Our family’s story, just like all of yours, is one of joy and of heartache— one of crying, and laughter; of growth and amazement.
When Abby was born in 2001, her parents, Jolie and Mark, thought she was perfect. However, as Abby’s second birthday approached, they started to notice little things, like when she did not respond when they spoke her name. It was at a doctor’s appointment they were told that Abby was on the autism spectrum. Jolie says, “We were told by well-meaning doctors that she would now require constant care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
She continues, “Once we could breathe through the tears, we resolved not to allow this to be a disaster, but rather a challenge. We would not look at this diagnosis as the end of a typical life, but instead, we would work to make her life better! We had no idea at that time that Abby, just by being in our lives, would enrich ours beyond imagination.”
Jolie shared her story at the hospital where she worked and a colleague said to her, “Get Abby into the May School.” On that recommendation, they made an appointment to meet the staff at the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Randolph, Mass. From the moment the family entered the school, they knew they wanted it to be part of Abby’s life.
Abby’s parents are most grateful for the school’s applied behavioral analysis (ABA) model. When Abby showed behaviors that she might hurt herself or others, the staff communicated the ABA plan easily with Mark and Jolie and the results were simply amazing. They felt like a part of team trying to solve problems together.
As Abby grew, the teachers at the May continued their assessments and interventions to make sure they had the desired educational outcomes. Jolie says, “It worked. She participates in the Special Olympics performing gymnastics routines. The more she learned how to communicate and to cope with obstacles— the more independent she became.”
“Think of that…in a few years, we went from the prospects of an extremely introverted life, perhaps mostly in seclusion, perhaps requiring constant care and supervision…perhaps friendless - to a life of engagement, learning, friendship, and caring for others.
This is all because of the loving care of the May, and of the love of her family.”
Jolie is grateful for all the staff at May Institute. She says, “We don’t know what her future holds, but Mark and I know that thanks to the education and opportunities she has been given at the May, she is set on a path for a life well-lived and well-loved.”
Give today and celebrate May’s Champions of Care — the educational, residential, and clinical teams that combine their knowledge and experience with respect, kindness, and compassion.