’t have around $3,000 or $4,000 just to spend for the actual seminar.”

Their Arcanum neighbors have stepped up, donating the money Rana needs to make the trip.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response from the community so far and friends and family as well.”

Now, they just need the funds to send Ethan.

All the way, they have dreams of enrolling Callum in public school and watching him thrive.

“Of course, it’s a lot of paperwork and it’s very overwhelming, but…,” said Rana.

“You are your own advocate when it comes to your child,” said Ethan Watt.

Rana plans to travel to Massachusetts for a Sunrise Therapy seminar in April.

There is also a quilt auction in the works to raise money for Ethan’s trip.

If you would like to help the Watt family, they set up a savings account in Callum’s name at the Arcanum branch of Greenville National Bank.

Just mention Callum’s name or write it on the check.

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