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Speaking out about autism

New Lakewood clinic offers needed therapies

Sky Bridge Therapies offers a wide range of programs to work with autistic children. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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"It is a different way of processing what is around us," said Wendy Cochran, clinic administrator and owner of Sky Bridge Therapies in Lakewood. "It is a different way of seeing the world, a different approach to life."

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communications, as well as by unique strengths and differences.

Almost 20 years ago, Cochran's eldest child was diagnosed as autistic. Her emotional responses ricocheted between guilt to hopelessness to helplessness. After pulling "myself up by my bootstraps," she began a quest to bring about the best results she could.

That's when the hard work began.

While working 40 hours a week, Cochran made the time to take her child from one speech center to another to get the help her child needed.

"Back then, the methods of therapy were not fully understood or appreciated," she continued. "I had to become an advocate in the school system, finding doctors and therapist who would support and move my child toward a goal of functioning as positively as he could among typical kids in society."

A decade later, Cochran's second child began to exhibit some of the same symptoms that his older brother had.

While knowing what she faced, Cochran became acutely aware of another challenge that faced her and other parents working with autistic children.

"The obstacle was that there were six months to a year waiting list for care," she said, "and when he was finally seen I was spending tons of time commuting him all over Pierce County for therapy sessions."

Cochran learned by trial and error what worked and what didn't. Those lessons led to the formation of Sky Bridge Therapies LLC, where parents with autistic children can find all the services they need in one place.

This is good news for the Joint Base Lewis-McChord community.

As of August 2017, the Madigan Army Medical website had a posting stating there were 1,000 children with disabilities at JBLM.  

"That is a phenomenal number of children and families needing support," Cochran continued.  

In March of this year, she and an experienced team of professionals opened Sky Bridge Therapies, which provides speech, feeding and occupational therapies.

"My business partner, Dianna Finley, is a former military wife whose husband just transitioned out. Between the two of us, we understand the struggles of being the parent of special needs children and the challenges faced by families when their spouse is deployed," Cochran added.

Sky Bridge provides the best possible therapy environment with state-of-the-art equipment and methods of therapy.

"Using creativity and skills, we are getting results for our patients," concluded Cochran. "We provide the treatment that provides children with the best lives possible."

Sky Bridge Therapies, 9307 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood, 253.201.1234,

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