Joshua Pastor, Jr.: Thriving in an inclusive environment
When Rachel and Joshua Pastor, Sr. found out their son, Joshua Pastor, Jr. was on the Autism spectrum at the age of two, their first thought was: where will he go to school?
They enrolled him in an inclusive program for preschool 40 minutes away where Joshua thrived. He learned from his peers and enjoyed spending time in the classroom. “We always wanted an inclusive classroom for Joshua—that was important to us. We knew there would be challenges, but we wanted to keep his childhood and schooling as normal as possible,” Rachel added.
But when Joshua was ready for kindergarten, the Pastors were back on the hunt for an inclusive program. That’s when Rachel’s sister-in-law recommended St. Anthony School Programs, and the family toured St. Therese School where they instantly noticed the compassion the teachers and staff had for the St. Anthony students.
“The kids in the program were so happy there,” Rachel said. “The teachers were so caring toward the students—treating them as if they were their own. As a mother, that is what you want to see.”
At the beginning of his schooling, Joshua was non-verbal, so seeing the level of compassion and care from the staff, Rachel felt a sense of confidence and trust with the St. Anthony Program. “There is never a question in my mind if Joshua is safe. I never have to worry when I drop him off at school. For someone with a child who has special needs, I think that is everyone’s dream,” Rachel remarked.
Now, Joshua is a second grade student at St. Therese, completing assignments and tasks Rachel wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to do. He’s reading, doing math and made his Reconciliation a couple of weeks ago. His favorite class is gym, where he gets to play basketball and hang out with all of his friends.
Outside of school, Joshua is training his service dog. His name is Rex, a four-month-old, full-of-energy, German Shephard. The two have already created a special bond and will graduate together at the end of the year. “Joshua is not great at expressing himself. Rex will be trained to calm him down.”
At seven years old, Joshua is thriving. Rachel and Joshua, Sr. can’t wait to see what he continues to accomplish as he grows with St. Anthony. “I don’t know what we would have done without St. Anthony,” Rachel explained. “I know he’s where he needs to be.”