When Jenna was born, her parents were overjoyed. Stacey and Steve marveled at their child’s tiny toes, her beautiful eyes and her precious little smile. Like all parents, they beamed with pride as their child took her first steps and spoke her first words.
But when Jenna was 14 months old, something happened. She suddenly stopped speaking and refused any eye contact. “Jenna didn’t respond at all when I cooed to her and held her,” her mother recalls. “Now I know that was the autism.”
As Jenna got older, her frustration in communicating triggered troublesome behaviors – behaviors that endangered herself, her brother and even her parents.
“We had to put locks on the doors and windows to keep her from wandering,” Stacey explains. “As she became increasingly aggressive, we couldn’t have friends over or have family activities outside the house. We couldn’t just put a sign on her that said ‘AUTISM’ so people would understand what was going on with our child.”
For years, Jenna’s family struggled to take care of her and keep her safe at home. But eventually, her parents realized that she needed a more structured environment. They realized they needed help, but they didn’t know where to turn…
…until they found The Hope Institute.
“Jenna is so much happier now, and we feel great about her being at Hope,” Stacey reports. “Hope has taught my daughter how to be self-sufficient, and that is her greatest accomplishment. I can barely believe she’s learned to brush her teeth, wash her hair, make her bed and do her own laundry!”
In fact, Jenna’s doing so well at Hope that she’s enjoyed vocational training – learning basic assembly tasks and helping at a local dental office. These are life experiences that, long ago, Jenna’s parents could only have dreamed for their child. Today, those dreams are becoming a reality.
The Hope Institute has been caring for special needs children like Jenna since 1957. Over the years, Hope has evolved into a unique educational, residential and medical facility that combines customized, one on one education and state-of-the-art technology, allowing each of our students to achieve their own unique potential.
But we could never make this critical difference without the help of generous and caring people like you.
Children coping with disabilities need so much love and support. But it’s easy to give when you see their smiles and their determination to do things that come so easily to other children. Their courage is inspiring beyond words!