April is National Autism Awareness Month and what a great opportunity to not only promote autism awareness but autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.
In Jacksonville, FL, Hope Haven, one of the community’s leading nonprofit providers of specialized services for children and their families, serves more than 5,000 families each year.
Many families come to Hope Haven exclusively for education and or therapy-related services to help gain a sense of comfort, confidence, and enrichment. Options include the Hope Haven’s Discovery School for preschool, kindergarten and lower elementary students, and Speech-Language, Occupational and Physical Therapy.
At the Discovery School, a team of highly qualified teachers and professionals provide children with an engaging, inclusive environment to learn, discover and thrive among a diverse group of students.
Renee and her son Liam are just one of the thousands of families who have have been a recipient of some of these services. Liam, age five, is in the kindergarten class at the Discovery School. Liam was diagnosed at an early age with moderate to severe autism. Renee discovered Hope Haven during the 2016-2017 school year after months of searching for summer camps focused on serving children with special needs.
Before Hope Haven, Liam was enrolled in the ESE program at a Duval County Public School. Having attended the summer camp at Hope Haven and learning about the Discovery School, Renee saw an opportunity to make the switch to private school. So far, the experience has been life-changing.
“The staff have been extremely flexible to meet the needs of our family. After completing a background check, they gave us and our outside ABA therapy to come onsite 4-5 days out to help him with behavioral issues. His therapists can pull him out of class, or point out things going on in class which allows the teachers to continue with the curriculum. While Liam is onsite, he can do his speech and occupational therapy with Hope Haven therapists as well. This has given both myself and Liam comfort and consistency staying at Hope Haven giving him in-house resources,” stated Renee.
“Since Liam has been at Hope Haven, we have seen major improvements. He’s potty trained, his speech is improving, behavioral issues are being fixed, and overall, Liam is flourishing. At five years of age, he can label every state on the map, including many other countries. He is thriving with addition and subtraction (100% thanks to his teachers) and has fallen in love with science where he can label all the planets in our solar system and even tell you the different clouds depending on the weather.”
Renee and her family couldn’t have had this opportunity without the financial assistance they received thanks to the Gardner Scholarship offered through Hope Haven. The scholarship covers Liam’s tuition, therapies, and other costs associated with their needs. Financial contributions are essential to helping more families like Renee and Liam find hope and transformation. All tax-deductible donations allow Hope Haven to serve under-resourced families on a sliding fee scale basis, by creating a fund that will offset their costs in accordance with their ability to pay.
If you’re a family looking for hope, there are many great resources available if you have children or adults with special needs. Parents with preschool or kindergarten age students can also consider enrolling them in the Discovery School. For further information, parents can contact Hope Haven at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (904) 346-5100 to talk about starting their child’s educational journey.