When twins Ellery and Ben were born, Karen and Phillip Turner wanted what all parents desire: for their kids to have the chance to reach their full potential.
That didn’t change when Ben was diagnosed with autism in preschool. They hired professionals to come to the home and work intensively with their son in the crucial early years. In kindergarten, that work continued at home after he attended school for part of the day.
“That was really good, until grade two,” says Karen Turner. The couple started to feel that in the class of 27 students, Ben’s learning needs weren’t being met.
“He was sitting in the back with the EA (Education Assistant). He’s a great little boy, he’s got good manners, he doesn’t cause problems. He’s not a squeaky wheel.”
From the Turners’ standpoint, Ben was being ignored a lot of the time, and he was losing ground.
“All that work going to waste,” says Turner. “The teacher was a great teacher. She was just overwhelmed.”
The plan had been for Ben to attend school full-time in grade three. But the Turners worried he would slide further. Compounding their concern was the red tape they couldn’t seem to get through as they tried to involve the team that worked with him at home in his school plan.
After calling several private schools and discussing their son’s needs, they settled on Burlington Christian Academy in Burlington, Ont.
The couple says there is no trouble coordinating between the school and the team that works with Ben at home. And they love that the class size is much smaller.
With fewer students, the teacher has time to turn her attention to Ben.
“There’s only 12, 13 kids in the class,” Turner says. “She’s got time to do it. It’s manageable.”
Ben, now nine years old, is succeeding at school, getting good marks and feeling comfortable.
“He went from never sharing in class to he’ll get up in front of the class and he’ll read in front of the classroom. They’re more accepting of Ben. Ben’s more comfortable. It’s just been great.”
“I finally feel this is what we were working to all these years,” she says. “Having him in school full-time at a place where he’s totally accepted, where he can excel.”