In 1997, after almost 8 years of marriage, my husband and I welcomed our first baby boy Nicholas into the world. He was beautiful and perfect. He always smiled and seemed normal in every way. He was truly a blessing. We noticed very early on that he was very interested in letters, so when Nicholas was about a year old, my husband bought him a little electronic talking typewriter that he carried with him everywhere along with a big purple dinosaur that he named Rex. We were amazed when at 18 months old, Nicholas could already name and recognize all the letters of the alphabet. Then, he learned them all backwards. He could say a few words, but we did notice that his language skills were not developing as they should. He also had an amazing memory and could spell many words far beyond what was expected for his age but at the same time, he really did not seem to have any interest in other children.
In addition, he began making odd vocal sounds and started engaging in repetitive movements and lost interest in his toys. At age 2, we took him to his pediatrician and voiced all our concerns. His pediatrician told us he was a little behind and not to worry he would catch up. Unfortunately, he did not catch up and we did not get a formal diagnosis of Autism until he was age 4. By then, we felt we had wasted so much time, so we started an ABA program for him along with his first experience of school. We tried a lot of different schools through the years, but nothing seemed to fit so we decided we would have to create what he needed. In the fall of 2008, Bacot Academy became a reality and Nicholas of course was our first student. I quickly realized there were other families just like us and it has been a privilege having each student pass through our door. Nicholas (he know prefers Nick) was at Bacot Academy for a lot of years. He has grown, matured and made tremendous progress and remains very happy. He is the funniest and most genuine person in my life. He has twin brothers that love him very much. He has taught them to understand and appreciate other people’s differences. He loves his Main Coon cat “Oliver,” karaoke, playing Miracle League baseball, the water and he takes an active role in caring for his 101-year-old World War II grandfather. Most importantly, Nick is and always will be my inspiration!
I never saw myself as the Director of a school but that is where the path led me. It is truly amazing the distances that we as parents are willing to go to help our children. When Bacot Academy was founded my goal was to give my son the best education possible.
We started out in a small donated building with only eight students. Over the years, our little school has turned into a big school. We now have around thirty students. It has been a journey but one that I am happy to have taken.
With more and more children being diagnosed with Autism every day, I know there is still so much work to be done. For my part, I will continue to provide a safe and appropriate setting for our kids. One in which they can not only flourish and be productive, but more importantly, be happy.
Jim is retired from the Department of Defense in the U.S. Navy Research and Development. During his career in electronic engineering, he has developed several patents for the government. But more than anything, Jim is a family man, he loves the outdoors and enjoys spending time with his 3 boys.
Cindy and Jim have been married 30 years, and have three children – Nicholas, and twin boys Adam and Noah.