The Gift of Peace

Marissa is a girl on the move. She loves going places…museums, camping, parks, and any place with a Merry-Go-Round. If it were up to Marissa, she would have plans booked for every weekend. It is her confident and adventurous spirit that drives her to learn and study subjects ranging from the human body to the history behind carousels.

With her high energy and ability to self-entertain, it was not until Marissa was four that her parents could tell that some things were not adding up in her development. She did not like loud sounds, although, she herself, would squeal loudly all the time. She was not interested in other kids and rarely played with others. It was in preschool that the Nolte’s knew that Marissa needed to be examined. It was at BRAINS in Grand Rapids that Marissa was diagnosed with autism.

Marissa received Occupational Therapy through the Center for Childhood Development, where she worked on large muscle and fine motor skills. Due to struggles between Marissa interacting with her brother, it was recommended that she have Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Therapy. ABA therapy uses systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures to teach functional life skills, communication skills, and/or social skills. Thanks to a scholarship from Family Hope Foundation, the Nolte’s were able to affordably obtain this treatment for Marissa.

For over a year, Marissa has been doing in-home ABA Therapy, and it has done amazing things! Prior to this, Marissa could not be left alone in a room with her younger brother because if he made a sound she did not like or had a toy she wanted, she would become physically aggressive with him. Thanks to therapy, Marissa is learning how to use her words to handle a situation. Now, Marissa will even ask her brother to play and will push him on the swing. These are no little things. These are huge things for the Nolte family.

On the carrousel of life, the Nolte’s have experienced their ups and downs and going around in circles, but they never gave up. They were dedicated to finding the solutions that would help their family. Paired with the right therapy, and the support of Family Hope Foundation, they have seen breakthrough. It is with excitement that Marissa and her family embark on the next adventure together.

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