John’s Story of Hope
es. He. Did. Each school day at The Hope Institute, 16-year-old John learns how to memorize those “sight words” and others to improve his reading comprehension.
His drive to read and speak in full sentences has amazed his teachers and served as a testament to how far he has progressed.
As a toddler, John didn’t speak and his parents worried he may be hearing impaired. However, after experts confirmed he could hear, his mother continued looking for an explanation.
After an appointment with a specialist, John was diagnosed at age 2 ½ with what is now known as an autism spectrum disorder. He did not say his first word until age 3.
“It broke my heart because he was my only boy,” his mother April recalled.
As John aged, his behavior issues worsened. At home, he would break light bulbs, eggs and dishes. During trips to the grocery store, he would rip open bags of chips and suffer meltdowns. Eventually, his behaviors began to impact his family’s quality of life.
“It just became a safety issue for everyone involved,” his mom said.
In a search for options, a caseworker told John’s mom about The Hope Institute, an organization that could better offer her son the care and services he needed. After weighing her options, she made what she now calls the hardest decision of her life.
“I would not wish it on any parent,” she said.
Since arriving at Hope in 2012, John has amazed staff members with his interest in learning how to read, speak in full sentences and operate computers.
“It’s like he’s going through all the developmental stages—and whipping right through them,” said teacher Sherrie Broughton. “He’s finding more words that mean what he wants to say.”
As a new student, John often screamed for long periods of time and tried to run away. Now, his behaviors have greatly improved, which Ms. Broughton attributes to caring, patient staff members.
“We worked to figure out what his interests, needs and wants were,” she said. “We ignore bad behaviors and reward good behaviors.”
John’s mom has noticed the improvement.
“It’s nice to see him happy and healthy,” she said.
John has also been working to develop vocational skills and cleans up his classroom dining area. He is also learning to shave and his mom said she looks forward to him fostering social skills to gain more friends as he gets older.
“I think the people at The Hope Institute are doing a great job,” she said.
The progress of John, and other students at The Hope Institute, would not be possible without your support.
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