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Laying Foundations For Life

Join your community on September 8th from 9:00 - 2:00 at Faith United Methodist Church  to hear the story of Johnathon and Teresa Vermaelen.


Johnathon recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas with two degrees. He has also earned a Paralegal Certificate and plans to work at a law firm while deciding if he wants to attend Law School.

Johnathon entered this world two months premature and with that came many challenges. He was a fighter from the beginning and has overcome many obstacles to get to where he is today. His first challenges were medical due to his low birth weight and premature body. However, as he grew it became apparent that some of his behaviors were not typical. 

Johnathon was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5 after many years of trying to find answers for his sometime extreme behaviors to typical things. Johnathon was very smart and taught himself colors, numbers and letters by the age of 2. He however could only label things and not put words together in sentences. When he entered speech and OT at the age of 3 is when things started to turn around. 

School was also a challenge. Johnathon could handle the academics but not always the dynamics of the classroom, teacher/school personnel's personalities and especially the social aspect of a school environment. It took several placements to get the right fit at the right time. 

Without a supportive family Johnathon might not have had such a successful outcome. Johnathon's mom and dad always had the same expectations for him as they had for their older daughter. They kept him included in school and activities with typical kids in order to help him see and learn from the other children. They advocated for him in all settings and taught many others (teachers, coaches and other parents) about Autism and how to support him. 

It was not easy to get Johnathon to this wonderful place in his life, but it was all worth it!


Tina Adamopolus: Benefits Of Occupational Therapy

Karri Axtell: Navigating Assessments and IEP Planning

Justin Boulet: Insurance Related Information

Gayle Fisher: Effects on the Family Raising a Child with a Learning Difference

Leona Filis: Estate Planning, Trusts, and Guardianship

Michelle Howard-Herbein: SSI/SSDI/Employment/Waivers

Patti Pace & Patty Oliver: Teaching Reading To Children

Robin Rettie: Planning for Sensory Challenges in the Workplace & Community

Gail Wright: Family Stress and Supportive Resources


Ability & Beyond - OT

Arc of Fort Bend, Texas

Disability Right Texas - Nonprofit Organization Supporting Families and Independent Adults

Filis Law - Estate Planning

Lighthouse Learning Resources - Sensory, Behavior Products & Training

Monarch School & Institute - Therapeutic & Academic Private School

Partners Resource Network - State and Local Resources


Proceeds from Breaking Barriers are awarded to families in need and are dependent upon attendance.