For years, Hallie would push her mother away when she tried to read to her.
However, after attending Hope for only a few months, a miracle happened. One night before bed, the 9-year-old handed her mother a book.
Hallie, who has been diagnosed with autism and an intellectual disability, began attending Hope in February as a day student after her home school lacked the resources and structure to handle her needs, her mom said.
“I was like, ‘My gosh, you want me to read to you?’” recalled her mother Amy Klespitz. “Now, every night it’s a ritual that we have to read before bed.”
Hallie’s favorite books are the Winnie the Pooh and Curious George series.
“It’s just been an amazing change,” Amy added.
In the classroom, Hallie’s progress has amazed the Hope teaching staff.
“If I’m not here, she could take over,” said teacher Libby Rambach. “Given the tools, she’s been able to achieve what she’s capable of.”
Before coming to Hope, Hallie had troubles controlling her frustration and at times would scream for long periods of time. Hope staff members taught Hallie a counting method to calm herself down when she’s upset and her behavior steadily improved. Teachers used a consistent educational plan to address her needs and incorporated lessons with music, which helped Hallie focus to memorize numbers and words.
Now, Hallie knows the class schedule, passes out materials and collects papers. Her vocabulary has also increased, Libby said.
“She loves learning so much that she’s continually upping the demands of what’s expected of her,” she said. “Hope provides a setting that allows her to reach her optimum growth and development.”
In the past, Hallie did not like the feel of water, which made it hard for her mom to bathe her. At first she didn’t want to step a foot in the school pool, but staff members worked patiently to get Hallie to place a foot in the pool. Next, it was her legs. Now, she goes completely into the water with an instructor.
Hallie’s progress has even improved the quality of life for her family, which includes a younger and older brother. Now she’s willing to take baths, go to grocery stores, visit relatives and go on other family outings. She also brushes her teeth on her own and helps with household chores, her mom said.
“I think Hope makes her really happy,” her mom said. “My whole family has noticed the change in her.”
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