A Solid Foundation for the Future: How the ACCESS Academy Prepared Claire for Academic Success
Written By Carol Ricketts
Claire’s time at ACCESS Academy set her up for success and gave her the confidence to achieve her goals. When Claire started receiving therapy at ACCESS, she was three years old and had a very limited vocabulary. She struggled to interact with her peers and became frustrated when trying to communicate. She would speak in gibberish phrases and often mimicked the words and behaviors of others instead of engaging in spontaneous speech. We knew Claire had a lot of good and interesting things to say, but she lacked the skills to express herself. Through therapy and early intervention at ACCESS Early Childhood, Claire began to thrive, and she developed into the girl we always knew she was - funny, smart, inquisitive, sweet, and a little bit feisty.
When it came time to leave the Early Childhood campus, we had a very tough decision to make. Claire’s language skills had improved considerably, but we wanted to ensure that she had a strong educational foundation before moving her to a traditional classroom setting. After considering several different options, we decided that the ACCESS Academy would be the best next step for Claire. We had total faith in ACCESS and knew that Claire would continue to get the individualized attention she needed and deserved. At the Academy, Claire was able to learn foundational skills in a familiar, structured, and nurturing environment. It was especially helpful for her to learn basic classroom skills without unreasonable expectations or social pressure.
Her teachers and therapists were wholly focused on finding out what worked best for Claire, and they fully embraced and encouraged her bubbly personality. When Claire struggled, they didn’t let her get discouraged and instead taught her skills to help her work through any challenges.
Claire’s growth at ACCESS Academy was extraordinary. After two years, not only was she reading and writing well, but she was also absorbing new information and concepts like a sponge. She asked thoughtful questions and began engaging with the world around her in a much more meaningful way. Perhaps most importantly, her confidence in herself never wavered, and her spark grew brighter and brighter.
Some of her favorite memories from her time at ACCESS Academy include watching her baby chick (aka Cindy) hatch, performing a rap solo as part of the Lower 2 class’s Christmas Sing-Off performance, and singing “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” at the Spring talent show.
From the beginning, we knew Claire would likely need to transition to a traditional school setting at some point in time, and the staff at ACCESS Academy all worked with us to get her ready. The ACCESS team was also instrumental in the transition process to her new school, helping make sure Claire was not only academically prepared, but emotionally prepared, too. Ultimately, Claire was probably more emotionally prepared for the change than we were as her parents!
It was bittersweet to leave the Academy even though that was our goal all along. We’re thankful that Claire still gets to see her ACCESS family a couple of times a week when she comes for outpatient services. She still bounces down the halls, singing and laughing as she says hello to old friends. Maintaining that connection has been helpful and comforting to us all, and Claire continues to thrive in second grade. We will always consider ourselves to be an ACCESS family, and we are eternally grateful for all of the incredible staff members who have helped Claire achieve her goals.