Here are some testimonials from our parents at Aurora.
My family has been using Jill’s House for a year now. The first time we went to Jill’s House to take a tour and to fill out some paperwork the kids instantly felt comfortable. They have a beautiful library, a very cool sensory room, a great gym and an awesome playground. Each wing of the building is beautifully designed. You can tell right away that Jill’s House wants to make it special for the kids. They have thought of so many things to make the kids feel safe and welcomed. Each staff person really gets to know each child and gets to see what makes them unique. We were hesitant at first to have them do an overnight stay but knowing how much fun they had during the day camps how could the night be any different? At any time during your child’s stay you can call to find out how your child is doing and that helped. They called us once to make sure it was not unusual for one of the kids to not eat the food offered. When we pick the kids up they are so excited to see us and ask when are they going back . While during the week it may seem strange to not have our daughter home we feel it is allowing her to experience what “non-disabled” kids get to experience. To us it is like giving her something that makes her feel like a “normal” girl. I may not know what she is thinking all the time but her smile on her face when she is with her friends is priceless. I encourage you to take a tour, ask all the questions you feel you need to in order to be comfortable and try it! Being a parent of one or more of a child with a disability we often don’t take a break from the kids that we so deserve. And they deserve a time to be as independent as they can be. They deserve to be happy. I encourage you to try it at least once—you may surprise yourself at how much you like the night “off”.
I had heard about Jill’s House before it was ever built. I was excited to see it become a reality. I was very anxious sending my son there for the first time, as I have never sent him overnight somewhere before, but my fears were alleviated. Jill’s House did everything they could to make each visit the best experience for Jeremy. They even had someone come to my home and pick up my son’s medications when at the last minute they told me he couldn’t be the one to transport them. I received a detailed information sheet upon his return telling me everything he did and the night nurse also sent me pictures of my son in the pool and in the sensory room. My son really seemed to enjoy himself. I am going to continue to send him at every availability. It was nice for me and my husband to go out to dinner for a change or spend quality time with our other children. Overall I would say this is the only overnight respite facility I would feel comfortable sending my child to. He had more fun than we did! His big grin told me all I needed to know. The staff followed every restriction, adaption and suggestion I gave them and because of that he had a great time.
Fearing that no one else could manage our son’s complicated routine, we had been “on duty” to care for our severely autistic son every night for 16 years. The complex challenge of communication and social barriers, high anxiety, and problem behaviors would lead inevitably to aggression, or so we thought. Normal day care was out of the question. When two babysitters called us for help during the date and quit after their first time with our son, we stopped trying. We carried this burden alone.
Then my wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor pressing on her optic nerve. The first night we ever spent away from him was in the ICU following 20 hours of neurosurgery — definitely not the ideal date! Unfortunately we were too late to save her vision.
In those dark days of blindness and recovery, this prayer came to mind: “Come unto me all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Then I heard about Jill’s House. Divinely inspired, their mission is to care for children with special needs so parents may find rest.
We were skeptical but overwhelmed, so we investigated. We found their staff to be highly motivated and well trained in caring for disabilities including autism. Our son would have a dedicated person to be his guide. In terms of facilities, the place is “child proofed” — which is saying a lot! There are simple but comfortable bedrooms, and many different activity rooms that he likes such as a shallow swimming pool, moon bounce, gym and art, music and sensory rooms. It is easy to make a rewarding schedule our son could follow during his visit. Plus David and several awesome teachers from the Aurora School volunteered to go with him and show the staff at Jill’s House their techniques for communication and behavior management.
That was the “tipping point” that persuaded Brigid to let him spend the night at Jill’s House. The visit exceeded our wildest expectations. No meltdowns. No aggression. And he had a great time — which we could see in the pictures the staff sent to us by email that very night. Incredibly, he asked to return to Jill’s House the next Thursday, hoping it would become part of his routine. He has been back 2 more times on his own with no problems. Thus not only does Jill’s House provide a “night off” for weary parents, but they offer a rare gift we can give our kids: the chance to spend the night and have some fun.
Ask to take a tour of Jill’s House, the answer to our prayer.
My daughter has such a difficult time with new situations and new people, and she doesn’t talk much and can resort to aggression or self-injury when she can’t express herself. All of these things together add up to her always wanting to stay home, and someone in our family having to stay with her. But at Jill’s House, they really got to know her and went above and beyond to make her comfortable. They worked with our family to understand and manage her behavior. I was very nervous because she had never stayed away from home without family before. But the staff at Jill’s House answered all our questions and communicated as much as I needed. The staff at Jill’s House communicate with us via email the nights she spends there and any time I have questions. But the best thing about Jill’s House for me is how excited my daughter gets when she sees it on her schedule. She looks forward to it so much for the activities they offer—swimming!—and the friends she has there. What a blessing for our entire family!