“As a baby, Munroe was very energetic and I thought, “I hope this isn’t his normal”,” said Tatum, Munroe’s mother. “When he started crawling, I felt something wasn’t right and got him evaluated. Munroe was diagnosed with autism when he was 2-years-old. It was actually a relief to get his diagnosis.”
Munroe is a big child. When he was 3, he looked like he was 6. He’s not an angry child, but he couldn’t communicate and his frustration showed in anger. Munroe didn’t get the benefit of “he’s only a 3-year- old”. He was expected to act like a 6-year-old.
“Munroe is also an Eloper,” said Tatum. “He would run off no matter where we were and it became a safety issue. I always had to have a hand on him. It reached a point where I couldn’t allow him to enjoy the things I knew he wanted to do.”
Tatum knew she needed more than basic child care. “I know how it felt to drop Munroe off at childcare and worry that they viewed him as a problem,” said Tatum. “As a parent, it was disheartening.”
A family friend, who is a psychologist, recommended Rainbows. Tatum and Munroe’s father, Lance made the financial decision to get Munroe in. “Rainbows is an open door,” said Tatum. “I am a strong advocate for Munroe and will fight tooth and nail to get him what he needs to be successful.” Tatum says Michelle Croomes, Early Care and Education Coordinator, is always receptive and wants what is best for Munroe. “If you don’t get answers, you don’t know how to help your child,” said Tatum. “And if you’re not helping them, you’re hurting them.”
At Rainbows, Munroe learned to spell, read, tell time- everything a Kindergarten student needs to know. He graduated from Rainbows’ Pre-Kindergarten program in 2020 and now attends public kindergarten in the mornings. In the afternoons, Munroe returns to Rainbows to continue Autism therapy services.
With determination and perseverance, Tatum was able to procure a specialized iPad, Munroe’s Augmentative Speaking Device. It has a program on it that helps Munroe communicate. Rainbows’ Autism Services team went through extensive training with a speech/language pathologist to learn how to use the program and insure Munroe was getting the maximum benefit. Because Munroe is able to spell and read, he can now type out what he wants, needs or feels and his device will speak for him. “His “Talker” changed everything,” said Tatum. “He is now able to communicate.”
Now the biggest challenge is getting Munroe to communicate verbally- to speak. “We will not allow this disability to take over his life,” said Tatum. “He will be a functional member of society. I want him to be able to take care of himself or at least tell others how to help him. He can do it and nothing is going to stop him,” said Tatum.
“Munroe is a very caring little soul,” said Danielle Parrott, Autism Specialist. “He’s always wanting and willing to give a hug, and he has such a wonderful smile and laugh. He has come a long way from when he first entered Rainbows’ services and has made gains in his behavior, self-help, and communication skills.”
“There is no other place like Rainbows for younger children in Wichita,” said Tatum. “That building stands for children like Munroe. Thank you for me, for my family, for everything.”