For parents with children on the autism spectrum, summer vacation is anything but when dealing with a young ones development. Reporter Briggette Sayegh visits a center in Ellenville that provides a program aimed at making sure those kids not only continue learning, but have fun while doing it.
ELLENVILLE, N.Y.-- School is out and summer is in full swing. Sounds like a dream to most people. But for parents who have children on the autism spectrum, every second spent out of the classroom, is a second their childs development could be regressing. But for children like Ryan Herriman attending the summer program at the Center for Spectrum Services in Ellenville, that's not a worry.
"What they teach our kid we try to teach at home. Because what they're doing is working. It's great," said Cindy Herriman.
Cindy is Ryan's mom. Since being diagnosed with autism in January of 2014, the 4-year-old's journey has been a challenging one. Challenging, but inspiring.
"He was never saying mom he says mom now. He plays with my daughter. Last year he had no interest ever playing on a slide or going down a slide, now he wants to play and do those kinds of things," she said with a smile.
The non-profit center hosts a six-week summer program, paid for by the state aimed at reinforcing what the children learned during the year. The kids, ages 3 to 8, participate in workshops where they receive one on one attention.
"So in September even though we'll have a few weeks off in August, it's not the entire summer that the kids are off. So when we start back up again in September we pick right up where we left off," explained Sandra Brownsey, the program coordinator at the center.
And don't let their playground fool you. The learning continues, and the fun begins, once they go outside, to their other classroom.
"It is not a break from learning every minute is learning and for the kids out here outdoor classroom means a place to use your language, a place to improve social skills, to improve motor skills," said Brownsey.
A lot of thought went into the design of the playground to make it as easy as possible for children on the autism spectrum to navigate through. For instance there is a two seated bike, designed to encourage socializing and trust between children.
And for Cindy, seeing Ryan's progress over the last year, gives her something she never had before. Hope.
"When he started the school here I was seeing things changing. And now I can look at him and be like he can do this, and he will do this. So they give you hope. It's great," she said.
This is part two of a series titled "On the Spectrum: Expanding the Classroom."