Two years ago 11-year-old Joey Sinnott of Bridesburg likely wouldn't have been happily sitting here practicing how to tell time. However since he came to the Springtime School and Potential Inc.in Newtown, life has been very different.
At 3 1/2 years old Joey was diagnosed with autism.
"Joey actually did everything up until 17 months, then he just stopped doing," said Jackie Sinnott, mother.
Joey attended three different schools before and his mother says he showed no progress. His anxiety was severe and his behavioral problems got worse.
"We would get tantrums three times a day - the hitting and punching," said Sinnott.
Potential Inc.'s founder Kristine Quinby says in Joey's case and many others, it was important to figure out what he was trying to say and then tailor an individualized approach with the right tools.
"All behavior is communicative. When someone has a tantrum, someone is trying to tell you something. We figure out what they are trying to say and teach them how to say it," said Quinby.
Here, 5-year-old Gavin is playing with a purpose, goals integrated within play to encourage his communication.
Non-profit Potential Inc. serves 90 people with Autism.
In 2010, Potential opened Springtime. Five people attend the licensed private elementary school but they plan to expand to a new space in the coming months and more than quadruple in size.
"We always emphasize that we try to help individuals reach their full potential, no matter what that potential is," said Quinby.
Change doesn't come overnight, but helping to develop these tools has made all the difference to Joey, his family, and so many others.
"There is help out there. I was at my wits end two years ago. I didn't know where I was going to turn or what I was going to do," said Sinnott.
Now Joey is thriving.
For more on the Springtime School or on Potential Inc., visit: www.potentialinc.org.