“When my son was first diagnosed, my goal was for him to smile again and rediscover joy in his surroundings. Now, I have ‘reach for the stars’ goals for him – hold down a job, get married. Early on, I was afraid to hope for this. Today, I’m not.”
When Elaine Castelluccio’s 10-month-old son Dominic stopped smiling and laughing, she knew something had changed. At 15-months, Dominic was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and began receiving in-home therapy. When it came time for Dominic to attend preschool, Elaine and her husband Matt toured four or five different programs in search of one that would help their son to thrive.
“The Arc Westchester’s Children’s School had a warmth we didn’t feel at the other schools we toured. We knew our son wasn’t just going to get the supports he needed – he was also going to be loved. We knew they would take care of Dominic the way we would take care of him at home.”
During Dominic’s two years at The Children’s School, the Castelluccio family quickly saw that the warm and caring staff wasn’t there just to teach Dominic – they were there to support the whole family. They worked with Dominic’s twin brother, RJ, on how to engage his brother and coached the family on how to connect techniques from the classroom back to the home.
Today, Dominic is thriving in a fully inclusive elementary school, riding the bus to school with his twin brother RJ, and spending recess on the playground building friendships with his brother and their peers. Thanks to the strong foundation he built at The Children’s School, Dominic is talking, playing and engaging with his family more every day. He is playing sports and is on a t-ball team.
“My husband is very athletic and dreamed of taking his boys out to a baseball game and for ice cream. When I saw Dominic engaging with his t-ball teammates and the coaches, and I saw happy grandparents cheering on the sidelines, it wasn’t about a child with special needs. It was just about great family time for all of us.”