Griffin’s Story of Hope
Like any 9-year-old boy, Griffin loves to explore the world around him.
However, that wasn’t always easy because he walked on his tiptoes, a common trait of children like Griffin who have been diagnosed with autism. After arriving at Hope last October, his family, doctors and Hope staff members teamed up to find the best option to give Griffin the greatest shot at the life he deserves.
Griffin later underwent corrective heel cord lengthening surgery, which allowed him to eventually place his feet flat on the floor and wear typical shoes. Now his movement has increased and he’s able to walk and run around with his peers.
That’s just one example of how Hope staff members work together to better the lives of the students they serve, said Griffin’s mom Marie.
“I really think that his future has opened up so much more since he’s been at Hope,” she said.
Griffin faced issues adjusting at his home school, and his family allowed him to attend Hope because they were looking for a learning institution that could better meet his needs. Before attending Hope, Griffin’s behavior was becoming more aggressive and sometimes he would injure himself. Griffin’s mom Marie remembers the day a woman told her she didn’t believe her son was capable of learning.
“I knew it wasn’t true, but Hope is proving that it’s not true,” she said.
It’s been almost a year since Griffin has attended Hope, and his mom said his focus has increased and he also follows directions much better. Griffin is unable to talk, so teachers are working with him to learn sign language to better communicate with his family, staff members and peers.
“Once we unlock that, I think his whole world is going to open up,” she said.
Libby Rambach, Griffin’s teacher, said his concentration improves when classroom lessons incorporate music, videos and sign language. Griffin, whose nickname is Finn, is now working on increasing his ability to sit calmly in a group, listen and pass items to his classmates.
“I think it’s really exciting when we look at Finn when he first came here and where he is now,” Ms. Rambach said. “We look forward to him increasing his abilities in all areas.”
When Griffin visits his family, his mom has noticed that her son’s daily living skills, including table manners and chores, has progressed.
She believes a large part of her son’s achievements are a result of Hope staff members taking the time to get to know her son and what motivates him to succeed.
“He’s finally seen as an individual at Hope, with a personality,” she said, adding that she’s proud his teacher sets high expectations for him. “Just because he has a disability, that doesn’t give him a free pass at Hope—and I love that because there’s no way Griffin can move forward if you only see him as his autism. You would have put him in a box he can never break out of. At Hope, he’s way more than his disability.”
Griffin has a younger and older brother, and his mom said she ultimately has the same dreams for him that she has for his two siblings.
”I want Griffin to have a happy and meaningful life surrounded by people he loves—and who loves him.”
The Hope Institute is committed to helping young people with autism and other developmental disabilities reach their optimum growth, independence and joy. Will you help us serve other students like Griffin?
At Hope, we support children and families to achieve optimum growth, independence and joy.
The Hope Institute
15 East Hazel Dell Lane
Springfield, IL 62712