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From Public School Struggles to Student of the Year Nominee: Ethan’s Story

From Public School Struggles to Student of the Year Nominee: Ethan’s Story

By the time Ethan Knuettel turned 2 years old, it had become apparent to his family that he wouldn’t be able to attend your average pre-school program.

“His parents and we, his grandparents, always just hoped he would develop into a child that could go to school and fit in,” said Kathy Jicks, Ethan’s grandmother. “We wanted what every parent wants — for it to be easy. It’s not always that way.”

Ethan’s ADHD and difficulty expressing himself verbally made it almost impossible for one adult to manage him in a public setting alone. Because of this, it wasn’t until he was put in a public school CDC class around 7- or 8-years-old that he was able to be tested and the family finally got some answers. Ethan was not only ADHD, but he was also on the autism spectrum.

Despite their best efforts, traditional public school just wasn’t working for Ethan. It became up to Kathy — who had no background in teaching — to make sure he got the education he needed.

“After two years in public school with very little progress and a lot of grief, we decided to homeschool Ethan around the 4th grade,” explained Kathy. “Public schools are really not set up to be able to address the individual child’s needs, especially in Ethan’s case. They don’t have the time to even figure them out, in my opinion.”

Kathy worked tirelessly homeschooling her grandson until, at age 12, Ethan could read a little, do simple math and spell some. With the addition of a talented tutor, Ethan made more progress. But even with all of his hard work, in 2020 he eventually hit a plateau. That’s when the family found help — LearningRx.

“When we first started working together, Ethan would barely speak to me, could not look me in the eyes, and struggled to operate in the center…,”shared his LearningRx trainer Eilese Cross.

Ethan also had difficulties socially, said Eilese. He couldn’t follow the flow of conversation during training, wouldn’t exchange greetings or goodbyes with anyone, and seemed really closed off to what was happening around him.

But after just six months at LearningRx, Ethan is almost an entirely different person.

“It’s amazing,” Kathy said tearfully. “Ethan has improved with his ability to speak freely with people in conversation and make eye contact. He notices and comments on things around him more, and said that his reading is easier because his memory of words is better. He also said that he remembers math facts better, and his tutor says that he will be able to progress to more challenging math.”

Because of his incredible progress, Ethan was nominated by his trainer for LearningRx’s National Student of the Year contest. Not only that, but he’ll be able to attend school again in August — a monumental accomplishment both Ethan and his family weren’t sure would ever be possible.

“Having seen what LearningRx has done with him so far, we are more hopeful for Ethan,” said Kathy, “And we can see that it is possible for him to keep progressing and even graduate from high school and have an independent life one day.”

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