James’ Story of Hope
James had hold of us from day one,” Loni says. “We couldn’t see life without him.”
James came to Loni and Jim as a terrified two-year-old with Down Syndrome who was unable to bond with others. He banged his head and bounced continuously. It did not take Loni long to suspect autism.
So began Loni and Jim’s five-year battle to get help for James, who they soon adopted. Doctors said Down Syndrome and autism could not co-exist. Without a formal diagnosis, Loni had no access to autism supports and services.
Meanwhile, James grew aggressive, a common autism-related trait. Loni took the brunt of his behavior.
“He put me in the hospital five times in two years,” she says. “For every one step forward, we took 10 steps back. Yet we knew the real James was in there because of his smile. We worked all the harder to help him.”
Still suspecting autism and having exhausted all possibilities for help, Loni called The Hope Institute, where a clinical psychologist evaluated James and confirmed a diagnosis of autism.
“I started crying,” Loni says. “Finally, someone understood me.”
The diagnosis opened doors to treatments and resources. Still, James’ aggression grew. Finally Loni and Jim could no longer keep their son and those around him safe. Again, they turned to Hope.
“The hardest thing about placing him at Hope was realizing others had to care for him because we cannot, though we wish we could,” Loni says. “At Hope he gets the structure he needs to function in this world.”
James has “graduated” from campus living to increased independence at a community home, where he is a leader. Loni and Jim have noticed a subtle yet dramatic change in James.
“He shows love,” Loni says. “When we visit each Sunday, I get hugs and kisses and he tells me he loves me.”
Just as much a comfort to his parents is the personal attention James receives at Hope.
“I love that kids get hugs, kisses and bedtime stories,” she says. “All we did for our son at home continues. James is surrounded by people and professionals who love him like their own.
“The Hope Institute is a perfect name,” Loni adds. “It has given us hope for James.”
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