Our son Kadin entered Giant Steps in Grade 1 with behavioural and speech difficulties; he had only a few words and was unable to focus on lessons or tasks. Thanks to Giant Steps’ specialized therapy and academic programming, he made incredible gains there during his elementary school years. He became a very happy, social boy who enjoyed playing soccer, swimming, skating and using electronics. His speech improved dramatically, and he learned to fully engage in conversations and communicate his feelings. He focused well on his work, completing assignments and transitioning easily to next tasks.
Giant Steps supported him for part of his school week in our local public school, where he had the invaluable experience of learning and playing with typically developing peers.
Kadin graduated from Giant Steps in June 2019 and now attends Bur Oak Secondary School full time. He looks forward to his time there, and works both independently and with his peers, participating in special projects, community programming, art and gym.
We are truly grateful to the teachers, program assistants and therapy team at Giant Steps for their devotion and expertise. Without Giant Steps, we are convinced that Kadin would not be where he is today!
From an early age, our son William struggled with simple things - eating, speaking, dressing and toileting to name a few. He had such severe sensory issues that he had to have a feeding tube to keep him alive. When it came time for school, we knew that a regular kindergarten classroom could not meet his needs. This is when we were blessed to find out about Giant Steps. The moment we dropped him off for his orientation day we were immediately at peace knowing he was in caring and capable hands. This feeling never wavered in the six years he spent at this special school.
At Giant Steps, William received weekly speech, occupational and behavior therapies. In coordination with his academic program, he learned to use technology to communicate, began to eat new foods thanks to a food therapy group and was able to slowly integrate into our neighbourhood school with Giant Steps’ support.
William graduated from Giant Steps in 2019. He is now verbal, no longer has a feeding tube, can get dressed independently and has truly made “GIANT STEPS” in his overall development. We know that Willliam’s transition to our local school would never have happened without Giant Steps’ coordinated therapies and academic programming.
We are forever grateful for this incredible school and their equally incredible teachers, therapists and program assistants.
Mikayla was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and is now 15. When Mikayla started Giant Steps in kindergarten, she enjoyed learning as long as it was doing what she felt like doing. She expressed her dislike for certain lessons or tasks with severe tantrums that took place frequently throughout a single day. Giant Steps provided our daughter with an experienced Special Education teacher who worked alongside therapists providing direct therapy in speech, music, occupational and behaviour therapy. With their expertise and behavioural data management, Mikayla was taught strategies to work through her emotions, calming her and enabling her to be open to learning.
Today Mikayla is a confident, happy 15 year-old girl who attends high school and truly enjoys every day. She navigates through the school to her various classes, learning at her own pace with a positive disposition and a sense of humour. She still has some challenging days; however, she is able to reach back and use the strategies she has been taught to work through her frustrations.
I truly believe that the individualized, expert support and intervention unique to Giant Steps gave Mikayla many invaluable foundation skills that have enabled her to be the successful high school student she is today.
Many years ago, our son Brendan was diagnosed with autism – and we were told by experts that he would likely never talk, never socialize appropriately or be able to manage anything beyond grade 2-3 academic work.
Today, Brendan is 30 years old and travels to his full-time job with an insurance company in Toronto on the subway. He drives, is a black belt in karate, teaches karate and sits on the social committee at work. He was recently awarded a singing role in a series of theatrical performances and won a gold medal at a ballroom dance competition. He graduated high school as an Ontario Scholar and went on to do a certificate program at Seneca College.
Much of Brendan’s success is due to his own determination -- but there’s no denying it is also thanks to the strong, unwavering and powerful support he received at Giant Steps. They were uniquely able to provide academics and therapies that made all the difference and supported him in our local public school.
Giant Steps gave our son a shot at being successful academically, professionally and socially. I can’t imagine how different his life would be had he not had this innovative program to support him through elementary school.