By: Steven Hicks 

SpaceCoast Living has documented the journey of James and Pamela Holz for several years. We have shared with you their growth and successes with the Puzzle Box Academy, The Holz Foundation and, most recently, the opening of the Holz Center in the spring. In discussing this article, they suggested we share with you the story of a child benefitting from the daily work of the Holz Center. So, this is Aaron’s story as told by his mother, Jennifer McNeil.

“My son Aaron was diagnosed with Dandy-Walker malformation, CHARGE syndrome and global developmental delays. He also has autism spectrum disorder and partial cerebral palsy (as tightness in his hips and ankles),” McNeil explains.  “At 18 months, he stopped looking at us and responding to his name,” she recounts. A few months later, Aaron’s genetics doctor diagnosed him with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and explained the disorder to his family in detail. McNeil said, “I was in complete denial, but Dr. Pollack was very patient and kind in explaining to us what ASD was and that Aaron would need ongoing applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.” Her son has had ABA therapy ever since. “In the beginning, it was a struggle understanding why my son had stemming behaviors, preferred to play alone and not look us in the eye,”
she recalls.

McNeil continued: “We learned of the Puzzle Box Academy in 2016, hearing that a friend’s grandchild attended the school. My mother and I researched the school, and we were impressed by what we found. I felt Aaron needed a more intense structure than a varied exceptionalities class setting, and Puzzle Box offered specific settings for autistic children.”

She brought Aaron into the school for an assessment, and the Puzzle Box team suggested that he would be best served at the Holz Center with a 1-to-1 ratio. Aaron was excited about the education he would receive. “My son has blossomed and is blooming at the Holz Center. He is doing activities that we struggled with at home. Any struggles now are met with education and patience.” Aaron currently receives ABA therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.  McNeil is very pleased with the Holz Center. “I’d tell anyone who will listen that this school truly is putting the pieces together, one child at a time.”