In a lot of ways, Chelsea is a typical girl. She likes shopping at the mall, laughing with her friends – and she loves to dance.

But Chelsea struggles with autism and cognitive impairment, so every day presents significant challenges for her.

For 16 years, Chelsea’s family worked around the clock to care for her at home. Chelsea didn’t eat or sleep regularly, so her mother, Sheila, didn’t either.

As she grew, Chelsea became physically aggressive. She’d scream and throw things, punch holes in the walls and bang her head. Sometimes, she’d bolt out the door and run into the street. “It was exhausting. I was always on the move,” Sheila says. “I was always thinking ‘Where’s Chelsea?’”

Sheila realized that Chelsea needed more help than she could provide herself. “But the residential schools we visited had such a horrible, sad feel to them,” she explains. “I just couldn’t place my child in that kind of setting.”

All Sheila wanted was for her daughter to grow and learn – to live as joyfully and independently as possible.

“I wanted to walk in and see happiness,” Sheila explains, “and that’s exactly what I saw at The Hope Institute. There’s pure happiness everywhere.”

“Chelsea’s life is so much fuller since she’s been at Hope,” her mother says. “She’s learning safety and self-care skills – doing everything for herself now. She has a job on campus. She was even prom queen a couple years ago! When Hope changed Chelsea’s life, it changed our whole family’s life as well.”

The Hope Institute has cared for the special needs of children like Chelsea since 1957. Our personalized living, learning and wellness services offer true hope to children and families facing the extraordinary challenges of developmental disabilities.

But we could never make this critical difference in so many young lives without the help of caring people like you.

Your generous support is a loving sign of your care for children and families struggling with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Chelsea, and all Hope’s girls and boys, thank you for opening your heart and for bringing Hope into their young lives.

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