Schelton Shines at S.A.C.C!

ScheltonSC-CambriaSchelton has been in the Keystone STAR 3 S.A.C.C. program at Penn Cambria for 5 years. My son has a few disabilities, one of which is ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The staff members work very closely with me and Schelton, as they do with all of their parents and children, and they are able to effectively and compassionately adjust their personalities to meet Schelton's special needs. As Schelton has difficulty from time to time with understanding others - responding to social cues, etc. - the staff takes the time to explain difficult situations to him. Ms. Bonnie always encourages him to be comfortable in all situations and especially with new things, helping him to understand that his diagnosis is only a label, that it does not define him, and that he is always in control of choosing the person that he wants to be. Due to this approach, Schelton has grown significantly with his social skills and interactions; and because of it, he is always being treated the same as his peers and isn't subject to being left out of the group. Schelton feels safe at S.A.C.C.

The staff also helps Schelton academically with his math and reading homework, and his grades in those subjects have since improved. Schelton often becomes easily frustrated when doing his homework at home, so the staff members' support is very beneficial to our whole family.
I joke to Ms. Paula that she is "Ms. Bonnie #2" when Ms. Bonnie herself is unavailable. Whether Ms. Bonnie is occupied with another student/parent or in the middle of a conference, Ms. Paula is always there to offer the same support to keep my son participating and achieving to the best of his ability. Ms. Paula and the way she responds to Schelton has definitely impacted his well-being and his ability to be comfortable with who he is as a person, contributing to his feeling of safety at the S.A.C.C. program.

I have noticed that the structure of discipline at this particular program works better for my son than any other program. Schelton is very sensitive about how he is approached by adults, because he fears being singled out and reprimanded in front of his peers. He gets anxious when authority figures (such as teachers, coaches, etc.) raise their voices to him. He feel pressured to take on more than he can handle or do more than he as an individual feels capable of, and this cuases an increase in his physical and emotional symptoms, which causes more stress for everyone involved. That is why the S.A.C.C. program's educational and disciplinary strategies work so well for Schelton. Everything implemented by the program affects our family in very positive ways.

The environment of the center places Schelton in a good state of mind that is beneficial to his interactions with our family members at the end of the day. Schelton does not view the staff members as authority figures that cause him stress, but as mentors, muses, teachers who respect him and his issues by encouraging him in all aspects of his development, to come full circle.

Schelton brings a unique perspective to every situation which in itself can bring a lot of humor and fun to situations involving the younger children and adults alike. He comes to the rescue with a very comforting manner if ever he sees that someone's words/behaviors have hurt others. Over the years, my son has developed an appreciation for the things that people say and do for him. He now shows gratitude to people and has excitement in the face of new challenges, which in turn serves as a positive, visible example for his peers to follow.

Kim S., Schelton's mom, Cambria County


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