On a recent Wednesday morning, three young boys attended to their tasks of straightening, flattening and stacking plastic grocery sacks at the Catholic Neighborhood Center on 18th Street in Wheeling.
Ages 7-9, each was accompanied by a therapist who never left his side. One of the boys chattered constantly in a language seemingly all his own and sometimes emitted a whoop or a squeal. One occasionally got distracted throwing bags up so they filled with air. The third might have crumpled a bag here and there before being reminded to smooth it out.
But after a whole hour of bag duty, these worker bees were ready to move on to their next task, the meal line, where they spent the next hour scooping, sealing and bagging meals that would be delivered to about 180 homebound people.
The boys are students at Augusta Levy Learning Center in Wheeling, where they receive therapies that help them to learn, function and navigate their way through life with autism.
In October, 9-year-old Lincoln, 8-year-old Aidan and 7-year-old Israel “Izzy” started a pilot program for pre-adolescents who are not yet ready for the transition to a typical public school.