Ava Holmberg, 8, is a Penticton resident and has severe autism, which impairs her ability to communicate and engage with the world around her. Her mother, Vikki, said their family needs to fundraise an additional $26,000 each year to provide Ava with her much-needed intervention therapy. (Contributed)

Ava Holmberg, 8, is a Penticton resident and has severe autism, which impairs her ability to communicate and engage with the world around her. Her mother, Vikki, said their family needs to fundraise an additional $26,000 each year to provide Ava with her much-needed intervention therapy. (Contributed)

More support needed for Penticton family with severely autistic daughter

Vikki Holmberg said they need to raise $26,000 annually for Ava’s treatment

A Penticton family is continuing to advocate and fundraise for treatment for their severely autistic daughter.

Ava Holmberg is eight-years-old, but her mother, Vikki, said her mental capacity is more akin to that of a toddler. This is due to Ava’s extreme autism, leaving her non-verbal and unable to communicate with and engage in the world around her.

“She’s in Grade 3 at school but she’s not reading or writing or participating really in anything that they are doing,” said Vikki.

Vikki explained that because Ava is “low-functioning” – a term she uses hesitantly to define her daughter’s lack of development – she relies on behavioural interventionists and analysts to work with her throughout the week and develop programs that assist in her learning.

These specialists also work with Vikki and her other family members to “train” them in working with Ava when they are not around. Though the Holmberg’s government funding of $6,000 annually, Vikki says the costs for these specialists and their programs equal $32,000 per year, which does not even include extra-curriculars like swimming, which would also be beneficial.

READ MORE: Penticton family seeks to fundraise for autistic daughter

“Ava needs a lot more intensive treatment. The program that we’re in teaches the parents, so we work with her all the time because obviously she sees us the most. But she needs a lot more intervention though, for us to get more help,” said Vikki. “We privately hired one behavioural interventionist, but we’re hoping to bring on a second … these specialists are the most costly because they are the most involved.”

She said they help Ava with language and speaking, potty training, muscle strengthening and physiotherapy and more.

Vikki said she “fought very hard with the school board” to have an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) program set up at her school.

“I wanted her to have as much opportunity for learning as possible,” said Vikki, who added Ava is also in a partially-covered At-Home program that provides extended school therapy to school-aged children.

The Holmbergs have held multiple fundraisers in the past to cover some of the costs of Ava’s therapy, but Vikki said it is hard because it is an ongoing thing and she feels like she is “harassing the community.”

“We have a GoFundMe account, we have a Facebook fundraiser, we have held bottle drives, we have an ongoing Epicure fundraiser online,” said Vikki. “This is not just a one and done thing, we need to raise an additional $26,000 for her therapy every year.”

On top of fundraising and getting Ava her much-needed therapy, Vikki said it is also challenging that people do not fully recognize Ava’s condition. She said it is complicated since autism is a spectrum, some people assume that Ava’s lack of development is because she is spoiled.

“Even talking to other parents with higher functioning kids (with autism), they ask why is all this stuff necessary. There are some where autism is just a mild impairment but they can get through life,” said Vikki. “And then there’s Ava, who without really successful intervention will end up in an institution.”

Ava’s struggles will only get worse as she continues to grow, said Vikki, who added that she is very strong for her age and has started to lash out aggressively in certain circumstances. This can be common for people with non-verbal autism, as they don’t know how to express themselves, but they do not mean to hurt anyone.

Vikki’s hopes are that they can continue to afford this costly therapy so that Ava can have a chance at leading an independent life, and that the burden of caring for her does not fall on her siblings in the future.

Those interested in learning more about Holmberg’s ongoing fundraisers can visit their Facebook group “Our Holmlife: Ava’s Autism Journey.” If you are interested in donating, you can reach out to Vikki at vikki.holmberg@gmail.com.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Ladybug Landing Child Care Centre in Salmon Arm remains open as one person who was at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm daycare owner upset by rumours related to positive COVID-19 test

Ladybug Landing’s Leigh-Anne Chapman impressed by response from Interior Health

Police are seeking further witnesses after an elderly woman who was struck by a vehicle in Salmon Arm succumbed to her injuries. (File Photo)
Salmon Arm pedestrian dies after being hit by truck along Highway 1

Collision took place on Jan. 15 in downtown Salmon Arm, police looking for witnesses

Responding to recent cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Shuswap schools, School District 83 Superintendent Peter Jory has asked staff and the public to be vigilant when it comes to the practice of good behaviours that help prevent the virus’ spread. (File photo)
COVID-19: North Okanagan-Shuswap school communities asked be vigilant

Superintendent Peter Jory responds to increasing COVID-19 numbers at schools.

In a Jan. 18 notice, Interior Health and Salmon Arm West Elementary confirmed a member of the school community tested positive for COVID-19 and, due to a possible transmission, advised students who ride School District 83's Monkey Bus be monitored for symptoms of the virus. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
COVID-19 case reported at Salmon Arm West Elementary

Interior Health advises students who ride Monkey Bus be monitored for symptoms

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Couple living at Summerland resort facing increases

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Moose chases two people near North Okanagan school

Conservation and dog control attending to the situation

The sale of the Kirschner Mountain Development for $22M marks the largest in Realtor history, in the Okanagan. (Contributed)
Kelowna mountain development sold for $22M

The sale of the 640-acre Kirschner Mountain development has made the history books

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

Most Read