Ethan and Sasha's Story
“We chose Fraser long before we knew that we might need any of the services for kids with special needs,” Andy Jacobson said, as he and his wife Wendy described the inclusive environment at Fraser School, and how their children, Ethan and Sasha, have benefitted.
Ethan, now 5 years old, has been attending Fraser School since he was very young. Based in Richfield, Fraser School is an early childhood learning center that serves children of all abilities, from infancy to pre-school. Ethan had no diagnosed special needs when he began at Fraser.
“He had always been a quirky kid, but at age 3, he wasn’t listening to us anymore,” Wendy said. “He would get upset at loud noises. His mood would change very suddenly, from being happy to crying uncontrollably for 45 minutes at a time.” “He was also in constant motion,” Andy added. “He would spin for minutes. It would make us nauseous just watching him.”
Fraser staff diagnosed Ethan with Sensory Integration disorder and Generalized Anxiety disorder. He was very verbal, but he was delayed in understanding and processing what people were telling him.
“It wasn’t that he wasn’t listening or couldn’t hear. He was having trouble understanding,” Wendy said. “Fraser has provided great services, including giving us ways to talk to him about his behaviors. When he’s having difficulty, we talk about ‘changing the channel’ or ‘turning the switch.’ It helps.”
Ethan attends the pre-school program at Fraser School three mornings per week. In the afternoon, he takes part in the Learn Talk Play Program, where he works in very small groups to get help with social interaction, language development, fine motor skills and sensory processing.
“Ethan has truly blossomed,” said Casey Keller, who co-leads the Learn Talk Play Program. “He’s becoming more successful starting conversations, sharing toys, and joining play with his peers. He is also proud of his ‘kindergarten’ skills, like identifying letter sounds, writing his name, tracing, and cutting.”
Ethan will be attending kindergarten next year, and his parents feel good about it.
Ethan’s sister Sasha is 3 years old, and has typical needs. It has been convenient for the Jacobsons that their kids are in the same location. “Sasha would come home and say ‘I saw Ethan in the hall today, and he gave me a hug!’” Wendy said.
They learn a lot too, not only about letters and numbers, but about respect and acceptance. “It’s great that our kids are exposed to people that are not like them,” Andy said. “At Fraser, the message is that everybody’s different, and we’re all together. Fraser makes all children feel special everyday.”