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Autism Speaks: Shervin's Journey

Autism Speaks: Shervin’s Journey Ten-year-old Shervin Evans was diagnosed with autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the tender age of 4. ASD refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.* The prevalence of this disorder is also growing steadily in The Bahamas. As Shervin’s loving family knows, there is no one size fits all approach to autism treatment and intervention. In this post, his mom, Tamara Evans, Manager of Settlements at CFAL, shares her experience raising an autistic child in the hope of helping others who may have concerns about their child’s development or may be embarking upon a similar path.   How did you come learn that Shervin was autistic?  Shervin was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 ½. Around 18 months, we noticed he had poor eye contact, seemed afraid of crowds and loud noises like laughing and clapping, his speech was not developing compared to his older sisters when they were his age, and seemed distant or not connecting socially. These concerns became more prevalent as he got older, and after monitoring his development in these areas with the support of his pediatrician, we decided to do some testing. We started with a referral to a neurologist. The neurologist did a slew of tests including a CT scan of the brain and electroencephalogram (EEG) to rule out anything physical or abnormal with the brain. Once those tests came out clean, he referred us to a psychologist who did another slew of tests which confirmed ASD.   Did you have any experience in dealing with autism before you became concerned about his development? I had no personal experience of dealing with Autism, but we did know people with children on the spectrum. The initial idea that Shervin may have been a child on the spectrum came through googling his symptoms.   What kind of treatment and intervention did you seek once he was diagnosed? How much progress has he made since then? Immediately upon diagnosis we ramped up speech therapy sessions. We had engaged a speech therapist before we had a diagnosis due to his speech delay. We also started occupational therapy, placed him in a special school with an Autism unit, and got him into extracurricular activities such as swimming and soccer to help with his socialization skills. Shervin has made tremendous progress since his initial diagnosis. He can sit in crowds and hear loud laughing and clapping with no sensory overload, his eye contact has improved. He is able to speak in sentences and now able to respond better to who, what, where questions more clearly than he did 3 years ago. He can put on and take off his clothing on his own and prep his own pizza and foods he likes. He writes in cursive and is now learning to add and subtract by regrouping three place values (yay)!   How has his diagnosis affected your family? When Shervin first got his diagnosis, we got very busy. It was speech therapy and occupational therapy twice a week, follow up visits with the neurologist and psychologist, extra classes and extracurricular activities. There was no time to delay, we thought. We understood early that if we worked on his plan of care aggressively, his chances of improving his speech (receptive and conversational) while balancing his childhood needs would bode well for a successful outcome. My husband and I work as a team and include our girls in the process. They were very active as well, so it was easy to include some of his social skill building activities around their activities. It was sometimes difficult because that meant him being in crowds and us having to sit away from the noise at times. It meant sitting outside the door at a movie theatre with him as the girls watched a movie or finding a spot outside a sporting event to have him engaged for hours while they competed or sitting in the foyer at church so he can roll his playdoh during service. We knew that no matter what his behavior was like, we were not going to keep him at home. We move as a family unit and we dealt with the various changes and stages as a family in various environments and today we no longer have those issues. We’ve become more patient in the process and our faith has increased.   Have you received a lot of community support? It indeed takes a village. Without the support of our family, friends, work and church families, we would not be where we are today with Shervin’s progress. Over the years, he has been in swimming, soccer, keyboard classes, he is a member of the 30th Company of Boys Brigade, took part in the Awana, Sunday School and children's church programs at our church. He attended Gleniston Center for Learning, Blairwood Academy, and now attends the Coral Academy at South Haven. All of these along with his speech therapy now make up his plan of care.   Who would you like to thank for their support of Shervin and of your family? The list of people we would like to thank for their love and support over the years is as broad as the autism spectrum! First, we thank our loving and heavenly Father and Saviour, Jesus, who blessed us with Shervin and has been guiding and empowering us throughout. Without Him, we can do nothing. Shervin’s progress and growth are due to His loving provision and grace. Thanks to Shervin’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, Sasha Gardiner (Speech and Language Pathologist), speech therapists at Great Speech, Coach Coyle, Ms. Amy and Ms, Zenobia (Doctors Hospital Rehab), Captain Charles Smith and the 30th Company of the Boys Brigade who have accepted Shervin and sensitized the entire company about Autism, Tangy Curry-Dinnick and Coaches Charles III and Chadero (Evolve Functional Fitness Swim School), therapists at Dan Marino Outpatient Center (Weston, Fl), Catherine Higgs-Bethel (psychologist), Dr. Demeritte (neurologist), Mrs. Naomi Cumberbatch and Family, Rev. Judy Cooper and Ms. Lakeisha Moss, Ms. Gwen Evans, Ms. Shemeca and Ms. Kim and the Blairwood Academy Family, Sonia Jones and The Coral Academy Family, pastors and members of Abundant Life Bible Church, Mrs. Joyce Knowles and The Ladies Prayer group at ALBC, Mr. Anthony Ferguson, Mrs. Pamela Musgrove-Ferguson and my CFAL family who have been our cheerleaders from day one.   What is next for Shervin? What is your hope for Shervin’s future? If you ask Shervin what he wants to be when he grows up, he will say, “a scientist”. We continue with speech therapy twice a week, help him meet his educational goals through special education, keep him engaged in activities that will help him develop spiritually, physically, and emotionally to help him become that scientist he wants to be. His Dad and I are also looking at the Gentlemen's Club as a possible addition to his plan of care for socialization and some graphic design classes since he loves to create words with playdoh and 3D modeling.   What is your advice for parents who may be worried about their child’s development but are hesitant to act? Do not let fear paralyze you from getting the help you need for your child. Do not allow anyone to dictate or tell you that your child cannot or will not. Start with your pediatrician or a healthcare professional. Seek wise counsel and support. Do not let a diagnosis predict the outcome. Read up on symptoms and go with your gut instinct (we can tell when something is not right). Respond like Jochebed, Moses’s mother, and do not allow the ‘proclamation’ to determine your child’s future. *Source: autismspeaks.org Photo (l to r): (standing) Aaleyah and Ariel. (seated) Shervin Ethan, Tamara, and Shervin Sr.  

CFAL Wins International Best Investment and Advisory Firm Award

The leading investment management firm in The Bahamas has done it again. Colina Financial Advisors Ltd. (CFAL) has received the 2020 Acquisition International (AI) Global Excellence Award for Best Investment and Advisory Firm Award (Caribbean). This is the second time that CFAL has received this prestigious award, which it also won in 2018. “This incredible achievement would not have been possible without the steadfast commitment of our team,” said Anthony Ferguson, President of CFAL. “Our staff worked diligently through the many transitions and adjustments that we had to make last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This flexibility and dedication to putting the needs of our clients first enabled us to provide them with the highest level of personalized service. We thank our team and our clients for their unwavering trust and support.” In a statement announcing the 2020 award winners, AI International noted that Our Global Excellence Awards are an annual programme which has been…launched to recognise and reward the firms and individuals whose sustained outstanding performance has seen them leading the way in their industry. Honouring these top performers is done through a rigorous and in-depth selection process from our in-house awards specialists. The team left no stone unturned to ensure that every one of our chosen firms was selected based on proven performance over the past 12 months, guaranteeing that all award recipients were chosen purely on merit and can take pride in the knowledge that they truly deserve their place among this year’s esteemed winners.” In December issue of Acquisition International Magazine, which is distributed to readers in 170 countries every month, CFAL was highlighted for bringing innovation and service excellence into the investment management industry. As the largest pension provider in The Bahamas, the company has invested heavily in proprietary technology that enables its team to address the needs of its clients quickly, building significant customer loyalty since the firm was first established in 1997. “The pandemic has done a lot of damage to our economy and our way of life, but in some ways, it has strengthened us,” Ferguson continued. “It has forced many businesses to modernize their business models, enhance their services, and anticipate the needs of clients to sustain the business. These may be challenging times, but they also present an opportunity for us to improve. At CFAL, we have embraced that opportunity wholeheartedly and that commitment is paying off.”   CFAL is entrusted with the management and administration of more than $1.9 billion in assets and advises individual and institutional clients both domestically and internationally on a range of services, including pension management, brokerage, and investment management accounts. CFAL Securities Ltd., a subsidiary of CFAL, provides domestic and international brokerage, market making, and other corporate advisory services. Photo Caption: (L to R) A winning team: Sophia Thurston, VP of Pension Administration and Operations; Anthony Ferguson, President; and Pamela Musgrove-Ferguson, VP of Investments, led the CFAL team to win the 2020 Acquisition International (AI) Global Excellence Award for Best Investment and Advisory Firm Award (Caribbean). CFAL also won this coveted award in 2018.

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About CFAL

CFAL is a leading provider of pension administration, retirement planning, corporate advisory, investment management, saving, and wealth management solutions. Since 1997, we have helped corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals worldwide to secure their financial futures through innovation, expertise, and integrity. Learn more about our client-centric approach at www.cfal.com.

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