By: Carrie Provenzale
Turning Pointe’s mission began with a love story. The powerful bond between a boy named Jack and his parents. Jack was loved and cared for by his Mom, Dad and a remarkable team of specialists. With their help, Jack overcame the more debilitating behaviors associated with his autism. The work was not easy on them, but mostly it was hard on Jack. He was determined though and his parents were truly unyielding in their support. His progress filled his parents Kim and Randy with gratitude, generosity, and the divine inspiration to make their program accessible to other children in need. Thus, thirteen years ago, they started Turning Pointe as a safe place for students with autism to learn.
The story has been told before but is on my mind again as parents are facing dilemmas that autism parents have always experienced. Does a heightened fear over your child’s safety if you send them to school sound familiar? Or are you questioning your child’s ability to make progress if they just stay at home? Many parents – due to COVID-19 – are struggling with some aspect of their children’s wellbeing right now. It is heartbreaking stuff as parents make difficult decisions. Some would say unprecedented decisions like these times we are in; yet for families with special needs students, this is a well-worn worry track and not new at all.
Every parent will take the steps they feel are necessary to best meet the needs of their children. As many schools decided to stay remote or offer hybrid schedules this fall, Turning Pointe evaluated all the risks associated with a re-opening during a pandemic. And thanks to the community’s support and the grace of our student’s parents, Turning Pointe decided to return to in-person learning with a slew of new protocols. As we evaluated our options and the potential pitfalls, the teams benchmarked with other organizations and talked with key stakeholders. Much like it is for individual families right now, there is no one size fits all approach to education this back to school season. In most ways, Turning Pointe went back to our founder’s approach. We grounded our plan for hybrid instruction in our love for our students. We also went in knowing it wouldn’t be easy, but mostly hard for our students.
Please support them on their journey by supporting their families, schools, jobs, and building a more inclusive community. In turn, right now our Turning Pointe family sends much care to all the families struggling with difficult decisions and all the school professionals finding a path to education for students.