“Your son does not engage with other kids in the sandbox.” “He’s not in the circle with the other kids, but off doing something else in the room. But when we ask him what just happened in the circle, he can tell us in detail every time.” These are just a few of the reports we were getting from three schools before we discovered Miriam, or should I say, before Miriam saved our son Nicolas. From the moment he nervously set foot in the building, Nicolas began a whole new journey of social interaction and love of learning.

With a diagnosis of high functioning autism and Asperger’s, Miriam gave us a gift of accepting Nicolas in the Spring of 2010 and he graduated in the Spring of 2015. Now a senior in high school, he is preparing to enter college in the Fall.

As Nicolas shared in his college essay describing his identity, he came to Miriam with few social skills and a lack of trust in other kids. Through his time at Miriam, we learned as a family what triggered his outbursts and Nicolas learned how to advocate for himself when he needed to change course. Miriam also gave him the skills he needed to transition to high school.

The learning in the classroom at Miriam came with patient teachers who gave our son what he needed to succeed. Sometimes that came in the form of rewards. Other times it came in the form of high praise from teachers he truly admired and respected. He especially loved Dr. Kathie Pontikes where he enjoyed her teaching style and sense of humor. It’s teachers like Dr. P who make Miriam so special.

When Nicolas started Clayton High School as a freshman, little did we know our son would blossom immediately and love being academically challenged. He’ll graduate this May from Clayton with a 4.0+ GPA and at the time of publishing has gained admission to several universities with top ranking Computer Science programs.

I believe what Nicolas will look back and appreciate most at Miriam are the teachers and the friendships with classmates. He continues to keep in touch with some of his Miriam friends through gaming and chats online. It took a lot of work, but to this day I am most proud of the fact that Nicolas can advocate for himself, communicating to classmates and teachers what he needs in a given situation or environment.

Miriam is a special environment where Nicolas felt accepted for his differences. It’s a school where students learn to walk out of the classroom when they need to and check themselves into the sensory room or ride a tricycle around the hallway in order to release some pressures of the day. Miriam teachers are miracle workers because they are so in tune with the individual student and know just what a student needs in any given moment.

-Submitted by Andrew Newman, Miriam School Alumni Parent