Austin M.My son Austin is four years-old, and he is autistic. He was diagnosed when he was only two, and it was devastating to our family. I thought, not knowing much about it, that he would never be able to function as a normal child should.

But through learning to understand what Autism is, we found him the best Autism support through Wesley Spectrum and the best daycare/preschool ever, SmartKids Child Care and Learning Center in Canonsburg, a Keystone STAR 3 program. Their help has been a blessing; their knowledgeable and caring staff continues to sincerely work with us to help him to be the Shining Star he can be.

The staff at SmartKids has been absolutely fantastic with my son. I could not be happier about his care and the progress he has made. From the time he was in the toddler room through his transition to the preschool classroom, he has learned so much. He talks so much more, even though it is still random and out of context sentences, he speaks clearly and has the ability to communicate his needs to us better. He also used to just stay to himself and not like to have other children around him and now he watches and learns from the other children in the room and interacts with them at times. He knows all his colors, letters and numbers, and he plays with his toys instead of chewing on them or putting them in a pattern. He understands me when I say something to him or ask him to get me a cup or a certain toy; I never thought this would be possible.

The staff at SmartKids told me that they have been able to get special training and learn more about my son’s condition due to the Keystone STARS program. I am thankful to live in Pennsylvania where we have a wonderful program that helps the children get a great head start in life, especially for children like Austin who are delayed and need so much more to get that start.

SmartKids and the Keystone STARS program have changed our lives. I am so overwhelmed and honored that our family has been nominated. Austin has been through so much and the staff at SmartKids has been there every step of the way. To all the staff of SmartKids, and all the people who make the Keystone STARS program possible, thank you.

--Story by Michelle M., Austin’s mother









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