Photo courtesy of Melissa Hutchins

Melissa Hutchins, a mother of 3 from Lebanon, Kentucky, loves getting sweet hugs from her children, as well as the letters, notes, paintings and pictures they create for her.

“I feel loved by my kids and enjoy celebrating accomplishments with them,” she said. But motherhood doesn’t come without a few struggles, which is why Melissa joined the Rethink Benefits program, as offered by her  employer through the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan.

“I sought help from Rethink for behavioral guidance for my 10-year-old daughter, Adilyn,” Melissa said. Adilyn, or Adi for short, is diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and depression.

“Her behavior was challenging and affecting our family life, and affecting her two siblings (Kylie, age 8, and Cole, age 4),” she said. “Adi, at the time, took anti-depressants and ADHD medication, but her behavior was still problematic.”

Melissa said her daughter would yell and curse when frustrated, citing examples of changes in plans as a trigger point.

“She is not able to be flexible when unknown/unexpected events take place,” Melissa said. “For example, if she is told that we are going to a water park and severe weather hits and derails our plans, she can’t just go with the flow. She ‘erupts.’”

Those actions are what led Melissa to reach out to Rethink for one-on-one virtual consultations with a behavior expert. Through virtual, video-based meetings, Melissa and her chosen Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) have been able to strategize ways to navigate times when family members did not want to be around her daughter.

“Jen has helped me so much with Adi,” Melissa said. “She helped me create schedules for Adi to follow so that negative behavior lessens. She helped me come up with a reward system, so Adi earned the things that motivate her through following the rules.”

One of those rewards is screen time on her phone. “If Adi completes simple chores without complaining, back talking, hitting, cursing, etc., she earns time on the phone. She can earn up to an hour a day,” Melissa said.

Melissa now meets regularly with her BCBA, implementing tactics to help improve her daughter’s behavior and taking advantage of video lessons and downloadable resources from Rethink’s web-based portal. While she had been scheduling meetings twice a month, the improvements in behavior have given her skills to allow for less-frequent consultations.

“Adi has improved her behavior, and now I only see Jen once every 3 weeks,” Melissa said of the family’s progress. “Adi is still not perfect and we are working toward her goals, but Jen is there to support us as her parents and it makes me feel so much more confident as a parent!”

The improvements at home continue, and Melissa said she is thankful for the ability to tap into Rethink as part of her benefits offering as an elementary school teacher in the Marion County Board of Education. Rethink is offered through the Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan.

“I am grateful to my employer for having the insight that parents and teachers need support for behavior challenges for their students and (their own) children,” she said. “When children’s behavior improves, learning improves and social dynamics improve.”

Rethink is driving equity, inclusion and advancement for the neurodiverse population.
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