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‘It Makes Me Happy That You Have Good Memories of Therapy’

Tagnan Ribaudo, left, is much taller than his mother and holds his arm around her. Michelle Ribaudo, right, wears a T-shirt that says “Advocate like a Mother.”
Rebecca Smith

Tagnan and Michelle Ribaudo are a mother and son in Columbia. Tagnan is currently in high school and also has high functioning autism. This past spring he spoke to Missouri state legislators about the importance of therapies for people with disabilities.

They shared some of their memories of therapy and about how these therapies have impacted both their lives.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org

Michelle Ribaudo: Well, it was, it was a social group of all boys. It was all for boys. And the moms, we could sit out and watch through an observation window, and inevitably, every time, somebody would get mad about something. So, you would hear the escalation and every mom would just kind of look like, "Okay, which one of us is it?"

Sometimes it was you. Sometimes it wasn't.

Tagnan Ribaudo: I can definitely believe that knowing the - how angry or how easily angry I used to get, which is a lot better now.

Michelle: What do you think helped with that the most?

Tagnan: Partially medicine, but also part like... Medicine helped me kind of regain my focus more, which allowed me to kind of think clearer, which then kind of... things that I struggled to learn in the past, kind of fully clicked in place then.

That's probably why I started kind of overanalyzing the root causes of like my anger and whatnot and I was able to kind of figure out how to try to prevent that. It was only like, once or twice during freshman year of high school that I had any big meltdown type thing and it was mostly limited to like flipping a chair or something.

Not anything as extreme as when I was younger, which, when you're younger, the obvious escalation is hitting someone.

Michelle: Mmhmm.

Well, I'm glad to hear you say that because it was a tough decision for your dad and I whether to go medicine or - because we did therapies, and they were awesome and helped a lot with your coordination. But then that side, we were really, we struggled for years trying to decide whether to try or not. So...

Tagnan: I think it was, um, this on. Like, I mentioned, I remembered. I remember a few therapies I had.

Michelle: Of course, I remember... the thing that when I really noticed, I mean, I could see therapies helping like all along, but it was when you started skipping. Do you remember all the steps to skipping?

Tagnan: Yes! I remember that!

Because I was so proud of when I finally managed to skip. I remember after I kind of first achieved it, I don't think there was many times where like in the parking lot or something like going to the car that I wouldn't skip because –

Michelle: You were so excited.

Tagnan: I was so excited that I had learned how to do that I wanted to use it every day.

Michelle: Well, it makes me happy that you have good memories of therapy and not that you hated it because there were some times when you were younger, you did not want to do it, but then they always made it fun.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.
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