Support for the Family of Children with Special Needs

At the Watson Institute, in addition to providing high quality special education and support services to our students, many of whom have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, neurological impairment, or developmental disability, we also work to support the family unit as a whole. Stacy Hurt, mother of Emmett, a student at the Watson Institute’s Education Center, recently shared her family’s story at our 36th Annual First National Bank Pro Am Golf Tournament.

Stacy shared that Emmett was born with a chromosomal abnormality so rare that his diagnosis does not have a name. He is one of three known individuals in the world with this diagnosis. Doctors told Stacy and her husband Drew to expect that Emmett would never walk independently, communicate, or be able to interact like other kids his age. The Hurt family knew they wanted to give Emmett the best possible opportunity to thrive despite this devastating news.

Finding a Special Education School

Stacy explained that while touring special education schools, they knew as soon as they walked through the doors of the Watson Institute that this would be the place for Emmett. It was Watson’s positive approach that struck Stacy.

“Watson took the approach of focusing not on what Emmett couldn’t do, but what he could achieve,” said Stacy.

In addition to their focus on caring for Emmett, the Hurt family was dealt a blow when in 2014, Stacy was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer.

“The support and care Emmett receives at the Watson Institute and the flexibility of the staff working around our hectic schedule has given me the peace of mind to focus on my fight against cancer, as well as raising my typically-developing son. I can’t imagine going through this if Emmett were anywhere else.” said Stacy.

Since Emmett started at the Watson Institute in 2008, he is now able to walk with assistance, he interacts with those around him and enjoys listening to music and using his iPad. Emmett, with the help of his family and the special education teachers and supportive staff at the Education Center has exceeded the doctors’ expectations, accomplishing tasks they never imagined possible.

The Watson Institute aims to respond and adapt to the unique needs of our families through flexible scheduling, respite services, including day respite and our innovative CareBreak program, as well as through summer camps and extended school year (ESY).

The Watson Institute strives to be a source of support not only to our special education students as they work to achieve their individualized education goals, but also to their families, who may have additional needs outside of the school setting.

To read more about Stacy’s courageous fight against colon cancer, check out her recent feature article published on Dr. Oz’s website.