Originally known as the Connecticut Center for Child Development, Milestones grew from one family’s determination to an organization of more than 200 highly-trained professionals dedicated to helping individuals achieve results. Here’s our story:
When Tyler Letso was born two months premature in 1989, his parents, Suzanne and Roger, soon noticed developmental differences from other children his age. Despite their persistence, his pediatrician simply attributed them to Tyler’s premature birth. It wasn’t until Tyler was four that his doctor acknowledged that his lack of functional speech was more than a developmental delay. At a time when only one in 10,000 children were diagnosed with autism—and few doctors or educational professionals understood the disorder—Tyler’s diagnosis meant the Letsos were on their own.
Initially, Tyler was enrolled in a special education program but made very little progress. He had no meaningful communication skills, only a few repetitive phrases. His inability to communicate left Tyler frustrated and prone to tantrums and self-injury. Life was hard and scary, and the future seemed bleak.
Fortunately, thanks to Suzanne’s background in medical research, a ray of hope appeared. She applied her skills to researching autism, and soon discovered the field of Applied Behavior Analysis—which seemed to offer promising results. At the time, her son’s educators were unwilling to adopt any of the principles of ABA and perceived Suzanne’s suggestions as pushy over-parenting. So on their own, the Letsos implemented a rudimentary ABA program at home. And suddenly, the little boy who seemed uneducable was able to learn. In fact, thanks to this new system, Tyler mastered 20 of the 22 learning objectives that had been in on his IEP for over a year in less than six weeks.
At this time, there were few schools that provided ABA services—and hundreds of kids were on waiting lists to get in. It became clear that Tyler would likely never be admitted, so the Letsos took matters into their own hands. They hired their first Behavioral Analyst and began a journey that would change the face of educational services for children and adults with autism in Connecticut.
In 1995, they established the Connecticut Center for Child Development (CCCD) out of their home and began offering consultations, workshops, and conferences to parents and educators who wanted to learn more about ABA. Demand was so high that it quickly became apparent they’d need more than just their dining room to run their fledgling nonprofit organization. After making over 700 phone calls to community centers, churches, synagogues, YMCAs, real estate agents—anyone that might have space, the Letsos opened their first school program in the basement of Trinity Church in Fairfield. With thirteen students, five behavior analysts, and a ten-member instructional staff, CCCD was on its way. And as the organization grew, so did the need for space—and the first dedicated school facility opened on Bridgeport Avenue in Milford in 1999.
Much like the Letsos’ personal experience with Tyler, CCCD’s growth was always driven by the unmet needs of the community. Soon, the need for new programs emerged, and CCCD began diagnostic and consultative services, after-school/extended day services, an adult day program, and a daycare center to name a few. Once again, the organization outgrew its space, and opened the Wolf Harbor Campus in 2010, followed by the Boston Post Road Campus in 2017.
“Over the last twenty years, CCCD had not only expanded but underwent a metamorphosis,” said Suzanne. In 2017, CCCD changed its name to Milestones Behavioral Services to represent its growth into other special needs populations as well as its dedication to helping the individuals we serve to become the best versions of themselves.
Today, the Letsos are glad to share that Tyler is a happy, productive young man who enjoys his life. Although he is still challenged by his autism, he is not defined by it. Roger and Suzanne are proud of the man he has become and grateful to be his parents.