Category Archives: Miriam School

Behind those sparkling brown eyes and cheshire cat grin lies one of the bravest souls we have ever known. You see, everyday our son Shane wakes up to a world that all too often overwhelms him. The lights, sounds and smells that our brains naturally filter out, his brain cannot. When he was diagnosed with autism at the age of two we were terrified, confused and had so many unanswered questions. Immediately we dove into therapy. At the time, Shane was nonverbal. Things like pointing, waving hello/goodbye and chewing all had to be taught. Shane has worked so incredibly hard over the past four years. Now, at almost age six Shane is a giggly, talkative and inquisitive little boy. He fills our hearts and home with so much love and laughter.

As spring grew closer this past year. We began the daunting task of finding the right school for Shane to attend kindergarten. At this time Shane dreaded going to school. Even at the tender age of four he was already encountering being bullied daily. Every night he would cry about kids not liking him. He felt different. He didn’t feel he was as smart as his peers. We slowly watched the sparkle drain out of his eyes and that beautiful grin we saw less and less of. We knew it was crucial that we found a school that not only provided the therapies he needed but also a school environment that would help him gain his self-confidence back.

So we began the interviews, testing and evaluations, each resulting in a rejection letter. We were left feeling defeated and helpless. Then we discovered Miriam School and our prayers had been answered.

We cannot fully put into words the feeling you get when you walk into Miriam School for the first time. Until our first visit at Miriam School we could have never imagined that a school like this really existed. The hallways were filled with laughter and action. A group of children smiled at us as they jumped rope past us down the hall. Another little boy whisked by us on a scooter. We had never seen anything like it. It was amazing! As we began the tour of the school with each room we passed we could feel hope growing in our hearts. By the time we reached their incredible sensory gym we knew we had found Shane’s school. After speaking with the teachers, therapists and staff about our son’s needs, we felt genuine compassion in their words. They listened; we felt heard! There is no greater gift you can give to special needs parents than the feeling of being heard and understood.

Shane has only been at Miriam School for four months and he is already showing remarkable progress. Shane enjoys telling us about his day. He loves talking about all the new friends he’s made! He no longer feels isolated or judged. Miriam School put the twinkle back in our son’s eyes. They recognize Shane’s full potential and are always there to help him navigate through the challenges he still faces. We would like to thank the teachers, therapists and staff for all of their hard work and dedication. We are beyond grateful. We truly believe Miriam School is more than a school. It’s a community, one we feel very honored to be a part of.

-Submitted by Jessica Baer

I will never forget the day that our neurologist told me our son had Autism.  He observed Michael, asked some questions and said, “Your son has Autism. He will never tell you he loves you. He will never be independent and you need to accept that he will live with you the rest of his life.” As the doctor walked out the door with our hopes and dreams for our first born son, we began our journey to prove him wrong.

Michael attended early childhood classes in one school district, but moved to another district for kindergarten through third grade which proved to be a very rocky.  I tried working with the school’s staff, but it seemed as if I had to fight for any service that was needed. When there was finally a routine and things were on track, the school would pull his paraprofessional and cut back on his “minutes.”

There was so much potential inside Michael and I realized we had to find a school that could teach to his strengths and shore up his weaknesses.  A late night internet search found Miriam Learning Center’s website and we soon enrolled him in their after-school program for social skills.  This really helped Michael!

Thanks to the outpouring of support, which included everything from garage sales and raffle tickets to a small trivia night with our community, family and friends, Michael enrolled in 4th grade in 2014 at Miriam School. The boy who loved learning but dreaded attending school because of past experiences, was coming back within just a few short weeks of being at Miriam. Though he still expressed some typical autistic behaviors, they became less and less and eventually stopped altogether.

Michael is now in 7th grade at Miriam School and doing great!  I no longer dread getting “the phone call” like when he was in public school.  I trust the teachers and staff to do what is in the best interest of my child, academically and socially.  The small class size and incredible staff have made a huge difference for Michael.  Miriam’s personalized approach to learning has been the key to unlocking my son’s potential.

Since coming to Miriam, I have seen so many positive changes in Michael. Thanks to cooking classes, Michael eats a variety of foods that were once a sensory problem for him. He’s even helping in our home kitchen with chores.  Most importantly, Michael can now advocate for himself.  He can step back and say, “I need a break, or the occupational therapy/OT room, or I just need more help.”  And yes, Michael can tell us he loves us, and comprehend what that means.

We know that Michael is now getting the therapies he needs, as well as an excellent education that will help him succeed not only in school, but in life.  The teachers, therapists, and administration really know how to support our son.  It is truly a partnership between parents and school.

The past four years have been full of sacrifices, but we are happy to make them because we know that academically, physically, and socially Miriam saved our son.  Miriam School has placed the future we seek for Michael within reach.

-Submitted by Misti Schwaller

I will never forget my son John’s graduation from Miriam School in 2013. During his eighth grade year, my husband passed away after a long illness. At the ceremony a special announcement was made that John’s fellow classmates were gifting Miriam School with a brick paver to honor his father’s memory. This had so much meaning for our family and represented the compassion that everyone at Miriam School showed to John and our family during this difficult time.

John first came to Miriam in 2009 in fourth grade mostly due to anxiety over school. He was  diagnosed with learning disabilities and auditory processing issues, and later Aspergers. Soon
after John got to Miriam, he began to thrive academically and especially socially. John made many great friends at Miriam and still keeps in touch with several of them today.

John loved so many things about going to school at Miriam! He really enjoyed the sensory breaks in the occupational therapy room and all the great hands-on learning projects. He fondly remembers
writing a story with Mr. Zapf about his favorite action heroes. But more than anything he really
learned how to advocate for himself. Miriam taught John to ask for what he wants in an
appropriate way and gave him confidence.

Shortly after graduating from Miriam, we moved to Seattle where we had family. John recently graduated from high school and I am proud of all he has accomplished including working at an internship program with Boeing. John is great with his hands and may pursue a career in autotech.
Next year he will attend a transition program at a local community college and we feel good about his future.

I want others to know that everyone at Miriam School really embraces both your child and the whole family. John got so much personal attention and we loved the family atmosphere. We have so many great memories at Miriam. I hope other families in need can experience all that Miriam School has to offer.

Submitted by Kate Hettiger