Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center celebrates recent graduates

NOW: Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center celebrates recent graduates

While many kids are getting settled in for the school year, a select group of students are doing so for the very first time after graduating from Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center.

Seventeen local students with autism entered the classroom for the first time this year after achieving milestones in communication, social, and life skills.

More than 100 centers across the nation celebrated these milestones for their students and 17 of those were right here in South Bend.

The students graduated from specialized programs within Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center.

Hopebridge is a pediatric autism center that channels early prevention in kids with autism spectrum disorder, typically between the ages of two to seven years.

They offer individualized programs designed to meet the kids at whatever level of learning and understanding they're at.

The graduation ceremonies were personalized for the kids and included things like dance parties, bounce houses, balloons, and other sensory-friendly activities.

Families were able to join in on the festivities, an important time for them and everyone involved.

“So many of our families come in not knowing what their child’s future is going to look like, so it’s also a really great way for families to celebrate their success with their child," Michelle Beliveau-Miner, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst at Hopebridge. "It’s just a beautiful time for them.”

The center uses positive reinforcement to educate and teach kids different skills they may struggle with otherwise, such as paying attention and responding to teachers, staying seated and focusing for a period of time, and following instructions to complete tasks.

The idea is for the students to get the specialized care they need at Hopebridge before graduating and moving on to their next step, which could be developmental preschools, pre-k classes or kindergarten and older elementary grade levels.

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