Jacob’s Story

Choosing the right school to meet a child’s needs is always challenging, but for families with a child with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it can be a huge decision. Raj and Suevanie Rampersaud had to make this big decision for their seven-year-old son, Jacob. Jacob is on the autism spectrum and has sensory processing issues. 

Raj and Suevanie discovered Abilities First, and chose to relocate to the Hudson Valley to see if Abilities First’s school programs could help accommodate Jacob’s needs. They moved from their Bronx neighborhood, which meant leaving family and friends, in addition to a much longer commute for Raj, who works in New York City. 

Relocating to a new school district also meant reapplying for services again, where the evaluation process can take weeks to finalize and sometimes feels overwhelming. However, despite the challenges of this major transition, Suevanie and her husband, Raj, knew they were making a better life and opportunities for Jacob.

Jacob joined Abilities First for the six-week summer session in 2022. When the bus first showed up to take Jacob to his new school, his mother, Suevanie, had the first day jitters. Suevanie had driven Jacob to school each morning and picked him up each afternoon; taking the bus by himself was Jacob’s — and Suevanie’s — first step toward independence.  

Today, six months into the school year, Abilities First is thrilled to share that Jacob is thriving. When he began school last fall, Jacob’s vocabulary consisted of roughly 5-10 words. Now, he surprises his family each day with new words he learned at school and asks them to help identify new words whenever they read books together at home. 

“Jacob receives the best possible services and therapies by compassionate and competent staff; his progression has exceeded our expectations,” reports Suevanie. “I will always worry about Jacob as he steps onto the bus each morning, and I will worry about him each minute he is away from me. But today, Raj, our daughter, Laylah, and I all have hope. We believe Jacob is where he is supposed to be—in an Abilities First classroom filled with amazing teachers who will help him find his unique strengths and differences.”