Arianna has been part of the Pine Tree Society family since she was in kindergarten. She’s now 16 and heading into her junior year of high school.
“She’s very much a kid who wants to be like other kids,” said her mother Joanna. “Pine Tree Society and Pine Tree Camp has been a really great match because they are all about capitalizing on what she can do and celebrating that.”
Arianna was diagnosed with autism when she was 20 months old and it wasn’t until she started working with Linda Bonnar-Ivery and Pine Tree Society’s Speech Language Pathology Program that she began to talk.
“When your child is young, it’s harder. And Linda was with us in our tough time,” Joanna recalled. “Arianna wasn’t even talking when she started to work with her.”
When Arianna was eight years old, Linda mentioned Pine Tree Camp.
“She hadn’t really been away from us and I was worried,” said Joanna. “So the first year we stayed in the family cabin. At the end of the week, I asked her if she wanted to come back again and she said ‘Yup, and I want to be in Cabin 1 with all the other girls.’ So I tucked in my pride and let her go solo the next year.”
As Arianna turns 16, Joanna is again stepping back as parent to let Arianna discover what she wants to explore as her first job.
“She has expressed interest in having a summer job, so we want to start her on that path now.”
With the help of Pine Tree Society’s Career Services Program, their goal is for Arianna to be established in a job before she leaves high school.
As she transitions to adulthood, one thing is certain in Joanna’s mind.
“She says she wants to keep going to Pine Tree Camp for her whole life.”
Every year since Arianna started going to camp, they have a family tradition of taking a picture of her in front of the Pine Tree Camp sign. This year, they’ll snap the eighth photo. Everyone who has watched Arianna grow over the years knows every photo marks a new milestone in her life as she works with the team at Pine Tree Society to achieve her goals.