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A Conversation With a Spero Parent

While we may serve a small niche of students, Spero is a diverse place. Our Speros take many different paths to our school, and come to us with their own individual experiences, challenges, and personalities. We’re proud of our diversity—it’s one of the things that makes our community so special.

One Spero family story is similar to that of many Spero families: They learned about Spero at the right time, transferred to our school, and found their home. But of course, the student’s story is also uniquely theirs.

Their son is diagnosed with non-verbal autism, Down syndrome, and ADD. He lives with his family in St. Paul and started pre-k in the St. Paul School District at the Monroe Grade School. His parents put him in the pre-k program to allow him to interact with “typical” kids before he was old enough to start grade school. However, he had to pull out of the school for about a year due to health issues.

Around that time, he started becoming increasingly non-verbal and started displaying more symptoms of autism as opposed to Down syndrome. There wasn’t really a place for him within the St. Paul school system at that time, so his mom was homeschooling him.

When the student reached the age when it was time to start grade school, his parents started looking for a school that would welcome him and be able to accommodate his needs. They went through tons of schools without finding the right fit before someone referred them to Spero.

The family knew right away that Spero was the place for their son. “It was like buying your first home,” said his mom. “You know it’s right right fit! You just walk in and there is a calmness and a steadiness. No matter what was going on at home, Spero provided a safe learning environment that is sensory friendly. Spero has a warmth that extends from the building to the teachers. We could see immediately that there is so much heart at Spero and they truly want him to succeed.”

Why choose Spero Academy?

The family looked at a lot of schools before learning about Spero. We asked the mom to tell us what made Spero different from other schools she visited.

“When you have a child with special needs, every time you interact with new professionals you have to explain what’s wrong with them. You’re essentially a burden, extra work. You fill out a lot of forms, it seems like you are constantly going through processes,” she said.

“At Spero it was SUCH a relief. It was the first time I felt like my son wasn't a burden. It really felt like he was part of a new community and that would help him grow and develop. For 5-6 hours a day I’m not having to worry, I know that he has a safe place at Spero.”

What has the adjustment process been like?

Starting a new school is an adjustment process for both child and parent. We asked the mom to describe her experience helping her son settle in at Spero.

“As a parent of a child with special needs, there’s a lot of pressure on you to do everything you can, with various therapies and so on,” she said. “With my son at Spero, I’m able to offload some of that responsibility into the hands of professionals.

“The staff and teachers at Spero have the resources to utilize different techniques and therapies to give him so much more support than other places we’ve been. Spero can even tailor his experience month-to-month depending on where he’s at and what he needs help with. He’s had a true evolution in teachability at Spero.

“Before we started at Spero, I feared that my son wouldn’t have friends because he couldn’t make eye contact or talk. But the community embraced him the way he was and have been able to help him in so many different ways.

“After being at Spero for a while, I walked into a classroom and could see the magic happening. I saw him interacting with other kids, and it was amazing! They were holding hands and caring for each other. I didn’t expect that EVER to happen, and in any other school I don’t think it would have.

“Spero is a very special community of compassionate professionals, and they are on the forefront of special education care.”

Anything else you love about Spero?

“The four day week! I think the calendar is huge for a child with ASD. Having a four day week is great because it gives you the flexibility to take your child to appointments without having them miss any school.”