ddie used to struggle in the classroom and his family felt excluded from his education at his previous school. He has a type of autism that brings with it unique social and academic challenges. He needed personalized attention that his school could not provide.

“Before we found Hope, we had infrequent, short and meaningless meetings with Eddie’s teachers,” says Laura, Eddie’s mom. “He was falling through the cracks and no one noticed.”

But at The Hope Institute Learning Academy (HILA) in Chicago, teachers and staff are paying attention. They meet regularly with Laura, monitoring Eddie’s progress together and developing ways to enhance his learning.

Occupational therapy is a critical means of supporting his academic work and general independence. Therapists are helping Eddie strengthen his fine and visual motor skills. He’s learning to write legibly using a pencil gripper and specially designed paper. And he’s learned to tie his shoes using a visual tool – step-by-step pictures.  These efforts not only support his academic work, but also foster his sense of independence.

What used to be rare for Eddie now occurs daily – success.

“I’ve seen Eddie grow from a shy student to one filled with confidence,” says his teacher Dominic. “With supports designed just for him, his classroom work is improving and he’s taking on new challenges, such as math.”

Because of his progress, Eddie has more opportunities to interact with his general education peers, expanding his social and educational experiences. Teachers and staff are helping him learn to manage his emotions and focus on his surroundings, skills that are necessary for positive experiences with others.

His mom and teachers are thrilled with Eddie’s progress. They attribute much of it to the individual attention he receives at HILA and the school’s inclusive atmosphere. “Eddie is a very creative, artistic and determined boy,” Dominic says. “My hope is that he continues to realize that he is great kid capable of making people happy.”

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