Written by Sue, Melanie's Mom.
Heartspring saved my life and gave Melanie back her life. Prior to coming to Heartspring Melanie had been shuffled from program to program, she did not fit in anywhere and no one knew what to do with her. Of course 19 years ago, Autism was not nearly as common as it is today. As Melanie grew her behaviors grew as well.
By the time Melanie was 10 years old her aggressive behavior made her educational placement a challenge. During the school day Melanie would easily have 75-100 aggressive acts, in 6 short hours. These behaviors included aggression towards the environment as well as other students and staff. Simple trips to the doctor would take four adults. At home, the majority of our windows had been replaced with plywood; even Plexiglas did not prevent Melanie from putting her fist right through them. There were holes in the walls and the ceiling from Melanie. Although Melanie would not run away, per se, imagine our surprise when we woke one morning at 4 am and found Melanie outside in the swimming pool. We then tied Melanie’s bedroom door shut with a shoelace; at least the sound of her trying to escape would wake us. Everything Melanie touched she destroyed, you could not leave her alone for a minute.
Melanie found great comfort in food, even though her diet consisted of six items, she would eat such vast amounts of these items that she was grossly overweight. If we did not give Melanie the food she would aggress towards the house or us. Melanie was terrified to use the toilet, she insisted on wearing a Pamper for this, and it had to be a pamper, nothing else. These were put on and held on with masking tape, placed evenly on both sides. At this time there was more than one physician stating that medications and nothing short of institutional setting would be the only options for Melanie.
After much fighting and prayer Melanie was allowed to attend Heartspring. It would not be fair to say that this was easy; our entire family knew that this was our only option, but it did not make the decision any easier, we were all heartbroken to see Melanie leave. This has not changed, after every visit we are sad, but we know that we have the best for Melanie and that we together with Heartspring have improved Melanie’s quality of life beyond our wildest dreams. Never in my life did I believe that Melanie would achieve what she has achieved since becoming a Heartspring student.
Melanie now has a quality of life that surpasses our expectations. The staff at Heartspring has given that gift of life to Melanie, and I can never thank them enough. Melanie will never speak, she will never entertain us with clever thoughts and words, but Heartspring has molded her into a productive member of society. Melanie has held various jobs at Heartspring. Melanie was “top of the line” working at a local hotel in the community. The towels were always folded exactly right. Melanie has been very productive working along with Cheryl in the vocational training program. The only problem anyone has ever had was teaching Melanie what it meant to take a break, for she would work until her fingers dropped off. A local hospital in the community welcomes Melanie when she comes by to drop off the completed medical charts that she has assembled for them.
Melanie has surpassed our wildest dreams with all her accomplishments, thank you Heartspring.
- - Sue, Melanie's Mom