TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A group of 18 local children with autism have entered the classroom, some for the first time, as they graduated from the Terre Haute Hopebridge Autism Therapy Clinic.

The 18 children are among 286 children across the state who have graduated from various Hoosier Hopebridge clinics, also celebrating their school readiness. Students graduate from Hopebridge clinics after achieving certain milestones in the categories of communication, social, and life skills.

The children at the Terre Haute Hopebridge clinic celebrated their graduation with cheer tunnels, dance parties, balloons, bounce houses, and other sensory-friendly activities. 

The children who have graduated from Hopebridge centers across the state and the country will be able to join their peers in the classroom this year. Some children will be entering the classroom for the first time whereas others may be returning after gaining skills at the Hopebridge clinic. 

“This is always such a bittersweet time for us, as we will miss these children dearly, but we are equally excited for them to have the opportunity to realize their true potential and learn how they can impact the world around them,” said Hopebridge Founder and Chief Clinical Officer, Kim Strunk. “Each child will carve their own path, and we are grateful Hopebridge was able to play a role in helping each one of them reach their future successes.”

Hopebridge clinics offer services for children with autism no matter the grade level or format. A few of the necessary school-ready skills children work on while at Hopebridge include:

  • Paying attention and responding to teachers
  • Following instructions and completing tasks
  • Learning in a group setting
  • Being mindful of personal space and body awareness
  • Playing cooperatively and interacting with peers
  • Staying seated in a chair and/or at circle time
  • Lining up
  • Self-care (e.g. using the restroom, washing hands, eating independently)
  • Eating lunch around others
  • Leaving home to attend a new place with new people
  • Hopebridge focuses on early intensive behavioral intervention and its programs are designed to help patients develop communication, social and foundational life skills, including those that will set them up for success in the classroom.

To learn more about how Hopebridge supports children with autism through school readiness, visit Hopebridge’s School Readiness webpage.