“He’s not responding to his name. Hmmm. Maybe that’s not his name….?”
How do you explain the regression of a seemingly perfect little boy - happy, warm, smiley, adorable and so bonded to his mommy. Henry was born 9lbs 10 ounces after a full term pregnancy. And while the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck multiple times, it wasn’t enough to send him to the ICU. Doctors said we were really lucky. Henry latched almost immediately. And in one way or another we were attached to each other from then on. He was my second child and I knew he’d be my last. I just soaked him up. We did everything together. I served as his witness: first smile, first bath, first scrape, every doctors appointment, play date, first food, first word. I was there when he sat, crawled, stood, walked for the first time. I knew him. Funny and fun and so good natured. And there was an ease between us and intimacy that was exceptional.
“He’s not speaking. I mean, he was, but he’s not now. He had words and lots of sounds. But they’re gone”. First they said it was his hearing. Tubes were the solution. Give it a few weeks. But it was only four days after the tubes were placed that I’d made an appointment to have Henry psychologically evaluated. And he was in speech therapy even before the verdict was handed down. He had clearly withdrawn from the world - no eye contact, almost no communication, almost no interest in anything or anyone. Henry was almost entirely lost, in a dark impenetrable place. And yet he left a small crack in the window to his remote world that I could just barely slip through. And so we never stopped seeing each other. I knew so long as I could reach him, that I could drag him back from that dark place. Back to himself. To his family. To the world and his life as he needs to live it. Henry was diagnosed with ASD before his second birthday.
Willowcrest is the embodiment of the journey of one mommy’s effort to swing the doors of her own child’s mind open so that he could navigate the world confidently and independently. It’s the manifestation of hundreds of hours spent in therapeutic sessions - Speech, OT, ABA, Prompt. Of time spent volunteering in Pals Programs and Pre School Collaboratives and Kinder Pods. Hours spent at the top of ladders and the bottom of slides. Swinging, bouncing, holding, withholding, prompting, not prompting, anticipating needs. Of dozens of books, IEP meetings, Dispute Resolutions, psychological evaluations, mediations.
Only to find that the type of support she knew would work best would be something she’d have to create herself. Willowcrest provides the type of immersive program she envisioned. It’s holistic. It’s demanding and kind. And it’s delivered by people who are the best at what they do; both by training and because they hold high expectation and bring consistent, deliberate and exceptional support.
We know how difficult it is to find good help. Effective therapy. Kind and empathetic therapists. Discerning between philosophical approaches to intervention and then choosing a provider becomes a full time job. Building rapport, setting expectations, interpreting reports, following through. Caring for a child with special needs is a uniquely challenging parental experience.
Being a parent is difficult. Being a parent of a neurodivergent child is a nuance only other parents of similar children can really comprehend. Willowcrest appreciates those challenges, meets children and parents where they are, and offers support that help both children and their parents succeed.
Willowcrest School Director