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Sidney was born prematurely at 32 weeks and only weighed 3 lb. 2 oz. She had some breathing issues, but otherwise appeared perfect. Sidney’s mother, Ebony, was relieved to bring little Sidney home after a one month stay in the hospital.

After Sidney was born, Ebony and her good friend, Carmella, started a child care center, which allowed Ebony to continue to care for her daughter and start a new career path. Just before Sidney’s second birthday, Carmella suggested that Ebony do some research about autism because as an educator, she had some questions about Sidney’s behavior. As Ebony did her research, she realized her daughter displayed many of the characteristics described for children with autism. Thinking back, she remembered her friends commenting that Sidney appeared “spoiled” or “snobbish” as a baby because she didn’t like to be touched by anyone other than her mother and father. She had never known a child with autism, and Sidney was her first child, so she didn’t think much about it until she gained the new information through her research.

When Sidney was tested and her family received the diagnosis of autism, they felt overwhelmed. What did her diagnosis mean, how could she best help her daughter, and what would their future be like? Ebony contacted their local Euclid school system for support and early intervention services. The school district found Sidney’s needs surpassed their resources, so they referred the family to the Achievement Centers for Children.

Sidney started coming to the Achievement Centers for Children Autism School in Highland Hills when she was three years old. She had feeding issues, and since she was non-verbal, she could not express her needs and wants, or tell her mother why she was unable to eat many foods. Now nine years old, Sidney has been in our autism school for six years, and Ebony has seen dramatic progress in her daughter, especially with her interactions with her classmates and her improved focus on her daily activities.

“She’s very happy here and she loves her teachers. She likes the structure, knowing what she’s going to do, and she has friends in her class. Since she has so much one-on-one teaching here, they are able to focus on and help develop her strengths in ways she best responds. Sidney is keyboarding now, and her teachers are amazed at her advanced level of reading and comprehension. She loves to sing as she reads and follows the words with her fingers. Her teachers are so gifted, trained, and compassionate in caring for my daughter. Their care and compassion extends to our entire family. They seem to know my daughter so well, and they understand what I’m going through, and are there to support us,” said Ebony.

Her teachers are so gifted, trained and compassionate in caring for my daughter.

Ebony, Sidney's mother
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