arrow_back close

Ellie's Story  

In 2017, George and his team at ** built ErinoakKids’ Mississauga site from the ground up. He recalls him and his team being amazed by the end of the project, and was hopeful for how the facilities would be used. 

At the time, George didn’t know he was going to have a daughter. He also didn’t know that she would be diagnosed with autism.

“It still gives me goosebumps,” says George. “I picked up Ellie one day and it all came back to me. I know this place like the back of my hand. The countertops. The stairs. All of it. I had no idea my daughter would benefit from the programs offered in the very building I helped construct. I was so happy and proud to walk in there.”

George’s daughter Ellie just turned 4, old enough to be enrolled in ErinoakKids’ Entry to School (ETS) Program. This program gives children with autism a chance to be in a space with other children with autism, learn social skills and make friends, all in a simulated school environment. The ETS program prepares these children for school out in the community. 

A classroom at ErinoakKids with child-sized tables and chairs, a play kitchen, a reading nok and a whiteboard.

“She is a different girl since attending the ETS program. I’m not even exaggerating,” laughs George. “She’s learning so much and just loves it.”

Ellie had difficulty expressing herself, her needs and her emotions. George credits the ETS program for the improvement in her communication skills and ability to speak for herself.

“I don’t know what happened, but since attending the program, she won’t stop talking. Before she was quiet and had no idea how to tell us what she wanted. Now she tells us what she wants and how she feels,” says George. “Her tantrums have also gone from 2 hours to 15 minutes. It’s crazy and not a lot of people understand what a big deal this is for your 4 year old to finally tell you what they want.” 

Halfway through the program, after her Dad picked her up, she greeted him with a hug and a kiss. 

“It was the first time in her life she showed me any kind of physical affection,” says George. “It was huge and I felt so lucky. Not every parent has to wait for 4 years for a hug and a kiss from their child. It was such a huge milestone.”

Photo does not depict actual person 

George recalls Ellie getting excited each time she leaves the house because she thinks she is going to the ETS program. Ellie enjoys her classmates and is always happy to be at ErinoakKids. 

“We can’t say enough good about the ETS program,” says George. “It has helped her be more expressive ane empathetic. Even toward her 9 month old brother. We were scared to see what would happen when he was born, but Ellie has taken to him so well.” 

Ellie enjoys swinging for hours on her playground set in the backyard, picking up toys and sitting with her little brother, and learning new things about the world around her. Although Ellie’s family worries for her future education, they are grateful for the time being that she is able to grow both in and out of the ETS program.

Your donation will help us continue to deliver exceptional care and support for children with disabilities. We wouldn't be where we are today without your kind and generous support!

Support ErinoakKids today