Story: Home visitor helps Keene family navigate 'overwhelming' autism diagnosis | Monadnock United Way

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Story: Home visitor helps Keene family navigate 'overwhelming' autism diagnosis

Pictured: Chris and his younger brother, Gino


Jessica McCarthy does not know what she would do without her home visitor.

McCarthy’s son was recently diagnosed with autism. Since December, he has been working with a speech therapist from Rise for baby and family.

“Our personal speech therapist is awesome,” McCarthy said. “She really took the time to build a relationship with my son Chris.”

McCarthy said it does not come easily to Chris to play with others, but the home visitor from Rise took her time earning his trust and following his lead. She now sees improvement in Chris’ speech thanks in part to the once-a-week home visits from his speech therapist.

McCarthy said having the speech therapist come to their home has made an “uncomfortable situation comfortable” for Chris. 

“To have someone come see them in their environment, it’s huge,” she said.

It has also been convenient for McCarthy because she had another baby a few months ago, and having a home visitor means it is one less appointment to which she has to take her children.

The home visitor from Rise also helped McCarthy’s family navigate through the confusing process of getting the autism diagnosis. 

“When I realized that we needed to get help for my son, it was hard and overwhelming to figure out what steps to take,” McCarthy said. “Our home visitor got us in contact with all of the right people and mapped everything out for us." 

And with Chris transitioning out of Rise and into preschool, the home visitor has also attended appointments at the preschools with McCarthy and her family.  

“They’ve helped in so many ways,” McCarthy said. “They’re almost like your counselor, too, even though they are there for your kid.”

Rise for baby and family is one of four agencies that make up the Monadnock Home Visiting Alliance, a pilot collective impact initiative launched by Monadnock United Way last year. The alliance recently received a $51,000 grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. MHVA officials say the grant will allow them to increase their community outreach, with a goal of expanding service so that home visiting services like those that helped McCarthy and her son can also help other Monadnock region families.