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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Best foot forward


As the school year winds down, new shoes may seem like a topic at the wrong end of the calendar. After all, fall is when families typically talk about new shoes for school. But at a recent Turning Pointe meeting, the subject came up in a powerful way when a Mom shared that she was grateful her son didn’t need a new pair of shoes all school year.

Her son is a beautiful teenager who is also medically fragile and severely impacted by autism. He arrived at Turning Pointe last summer with education goals he’d had for years without progress at his prior school. Within weeks, after careful clinical assessment, individualized programming and device trails, he mastered all his old goals at Turning Pointe. Old goals gave way to new goals then, but he still had the same old shoes.

Some of our students’ unique sensory needs mean they prefer not to wear their shoes. In fact, we have a few barefoot (or sock footed) students in our school every day. But for this Mom who sat at Turning Pointe with happy tears in her eyes sharing how glad she was that he didn’t need new shoes, sensory issues were not the issue.

Rather, her son had spent the better part of his junior high years in a gait belt. A harness. A harness that staff at his prior school used to physically redirect him from one activity to another. In fact, there was so much physical redirection that his shoes wore out. Nearly every other month Mom had to replace his shoes.

At Turning Pointe, this student does not wear a gait belt. He does wear much pride in his smile as he is aware of all his progress. With his new skills, improved behavior and independence gained, he has exceeded all prior expectations and is truly walking a new, hope filled path.

No new shoes for this student means he is in the right environment with the right supports. It means he is moving from activities and spaces with ease. It means he has moved from frustration to comfort.

This story highlights Turning Pointe’s mission, but it is you who should be proud of the in-tact soles of his shoes. It is your continued compassion, generosity and involvement in our schools that makes miracles like this happen every day.

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Carrie Provenzale
Carrie Provenzalehttp://www.turningpointeautismfoundation.org
Carrie Provenzale is the Executive Director of Turning Pointe Autism Foundation. Previously, she served as a consultant and member of the Turning Pointe Board of Directors. She also has 20 years of experience with local and regional nonprofits.