Renee was diagnosed with autism when she was four years old. Not long after she began kindergarten at public school, her mother, Kimberly, recognized that Renee's behaviors were interfering with her ability to learn. Renee had no means of communicating, and would often lash out and hit her teachers and classmates when her wants or needs were not met.
In her search for a school that would provide her daughter a more individualized approach to education, Kimberly found the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism at St. Joseph's Villa.
"The school felt like it was just right. I couldn't see her going anywhere else," she said.
At Sarah Dooley, Renee's teacher helped her communicate by labeling items in the classroom, from toys to food to technology. Renee learned to use new words, and how to ask for things she wanted without getting frustrated. After gaining the basic ability to say "yes" or "no," she continued to develop new communication skills that unlocked her world. Learning to communicate enabled Renee to read, solve math problems, and engage her community on field trips to places like restaurants and movie theaters.
Renee returned to public school this year and is doing very well in fourth grade. Kimberly says that Renee is talking more than ever, hardly has behavioral issues, and is much more flexible in trying new things.
"I absolutely loved her teachers and the staff," said Kimberly. "They are the best. They helped Renee come as far as she has."Visit our website
to learn more about how the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism helps students lead fuller and more independent lives.