Meet Quinn
A father’s dedication allows his daughter the opportunity for life-changing therapy

When Quinn Harris was born by emergency cesarean section, she wasn’t breathing.

A respiratory therapist was there to help revive her and she recovered quickly; she only spent a few hours in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) as a precautionary measure and was soon released to be with her parents, Quentin and Raquel. As far as the Harris family was concerned, Quinn was a happy healthy baby, and they were excited to bring her home.  

A few red flags 

Quinn’s father worked nights, so he spent the days caring for her. Quentin noticed some things about her that stood out. She would rock while watching T.V. and slap her arms when she got excited. “Comparing her to her older sister, Quincy, I noticed some developmental differences that triggered me to watch her more closely, but autism never popped up in my mind,” says Quentin.  

However, by the time she was a year old, Quinn wasn’t responding to her name, and she wasn’t trying to speak. Quentin’s concerns spurred him to do some research into Quinn’s symptoms. Everything he found pointed to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). “I had a typical parent meltdown,” he says. “But I still didn’t tell my wife, because I didn’t want to accept it. I was hoping I was wrong.”

A few weeks later, one of Quinn’s daycare teachers took Quentin aside and told him that she thought he should have Quinn screened for autism. This conversation pushed Quentin to set up a meeting with Babies Can’t Wait. They did a home evaluation with Quinn and found that she met the qualifications for having ASD. It was through them that the family got a referral to Marcus Autism Center. The center’s testing confirmed Quinn did have autism. 
"Comparing her to her older sister, Quincy, I noticed some developmental differences that triggered me to watch her more closely, but autism never popped up in my mind."

Finding a way to balance therapy and work

Quin was approved to come to Marcus Autism Center for therapy once a week. In response, Quentin was forced to quit his job to get her to the appointments. “That was first of many financial hits that we had to take to make sure Quinn got the help she needed,” recalls Quentin. “I started doing some odd jobs to help up get by.”  Later, Quentin found another job that allowed for Quinn’s weekly therapy sessions, but soon after Quinn was approved for intensive, daily interventions at Marcus Autism Center. 

“When I got that call at work from Marcus Autism Center, I put Marcus the team member on hold to go and talk to my director. They wouldn’t work with me, so I turned in my notice right then and there. Two weeks later I was without a job again, but as far as I was concerned, nothing was going to stop me from getting Quinn to therapy every single day.” 

Making breakthroughs thanks to intensive therapies

When Quinn started at Marcus Autism Center, she was sleeping just one to two hours a night and having meltdowns  that lasted hours every day. “I would see her fall asleep during therapy or having extended meltdowns, and I would think there’s no way anything’s being accomplished.” Yet, Quinn’s providers saw progress and encouraged the family to stick with it. 
 
“Being new to this and coming to Marcus and being embraced by the staff and the other families that were there, that really helped me with the emotions I was dealing with around having a special needs child,” says Quentin. In addition, Quinn was making huge strides. She started sleeping through the night, her meltdowns reduced dramatically, and she even started saying words and responding to vocal commands. Just the other day Quentin heard her counting to herself in Portuguese, her mother’s native language
"Being new to this and coming to Marcus and being embraced by the staff and the other families that were there, that really helped me with the emotions I was dealing with around having a special needs child."
“Before Marcus, it would be difficult for me to do something as simple as drop Quinn off at daycare. Even when I brought her to Marcus it was difficult. She would have a meltdown; she wouldn’t let me go. I would be an emotional wreck driving to work after leaving her like that. But after therapy, I would take her to daycare and she would hug and kiss me and walk off on her own,” says Quentin. “I knew she was getting better, but I was getting better, too, because now I could leave and focus on what I needed to do.”

This is autism

“Having a child with autism is mentally draining. It’s physically draining. It’s financially draining. But you find a way to make sure your child gets what she needs,” says Quentin. “For us that meant me leaving two jobs and then cutting back when I did find one that worked with our schedule so that Quinn could keep Medicaid. It’s daunting. I was there for two hours every Monday through Friday for two years. As a family, we wouldn’t have been able to do that without support from grants and funding from donors.”

Today, Quinn is a very affectionate and loving child, and thanks to Marcus Autism Center and the excellent care of the clinicians who helped her, she is happy pre-K student who is adored by her family. Her father hopes that as she grows, she inherits a world that’s more accepting of her special needs and welcomes and cares for her generosity and warmth.