By Laura Reilly

When our son Jack was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, his diagnosis led us down a path we weren’t expecting. My husband and I were told he might never talk, and may require countless hours of treatment. We were living in Minnesota at the time, where agencies offering evidence-based therapy in an educational setting didn’t exist. Thankfully, a family member in Western New York mentioned The Summit Center. We looked into Summit Academy in Getzville, and realized it was exactly what Jack needed. We packed our bags immediately.

Jack is now 15 and thriving at Summit Academy where he has been a student since 2012. Summit Academy is tailored to students with autism, and his teacher recognized his challenges and strengths the moment he walked in the door. Over the years, each and every teacher has understood Jack’s unique way of learning. They know Jack experiences the world differently from typically developing children, and as a result, they’ve been able to help him develop many important skills and reach new levels of independence.

May 6th through 10th is Teacher Appreciation Week. To his amazing teachers: Thank you for pursuing your heroic calling! Your commitment to kids who don’t fit the “norm” is such a gift for families like mine. Without your energy and compassion, I can’t imagine where we’d be.

Our journey with Jack hasn’t been easy. Like many parents of children with autism, we’ve experienced numerous setbacks and sleepless nights. But, the teachers in Jack’s life have been a constant reminder that we aren’t in this alone. They believe in my son and the young man he has the potential to be.

Laura Reilly is a marketing communications specialist at Moog and a Summit Academy parent.