The difference between ACT School and our son’s prior ‘educational environment’ is so vast it’s difficult to describe. Our son was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old, and by 20 months we had a full ABA-style program running out of our house. At 3 years old he entered the local public school’s early intervention program, where he began to struggle. Everybody pointed to the new environment, more people, more distractions, etc., as reasons why he would tend to do better at home, and we agreed it made sense. Unfortunately, the gap between our son’s progress at home and his progress at school continued to widen. 3 years and 5 classroom placements later we were presented IEP goals which were almost identical to his original intake goals – basically, the school system had been unable to teach him a single thing in 3 years and was ready to classify him as mentally retarded and put him in a classroom where learning wouldn’t be required! Fast forward to ACT School, and our son’s life has changed dramatically. From a purely academic standpoint, our son was being *taught* the same things every school-aged kid gets to learn. He excelled immediately, soaking up everything he could with a smile on his face. Seeing his schoolwork come home in his backpack each week has been amazing – math, spelling, creative writing – it’s a far cry from our previous experiences seeing notes about whether or not he cried, slept, or ate his lunch. In 2.5 years at ACT School he has learned enough to skip a grade; last spring he took the AIMS test at a higher grade level than the number of years he’s been in school! But the difference is far more than academics. Our son is learning about himself. How to communicate better (which had been a source of frustration). The importance of controlling his own body (and how to do it) compared with the crutch of having somebody else hold him steady. The hard work and small steps required down the long path towards independence... And these differences permeate throughout the rest of his life – he’s a happier, prouder, more confident kid than he’s ever been in his life. As an example, this summer we watched him independently make a new (typical) friend at a public swimming pool, whom he then swam and played with for the next hour – it was a satisfying, gratifying, proud-parent moment! ACT School.. Assuming Competence Today - I can’t imagine where we would be as a family or what life would be like if our son hadn’t enrolled at ACT School. Fortunately I don’t have to.
Our son, Matthew, now 19, has been a client of NMTSA for about a decade. He has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and is very limited in his verbal communication and social skills. One huge motivator for Matthew is music. He loves it! It's helped us open the door to more meaningful communication and interactions. Matthew has learned how to project his voice, which started as a whisper; slow down and better pace his speech; and better comprehend language and lessons when added to song. In addition, NMTSA was helpful when we experimented with an augmentative communication device and worked on articulation issues. We're most grateful to Suzanne Oliver, Jennifer Hempel and her team at NMTSA for their clinical expertise, professionalism, compassion and belief in our kids of all ages. Denise, Matthew's Mom