Jennifer Baugham’s son Aedan, 11, suddenly changed in first grade. A previously happy child, he became easily frustrated and stressed. His emotions would overtake him, and his coping mechanism was either to run away or start a fight. Jennifer sought out professional help, and Aedan was diagnosed with ADHD and a mood disorder.
Due to his behavioral challenges, Aedan began to hate school and fell behind. Jennifer, a teacher, spent summers tutoring him to get him up to speed for the next school year. However, this approach began to strain their relationship. Last summer, Jennifer realized that Aedan needed a specialized school that could meet his therapeutic needs. Impressed by HEC’s classroom mental health support and small student to teacher ratio, Jennifer enrolled Aedan in HEC.
From almost the start, Jennifer has seen positive changes in Aedan. Where before he would come home and tantrum until bedtime, now he sits down and finishes his homework without even being prompted. Due to his academic achievements, he was asked to be a peer mentor to other students, tutoring them in English. And the biggest transformation of all: He loves going to school.
“His sense of self-worth has improved so much,” says Jennifer. “He feels successful there.”
She credits his success to many factors, including the individual and group therapy Aeden receives at the school and the school’s GROWTH program, a rewards-based step-by-step curriculum that stresses emotional-social growth.
Another factor is the school’s behavior modification support. If Aedan acts out, such as tries to bolt out the door from class, the staff presents him with consequences of leaving and offers him incentives to stay. His behavior is charted each day with points for positive behavior.
Jennifer also appreciates the school’s policy of open communication. “They aren’t afraid to tell me about the bumps in Aedan’s day,” she says. This is helpful for her because she can use this information to gauge Aedan’s progress and determine what outside supports he needs.
Aedan’s teacher, Trisha Lopez, has been another factor in his success. “He loved her instantaneously," says Jennifer. “She is so nurturing and loving, yet not afraid to hold the line.”
The 2016-2017 school year is almost over, and Aedan is already looking forward to next year. There is only one school where he can see himself in the fall, and that’s Hillsides Education Center.