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“Good job, Tallal,” chimed Speech Therapist Samantha Phillips and Occupational Therapist Kristin Tursky, a source of encouragement to a twelve year old boy diagnosed with autism, who under their watch started to speak for the first time ever at The HeartShare School. When a child is diagnosed as non-verbal, the probability of speaking as the years pass diminishes significantly. In fact, it almost never happens. Tying together his ABA classroom learning and therapy sessions has been Darnell Blackburn, Tallal’s one-to-one staff, or more accurately his best friend, companion and big brother. For the past four years, Darnell has spent 16 hours a day with Tallal, at his side for the entire school day and then watching over him at HeartShare’s Children’s Residence adjacent to the school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. “I’m only with him a few hours a day,” his Speech Therapist modestly insisted. “Darnell is the positive reinforcement.”
When a young child cannot be placed in a mainstream classroom, where does he go? At The HeartShare School, the educational and therapeutic resources available, amplified by the tireless love and devotion of the staff, ensure that the seemingly impossible can be overcome. With intense individualized attention, The HeartShare School provides a solid foundation for children, like Tallal, to reach their highest potential. When Tallal spoke his first words at age 12, it was exciting and magical—the kind of magic that is created each day by the incredible and dedicated staff at The HeartShare School.