Sarah Bruce has been given the Student of the Month award, along with other fellow students at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is a 17-year-old eleventh grade student who is given appropriate supports as needed from a specialized education wing at Lincoln High.
Sarah's history shows why families of children on the moderate-to-severe end of the autism spectrum should find hope in day by day perseverance, even when it seems like nothing is working.
The fact that Sarah is the recipient of the Student of the Month award accentuates the importance of her teachers' role as advocates, since nominations for the award come from the teachers.
Sarah presented on the moderate-to-severe end of the autism spectrum at three years of age and improved in significant ways from earliest intervention. However, in spite of the earliest supports and resulting improvements, she eventually worsened into schizophrenic features from about 10 years of age - which were accompanied with frequent periods of aggression.
At the point of her worsening, she proved refractory to treatment for several years. The result: institutionalization was suggested by most experts. Family and some expert doctors rejected the notion of institutionalization and kept trying.
Eventually, the continued tries at helping Sarah resulted in a planned transition from the Children's Care Hospital & School's Day School program to Lincoln High School.
The first 16 years of Sarah's life are chronicled in Hello, Dr. Wells.